Sabina Spielrein: The Woman and the Myth

SUNY Press
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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
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About the author

 Angela M. Sells received her PhD in Mythology from the Pacifica Graduate Institute.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Published on
Jul 25, 2017
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Pages
296
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ISBN
9781438465807
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Women
Psychology / Movements / Psychoanalysis
Social Science / Women's Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Psychoanalytic Pioneers is a comprehensive history of psychoanalysis as seen through the lives and the works of its most eminent teachers, thinkers, and clinicians. It is also a definitive portrait of the atmosphere in which psychoanalytic creativity has emerged and flourished. Going beyond mere biographical description, the contributors elucidate the contributions of various psychoanalysts to the evolution of psychoanalytic thought, and evaluate their roles in the development of psychoanalysis as a science, as a method of investigation, as a treatment technique, and as an organization. The editors have assembled profiles of Karl Abraham, Sandor Ferenczi, Otto Rank, Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, Ernest Jones, Paul Federn, Oskar Pfister, Harms Sachs, A.A. Brill, Sandor Rado, Theodor Reik, Melanie Klein, Otto Fenichel, Karen Horney, Heinz Hartmann, Ernst Kris, and twenty-four other pioneers, whose influence on psychoanalysis reverberates to this day.

In a new introduction, Eisenstein maintains that while man and his unconscious have not changed much since Freud's time, today psychoanalysis is full of many different clinical and theoretical viewpoints. Among the ideas being debated are object theory, drive theory, the oedipal concept, intersubjectivity, and self-psychology. Eisenstein also discusses the contributions of psychohistory, a recent and significant development in psychoanalysis in which psychological study is applied to historical periods and personalities. "Psychoanalytic Pioneers "will be an important addition to the libraries of psychoanalysts, psychologists, psychiatrists, sociologists, historians, and anyone interested in the influence of psychoanalysis in our lives.

The daughter of French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan tries to make sense of her relationship with her father.

“When I was born, my father was already no longer there.” Sibylle Lacan's memoir of her father, the influential French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, is told through fragmentary, elliptical episodes, and describes a figure who had defined himself to her as much by his absence as by his presence. Sibylle was the second daughter and unhappy last child of Lacan's first marriage: the fruit of despair (“some will say of desire, but I do not believe them”). Lacan abandoned his old family for a new one: a new partner, Sylvia Bataille (the wife of Georges Bataille), and another daughter, born a few months after Sibylle. For years, this daughter, Judith, was the only publicly recognized child of Lacan—even if, due to French law, she lacked his name.

In one sense, then, A Father presents the voice of one who, while bearing his name, had been erased. If Jacques Lacan had described the word as a “presence made of absence,” Sibylle Lacan here turns to the language of the memoir as a means of piecing together the presence of a man who had entered her life in absence, and in his passing, finished in it. In its interplay of absence, naming, and the despair engendered by both, A Father ultimately poses an essential question: what is a father? This first-person account offers both a riposte and a complement to the concept (and the name) of the father as Lacan had defined him in his work, and raises difficult issues about the influence biography can have on theory—and vice versa—and the sometimes yawning divide that can open up between theory and the lives we lead.

Man and His Symbols owes its existence to one of Jung's own dreams. The great psychologist dreamed that his work was understood by a wide public, rather than just by psychiatrists, and therefore he agreed to write and edit this fascinating book. Here, Jung examines the full world of the unconscious, whose language he believed to be the symbols constantly revealed in dreams. Convinced that dreams offer practical advice, sent from the unconscious to the conscious self, Jung felt that self-understanding would lead to a full and productive life. Thus, the reader will gain new insights into himself from this thoughtful volume, which also illustrates symbols throughout history. Completed just before his death by Jung and his associates, it is clearly addressed to the general reader.

Praise for Man and His Symbols

“This book, which was the last piece of work undertaken by Jung before his death in 1961, provides a unique opportunity to assess his contribution to the life and thought of our time, for it was also his firsat attempt to present his life-work in psychology to a non-technical public. . . . What emerges with great clarity from the book is that Jung has done immense service both to psychology as a science and to our general understanding of man in society, by insisting that imaginative life must be taken seriously in its own right, as the most distinctive characteristic of human beings.”—Guardian

“Straighforward to read and rich in suggestion.”—John Barkham, Saturday Review Syndicate

“This book will be a resounding success for those who read it.”—Galveston News-Tribune

“A magnificent achievement.”—Main Currents

“Factual and revealing.”—Atlanta Times
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