Explores the life and work of psychoanalyst Sabina Spielrein through a feminist and mytho-poetic lens.
Long stigmatized as Carl Jung’s hysterical mistress, Sabina Spielrein (1885–1942) was in fact a key figure in the history of psychoanalytic thought. Born into a Russian Jewish family, she was institutionalized at nineteen in Zurich and became Jung’s patient. Spielrein went on to earn a doctorate in psychiatry, practiced for over thirty years, and published numerous papers, until her untimely death in the Holocaust. She developed innovative theories of female sexuality, child development, mythic archetypes in the human unconscious, and the death instinct. In Sabina Spielrein, Angela M. Sells examines Spielrein’s life and work from a feminist and mytho-poetic perspective. Drawing on newly translated diaries, papers, and correspondence with Jung and Sigmund Freud, Sells challenges the suppression of Spielrein’s ideas and shows her to be a significant thinker in her own right.
“This book is a major, perhaps a definitive, contribution to the literature. Angela Sells documents both the demonization of a great psychoanalytic theorist—mainly because she was a woman and worse still, was once Carl Jung’s patient. The book’s greatest strength is its power to enlighten and inform and in so doing, to arouse indignation and amazement at Spielrein’s brilliance and tenacity.” — Phyllis Chesler, author of Women and Madness
“This is a pathbreaking piece of research that not only begins to rehabilitate the reputation of a woman patient of Jung’s, but also suggests that Spielrein was an important contributor in her own right to the beginnings of psychoanalysis.” — Carol P. Christ, coauthor of Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology