Lou Andreas-Salomé, Pioneering Psychoanalyst and Unrepentant Individual

Sigmund Freud called her “the great understander”. Friedrich Nietzsche said of her: “I found no more gifted or reflective spirit … Lou is by far the smartest person I ever knew.” Rainer Maria Rilke sang of her: “…all that I am stirs me, because of you.” Today we pay tribute to Lou Andreas-Salomé – author, pioneering psychoanalyst, truth-seeker, iconoclast, libertine and unrepentant individual.

Lou Andreas-Salomé, (born Feb. 12, 1861, St. Petersburg, Russia—died Feb. 5, 1937, Göttingen, Ger.), Russian-German writer remembered for her friendships with the great men of her day.

Anaïs Nin talks about Lou Andreas-Salomé

Between August 8 and August 24 of 1882, Friedrich Nietzsche set down ten stylistic rules of writing in a series of letters to the Russian-born writer, intellectual, and psychoanalyst Lou Andreas-Salomé — one of the first female psychoanalysts.


Left to right, Andreas-Salomé, Rée and Nietzsche (1882) A comical scene laid out by Nietzsche, as a sort of a lament by both himself and his friend, Paul, the two of whom had both recently been rejected after proposing marriage to one Lou Salomé (the relentless 'cart driver'). Photographed in the studio of Jules Bonnet in Lucerne in 1882.

Surely, a friend loves a friend the way
That I love you, enigmatic life —
Whether I rejoiced or wept with you,
Whether you gave me joy or pain.
I love you with all your harms;
And if you must destroy me,
I wrest myself from your arms,
As a friend tears himself away from a friend’s breast.

I embrace you with all my strength!
Let all your flames ignite me,
Let me in the ardor of the struggle
Probe your enigma ever deeper.

To live and think millennia!
Enclose me now in both your arms:
If you have no more joy to give me —
Well then—there still remains your pain.
 ― Lou Andreas-Salomé

"The main thing is that life-faith is essentially and vitally present, by means of which we survive." - Lou Andreas-Salomé in Letter to Sigmund Freud

Books by Lou Andreas-Salomé:

Books on Lou Andreas-Salomé

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