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I first published this review in the Australasian Journal of Psychotherapy Vol.14.No.2, 2014. It is not a convention to reference sources in such a piece but I did so on this occasion as some of the material is contentious.

Judit Meszaros (2014), Ferenczi and Beyond: Exile of the Budapest School and Solidarity in the Psychoanalytic Movement During the Nazi Years, London, Karnac, 270 pages including bibliography and index.


Karnac Books released the English version of Judit Meszaros’ Ferenczi and Beyond: Exile of the Budapest School and Solidarity in the Psychoanalytic Movement During the Nazi Years in early 2014. The culmination of almost twenty years research and writing, it traces the development of the Budapest School in the Great War Years and, from 1921, its dispersal to all parts of the globe as a result of war and political unrest. Hungarian psychoanalysts emigrated in several waves. The first group departed in the 1920s following the Treaty of Trianon where Hungary lost two thirds of its territory and access to the sea, and two thirds of its population, (Schwartz, 1999, p. 202). The second group, in flight from the Nazis in 1938 and 1939, emigrated with the assistance of the British and the American Refugee Funds (Jones, 1939; Meszaros, 2014). For a decade from the late 1940s departures from Hungary continued first in response to the Communist uprising and from the mid ’50s, the Hungarian Revolution.

Part of Meszaros’ purpose is to reclaim Ferenczi’s and the Hungarian contribution to the psychoanalytic movement during the twentieth century. In this respect she joins revisionist historians such as Makari (2008), and Rudnytsky (2011) in their recognition of the cost to the development of psychoanalysis resulting from Freud’s splits with significant protégés including Jung, Adler and Stekel. Infamously described by Jones as the emergence of “latent psychotic trends” (Jones, 1974, pp. 158, 185, 188-190;), Ferenczi’s differences with Freud were complicated by his final illness with pernicious anaemia which, towards the end, affected his mental functioning. Although Jones’ remarks were contested by Balint amongst others, Meszaros argues that Jones, with Freud’s complicity, did not waver from his view (Meszaros, 2003, pp. 239-253).

It is the basis of Meszaros’ view that Jones’s ambitions and his conflict with Ferenczi resulted in his ensuring that members of the Hungarian school were prevented from migrating to the United Kingdom during WW2.This becomes the prism through which Meszaros examines the flight of Hungarian Refugee analysts and the marginalisation of the Hungarian School of psychoanalysis.  Meszaros provides little analysis of British refugee policy and the influence of the British Medical Association upon it, in the 1930s or 1940s. Rather there are a series of claims based upon Meszaros’s assertion that Jones, despite the energy he devoted to helping refugee analysts escape from Europe (p.148). “restricted his assistance to the sort that would keep the Hungarian analysts away from Britain”(p.159). ‘Only the Balints managed to resettle in Britain’, she continues. Other analysts such as  Geza Roheim, Imre Hermann, and Edit Gyomroi – preferred to remain in Hungary but went instead the United States or in Gyomroi’s case, Ceylon.  The “only people able to gain entry to Australia were the Lazar-Geroe couple and their child, as well as Elisabeth Kardos and her husband, Andrew Peto” (p.159).

Secondly – and this is her achievement –  Meszaros provides important linkages between the history of psychoanalysis around the globe and the movement of refugees from Europe during the mid twentieth century. Meszaros draws on published correspondence between Sigmund Freud and Ernest Jones, and between Ferenczi and Freud. Archival material located in the United States and in Britain, including the Archives of the British Institute of Psychoanalysis also assists. Her work on the political conditions in which analysts worked and managed to survive despite the states of siege imposed by the governments of the day also underlines the importance of trauma in the development of psychoanalysis. Amongst the psychoanalysts who subsequently made a significant contribution to theoretical understanding and who departed Hungary in the early 1920s were Melanie Klein, Margaret Mahler, Rene Arpad Spitz, Franz Alexander, Therese Benedek, Georg Gero and George Deverauz. Edith Gyomroi departed, returned, and after leaving Hungary in 1939, eventually wound up in Ceylon, a British colony. Of those who remained or left and returned to Hunfary before leaving again were Michael and Alice Balint (Meszaros, 2014, p. 67). The anthropologist and psychoanalyst Geza Roheim was another. Roheim’s research with the Arrernte people of Central Australia challenged contemporary notions of the primitive by demonstrating the highly developed nature of Arrernte cultural practices and thought. Roheim’s correspondence with British psychoanalyst. John Rickman from the early 1920s shows that Rickman who was by then at the centre of the British Psychoanalytical Society provided friendship and support for Roheim in the quest to find a publisher for his books. Michael Balint, who with Ferenczi established psychoanalytic training in Hungary in 1926, also established and a low cost clinic in Budapest His patients included Clara Lazar Geroe, a Clinic Patient during her training and later the Director of the Melbourne Institute of Psychoanalysis (Swerdloff, 2002, pp.391-392), and Andrew Peto, both of whom became founding members of the Australian Society of Psychoanalysis in 1952.

Sandor Ferenczi born Sándor Fränkel in Miskolc, Austria-Hungary, in 1873, was trained in psychiatry and neurology. Through her reading of Ferenczi’s early writings Meszaros traces his thinking as he gathered experience as first as a medical practitioner and his developing interest in neurology. She describes his use of hypnosis during stints at institutions such as the Rokus Hospital and work in the neurology ward of the Erzebet Poorhouse – following the path of  trainee doctors who developed their craft and profession in such public institutions. Ferenczi’s holistic approach to diagnosis and treatment; his insights into the treatment of stroke patients as well as his approach to trans sexuality and homosexuality, eugenics, intellectual disability and in the ‘myriad illnesses that do harm to the poor’ was, for Meszaros, part of his genius (pp.17-19). His work on ‘love’ predicted writings on the subject by another member of the Budapest School, Robert Bak seventy years later, Meszaros continues. And his discovery of Freud’s work helped Ferenczi clarify his thinking about the psychological mechanisms that lie behind functional symptomatology. Although uncertain about Freud’s insistence on the sexual pathogenesis of neurosis, he shared Freud’s view of psychoanalysis “as a tool for thinking about the diverse manifestations of human nature” (p.33).

Freud and Ferenczi met shortly before the first international psychoanalytic congress in 1908 and they quickly developed a deep friendship. It was on Ferenczi’s suggestion that the International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA) was formed in 1910. In 1912, when Adler and Stekel formally defected from Freud’s circle and Carl Jung, its president, was showing clear signs of going the same way, British Ernest Jones included Ferenczi as a member of “a secret Committee of colleagues who could be fully trusted to adhere to Freud and to the major tenets of psychoanalysis”.(“IPA History online”, 2010; Makari, 2008, pp. 282-285). The other members were Otto Rank, Hans Sachs and Carl Abraham. Ferenczi founded the Hungarian Psychoanalytical Society in 1913. When the fifth International Psychoanalytical Congress was held in Budapest in early1918 and had as its theme “The Psychoanalysis of War Neurosis”, Ferenczi’s paper on this phenomenon led to his election as president of the International Psychoanalytic Association. There were plans to develop a university department, clinic and publishing house. This was before the end of the Great War and before the imminent loss of the war was recognised. After the Congress Hungary’s fortunes suddenly changed and by the end 1918 the war was lost.

The meeting of world leaders in Paris the following year reconfigured the shape of European countries. The Ottoman empire had collapsed and the Austro-Hungarian Empire was dissolved. The very harsh and punitive Treaty of Trianon signed on June 4 1920 was disastrous for Hungary. Not only did the country lose land and people but its  natural resources, industry, railways, and other infrastructure was also diminished. Access to the sea and the consequent loss of its Navy was another outcome. Food was scarce, funds unobtainable and communication with the outside world difficult (Meszaros, 2014, pp.53-54; Makari, 2008, p.324). The bitterness remains, as it also does in Austria. Together the two had been a central world power, now reduced to nought.

Hungarian Jewish people also bore the consequences. The Numerus Clauses Act, passed in 1920 aimed “to restrict the percentage of Jews at universities to 6%, a figure that represented their portion of the entire Hungarian population at the time while the share of Jewish students at the universities in Budapest and in some of the bigger cities in Hungary stood between 24% and 40%” (Kovacs, 1994 in Meszaros, 2014, p. 53). Plans for psychoanalytic clinics attached to the universities simply “evaporated” (Meszaros, 2014, pp. 55- 56). Ferenczi’s appointmenr as the world’s first professor of psychoanalysis in 1919 was revoked and he was expelled by the Budapest Medical Society in May 1920.

In these circumstances it is arguable that Ferenczi’s ability to sustain his presidency of the IPA with Budapest as its centre was severely compromised if not impossible. Historian George Makari concludes that Ferenczi,’unable to perform his duties’ passed the presidency to Vienna (Makari, 2009, p.325). Meszaros, despite outlining the conditions that beset Hungary following the war, argues that Jones’ powerful ambitions for dominance of the psychoanalytic field, as well as his rivalry with Ferenczi, spurred him to persuade Freud that Ferenczi should relinquish the role of President of the IPA. Certainly the way Jones’ personal ambitions and his actions, particularly towards Ferenczi and other Hungarian analysts, might have interacted with local political and world-wide events needs further attention. But Meszaros’s conclusion is surprising in the light of her discussion about the political and economic turmoil within Hungary at this time.

In the years following the war and the Treaty of Trianon psychoanalysis became popular amongst Budapest avant gard. New journals such as the medical Gyὁgyảszat (Therapy); the literary journal Nyugat (West) conveying psychoanalytic ideas to receptive readers added to the ferment and excitement amongst Budapest cafe intellectuals – and scholars. Meszaros explains how Ferenczi’s ideas about psychoanalysis represented a new approach, placing the functioning of the human psyche, personality development, social relations, and the complex system of relations tied to culture in a new light. His ideas reflected developments beyond Hungary. The New Education Fellowship founded in 1913 by Frenchwoman Beatrice Ensor, and the work of educationalist Maria Montessori, each stressed the need for children to learn through their own creativity and interests. Austrian August Aichhorn established a child guidance clinic in Vienna and in 1925 published his book on the treatment of juvenile delinquency: Wayward Youth (Verwahrloster Jugend). It seems that for Meszaros such ideas were entirely Ferenczi’s domain. Psychoanalysis could be used for the good of society, Ferenczi believed, “provided it was possible to optimize the restrictions, the excessive regulation and the unnecessary constraints – be they in the education of children, co existing as a society or even work with criminals.” (pp.29,36).

Ferenczi’s contributions on the transference, particularly the negative transference, on the genesis of trauma, and upon the responsibility of the analyst – particularly regarding abstinence – are significant contributions to the psychoanalytic project. The work of the Budapest School in the formation of the theory of object relations and on child and infant development, the relationship between the humanities – anthropology, literature as well as the sciences – are all touched upon and opened for further thought.

In chapters 5-8 of the book which focus on the World War Two period Meszaros describes the work of Emergency Committee on Relief and Immigration formed by the American Psychoanalytic Association, headed by Dr Lawrence Kubie. Set up a day after the Anschluss, on 13 March 1938. It rescued over 100 analysts and resettled them in the United States. Although Meszaros writes powerfully and in detail of the American response to the analyst refugees, her analysis of the British and Dominion response is lacking. Missing from her account is consideration of the 1938 Evian conference called by President Roosevelt, which essentially affirmed international reluctance to accept Jewish refugees from Europe. In Britain, in response to Kristallnacht in November 1938 the government, under pressure from the local Jewish fraternity, amongst others, restricted its intake to women and children from Europe and, essentially closed its borders to adult males (London 2000, pp. 97-141, 142). The Dominions were similarly reluctant although the Australian government under Prime Minister Bruce eventually agreed to accept 15,000 Jewish refugees (NAA: A433/1943/2/46). New Zealand and South Africa refused to accept refugees.

Right from the beginning of 1939, after Kristallnacht when the Nazi’s intentions for the Jews became clearer,  the British government was pressured by the British Medical Association to not accept refugee medical practitioners. In January 1939, a letter from its Chairman, Henry Robinson warned against sponsoring “the establishment of foreign competitors in our midst” (Robinson to BMJ, 14 January 1939, p.89). After the war was over British Home Secretary Sir Samuel Hoare related how his attempt to open the way for European doctors and surgeons “was met with the obstinate resistance of the medical profession. Unmoved by the world wide reputation of the doctors in Vienna, its representatives, adhering to the strict doctrine of the more rigid trade unionists, assured me that British medicine had nothing to gain from new blood, and much to lose from foreign dilution”. He continued: “It was only after long discussions that I was able to circumvent the opposition and arrange for a strictly limited number of doctors and surgeons to enter the country and practice their profession” (Hoare, 1954, p. 240). Medically qualified psychoanalysts who wished to go to England might have faced resistance from Jones, as Meszaros suggests. But – more likely – Jones, like Sir Samuel Hoare, was up against the medical fraternity’s opposition to refugee doctors. The Australian branch of the British Medical Association followed this policy.

Meszaros’ argument that Jones resisted the idea of Hungarian refugees resettling in England is persistent, but puzzlingly, undocumented (p.139). He was not at all pleased that John Rickman had helped Michael Balint to move to England, she says (p.142). Balint’s gratitude to Rickman for his assistance, she adds, is proof that Jones’ opposition to Hungarians was well known (p.142). Read with the knowledge that Rickman had visited Hungary frequently during the previous two decades, often as a guest of Geza Roheim and was in contact with a number of Hungarian analysts, notably including Clara Lazar Geroe, Balint’s emphasis is understandable. In the light of the response of the British Medical Association to European Medical Practitioners, it is an achievement that Balint was accepted by the British Government, at all. Rickman was recognised as  the liaison person between the British analysts and the Hungarians. Clara Geroe who ultimately settled in Australia recalled that When Hitler marched into Czechoslovakia Rickman travelled from London to Budapest to advise the Hungarian analysts how to get out. Jones, Rickman, the Princess Marie Bonaparte and Duncan Hall all worked together to assist this effort (Geroe, 1982, pp.354-355).

Always when histories are written sources will be found that add to or contest a particular interpretation. Certainly the discovery, in the BPAS Archive of a handwritten list of Hungarian emigres collated in 1939 ( BPAS Archive S-M-04-01) challenges the notions of Jones’ reluctance to accept Hungarian analysts, although these are every few in number. Balint, astonishingly, is listed as ‘Wishing to go to Australia’. Perhaps this plan was headed off by Jones, or perhaps Edward Glover. Maybe the listing was an error. Handwritten notes on the document affirm Balint’s decision to live in England and record his being granted a permit for Manchester (BPAS Archive S-M-04-01). While the medical fraternity in the United States was accepting of medical refugees, this was not the case in Britain or Australia. Was it that Balint, whose brilliance was acknowledged by his British colleagues, was regarded as too great a prize to lose? If Balint did indeed wish to emigrate to the Antipodes it leaves we Australians with one of the great “What if?” questions!

For some eighteen months after his arrival in England Balint was not able to gain registration. The British Psychoanalytic Society intervened. Dr Sylvia Payne, its then Chairman, approached the Tavistock on Balint’s behalf in January 1940. He was declined: rivalry from within the existing fraternity the reason. It was ‘easy to upset local practitioners when making news introductions’, the Tavistock replied (Wilson to Payne, 11 January 1940). Two years later after Balint appealed to Edward Glover for assistance, a favour was called in from one of Glover’s Glaswegian colleagues so that Balint could gain his registration (BPAS Archive S/M/04/02 (1 of 2)). This suggests that despite resistance from local practitioners, the British Psychoanalytic Society found a way for Balint to gain registration in England and continue his career. The kind of obstructive and prejudiced behaviour by Jones that Meszaros argues was the case needs further clarification.

Interestingly for Australian historians of psychoanalysis Meszaros has also devoted space to those who applied to enter Australia (pp.151-157). It is an unfortunate omission that although she cites, and publishes, correspondence between Jones, Geroe, the Australian government and another applicant to Australia, Stephen Schoenberger, and discusses, in some detail, their applications to the Australian government, “Australia” is not listed in the book’s index. It is a careless omission but one that can be rectified by the publishers.

But the problem of accuracy, at least concerning the Antipodes, deepens. New Zealand, Geroe’s first option, was closed to any refugee intake (London, 2001, pp.42, 43). Ultimately, Geroe’s appointment as the resident analyst of the newly formed Melbourne Institute of Psychoanalysis was based upon the premise that psychoanalytic practice was not a medical activity (Hall and Wilcox to Dane, 20/3/1941, BPAS No: S/M/02/01 (1 of 4)). Joy Damousi’s 2005 definitive account of psychoanalysis in Australia, Freud in the Antipodes, notes the arrival of another Hungarian émigré to Australia, Andrew Peto in 1949, ten years after he was first accepted by the Australian Government, and his departure, in 1956, for New York.

Meszaros brushes over this six to seven year period as if Peto’s time in Australia was of little consequence – a pit-stop on the way to New York. (pp. 164-166). Peto’s contribution to the development of Australian psychoanalysis, including his role in the establishment of the Sydney Institute for Psychoanalysis in 1951, and as a founder member of the Australian Society of Psychoanalysts in 1952, is not considered. Perhaps this is a reflection of Peto’s disappointment with his time in Australia. He left in 1956, not surprisingly citing difficulties over his qualifications with the British Medical Association – as it was then. As with Balint Refugee Doctors wishing to emigrate to Australia from 1939 were faced with antipathy, if not antagonism from the Australian branches of the British Medical Association who believed that European doctors would steal work from locally trained practitioners.

Overall Meszaros’ study raises many questions, not least being about the way the tumultuous events of the twentieth century shaped the development of psychoanalytic thought and practice. In tackling this Meszaros has contended with the complexity of the psychoanalytic archive and alerted readers to a rich cultural milieu which informed psychoanalysis in Hungary and, in turn, contributed to its development internationally. It is no mean feat. The archival material from which she drew is spread across the globe. Some is catalogued. In other places material remains stored in private offices awaiting donation to the public archive. Often, as in the case of the British Institute of Psychoanalysis, a document duplicated for meetings is found in several locations. Some of Meszaros’s claims, particularly concerning the motivations of Ernest Jones, are not substantiated even though she has carefully documented the context in which Jones, Freud and others acted. Her conclusion, often repeated, that Jones’ antipathy towards the Hungarians, particularly Ferenczi, does not follow from her descriptions and analysis of world and local events of the period. This is not to say that the antipathy between Jones and Ferenczi was not real enough.It is, quite simply, not the whole story.


Correspondence concerning Emigres’, British Psychoanalytical Society Archives, No S/M/04/02
Wilson to Dr. Sylvia Payne 11/1/1940, No. S/M/04/02 (1 of 2)
Michael Balint to Dr. Glover 7/11/1941, No. S/M/04/02 (1 of 2), CBC/F02/07

Dr. Glover to John McNee 11/12/1941, No. CBC/F02?081 S/M/04/02 (1 of 2), CBC/F02/081/

Rickman Papers, BPAS Archives, No: S/M/02/01.
T H Garret to Ernest Jones,BPAS Archives, No: G07/BH/F01/02.
Émigré Lists and General Papers S-M-04-01
Hungarian List ( not numbered)
List of Analysts Wanting to Go to Australia, undated, possibly 1939, BPAS Archives, No. G07/BJ/F01/09a.
Jewish Refugees, National Archives of Australia, NAA :A433/1943/2/46.

Damousi, Joy (2005), Freud in the Antipodes: A cultural history of psychoanalysis in Australia, Sydney, UNSW Press.
Geroe, Clara (1982), ‘A Reluctant Immigrant’, Meanjin, (41).3, pp. 352-357.
Jones, Ernest (1974), Sigmund Freud: life and work, Volume III, London, Hogarth Press.
London, Louise (2000), Whitehall and the Jews: 1933-1948, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
Makari, George (2008), Revolution in mind: the creation of psychoanalysis, New York, Harper Collins.
Paskauskas R. Andrew (1993), The complete correspondence of Sigmund Freud and Ernest Jones, 1908-1939, Cambridge, Massachusetts; London, Harvard University Press.
Rudnytsky, Peter (2011), Rescuing psychoanalysis from Freud and other essays in revision, London, Karnac.
Schwartz, Joseph (1999), Cassandra’s daughter: A history of psychoanalysis, London, Karnac.
Swerdloff, Bluma (2002), ‘An interview with Michael Balint’, International Journal of Psychoanalysis, (62)4, pp.383-413.
Hoare, Sir Samuel, (Viscount Templewood) (1954), Nine troubled years, London, Collins.

****With many thanks to Ellen Smith and the Archivists at the British Institute of Psychoanalysis.