Sabina Spielrein: Forgotten Pioneer of Psychoanalysis

By Coline Covington; Barbara Wharton | Go to book overview

Preface

This compilation of papers has been drawn together as a tribute to the life and work of Sabina Spielrein. The papers include the records of Sabina Spielrein's treatment by C.G. Jung at the Burghölzli Hospital in Zürich and reflect over five years of research and detective work. In 1995, I, along with my co-editors of the Journal of Analytical Psychology, learned about the publication a year earlier in the Swiss journal Luzifer-Amor of a paper by Dr Bernard Minder on Jung's treatment of Spielrein that incorporated the hospital records. We wrote to Dr Minder requesting information on obtaining permission to publish the records in English translation. This was the start of several years of research and waiting while questions about copyright and ownership of the records could be sorted out. We were assisted initially by Sophie Slaata, who was acting at the time as the legal representative for the Spielrein estate, and who informed us about other unpublished material written by Sabina Spielrein. Prior to her return to Moscow, Spielrein left a cache of letters and papers in the safekeeping of a psychologist colleague in Geneva, Edouard Claparède. Claparède's papers, containing Spielrein's letters and manuscripts, were subsequently inherited by his nephew, the Genevan neurologist Georges de Morsier. This material has remained in the de Morsier family archives and is now in the process of being catalogued by the Archives Institut Rousseau in Geneva.

The search to gain permission to publish the hospital records in English took me to Rostov-on-Don, Sabina Spielrein's birthplace, where I participated in the Second Sabina Spielrein Memorial Conference in May 1997 and met Spielrein's niece, Meniche Shpilrain. Although Meniche Shpilrain was in favour of the publication of the records, we had to wait for two years while other questions relating to the Sabina Spielrein estate were being addressed. Sadly, Meniche Shpilrain suffered a severe stroke during this time and the business of the estate was passed on to her younger cousin, Evald Shpilrain. I met with Evald Shpilrain twice during this time, once in London and once in Moscow. The Journal editorial board and members of the Society of Analytical Psychology in London made a contribution towards helping with Meniche Shpilrain's care until her death in April 2000. It was not until 1999,

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