This article is reprinted here by kind permission of the International Journal of Psychoanalysis where it was first published in 1999, Vol. 80, Part 6:1189-1204. The Discussion, however, was specially written for this edition.
The author dissents from the widely accepted interpretation that the relationship between Sabina Spielrein and Carl Jung in the years 1904-1910 included sexual intercourse and constituted an ethical breach of the doctor-patient boundary during ongoing treatment. Spielrein declared that her treatment ended with her discharge from the Burghölzli hospital as Jung's patient in 1904-1905. Jung maintained he 'prolonged the relationship' in order to prevent a relapse and also referred to it as a friendship. Materials published in 1994 (letters, drafts, diaries, hospital chart) and unpublished letters recently found by the author in the Claparède archive in Geneva shed new light on previously published documents and interpretations by Carotenuto that have dominated the secondary literature since 1980. The new materials provide a more nuanced view of the Spielrein-Jung relationship and point to the function of non-erotic love in the therapeutic relationship. A new look at the Freud-Jung correspondence about the Spielrein-Jung relationship shows that Jung's perception that a sex scandal was initiated by Spielrein was due to Jung's misreading of rumours concerning another woman; the episode had no ill effect on the relationship between Freud and Jung.
In many European languages, the word 'love' means both a personal attachment of affectionate, benevolent liking as well as passionate erotic desire for another person. In any given situation, only the context tells us which kind of love is meant; and sometimes even the context leaves us in uncertainties. This is the case in one of the most famous love knots in the history of psychoanalysis, the relationship between Sabina Spielrein (1885-1941) and Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), the nature of which is still being debated in the literature.
A brief overview of the present state of scholarship about the Spielrein-Jung relationship should be helpful to understand the revisions proposed in this contribution. Until 1980, Spielrein was but a citation in Freud's footnotes