1st Edition

The Essential Writings of Sabina Spielrein Pioneer of Psychoanalysis

    180 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    180 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Sabina Spielrein’s writings explore the burning topics in the early days of psychoanalysis while providing insight into the culture of the time and her own personal struggles. After a comprehensive historical and biographical introduction to Spielrein by John Launer, The Essential Writings of Sabina Spielrein: Pioneer of Psychoanalysis presents full-length English translations of her first three and most essential writings, offering deep insight into her brilliant and pioneering mind:

    • The first unabridged English rendition of her medical dissertation of 1911, entitled "On the Psychological Content of a Case of Schizophrenia (Dementia Praecox)", with an afterword by Adrienne Harris
    • A new, improved English translation of Spielrein’s seminal essay of 1912, "Destruction as the Cause of Becoming"
    • A faithful English rendition of her 1913 essay "Contributions to Understanding a Child’s Mind"

    The Essential Writings of Sabina Spielrein: Pioneer of Psychoanalysis presents a rich source of materials and inspiration to psychoanalysts, psychoanalytic psychotherapists and analytical psychologists, as well as scholars in the humanities and the behavioral sciences.


    Introduction by John Launer

    On the Psychological Content of a Case of Schizophrenia (Dementia Praecox) (1911)


    Anamnesis (From the Medical History)

    The Present State [Status Praesens]

    I. "Catholicization"

    II. "Psychological-Sistine Experiments"

    III. "Histology and its Treatment"

    IV. "The Industrial or Economic Question"

    V. "Poetry of the Tropics and Water Symbolism"

    VI. "Iron, Fire, War"

    VII. "Poverty Complex and Garment Symbolism"

    VIII. "Discourses from the Medical History"

    IX. "Childhood Impressions, Transformation Ideas, Dreams"


    Afterword by Adrienne E. Harris

    Destruction as the Cause of Becoming (1912)

    I. Biological Facts

    II. Individual Psychological Observations

    III. Life and Death in Mythology

    Contributions to Understanding a Child’s Mind (1913)

    1. Analysis of a Girl

    2. Analysis of a Boy

    3. Analysis of a Boy


    Ruth I. Cape is Associate Professor of German at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. After doctoral studies in history, she received a doctoral degree in German from the University of California, Los Angeles. She has published several bilingual and annotated editions of historical documents.

    Raymond Burt is Professor of German at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. He completed his doctoral work in German at the University of California, Los Angeles. His research and publications focus on fin-de-Siècle Vienna, in particular the writings of Friedrich S. Krauss, a controversial folklorist in the Freudian circle.

    From the introduction by John Launer: "Sabina Spielrein (1885-1942) was one of the most remarkable intellectual figures of the twentieth century. She was also among the least recognized in relation to her achievements…The Essential Writings of Sabina Spielrein. Pioneer of Psychoanalysis comprising her first three published papers, is a significant step on the long, slow journey to restoring her memory and celebrating her life’s work…The three essays are exceptionally multi-layered and in some sections highly intricate texts. They are the words of a woman in early adulthood who is writing on the one hand about scientific psychology, but also – in the manner of all psychoanalytic writings–grappling with her own inner demons and trying to make sense of her personal destiny as well as the wider human condition. They are generic surveys of her subjects and, at the same time, metaphorical autobiographies."

    "In the intellectual history of the twentieth century many significant women have been made to disappear, taken out of our minds, or presented as if they had been out of theirs. Sabina Spielrein is one such brilliant pioneer of adult and child psychoanalysis, developmental, and feminine psychology. She was not even mentioned in the best-known histories of the field, and when she was referred to, it was often as the mistress or muse to the famous men. The Essential Writings of Sabina Spielrein, translated by Ruth I. Cape and Raymond Burt, presents her essential writings, making them fully available in English, partially, for the first time, and including important and elucidating background and commentary. This is an indispensable scholarly resource in intellectual history, psychoanalysis, developmental psychology, and feminism."-Lewis Aron, Ph.D., director, New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis