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Sabina Naftulovna Spielrein (Russian: Сабина Нафтуловна Шпильрейн, also transliterated "Shpilrein" or "Shpilreyn"; 7 November 1885 – 12 or 14 August 1942) was a Russian physician and one of the first female psychoanalysts. She was in succession the patient, then student, then colleague of Carl Gustav Jung. She also met, corresponded, and had a collegial relationship with Sigmund Freud. One of her more famous analysands was the Swiss developmental psychologist, Jean Piaget. She worked as a psychoanalyst and teacher in Switzerland and Russia. Her best known and perhaps most influential published work in the field of psychoanalysis is the essay titled "Destruction as the Cause of Coming Into Being", written in German in 1912.
Early life, education and family
She was born 1885 into a family of Jewish doctors in Rostov-on-Don, Russian Empire. Her mother was a dentist, her father an entomologist, who, after moving from Warsaw to Rostov, became a successful merchant. One of her brothers, Isaac Spielrein, was a Soviet psychologist, a pioneer of work psychology. In 1912 Spielrein married Pavel Scheftel, a physician of Russian Jewish descent. They had two daughters: Renate, born 1913, and Eva, born 1924.
Before enrolling as a student of medicine in Zürich, Spielrein was admitted in August 1904 to the Burghölzli mental hospital near Zürich, where Carl Jung worked at that time, and remained there until June 1905. While there, she established a deep emotional relationship with Jung who later was her medical dissertation advisor. The historian and psychoanalyst Peter Loewenberg argues that this was a sexual relationship, in breach of professional ethics, and that it "jeopardized his position at the Burghölzli and led to his rupture with Bleuler and his departure from the University of Zurich". Spielrein graduated in 1911, and was later that year elected a member of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. Her dissertation, "Concerning the Psychological Content of a Case of Schizophrenia", was the first dissertation written by a woman that was psychoanalytically oriented. It was published in 1911 as the lead paper in the Jahrbuch für psychoanalytische und psychopathologische Forschungen, which was edited by Jung. She continued working with Jung until 1912. She first wrote to Sigmund Freud in 1909, first met him in 1911 in Vienna, and continued meeting and corresponding with him at least until 1923.
In 1923, Spielrein returned to Soviet Russia and with Vera Schmidt established a kindergarten in Moscow, nicknamed "The White Nursery" by the children (all furniture and walls having been white). The institution was committed to bringing up children as free persons as early as possible. "The White Nursery" was closed down three years later by the authorities under false accusations of sexual perversion with the children (in fact, Stalin actually enrolled his own son, Vasily, into the "White Nursery" under a false name).
Spielrein is not often given more than a footnote in the history of the development of psychoanalysis for her conception of the sexual drive as containing both an instinct of destruction and an instinct of transformation, presented to the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society in 1912, but this conception anticipates both Freud's "death drive" and Jung's views on "transformation". Toward almost the end of Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920), Freud explicitly mentions her in that famous footnote, acknowledging that "A considerable part of this speculation has been anticipated in [her] work". Spielrein's letters, journals and copies of hospital records have been published, as has her correspondence with Jung and Freud.
- A documentary, Ich hieß Sabina Spielrein (My Name is Sabina Spielrein), was made in 2002 by the Hungarian-born Swedish director Elisabeth Marton and was released in the United States in late 2005. The documentary was released in the U.S. by Facets Video, a subsidiary of Facets Multi-Media.
- A 2002 biopic The Soul Keeper (Prendimi l’Anima), directed by Roberto Faenza, with Emilia Fox as Spielrein and Iain Glen as Carl Gustav Jung.
- Spielrein figures prominently in two contemporary British plays: Sabina (1998) by Snoo Wilson and The Talking Cure (2003) by Christopher Hampton (based on the book A Most Dangerous Method) in which Ralph Fiennes played Jung on the London stage. Both plays were preceded by the Off Broadway production of Sabina (1996) by Willy Holtzman.
- Hampton adapted his own play for a feature film called A Dangerous Method (2011), produced by Jeremy Thomas, directed by David Cronenberg, and starring Keira Knightley as Spielrein.
- (German) Spielrein, Sabina (1912). "Die Destruktion als Ursache des Werdens". Jahrbuch für psychoanalytische und psychopathologische Forschungen IV: 465–503. Retrieved October 14, 2012.
- 1) Spielrein, Sabina (April 1994). "Destruction as the Cause of Coming Into Being". Journal of Analytical Psychology 39 (2): 155–186. doi:10.1111/j.1465-5922.1994.00155.x. Retrieved October 14, 2012. Free pdf of the full essay by the Arizona Psychoanalytic Society. Retrieved October 14, 2012.
- 2) Spielrein, Sabina (1995). "Destruction as Cause of Becoming". Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought 18: 85–118. Retrieved October 14, 2012.
- (German) Spielrein, Sabina. Sämtliche Schriften. Giessen: Psychosozial-Verlag, 2008. (All of Spielrein's writings. In German. No English language edition.)
- Victor Ovcharenko - the Russian scientist who first introduced Sabina Spielrein's biography to the public in post-Soviet times.
- Schepeler, E. M. (1993). "Jean Piaget's experiences on the couch: Some clues to a mystery". International Journal of Psycho-Analysis 74 (2): 255–273. PMID 8491531.
- Vidal, F. (2003). "Sabina Spielrein, Jean Piaget—going their own ways (P. Bennett, Trans.)". In Covington, C.; Wharton, B. Sabina Spielrein: Forgotten Pioneer of Psychoanalysis. New York: Brunner-Routledge. pp. 271–280. ISBN 1-58391-903-1.
- Diu, Nisha Lilia (28 August 2011). "Jung Love: Sabina Spielrein, a forgotten pioneer of psychoanalysis". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 1 January 2012.
- Sabina Spielrein.
- Isaac Spielrein.
- Loewenberg, Peter (1995). "The Creation of A Scientific Community: The Burghölzli, 1902-1914". Fantasy and Reality in History. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 76. ISBN 9780195067637.
- (Russian) Petryuk PT, LI Bondarenko, AP Petryuk. Contribution of Professor Ivan Dmitrievich Ermakov in the development of psychiatry and psychoanalysis (the 130th anniversary of his birth). News psihіatrії that psihofarmakoterapії. - 2005. - № 2. - S. 143-147.
- "About Rostov : Remembering Rostov". rememberingrostov.com. Retrieved January 23, 2012.
- Bettelheim, Bruno (1983) "A Secret Asymmetry" in Freud's Vienna and Other Essays. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
- Freud, Sigmund (1922). "Beyond the Pleasure Principle". Editorial Preface by Ernest Jones. Translated by C. J. M. Hubback. Bartleby.com. Retrieved May 23, 2013. "A considerable part of this speculation has been anticipated in a work which is full of valuable matter and ideas but is unfortunately not entirely clear to me: (Sabina Spielrein: Die Destruktion als Ursache des Werdens, Jahrbuch für Psychoanalyse, IV, 1912). She designates the sadistic component as 'destructive'."
- Sabina Spielrein at the Internet Movie Database.
- Carotenuto, Aldo. A Secret Symmetry: Sabina Spielrein Between Jung and Freud. New York: Pantheon, 1982 (One source states a revised edition in 1983; elsewhere 1984 is given as the year of publication. Originally published in Italian: Carotenuto, Aldo, Diario di una segreta simmetria. Sabina Spielrein tra Jung e Freud. Rome, Astrolabio, 1980 [a more recent Italian edition was published in 1999]. The German edition contains some of Jung's letters to Spielrein [the English editions do not]: Carotenuto, Aldo: Tagebuch einer heimlichen Symmetrie : Sabina Spielrein zwischen Jung und Freud. Freiburg im Breisgau: Kore, 1986. According to the bibliography of William Kerr's A Most Dangerous Method [page 571], the book A Secret Symmetry "contains the extant portions of Spierein's diary during the years 1909-1912 as well as her letters to both Freud and Jung.")
- Covington, C. (2001) Comments on the Burghölzli hospital records of Sabina Spielrein J. Analytical Psychology, 46, 105-116
- Fusar-Poli,Paolo. Sabina Spielrein. Am J Psychiatry 2012;169:21-21
- Goldberg, A. (1984) A Secret Symmetry. Sabina Spielrein Between Jung and Freud. Psychoanal Q., 53:135-137
- Hoffner, A. (2001) Jung's Analysis of Sabina Spielrein and his use of Freud's free association method J. Analytical Psychology, 46, 117-128
- Kerr, J. (1993) A Most Dangerous Method: The Story of Jung, Freud and Sabina Spielrein.. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
- Launer, John. "The problem with sex." QJM: An International Journal of Medicine 100 (2007): 669-670. (Can be read online at publisher's web site. Brief summary of Spielrein's attempt to reconcile psychoanalysis with evolutionary theory and developmental psychology).
- Launer, John. Sex versus Survival. The Story of Sabina Spielrein: her life, her ideas, her genius. John Launer, 2011. (Self-published biography of Spielrein. Also available as an e-book. The introduction and part of chapter one can be read online.)
- Raphael-Leff, J. (1983) A Secret Symmetry. Sabina Spielrein Between Jung and Freud. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 10:241-242
- Richebächer, Sabine (2003) "In league with the devil, and yet you fear fire?" Sabina Spielrein and C. G. Jung: A suppressed scandal from the early days of psychoanalysis. Covington, C. and Wharton, B. Sabina Spielrein. Forgotten pioneer of psychoanalysis. Brunner-Routledge, Hove and New York, 227-249
- Richebächer, Sabine (2005) Sabina Spielrein. "Eine fast grausame Liebe zur Wissenschaft". Biographie 400 p. Dörlemann Zürich
- Silverman, M. (1985) A Secret Symmetry. Sabina Spielrein Between Jung And Freud. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 33(S):205-209
- Thompson, N. (1996) Freud, Jung And Sabina Spielrein: A Most Dangerous Method.. Psychoanal Q., 65:644-649
- Van Waning, A. (1992) The Works of Pioneering Psychoanalyst Sabina Spielrein—'Destruction as a Cause of Coming Into Being'. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 19:399-414
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sabina Spielrein.|
- Audio Lecture about C. G. Jung and Sabina Spielrein Speilrein's impact on Jung's development (hosted at The Gnosis Archive).
- Ovcharenko, V. (1992) The Destiny of Sabina Spielrein (in Russian, archived link)
- Record for Sabina Spielrein in The Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names