And finally, the movie of Jung, Freud and Spielrein by a noted director and prominent actors. A Dangerous Method
Spielrein is the person I wrote you about. … She was, of course, systematically planning my seduction, which I considered inopportune. Now she is seeking revenge.
Letter of Jung to Freud, 4 June 1909
Sabina Spielrein was Jung’s first patient. In the records at Burgholzli Hospital, Jung (1905) described her as “oriental” and “voluptuous,” and her face as bearing “a sensuous, dreamy expression.” She was nineteen at the time and had been very protected from sexuality and sexual information.
The extent of their relationship was debated for years; there is now is considerable historical evidence (from here diaries that were found in 1977) substantiating an intimate relationship. Sources of this material can be found at the end of this post.
Interesting, Ms. Spielrein was frequently a topic of discussion between Freud and Jung, and no doubt contributed to the early development of psychoanalysis and Jung’s methods. It is also likely that she contributed to the break-up of Freud and Jung.
In my earlier years, my opinion of Jung was lessened because of this allegedly immoral behavior. From the viewpoint of older age, I would consider it more an indiscretion of youth. Additionally, however improper and misguided the sexual intimacy, Ms. Spielrein was transformed (some would say “cured”) by the experience. My guess would be that she did not regret the experience, but rather would have considered it as vital in her development, as something she was grateful to have experienced, in spite of the heartbreak and therapeutic malpractice.
A upcoming film, A Dangerous Method, about Freud and Jung and the development of psychoanalysis, will include her in the film. As someone who thinks Jung had a lot to say, I do have some fears that this film will be biased and people who might have been helped by his theories will be turned off. In the long run, however, I suspect that Jung’s viewpoints will become more influential and more generally accepted.
(I would note that Dr. Spielrein contributed far more to the field of psychology than her early relationship with Jung — she brought psychoanalysis to Russia, she greatly influenced Jean Piaget and Melanie Klein.)