Sabina Spielrein

The Woman and the Myth

By Angela M. Sells

Subjects: Women's Studies, Psychology, Jewish Studies, Biography, Psychoanalysis
Paperback : 9781438465784, 296 pages, July 2018
Hardcover : 9781438465791, 296 pages, August 2017

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Table of contents

List of Images

1. Sabina Spielrein: A Life and Legacy Explored

2. Trauma, Transference, and Suppression: Sabina Spielrein and the Myth of Echo (and Narcissus)

3. An Affair Misremembered: Sabina Spielrein and the So-Called Love Cure

4. Writing as a Way of Coming into Being (Sabina Spielrein’s Diaries)

5. Sabina Spielrein in Academia: Destruction and Transformation

6. Sabina Spielrein’s Correspondence and Traps of the“Feminine”

7. Sabina Spielrein: Coming into Being


Appendix A: Timeline for Sabina Spielrein as Reflected in Sabina Spielrein: The Woman and the Myth with Select Bibliography
Appendix B: Contributions to the Knowledge of a Child’s Soul
Appendix C: Sabina Spielrein in Image and on the Page
Appendix D: Images of Myths Mentioned

Copyright Acknowledgments

Explores the life and work of psychoanalyst Sabina Spielrein through a feminist and mytho-poetic lens.


Gold Winner for Psychology, 2017 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards

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.

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


"Written with an insistence and energy that are rare in a book of this kind, the text makes an important contribution to studies of Spielrein; indeed, this is a seminal text in terms of the unflinching and meticulous approach which is taken to refuting a significant body of material that has for some time been engaged in denying full presence to a significant figure in the history of psychoanalysis." — The Year's Work in Critical and Cultural Theory

"…[an] impressive book … Sells' scholarship is stunningly diverse." — Tablet

"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