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My Name Was Sabina Spielrein (2002) - Plot Summary Poster

Plot Summary

  • The history of psychoanalysis is littered with the discarded psyches of the women whose diagnoses were key to the fame of the great masters. One such woman was Sabina Spielrein. Unlike the rest, she didn't vanish forever from history. Elisabeth Márton's film relates, restages and remembers the tragic story of Spielrein's life as gleaned from a box of her papers discovered in 1977 in the cellar of Geneva's former Institute of Psychology. Spielrein was a young Russian-Jewish woman of 18 when she arrived in August 1904 at the Burghölzli clinic in Zurich where Carl Gustav Jung had set up shop. She was his first patient. He was 29 and married. Her cathexis was rapid and she formed an intense attachment to her young doctor, who seems to have reciprocated. But after Sigmund Freud's note (above) on the nefarious nature of females, the doctors hatched the theory of counter-transference to explain their feelings. Luckily, this wouldn't be Sabina's final contribution to psychoanalysis. Pronounced cured, she became a psychoanalyst herself and, within eight years, was practising alongside the founding fathers. The correspondence between Spielrein, Freud and Jung discovered that day in the Geneva basement has become essential to understanding the evolution of psychoanalysis ^Ö and the virtually insurmountable challenges facing women who sought to contribute in any role other than that of patient. Márton's deft re-enactments and the actors' dramatic readings of Spielrein's own words tell a chilling story, bringing to light both the work of this pioneer and the dark side of psychoanalysis. Documentary and drama carry Spielrein's life into the cross-hairs of warring ideologies (Communism, National Socialism). With a rare gift for melding subjectivity with biographical facts, Márton brings Sabina Spielrein back to life, body and soul.

    - Written by B. Ruby Rich

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