cover image Sex Versus Survival: The Life and Ideas of Sabina Spielrein

Sex Versus Survival: The Life and Ideas of Sabina Spielrein

John Launer. Overlook/Duckworth, $35 (320p) ISBN 978-1-4683-1058-0

In the first full-length English-language biography of Russian physician and psychoanalyst Spielrein, physician Launer draws extensively on her diary, correspondence, and scholarly papers to combat popular misconceptions. Intent on proving that there is far more to Spielrein than her brief but famous affair with Carl Jung (dramatized in the film A Dangerous Mind), Launer focuses on Spielrein’s own achievements. A pioneer in the development of psychoanalysis, she was unique in being a former patient and using personal experiences to further her understanding of the science. Launer’s conscientious research shows how Spielrein’s name fell into obscurity following her death in the Holocaust, as her accomplishments were sidelined in comparison to those of her more established male colleagues. In Launer’s telling, Spielrein fell victim to “calculating power politics” and an avoidance of “any public scandal around psychoanalysis,” and her life has been explored primarily as a means to understand the relationship between Jung and Freud. Spielrein’s legacy has nonetheless endured, and this biography is an invaluable resource for understanding Spielrein’s significance, her progressive thinking, and her groundbreaking contributions to the history of psychoanalysis. [em](Feb.) [/em]