Sabina Spielrein, Lou Andreas-Salome - The Two Russian Muses who turned Psychoanalysts’ Heads

Language is there to bewilder itself and others: The Theoretical and Clinical Contributions of Sabina Spielrein.

In this paper, I will focus on a period of Spielrein's work - in Geneva and in Moscow - in which her maturity as a clinician, theorist, and researcher is at its height. I am arguing that she makes contributions to the creation and development of child analysis and research on the unfolding of language and cognition in young children, to a perspective on sexuality with interesting engagements with Ferenczi and with modern ideas about sexuality and destruction.  What is consistent in her approach to research and to clinical work is a deep abiding commitment to psychoanalytic ideas. I am arguing that in losing her work, our field loses important and productive ties between psychoanalysis, cognitive studies and child psychology.

Adrienne Harris

Lou Andreas-Salomé

In my paper I will discuss the dual orientations and counter- movements in Lou-Andreas Salome’s psychoanalytic writings. For too long, Lou Andreas-Salome has been solely considered to be  the fascinating muse for Nietzsche, Rilke and Freud and this elevated position has overshadowed the significance of her own writings. A close reading of some of her major texts will reveal her to be a serious psychoanalytic thinker who, like Sabine Spielrein, foreshadowed Freud’s eros and thanatos theory and who re-conceptualized narcissism as a necessary and creative retreat rather than as a pathological defensive formation, anticipating for instance Winnicott’s much later idea of the individual “as an isolate, permanently non-communicating, permanently unknown, in fact unfound” being. By re-considering her important texts on narcissism, anality and the erotics, I hope to re-integrate her complex theories into the canon of the major psychoanalytic authors.

Jeanne Wolff Bernstein

Adrienne Harris, Ph.D. is Faculty and Supervisor at New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. She is on the faculty and is a supervisor at the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California. In 2009, She, Lewis Aron, and Jeremy Safron established the Sandor Ferenczi Center at the New School University. With Lewis Aron she edits the Relational Book Series which has published over 60 volumes.

She published Rocking the Ship of State: Women and Peace Politics in 1985; Gender as Soft Assembly in 2005, She edited, with Muriel Dimen Storms in her Head ( on women and hysteria), with Lewis Aron, The Legacy of Sandor Ferenczi, with Steven Botticelli First Do No Harm: Psychoanalysis, Warmaking and Resistance, 2010, and in 2015 with Steven Kuchuck, The Legacy of Sandor Ferenczi: From Ghost to Ancestor. She is one of the American editors of the new IPA ejournal Psychanalysis.Today. She is on the editorial board of Psychoanalytic Dialogues, Studies in Gender and Sexuality and the journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. She writes about gender and development, about analytic subjectivity, about ghosts, and about the analysts developing and writing around the period of the First World War.


Jeanne Wolff Bernstein, Ph.D. is the past president, and supervising and personal analyst at PINC. She is on the faculty at PINC and at The Sigmund Freud Privatuniversitaet, Vienna, and NYU Post-Doctoral Program for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy. She was the 2008 Fulbright Freud Visiting Scholar in Psychoanalysis at the Freud Museum, Vienna, Austria and is the chair of the Scientific Advisory Board at the Freud Museum, Vienna. She is now a member of the Vienna Arbeitskreis. She has published many articles on the interfaces between psychoanalysis, the visual arts and film. Her most recent publications include, Beyond the Bedrock in  Good Enough Endings, (2010) ed. by Jill Salberg, Routledge Press and The space of transition between Winnicott and Lacan in Between Winnicott and Lacan, (2011) ed. by Lewis Kirshner, Routledge Press. She contributed the chapter on Jacques Lacanto the (2012) Textbook of Psychoanalysis, Second Edition, edited by Glen Gabbard, Bonnie E. Litowitz & Paul Williams, American Psychiatric Publishing. A review of  Perversion, A Lacanian Psychoanalytic Approach to the Subject, by Stephanie Swales, Psychoanalytic Psychology, 2014, Tattoos/Hysteria, in Body Image and Identity in Contemporary Societies, Routledge,  February 2015. Forthcoming are her texts: Between the Artist’s Studio and the Psychoanalytic Office: A Comparison of LucianFreud’s and Sigmund Freud’s Interior Space, Private Utopia, Cultural Setting of Interior in the 19th and 20 the century, Birkhaeuser-de Gruyter & Living between two languages, a bi-focal perspective, in Locating Ourselves: Immigration in the Analytic Encounter, Routledge , 2016.