Judith Dupont


Award Year: 2013

dupont_2011_mark_300I was born in Budapest, Hungary, on September 22, 1925. My father, Ladislas Dormandi, was a publisher and a writer. My mother, Olga Székely-Kovács (Dormandi) was a painter. Several of my relatives were psychoanalysts, pupils of Sándor Ferenczi : My grand-mother Vilma Kovács, my aunt Alice Balint, her husband, Michael Balint.

My parents and I left Hungary for France in 1938, for the well-known historical reasons. We survived the German occupation thanks to my father’s intelligent strategy.  I finished college and then medical school in Paris. I started my analysis with Daniel Lagache at the end of my medical studies, married and have two children.

I worked in various organizations as analyst and at the same time started private practice.

Literary representative of Ferenczi after Michael Balint, I translated, with the cooperation of a team of colleagues Ferenczi’s work, his correspondence with Freud, and had this work and correspondence translated in many languages. I participated also in the translation of a great part of Michael Balint’s work. I have also written a book and many papers in various languages.

I founded a review, “Le Coq-Héron”, which is more than 40 years old by now, and was more or less the first to publish papers of Ferenczi, Balint and some other Hungarian authors, unknown to French analytical public.

Etty Cohen, Ph.D. – Introductory Remarks

Good evening to all of you gathered tonight to celebrate the 2013 winner of the Sigourney Award, Dr. Judith Dupont. Please join me in welcoming Dr. Dupont’s daughter, Helene Century, and her family Paul, Moah, Barbara, and Adam a well as Michael and Alice Balint’s son, John, and his family Simon, and Jane Ramsey. Unfortunately, Dr. Dupont was not able to be here tonight because she cannot sustain the demands of international travel.

The Sigourney Committee is presenting this award in recognition of Judith Dupont’s many contributions to psychoanalysis. These include her pivotal role in “the Ferenczi renaissance” of the past few decades, as well as the development of her own psychoanalytic ideas regarding technique, practice, and training.

I am honored that Judith has asked me to introduce her in abstentia to you tonight, and to present to you a summary of her biography and her contributions to the field of psychoanalysis.

The main challenge in writing this introduction is how to introduce a person whose generosity, contributions, and scholarship are matched only by her modesty. Dr. Dupont presents us with a paradox. On the one hand, she is a woman of creativity and originality whose ideas stand on their own. On the other hand, she is a woman one of whose contribution has been to bring forth someone else’s legacy.

My first impression of Judith Dupont came during a five day post-Ferenczi conference tour in Israel some 15 years ago. On that trip I saw a woman who in her quiet way, was interesting in everything and took in everything. She had a curiosity about the land, a yearning to delve into it, understand it, uncover it’s mysteries, as if the land itself were a patient and she, that patient’s deeply engaged psychoanalyst.

Judith was born in Budapest in 1925 and immigrated to France with her family in 1938. She comes from a family that was deeply involved in the emerging world of psychoanalysis. Her father, Ladislas Dormandi, was a writer editor and publisher. He published Ferenczi’s book, Thalasa: A Theory of Genitality, as well as the writings of Alice Balint. Judith Dupont’s mother, Olga, Szekely-Kovacs, was the daughter of Vilma Kovacs and the younger sister of Alice Balint, making Alice Balint Judith’s aunt. Olga was a painter who also created caricatures for ‘a Future Galerie of the Founders of Psychoanalysis’ and the images of the Object Relation Tests. Dupont’s grandmother Vilma Kovács, her aunt Alice Balint, and Alice’s husband, Michael Balint were all Ferenczi’s students or analysands.

Dr. Dupont studied medicine after the end of the Second World War and it was in medical school that she met a fellow student Jacques Dupont who became her husband. Together they have two children, Pierre and Helene. In 1954, Dr. Dupont began a four-year training analysis with Daniel Lagache, and after that became a member of the Association Psychoanalytique de France. In 1969 she founded the French psychoanalytic journal Coq-Héron, which was one of the first journals to publish Ferenczi’s work at a time when Ferenczi was still disparaged by the larger psychoanalytic community. This journal also published Balint’s writings as well as the work of other analysts who were not part of the French psychoanalytic mainstream at the time. Dr. Dupont’s husband, Jacques, printed the Coq-Heron 30 years before it was published by Erès. The Coq-Héron is now publishing its 213 volume. Dupont is still actively involved in producing the journal.

Dr. Dupont was chosen by Michael Balint to replace him as Sándor Ferenczi’s literary executer, and she did so after Balint’s death in 1970. Dr. Dupont invested endless effort in uncovering and publishing Ferenczi’s work, and encouraging its translation into many languages. Her efforts included publishing for the first time his Clinical Diary of 1932 as well as the uncensored Freud-Ferenczi and Groddeck-Ferenczi correspondences. It is Dupont’s passion and determination that led to the publication of these unique, original documents. She has been dedicated for 50 years to publishing, translating, writing about and disseminating the work of Ferenczi, and it is in large part thanks to her efforts that Ferenczi’s influence has changed the course of contemporary psychoanalysis.

In addition, Dr. Dupont led a team group of colleagues who worked on translating extensive portions of Balint’s work into French.  Dr. Dupont has also written extensively about trauma, and she has produced scholarly works elaborating, comparing, and expanding the views on trauma as originally developed by Freud, Ferenczi, and Balint. Dr. Dupont’s papers also include writings on Alice Balint, Rank, and Grodeck.

Dr. Dupont has published 69 papers, five book chapters in French, English and other languages, and 10 introductions to books, and special journal issues. Her book titled, “Manual for Use by Children Who Have Difficult Parents” appeared in 10 languages. Some titles of other papers regarding children include, “The Problem of the ‘perfect’ Child,” and “From child’s curiosity to science” The primary focus of her work, however, has to do with the problems of analytic training and techniques. I wish I had time tonight to do justice to the enormity and breadth of Dr. Dupont’s contributions.

For the past 20 years she has had a central role in developing, facilitating Ferenczi conferences all over the world, often as a keynote speaker, discussant, spending countless hours reviewing and editing papers giving at those conferences.

Ferenczi’s archives ended up in the Freud Museum in London in May of 2012. Dupont donated Ferenczi’s original Clinical Diary and Ferenczi’s manuscript notebook to the museum on the condition that they will be made accessible to anyone who is interested in studying the life and work of Sandor Ferenczi. By doing this Dupont sought to ensure that Ferenczi’s legacy and ideas would continue to inspire new generations of scholars.

Let me end with an idea expressed by Judith in her introduction to the Ferenczi’s Diary:

Psychoanalysts are…the products of the imperfections of their practice. This is probably what has earned psychoanalysis the reputation of being “the impossible profession” (p. xxvvii).

I am honoured to have had the opportunity to introduce to you a woman who has worked so hard to discover that in psychoanalysis “everyone does it in a different way and in a different rhythm,” whose contributions have made the work a little more possible, and who has helped us find our own rhythm in the music of psychoanalysis.