Who was Sabina Spielrein? Her dramatic life story is most famous for her notorious affair with Carl Jung, dramatised in the film A Dangerous Method starring Keira Knightley. Yet she was a woman who overcame family and psychiatric abuse to become an original thinker in the field of psychotherapy.
This is the first biography to put her life and ideas at the centre of the story, and to examine Spielrein’s key role in the development of psychoanalysis and in the rift between Jung and Freud. Drawing on fresh research into Spielrein’s diaries, papers and correspondence, John Launer tells the story of a passionate woman who transformed herself from one of Jung’s disturbed patients into a leading figure in Western psychology and then the Soviet intelligentsia, before her murder as a Russian Jew in the Holocaust.
Sex Vs. Survival shows how Spielrein’s overlooked ideas – rejected by Jung and Freud, but substantially vindicated by later developments in psychology and evolutionary biology – may represent the last and most important stage in the rediscovery of an extraordinary life.
’Spielrein emerges from the murk with more credit than either man. She pushed with her career at the forefront of child psychology… I’m impressed by the humane dignity with which Launer recounts her lurid life’ The Spectator