Having Been Who We’ll Be. On autoplastic empathy

  • Elena De Silvestri
Keywords: Mimetic Empathy, Ferenczi, Fédida, Symptom, Childhood, Deleuze, Autoplasticity, Alloplasticity


In a 1932 essay Sandor Ferenczi investigates the problem of psycho-analytic technique starting from a specific observation: some patients seem to demonstrate an extreme empathic subtlety, which makes it difficult for the analyst to maintain a neutral position. Which status to assign to this empathy-symptom, which is counterbalanced by the analyst's empathy-technique? This paper aims to investigate this prompt: the 'technical' application of empathy (or empathic capacity) would need to be modulated around a fundamental symptom. In particular, we will interrogate the notion of “alloplastic adaptation” as it emerges in Ferenczi's analyses, juxtaposing it with the reflections of some authors - as Sigmund Freud, Pierre Fédida and Gilles Deleuze – who intercepted the same interweaving.