The Ferenczi House/International Ferenczi Center and Archives, Budapest

Ferenczi’s Former Office as the International Ferenczi Center

In 2011, the Ferenczi Society and the International Ferenczi Foundation purchased the apartment that had served as Ferenczi’s office in what had once been his villa in Budapest. This was the result of an international fundraising effort with almost 300 donors, both institutions and private individuals (see the List of Donors). The author and co-author of the Ferenczi House fundraising project were Judit Mészáros, Budapest, and Carlo Bonomi, Florence. The former Ferenczi office now represents the Ferenczi House/International Ferenczi Center, which serves as a venue for seminars and lectures, with Archives that also offer rich research opportunities.

What did the Villa Mean to Ferenczi?

The Ferenczi HouseFerenczi was happy to have become the owner of a sunlit garden and villa in Budapest’s elegant Naphegy (‘sun hill’) district. The place stimulated him, so despite the short period he lived there, from 1930 until his death in 1933, he completed his most widely cited publications: the one that represented a paradigm shift in trauma theory, Confusion of Tongues between Adults and the Child (Ferenczi, 1933), and his Clinical Diary (Ferenczi, 1932). He shared the great news of his new home with Groddeck, Freud and Jones:

…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)

Ferenczi hired an architect for the rebuilding, which would involve all three storeys. The documentation can be found in the Ferenczi Center. Ferenczi and his wife, Gizella Ferenczi, moved into the first storey, where he also had his office. Ferenczi wrote enthusiastic letters to Freud before and after they moved into the 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. … 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 here 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 physician 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.

What Does the House Mean for Today’s Generation? – Genius Loci

The spirit of the place (genius loci), an identity-forming space, creates continuity between the past and present. 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.

The Archives constitute the soul of the House, the legacy of the members of the Budapest School, even from the perspective of what is MISSING from the Archives, of WHAT IS NOT there, but certainly also from the perspective of WHAT IS there and WHAT IS GROWING. The Ferenczi Archives represent a clear impression of the dichotomy brought about by emigration. Emigration tore the Budapest School apart: those who emigrated and those who remained and survived not only the Holocaust and the dark days of Nazism, but also, later – for psychoanalysis as well – the chill years of Stalinist dictatorship. (Mészáros, 2012) The Archives contain the legacy (the correspondence, photographs, publications and manuscripts) of those from the first and second generations of analysts who remained in Hungary, such as Dr Imre Hermann, Dr István Hollós and Dr Lilly Hajdu. Three of them also became presidents of the Hungarian Psychoanalytical Society, which had been founded by Ferenczi in 1913 and was dissolved in 1949. Part of the legacy originates from émigré psychoanalysts like Edit Gyömrői Ludowyk, who, amid the two waves of emigration, first settled in Vienna and then Berlin, was later forced to flee Budapest again to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and finally resettled in London. Her legacy – correspondence, works of art (fabrics she had woven), manuscripts and books dedicated to her – has been returned from London to the Ferenczi House. The Archives also hold informative period documents that make reference to the persecution of psychoanalysis and to the underground years of its practitioners surrounded by the political and social tensions of the day. We see it as a priority to make the documents of the Ferenczi Archives available in digitized form as soon as possible. This year, in cooperation with the Budapest City Archives, we will launch the digitization of over 25,000 pages of material.

Education – Lectures and Seminars – in the Ferenczi House

For today’s generations, the Ferenczi House also represents a space for academic exchange. Thus, from the perspectives of the past, present and future, the spirit of the House is not an unchanged entity. It is shaped by those who have established it, who use it and who visit it.

Many visit the House precisely for that reason and deepen their knowledge during the lectures with this added emotional element. For example, the American students in the summer school at the Institute for the International Education of Students Abroad in Vienna return year after year to hear lectures on Ferenczi in the Ferenczi House, and then take in all the familiar sites in Budapest that are associated with the history of psychoanalysis in Hungary.

The House has provided a venue for lectures, seminars and meetings with individuals and groups from all over the world. Recently, groups have come to hold seminars and lectures from the US, Australia, Israel, France, Belgium, Norway, Turkey, Ukraine and Sweden.

We plan to organize one-week summer school events as of next year. The first summer school event will be held in Florence under the auspices of the Ferenczi House (see the programme).

The Red Rose in the Garden as a Symbol of a Future Together

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). 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. A more restrained circulation of letters between Freud, Jones and Eitingon has certainly been going on for a long time now. I am treated like a sick person who must be spared. (Clinical Diary, 2 October 1932, pp. 212–213)

And for one afternoon in 2013, on the hundredth birthday of the Hungarian Psychoanalytical Society, founded by Ferenczi, and on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Ferenczi Society, the Ferenczi House tied the past to the present through a special collective experience. What else could have captured the desire for historical continuity better than the red rose plant that the current generation of analysts put into the ground on behalf of both societies 80 years later in the very spot where Ferenczi had once enjoyed his roses?


The International Ferenczi Center has been enriched by donations of books – and even a bust – which have taken the long path of emigration and return. This is how we received first editions of Ferenczi’s books owned by András József (alias Adolf Fish), the father of our analyst colleague Kati Morrison, from Canada, a bust of István Székács-Schönberger from his son András Székács, from Denmark, and the complete legacy of Székács-Schönberger, a contemporary of Robert Bak’s, from his widow Cathy Michel.

How to Go Further

The Ferenczi villa was once Ferenczi’s home. The Ferenczi House was brought to life by the current generation of the Ferenczi Network in order to create a site of ‘memory captured by history’ (Nora, 1990, as cited in Horváth, 1999, n.p.), a site for the formation of identity, which has been created by the will or intention of the community in a process of transformation and renewal, and whose efforts build and maintain it. And, in the future, the Ferenczi House will become what the community of the Ferenczi Network makes of it in keeping with its activities, its interests and its intentions. The House is open for small scholarly meetings, seminars, lectures and visits. Indeed, all of you are welcome to join and create the present and future of the Ferenczi Center.

Judit Mészáros


Bonomi, C. (1999). Flight into sanity: Jones’s allegation of Ferenczi’s mental deterioration reconsidered. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 80: 507–42.

Brennan, B.W. (2011). On Ferenczi: A Response — From Elasticity to the Confusion of Tongues and the technical dimensions of Ferenczi’s approach. Psychoanalytic Perspectives, 8(1), 1–21

Ferenczi, S. (1932). The Clinical Diary. J. Dupont (Ed.), M. Balint and N. Z. Jackson (Trans.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 1988.

Ferenczi, S. (1933). Confusion of tongues between adults and the child. In, Final contributions to the problems and methods of psycho-analysis, M. Balint (Ed.) (pp. 156–167). London: Karnac Books. 1988.

Ferenczi, S. & Groddeck, G. (1921-1933). The Sándor Ferenczi–George Groddeck Letters 1921–1933. C. Fortune (Ed.) London: Open Gate Press. 2002.

Ferenczi, S. & Jones, E. (1911-1933). Sándor Ferenczi–Ernest Jones: Letters 1911–1933. F. Erös, J. Szekacs-Weisz & K. Robinson (Eds.) London: Karnac Books. 2013.

Fortune, C. (1993). The case of “R. N.”: Sándor Ferenczi’s radical experiment in psychoanalysis. In L. Aron and A. Harris (Eds.), The legacy of Sándor Ferenczi (pp. 101–120). Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press.

Freud, S. & Ferenczi, S. (1920-1933). The Correspondence of Sigmund Freud and Sándor Ferenczi, Volume 3, 1920–1933. E. Brabant, E. Falzeder & P. Giampieri-Deutsch (Eds.) P. Hoffer (Trans.), with an Introduction by Judith Dupont. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 2000.

Horváth, K. (1999). Az eltűnt emlékezet nyomában [In search of lost memory]. Aetas, 14(3), 132–141. Available at:

Mészáros, J. (2012). Effect of Dictatorial Regimes on the Psychoanalytic Movement in Hungary before and after World War II. In: Psychoanalysis and Politics: Histories of Psychoanalysis under Conditions of Restricted Political Freedom. J. Damousi and M. Plotkin (Eds.) (pp. 79-108) Oxford University Press, New York.

Nora, P. (1989). Between memory and history: Les lieux de mémoire. Representations, 26 (Special Issue: Memory and Counter-Memory), 7–24.

Rachman, A. W. (2015). Elizabeth Severn: Sándor Ferenczi’s analysand and collaborator in the study and treatment of trauma. In A. Harris & S. Kuchuck (Eds.), The legacy of Sándor Ferenczi: Vol. 2, From ghost to ancestor (pp. 111–126). London: Routledge Press.

How to Get in Contact with The Ferenczi House and What to do When You Plan to Visit

Please indicate your wish to visit the House several weeks before you arrive so we can ensure that it is open and can arrange a guide and/or other activities there.

Email address:

Address: Lisznyai utca 11., 1055 Budapest, Hungary

Donation: We gratefully accept your kind donations to the development of the Ferenczi House. Please make your transfer to the following bank account of the Ferenczi International Foundation: (IBAN) HU82 1160 0006 0000 0000 4514 0992. Erste Bank Hungary ZRT.