Sabina Spielrein, Lou Andreas-Salome - The Two Russian Muses who turned Psychoanalysts’ Heads

22. October 2015, 19:00 - 21:00


Lectures in English by Adrienne Harris and Jeanne Wolff Bernstein about Lou Andreas-Salomé and Sabina Spielrein

Language is there to bewilder itself and others: The Theoretical and Clinical Contributions of Sabina Spielrein.

In this paper, I will focus on a period of Spielrein's work - in Geneva and in Moscow - in which her maturity as a clinician, theorist, and researcher is at its height. I am arguing that she makes contributions to the creation and development of child analysis and research on the unfolding of language and cognition in young children, to a perspective on sexuality with interesting engagements with Ferenczi and with modern ideas about sexuality and destruction. What is consistent in her approach to research and to clinical work is a deep abiding commitment to psychoanalytic ideas. I am arguing that in losing her work, our field loses important and productive ties between psychoanalysis, cognitive studies and child psychology.

- Adrienne Harris

Lou Andreas-Salomé

In my paper I will discuss the dual orientations and counter- movements in Lou-Andreas Salome’s psychoanalytic writings. For too long, Lou Andreas-Salome has been solely considered to be the fascinating muse for Nietzsche, Rilke and Freud and this elevated position has overshadowed the significance of her own writings. A close reading of some of her major texts will reveal her to be a serious psychoanalytic thinker who, like Sabine Spielrein, foreshadowed Freud’s eros and thanatos theory and who re-conceptualized narcissism as a necessary and creative retreat rather than as a pathological defensive formation, anticipating for instance Winnicott’s much later idea of the individual “as an isolate, permanently non-communicating, permanently unknown, in fact unfound” being. By re-considering her important texts on narcissism, anality and the erotics, I hope to re-integrate her complex theories into the canon of the major psychoanalytic authors.

- Jeanne Wolff Bernstein

More info here.

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