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Goldberg, A. (1984). A Secret Symmetry. Sabina Spielrein Between Jung and Freud: By Aldo Carotenuto. Translated by Arno Pomerans, John Shepley, and Krishna Watson. New York: Pantheon Books, 1982. 250 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 53:135-137.

(1984). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 53:135-137

A Secret Symmetry. Sabina Spielrein Between Jung and Freud: By Aldo Carotenuto. Translated by Arno Pomerans, John Shepley, and Krishna Watson. New York: Pantheon Books, 1982. 250 pp.

Review by:
Arnold Goldberg

No psychoanalyst is innocent. All of us, wittingly or otherwise, have acted in an injurious manner to one patient or another. Much of the time, such misfortune has allowed us to know better the next time around. The entire edifice of our countertransference has been constructed out of these mishaps.

This book is about the evidence of analytic misadventure involving the lost innocence of Carl Gustav Jung. Sabina Spielrein was a patient of Jung's; and, not surprisingly, she fell in love with him. Jung, who had benefit neither of personal analysis nor of supervision, responded in kind (though the particular form of his response remains obscure). He proceeded to defend himself in an embarrassingly ridiculous manner which perhaps only the truly guilty can display. The story, a simple one, is much like that of Anna O. Sabina Spielrein had a long history of psychopathology before she started treatment with Jung, at around the age of twenty. The treatment went well enough for her to become a physician and a psychoanalyst, heretofore remembered for her unrewarding analysis of Jean Piaget and for her discovery of the death instinct. She eventually moved to Russia where she died in relative obscurity.

In 1977, some letters and a diary of Spielrein's were discovered by two Italian psychoanalysts. This collection (with the striking omission of Jung's own contributions) constitutes the body of this book. All told, we are permitted to read Spielrein's diary from 1909 to 1912 (except for some missing pages), her letters to Jung and to Freud, and twenty letters from Freud to her. Some forty-six letters from Jung to Spielrein are missing. The interested reader can pick up and coordinate some additional ideas and information from the Freud-Jung correspondence edited by William McGuire; see, especially, Jung's letter 148.

The contribution of Jung is not entirely absent from A Secret Symmetry, since Spielrein quotes his written reply to her mother after Jung's wife supposedly exposed their affair to her.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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