Ferenczi Sándor Association

The History of Ferenczi House

„We are already packing; the new house, almost spic-and-span, awaits us. The move will take place on July 3 or 4. The new address will read: I. Lisznyai utca 11.”

(Ferenczi to Freud, Budapest, 29 June 1930, p. 394)

Rákosi Jenő lakóháza a budai LisznyaI utcában. Vasárnapi Újság, (67) 1920, 20: 231.

On 8 February 1929, at the age of 86, Jenő Rákosi writer, journalist, newspaper editor, member of the Hungarian Parliament, correspondent member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and full member of the Kisfaludy Society, died. The writer, who received Hungarian nobility in 1896 with the first name of Mindszent, was a member of the House of Lords from 1903. At the beginning of the 20th century he supported the policies of Apponyi and later István Tisza. In the 1920s he was a powerful representative of revisionist politics. “…the years around the millennium were Rákosi’s golden age, he was the country’s first publicist (…) his paper was the greatest, almost exclusive, publicist power (…) Rákosi has achieved all a public figure could dream of. His authority was decisive not only in political, but also in literary and social matters”, wrote Aladár Schöphlin in Nyugat (1929, No. 4).

Rákosi Jenő portré. Vasárnapi Újság, (67) 1920, 20: 229.

A year after Jenő Rákosi’s death, in 1930, his villa on Lisznyai Street was bought by Sándor Ferenczi. The purchase of the house, perhaps not independently of its history, represents for Ferenczi the fulfilment of bourgeois prosperity, independence and the possibility of a new way of life. He is happy to be the owner of a sunny garden and villa for the first time in his life. He shared his joy with his friends and colleagues: George Groddeck, Freud and Ernest Jones, among others.

„ … we have bought a villa, consisting of three floors with a garden, over the Ofner hill and will be moving in towards the end of this month. So we have become homeowners at the same time as you. Another apartment on the first floor will be let… I look forward to getting fresh air and sun, which I greatly missed here.”

(Ferenczi to Groddeck, Budapest, 15 June 1930, p. 93)

A few weeks later, he informed Freud:

“We are already packing; the new house, almost spic-and-span, awaits us. The move will take place on July 3 or 4. The new address will read:

Lisznyai utca 11.

In the meantime, I am working diligently: seven-eight-nine hours a day; the finer mechanism of ‘psychic trauma’ and its relation to psychosis are also shaping up into a very impressive picture, at least for me.“

(Ferenczi to Freud, Budapest, 29 June 1930, p. 394)

And again about three weeks later, he wrote:

“The move is over. I inhabit the ground floor premises of a pretty villa (the second floor is empty – the cares of a homeowner!). The purchase, the setting things in order and the unavoidable new acquisitions have devoured quite a large part of my assets; the regular expenditures will also increase in the new household, so that I have to work very diligently in order to bring in enough only to meet expenses. But I’m not worried about that for the time being, and what comes later will somehow get straightened out. – The nicest thing about the villa is the fact that, being situated in a capital city, it has a very spacious garden with much grass and some big old trees. Unfortunately, the quiet is often disrupted by gramophone and radio loudspeakers in the neighbourhood, but my study is hermetically sealed.”

(Ferenczi to Freud, Budapest, 20 July 1930, p. 396)

Finally he sent the message about the new house to Jones:

“Perhaps you have already heard, ” he tells Jones, that I have bought a home in the same sort of location as yours, near the city, yet in the country. However, our garden does not yet have the beautiful, smooth English lawn that 400 years of culture have produced in yours. Once again, my warmest greetings to you….

(Ferenczi to Jones, 4 January 1931)

It was her in this house that Ferenczi saw his American patients, among them some of the key figures in the empirical studies he conducted to better understand the interpersonal and intrapsychic processes during analysis and a new approach to trauma. The most famous patients from that period were Elizabeth Severn, Isette de Forest and Clara Thompson (Fortune, 1993; Brennan, 2011; Rachman, 2014). Thompson became one of the founders of the William Alanson White Institute in New York, which would carry on Ferenczi’s way of thinking in the United States. Many analysts of the Budapest School also visited the house, including Michael Balint and Alice Balint, Vilma Kovács, István Hollós and Lajos Lévy (the charismatic GP to both Ferenczi and the Freud family) as well as writers and artists, among them, Oscar Nemon, the great sculptor. Two of our contemporaries also went to the house a number of times as children with their family relations: Judith Dupont and a nephew of Ferenczi’s wife, Gizella, Balázs/Blaise Pásztory. There is no doubt that for Ferenczi those years he spent at this house offered a more independent and liberated life both from a personal and professional point of view.

The House is an example of ‘“lieux de mémoire” [sites of memory], where memory crystallizes’ (Nora, 1989, p. 4) and where ‘[m]emory takes root in the concrete, in spaces, gestures, images and objects’ (ibid., p. 9). In this sense, memory is a sign of a lived attachment, so it is precisely through memory that a sense of continuity grows, as a link between past and present. Memory also plays a role in forming identity and shaping intellectual history. The spirit of the House recalls the emotions tied to the stories and, beyond this, everything that Ferenczi represents and the decisive influence this has had and continues to have on the theoretical development of psychoanalysis and therapy itself. For visitors, colleagues and students, the photos and documents that surround them and the seminars and lectures organized in the house create a special atmosphere that integrates the historical past and the knowledge of our time.
Jones, who was always Ferenczi’s rival, sent red rose plants to the house from London, and these became the centerpiece of the garden. At the same time, after Ferenczi’s death, Jones’s poisoned thorns paralyzed Ferenczi’s reception for decades (Bonomi, 1999; Mészáros, 2003). The last entry in Ferenczi’s Clinical Diary on 2 October 1932, expresses this precisely:

“(I have just received a few personally friendly lines from Jones. He has sent roses…) Can not deny that I was pleasantly touched even by this. I did indeed also feel abandoned by colleagues … who are all too afraid of Freud to behave objectively or even sympathetically toward me, in the case of a dispute between Freud and me.”

(Clinical Diary, 2 October 1932, pp. 212–213)

Ferenczi Ház házavató ünnep, 2011. szeptember

This and many other things may come to mind when someone visits the Ferenczi House. The spirit of the house evokes feelings associated with the stories and, beyond the feelings, all that Ferenczi represented and what later influenced the development of psychoanalysis and today’s psychoanalytic generations. To put it metaphorically, everything that Ferenczi and his students represented has now been provided geographical coordinates on the globe just like the Freud Museum in Vienna or in London.

Ferenzi Ház házavató, 2011. szeptember