Sabina Spielrein and Lou Andreas Salome


About a week ago I saw the film My Name is Sabina Spielrein.

Sabina Spielrein stands out, both for the role she played in the rift between Freud and Carl Jung and because—no mere victim—she became a devoted convert to psychoanalysis’s cause. Drawing upon letters found in a Swiss basement in 1977, Elisabeth Márton’s documentary vividly illuminates a complex woman whose achievements were long relegated to the footnotes of history. -Jung Love: Vivid Doc Untangles an Affair of Hearts and Minds (Villagevoice)

Then I found out that there was an Italian film adaptation of her life which was on (youtube,1 2)

Sabina Spielrein – Russia, 1885-1942 (World Peaple’s Blog)

Jung to Freud, 4 June 1909: ‘Spielrein is the person I wrote you about. … She was, of course, systematically planning my seduction, which I considered inopportune. Now she is seeking revenge.’
(There are several books written about Freud, Jung and Sabina Spielrein, here is an article to get an introduction of Sabina Spielrein life story.)

It is interesting to note Lou Andreas Salome and Sabine Spielrein the two Russian intellectual women who had affairs with famous thinkers both became Freudian psychoanalysts and authors.

Sabina was born two decades later than Lou Andreas Salome, she had to endure the rise of Nazism and she and her family were killed by the Nazis troops.

Lou Andreas Salome loufr and Freud
Lou on the other hand died in the late 30’s, saw the birth of Psychoanalysis and the rise of Nazism but not the Holocaust.
She became first known for her affairs with Nietzsche and Rainer Maria Rilke, and later her work as Freudian analyst came to light with the publication of her correspondence with Freud.

This I did not know.

It was rumored that Ibsen had modeled her famous Hedda Gabler, who desired to live like a man, after her, but Andreas-Salomé expressed particular dislike of the character: “She resembles a ravenous wolf on which a sheep’s skin has been growing for a very long time and who has forfeited its predatory strength only to keep its predatory soul.” (via)

Before meeting the founder of psychoanalysis, Andreas-Salomé had published a study of sexual love, Die Erotik (1911). In 1912 she asked in a letter to Freud his permission to come to Vienna for psychoanalytical training. Andreas-Salomé was still in her fifties, and youthful in appearance and when Freud first encountered her. He warned one of his younger followers that she was “a woman of dangerous intelligence” but that “all the tracks around her go into the Lion’s den but none come out.”

Poet and Muse.(The Nation) (Photos of Andreas Salome and Rilke)

They became lovers and constant companions for the next few years in a typically counter cultural, proto-hippie, turn-of-the-century way, walking barefoot through the woods, eating fruit paps with yogurt, studying religion as an artistic experience and art as a form of religion. Tolstoy, whom they traveled to Russia to meet, was their patron saint.

One amusing episode that I read somewhere long ago was that Tolstoy who was courted by Lou and Rilke, was not too impressed with Rilke, when they went to see Tolstoy, the great thinker and novelist. Tolstoy was more interested in Lou’s husband, an orientalist and a philologist.