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August 12: Sabina Spielrein, Psychoanalyst

August 12, 2014
imagesOne of the world’s first female psychoanalysts, Sabina Spielrein is thought to have died on this date in 1942 (it may have been on August 14th) in the course of a Nazi Einsatzgruppe D mass murder that killed 27,000 Jews near Rostov-on-Don. With her died her two daughters, 29 and 16. Spielrein, who trained with Carl Jung (and had a passionate, tempestuous relationship with him), worked as a psychoanalyst in Switzerland and Russia, treated Jean Piaget, among many others, and played a catalytic role in bringing together Jung and Sigmund Freud. She published some thirty papers in German and French and her theories about child development and breast-feeding, as well as about schizophrenia, were quite influential. “The oblivion into which Spielrein has fallen is remarkable. She was a major figure in the development of the psychoanalytic movement — and a rare woman in that field. Her thought and work had significant impact on the theories Jung and Freud developed. Spielrein has been considered by some as the model for Jung’s concept of the anima. She deepened both Jung and Freud’s understanding of transference and countertransference. The relationship between Jung and Spielrein also demonstrated to Freud that a therapist’s emotions and humanity could not be kept out of the psychoanalytic relationship between analyst and patient.” —Karen Hall, Jewish Women’s Archive