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Kaspit, D. (1994). A Most Dangerous Method: The Story of Jung, Freud, and Sabina Spielrein. By John Kerr. New York: Knopf, 1993, 688 pp., $30.00.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 42:883-891.

(1994). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 42:883-891

A Most Dangerous Method: The Story of Jung, Freud, and Sabina Spielrein. By John Kerr. New York: Knopf, 1993, 688 pp., $30.00.

Review by:
Donald Kaspit, Ph.D.

John Kerr narrates, yet again, the history of the legendary relationship between Freud and Jung, lasting from March 1907 to September 1913, and of the special role of Sabina Spielrein in it. Aldo Carotenuto (1982) already examined Spielrein's intense relationship to both, publishing her diary (1909–1912), in which she deals at length with her complex involvement with Jung, who was at once her therapist, mentor, and lover (although more on that later), and her letters to Freud and Jung as well as Freud's letters to her. The ostensible occasion of Kerr's book is the discovery of two more caches of Spielrein's letters. But Kerr does much more than report their rich contents, and integrate their information in our understanding of the peculiar ménage à trois, if that is not overstating the "love" triangle, which was largely a matter of Platonic, intellectual love—it too can be exciting—however physically intimate it became at times (as demonstrated by the various faintings of Freud in Jung's presence, which gave the latter a chance to carry—metaphorically embrace?—the former, as perhaps pallbearer and neo-father at once, to the "ecstatic kissing" of Jung and Spielrein, with other "somatizings" along the way). Kerr's ambition is at once novelistic and critical. Like a kind of omniscient contemporary eyewitness, he eloquently dramatizes the chronology of the relationship, with an extraordinary flair for detail.

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