Oneness with another in mysticism and love has a chequered history in psychoanalysis. Nevertheless, thanks particularly to Bion, its transforming potential has increasingly been taken up in psychoanalytic practice, as I will briefly outline at the end of this article. Most of all, however, I will seek to demonstrate the precursors of this development in the writing of Sabina Spielrein resulting from her transference-countertransference involvement with Jung. I will begin with hospital records of her case.
Sabina Spielrein was born to Jewish parents in Rostov-on-Don on 7 November 1885. As a child she was physically ill. She was also precocious, did well at high school and when she was 15 fell in love with one of her uncles, a doctor. The same year her 6-year-old sister died of typhoid, after which, it seems, Sabina became seriously psychologically ill, and was sent to a private sanatorium in Interlaken, from where she was brought by her uncle and the police late at night on 17 August 1904 to Zurich's public asylum, the Burghölzli.
Jung had begun working there as a medical student in December 1900. After completing his medical dissertation, studying with Pierre Janet in Paris, and marrying the daughter of a wealthy manufacturer on 14 February 1902, he had returned to work at the Burghölzli where, on Sabina's admission, he noted, ‘Pat. laughs and cries in a strangely mixed, compulsive manner. Masses of tics, rotating head, sticks out her tongue, legs twitching’ (17 August 1904, in Minder 1994, p. 16).
Soon Sabina transferred her teenage love of her doctor uncle onto Jung.
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