In defense of sabina spielrein

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Of all the master-disciple encounters, the most fruitful and fateful was the one between Freud and Jung, ending in a painful parting of the ways, all depicted in the Freud/Jung letters. In some quarters the Freud/Jung split is explained by the old recipe of cherchez la femme, blaming Sabina Spielrein for causing trouble between the two men. In addition, Spielrein was “diagnosed” as schizophrenic. Both the blame and the diagnosis are false. The record shows, as amply reflected in the Freud/Jung correspondence and in the letters exchanged by each of them with Spielrein (as well as Spielrein’s diary), that the relations between the two men were not complicated by Spielrein. New confirmatory evidence comes from letters released by the Jung family at a later date and the recently published clinical chart of Spielrein with details about her family background, her stay at the Burgholzli Asylum, and her condition at discharge. The cumulative effect of the evidence leads to a reappraisal of the Jung/Spielrein love affair. As an aside, the Freud/Jung split had other causes. Evolving against the backdrop of the rupture with Adler, it had to do with disagreements over matters of doctrine, specifically, the sexual etiology of neuroses and psychoses, and was fought out in the arena of interpreting Schreber.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-217
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Forum of Psychoanalysis
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jul 1996


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