A Most Dangerous Method: The Story of Jung, Freud, and Sabina Spielrein

John Kerr, Author Alfred A. Knopf $30 (607p) ISBN 978-0-679-40412-5
This exciting study sheds much new light on the vexed Jung-Freud partnership and on the current status of psychoanalysis. At its hub is Sabina Spielrein (1886-1941), one of the first women psychoanalysts, whom Jung treated for hysteria when she was 18. She evidently fell in love with Jung, and he broke off their intense relationship to avert public scandal. Spielrein found in Freud a friend and mentor, confiding to him the details of her attachment to Jung. Kerr, a clinical psychologist and historian, asserts that Freud attempted to use what he knew about Jung's personal life to exert ideological control over the psychoanalytic movement. In Kerr's scenario, Jung apparently was aware of Freud's secret affair with his sister-in-law Minna Bernays--an affair which is denied by many biographiers, but that Kerr defends as plausible based on Jung's explicit testimony and on recent scholarship. It was after Jung threatened to retaliate by revealing what he knew about Freud's personal life, Kerr maintains, that their collaboration dissolved. He argues that both men had an opportunity to make psychoanalysis an open, scientifically grounded discipline, but instead succumbed to ambition, dogma and personal animus. Kerr also charges that Freud and Jung suppressed Spielrein's own fertile theory of the unconscious, which conceived of sexuality as fusion rather than pleasure. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/02/1993
Release date: 08/01/1993
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 624 pages - 978-0-679-73580-9
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