The Hungarian psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Leopold Szondi developed intuitively the idea that freedom and constraint are determining man's fate. Constraint does this through - for Szondi mainly - genetically determined predisposition. Freedom, through man's ability to transform the tasks imposed by his predisposition and life's provocations. It makes man change (factor p : identification) and make decisions (factor k : negation and affirmation).

This play of fate through constraint and freedom becomes manifest - says Szondi - in important domains of life: choices in love, friendship, profession, disease and death. These choices are not necessarily made consciously. But every domain reveals an intention (a choice) resulting from the interactions between constraint and freedom. Szondi calls it - referring to Goethe - "Wahlverwantschafte", elective affinities or preferences.

Starting from these clinical intuitions Szondi explored family trees and relations. His specific genetic theory is not recognised by present day human geneticists. Szondi claimed to have discovered a new domain of psychodynamic life he called "the family unconscious", that he situated between Freud's individual unconscious and Jung's collective unconscious.

Looking for a simplification of the research of one's - familial - determinants, Szondi developed a test method based upon the principle of choice. In the test one is invited to express his/her sympathy and antipathy for photo's of mentally ill persons, assuming that the mentally ill person personifies in a radical way the specific factors of the human drive(s).

This is the analytical sense of Szondi's theory. The genetic approach anchors the drives in the genetic material and constitutes the biologising foundation. Szondi developed an alternative form of active analytic psychotherapy based upon his biological - dynamic theory: the Schicksalsanalytic Therapy (fate analytical therapy). This shows probably influences of the Budapest psychoanalytical. school (Ferenczi, Balint, a/o.) he belonged to.


In 1963 Jacques Schotte made a tribute to L. Szondi in "Notice pour introduire le problème structural de la Shicksalsanalyse" (Notice to introduce the structural problem of fate analysis). Doing so he presented the research program for "the School of Louvain": the principle of analysis of the possibilities of the human existence through its difficulties and suffering (pathic).
The "school" preferred to continue the psychoanalytic lecture of Szondi's scheme, putting aside the biological basis, favoring a further exploration of the analytic fundaments, especially the structural value of the drive scheme (Triebsystem). This analysis of Szondi's oeuvre disclosed its fundamental coherence and heuristic sense for the analysis both of a particular existence as well as for human existence in general.
This "tour de force" was accompanied by a rethinking of the whole field of psychiatry and psychoanalysis. It took place in the shadow of another powerful challenge in analysis, developed by Jacques Lacan in Paris, although less aimed at creating disruptive effects, even if it did not less promote radical reorientations in the theory and practice of both psychiatry and psychoanalysis. These developments - aimed at the disclosure of the play and nature of the basic elements at work in every existence bear the seeds of an "antropopsychiatry": to understand better man and man's existence through its pathological experiences, and rediscovering the fundamentally human dimension in every form of mental suffering.
the Leopold Szondi forum of Leo Berlips