A SECRET SYMMETRY: The Story of Sabina Spielrein, kung, and Freud by Aldo Carotenuto

A SECRET SYMMETRY: The Story of Sabina Spielrein, kung, and Freud

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The recent discovery of Russian-born Spielrein's letters and diaries reveals a potentially fascinating story: severely disturbed as a teenager, she became lung's patient in 1904, fell in love with him (and, to a degree, vice versa), became a psychiatrist herself, and eventually appealed to Freud for help in her tormented non-affair with lung. (She disappeared amid Stalinist 1930s purges.) Here, however, the story emerges in fragmented, problematic form. Carotenuto reprints Spielrein's short diary, in which, circa 1910, she laments her impossible (but requited) love for her married idol, fantasizes having his child. Then follow Spielrein's 1917 letters to lung (re analytic theory, attempting a Freud/lung interface) and the Spielrein/Freud correspondence--which reveals that her obsession continued into the 1910s, with Freud (now hostile to lung) urging her to cast aside ""infantile dreams of the Germanic champion and hero."" Unfortunately, however, the Jung-to-Spielrein letters are for now being repressed--making it difficult to evaluate the fact/fantasy material here. And Carotenuto,"" a Jungian, offers only a few brief, professional-journal-style essays: he analyzes Spielrein's published papers in the light of her own pathology; likewise, he suggests a connection between lung's real-life ""psychotic counter-transference"" and his writing of The Psychology of the Transference (Spielrein, ""vibrant with feeling. . . offered lung a forceful spur for his spiritual growth""); and he uses the letters to support--with some strained arguments--his own view of the Freud/lung split. Recent interest in the subjectivity of psychoanalytic theories may be a drawing-point here, then. But the story itself will have to wait for its full dramatization, and this remains chiefly a clutch of raw materials for the lung/Freud professionals.

Pub Date: May 10th, 1982
Publisher: Pantheon