Inner circle (psychoanalysis)

Inner circle (psychoanalysis)

Freud's inner circle or Secret Committee consisted of Sigmund Freud's most trusted psychoanalysts.

It was set up in 1912–13 to ensure the future of psychoanalysis, in response to several analysts breaking with his theories including Alfred Adler in 1911 and Wilhelm Stekel in 1912, and the threatened departure of Carl Jung.[1]

Ernest Jones

Ernest Jones recommended to Freud that he should create a group of loyal psychoanalysts, who would privately discuss any question of departure from "any of the fundamental tenets of psychoanalytical theory" before acting at all.[2] The group initially consisted of five members, Jones, Sándor Ferenczi, Otto Rank, Hanns Sachs, and Karl Abraham, all of whom were given a golden ring: Max Eitingon was added to the Committee in 1919.[3]

Freud and Jones had recognised "a boyish perhaps a romantic element too in this conception".[4] later historians have suggested that it was equally a shrewd, partisan move on Jones's part,[5] helping to further isolate Jung, and thus to ensure his own position as the only Gentile in Freud's inner circle.[6]

Later developments

The Committee functioned well for a full decade, despite a world war, but dissension involving Rank and Ferenczi led to its dissolution in 1924.[7]

It was reconstituted the same year, and resumed the practice of sending circular letters, but with Anna Freud replacing Rank.[8]

Lacan would later pay a tribute to Jones as "the last survivor of those to whom the seven rings of the master were given and who attested...that they were not reserved simply for bearers of relics".[9]


  1. ^ Ernest Jones, The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud (1964) p. 415-6
  2. ^ Jones, quoted in Peter Gay, Freud (1989) p. 229-30
  3. ^ Jones, p. 416
  4. ^ Gay, p. 230
  5. ^ Marco Conci, Sullivan Revisited (2011) p. 80-1
  6. ^ Brenda Madox, Freud's Wizard (2007)
  7. ^ Jones, p. 531
  8. ^ Jones, p. 536
  9. ^ Jacques Lacan, Ecrits (1997) p. 81

Annotated bibliography

  • Phyllis Grosskurth, The Secret Ring: Freud's Inner Circle and the Politics of Psychoanalysis, Addison-Wesley Pub. Co., 1991, ISBN 0-201-09037-6 [1]
The book talks about the history of Freud's secret committee, made to ensure the continuation of psychoanalysis' existence.
  • Brenda Webster, Vienna Triangle: A Novel, Wings Press, 2009, ISBN 0-916727-50-5 [2]
The novel tells the story of young woman surveying the historical development of Frued's psychoanalysis.

External links

  • Video with Brenda Webster
  • Book review: A tangled 'Vienna Triangle'
  • Secret Committee