The Essential Writings of Sabina Spielrein: Pioneer of Psychoanalysis, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Essential Writings of Sabina Spielrein

Pioneer of Psychoanalysis, 1st Edition

By Sabina Spielrein

Edited by Ruth I. Cape, Raymond Burt


164 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Paperback: 9781138601406
pub: 2018-08-01
SAVE ~$7.99
Hardback: 9781138601390
pub: 2018-08-07
SAVE ~$28.00
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780429470103
pub: 2018-08-06
from $19.98

FREE Standard Shipping!


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 Spielreinby 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.


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

Table of Contents


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

About the Author/Editors

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.

About the Series

Relational Perspectives Book Series

The Relational Perspectives Book Series (RPBS) publishes books that grow out of or contribute to the relational tradition in contemporary psychoanalysis. The term relational psychoanalysis was first used by Greenberg and Mitchell (1983) to bridge the traditions of interpersonal relations, as developed within interpersonal psychoanalysis and object relations, as developed within contemporary British theory. But, under the seminal work of the late Stephen Mitchell, the term relational psychoanalysis grew and began to accrue to itself many other influences and developments. Various tributaries—interpersonal psychoanalysis, object relations theory, self psychology, empirical infancy research, and elements of contemporary Freudian and Kleinian thought—flow into this tradition, which understands relational configurations between self and others, both real and fantasied, as the primary subject of psychoanalytic investigation.  

We refer to the relational tradition, rather than to a relational school, to highlight that we are identifying a trend, a tendency within contemporary psychoanalysis, not a more formally organized or coherent school or system of beliefs. Our use of the term relational signifies a dimension of theory and practice that has become salient across the wide spectrum of contemporary psychoanalysis. Now under the editorial supervision of Lewis Aron and Adrienne Harris with the assistance of Associate Editors Steven Kuchuck and Eyal Rozmarin, the Relational Perspectives Book Series originated in 1990 under the editorial eye of the late Stephen A. Mitchell. Mitchell was the most prolific and influential of the originators of the relational tradition. He was committed to dialogue among psychoanalysts and he abhorred the authoritarianism that dictated adherence to a rigid set of beliefs or technical restrictions. He championed open discussion, comparative and integrative approaches, and he promoted new voices across the generations.  

Included in the Relational Perspectives Book Series are authors and works that come from within the relational tradition, extend and develop the tradition, as well as works that critique relational approaches or compare and contrast it with alternative points of view. The series includes our most distinguished senior psychoanalysts along with younger contributors who bring fresh vision.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Movements / Psychoanalysis