workshop header image Leopold Szondi Fate Analysis presented by Zoltan Kovary

EHI’s International Existential Scholars Lecture Series

Leopold Szondi’s “Fate Analysis”: The Lost Central European School of Existential Psychology

Presented by: Zoltán Kőváry, PhD

Saturday, March 4th, 2023 | 10:30am – 12pm Pacific Time
Fee: $20 ($10 for Elders – 65 and over, and students in a graduate program)
Online: Via Zoom through our Event page

Why do we make the choices that we do? How conscious are we of the choices we make and what factors most influence those choices? How free are we in the process of making choices, and to what degree are we predisposed to choose and act in potentially predetermined ways?

Leopold Szondi (1893-1986), proposed that there is a “family unconscious” that can greatly influence our choices; that there is a strong pull toward acting out of a multigenerational family heritage – an unconscious pull that compels us to repeat old and oftentimes dysfunctional patterns. In this way, Szondi was an originator of the concept of personal transgenerational psychology. Szondi conceived of the family unconscious as existing between Freud’s individual unconscious – which Szondi believed speaks the language of symptoms, and Jung’s collective unconscious – which Szondi believed speaks the language of symbols. Szondi believed that the family unconscious speaks the language of choices and without enough self-reflection and self-knowledge, that unconscious force can restrict one’s aliveness and even prevent one from truly being oneself.

In this webinar, Zoltán Kőváry shares his understanding of Leopold Szondi’s “Fate Analysis” and how to employ this approach in psychotherapy to help clients access their capacities to manifest the positive and liberating potential in their family unconscious and to bridge and balance inherent existential polarities like fate and freedom. Professor Kőváry will also integrate his work on the process of psychobiography (a qualitative method in creativity research to unfold personal influences in an artist’s/scientist’s life-work) by discussing how Szondi’s theories support psychobiographical exploration.

Presentation Outline

The significance of Leopold Szondi’s Fate Analysis:

  • His concept of the “family unconscious” as the first manifestation of a transgenerational approach in the history of psychology
  • Unconscious choices as the language of the family unconscious
  • The Szondi-test
  • The existential aspects of Szondi’s theories after WWII
  • The influence of personal experiences, Dostoevsky and Kierkegaard on his thought

Experiential segment: Consider the influence of the family unconscious in your life in small groups!

  • According to Szondi, the family unconscious influences our choices in four areas: the choice of love partners (“ libidotropism”), the choice of profession/vocation (“operotropism”), the choice of world-view and friendships (“idealotropism”) and the unconscious choices of illness/death (“morbotropism”).
  • What kind of patterns can you discover in your family history in these areas? How does it affect your personality, life-history and fate?

The practical application of Szondi’s theories in psychobiographical research:

  • Comparing two famous cousin writers in Hungary’s 20th century intellectual life: Géza Csáth and Dezső Kosztolányi, who both wrote about matricide several times.. How can Szondi’s concept help us to understand their similarities and differences, their choices and fate? What does this tell us about creativity and human existence?

Our Presenter: Zoltán Kőváry, Phd

bio photo of presenter and scholar, Dr Zoltán Kőváry

Zoltán Kőváry, Phd, is a clinical psychologist, litterateur and linguist, writer, musician and amateur ornithologist. He is an associate professor of Clinical Psychology and Addiction at Eötvös Loánd University, Budapest, Hungary and also has a diploma in existential counselling (SFTR). He is the author of four books, the editor or co-editor of a few others and has published dozens of articles in Hungarian and English on psychoanalysis, existential psychology, creativity, dreams, psychobiography and ecopsychology. He is also in private practice, working in an existential context, and is currently being trained in Daseinsanalysis and Logotherapy.

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