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Gordon, R. (1994). Editorial. J. Anal. Psychol., 39(2):151-154.

(1994). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 39(2):151-154


Rosemary Gordon

It so happens that, in recent years, several papers that are of essentially historical interest have been submitted to the Journal. Some of them, mainly those concerned with Jung himself, with his political adventures and misadventures, and his political judgements and mis-adjustments just before and during the Second World War, have already been published in the Journal.

But as we have now three more papers that are also of particular interest, we have decided to devote the greater part of an issue to these.

I am particularly fascinated and intrigued by Sabrina Spielrein's paper, ‘Destruction as the cause of coming into being’, a work which has been translated into English by Kenneth McCormick, and submitted to us by Peter Mudd.

It is a quite extraordinary paper which was published as long ago as 1912. It was written, as Kenneth McCormick points out in his postscript, while Spielrein and Jung were involved with one another in an affair that had been ‘fuelled by feelings developed through transference-countertransference phenomena’, which ‘obscured both the dignity and the intellectual abilities of the feminine half of the therapeutic alliance’.

Spielrein's paper has in fact triggered the concept of the death wish or even of a death instinct, and it played an important role in the development of both psychoanalysis and analytical psychology. Indeed, both Freud and Jung acknowledged the important influence that paper had on the elaboration of their theories regarding mankind's relationship to death and dying; and both describe Spielrein as ‘my pupil’.

As I re-read Spielrein's paper, I found the closeness of her observations and concepts to Jung's concepts really striking; it made me realize how much they seem to have influenced each other. Thus, for instance, Spielrein suggests that images of death are so often entangled with sexual desire; but she also cites Jung as making the same point.

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