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Hubback, J. (1983). Carotenuto, Aldo. A Secret Symmetry: Sabina Spielrein Between Jung and Freud. Translated by Arno Pomerans, John Shepley and Krishna Winston. New York, Pantheon 1982. Pp. xix+250. $16.95.. J. Anal. Psychol., 28(1):73-75.

(1983). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 28(1):73-75

Carotenuto, Aldo. A Secret Symmetry: Sabina Spielrein Between Jung and Freud. Translated by Arno Pomerans, John Shepley and Krishna Winston. New York, Pantheon 1982. Pp. xix+250. $16.95.

Review by:
Judith Hubback

Edited by:
Corinna Peterson

In 1904, at the age of eighteen, Sabina Spielrein was taken by her parents from their home town of Rostov-on-Don for treatment at the Burghölzli hospital, where she became Jung's patient. Jung referred to her in a letter to Freud as a ‘difficult case’—she was suffering from psychotic hysteria. She was one of his early patients, and although a certain amount emerged about her erotic transference and Jung's confused response to it at the time when the Freud-Jung letters were published (William McGuire, who edited them, and who has written the foreword to A Secret Symmetry, sought to find out more), Carotenuto's book gives us her biography and demonstrates the effect she had on Jung's inner life and on his writings. The concept of the anima is now shown to have had its experiential basis in the encounter with Sabina, even before the initiation of active imagination which I for one had thought was the soil from which it grew; and The Psychology of the Transference is believed by Carotenuto to demonstrate many traces of Jung's personal vicissitudes during his work with this patient, deeply felt troubles which were creatively transformed into conceptual thinking. Spielrein herself emerged from her agonising analysis with a medical diploma from Zürich University in May 1911, became a psychoanalyst, worked for years trying to bridge the widening gulf between Jung and Freud, published at least thirty-one professional papers, was Piaget's analyst for a while and tried to practise psychoanalysis in the USSR, to which she returned in 1923.

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