“My Name was Sabina Spielrein”: Freud’s Russian Daughter and the Echoes of her Fascinating Oeuvre

This contribution is dedicated to the Russian psychoanalyst Sabina Spielrein (1885-1942). Following a short sketch of the historical context, we focus on Spielrein’s oeuvre, with specific reference to the implicit and the explicit impact of both Spielrein and her earliest work on the thinking of Jung and Freud. We concentrate not only on the theme of (counter)transference and on the concept of the death instinct, but also on some typically Jungian core concepts, such as the “collective unconscious”, the “archetypes”, the “anima”, and the “shadow”. In addition, we also briefly discuss Spielrein’s pioneering work in child analysis, including the role of child play, infant observation, and developmental psychology. In this way, we hope to illustrate the concrete impact of Spielrein’s oeuvre on the work of Melanie Klein, Anna Freud, and Donald Winnicott.

Hermine von Hug-Hellmuth: Preliminary Steps for the Technique of Child Analysis

At the 6th International Psychoanalytic Conference in The Hague in 1920 the Viennese psychoanalyst Hermine von Hug-Hellmuth presented her paper “On the technique of child analysis”. Her lecture discussed the many practical problems and theoretical questions she encountered while “analysing” children in the early twenties. The author reviews the main ideas of von Hug-Hellmuth in light of the work of other psychoanalysts, such as Melanie Klein, Anna Freud, Donald Winnicott, Françoise Dolto. He also determines the current value of the ideas of von Hug-Hellmuth for the contemporary praxis of child analysis. Some of the technical questions are still valid, such as the ethical question regarding the position of the parents and the question of education in child-analysis. On the other hand, some of the technical principles are out of date in light of social changes. The auteur shows that the study of von Hug-Hellmuth’s paper can still inspire every child analyst.

Clinical Case Studies Arthur and Floriane, On the Psychoanalytic Treatment of ‘Learning difficulties’

This article concerns a translation of two case studies from the book Les Cancres n’Existent Pas [Bad Students do not Exist] (1993), in which Anny Cordié interprets the problems children encounter at school in terms of case-specific symptoms functioning within the oedipal context of the subject. The case of Arthur illustrates how the boy’s physical complaint of impaired eyesight and his problems with reading in class can be understood in terms of the contradiction between his mother’s demand for improvement on the one hand and the destructive effect of her desire on the other. Cordié discusses how, from her position as a transference figure, she supports the establishment of the Symbolic father function in a process of triangulation. The second case illustrates how Floriane’s academic difficulties can be understood as a symptomatic answer to something unspoken in the child’s family background. Both case studies illustrate the effect of the removal of the barrier of a ‘not-willing’/ ‘not-being allowed’ to know on the development of a child.

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Vygotsky and Winnicott: a Theoretical Underpinning for the Importance of Play in Child-Analysis

This paper is based on the experience of watching a piece of theatre in which children dub the dialogues of adults. In order to account for the observation that this dubbing as a form of repetition produces a gain without actually adding anything, we formulate the hypothesis that repetition in a child’s play can have the value of an interpretation. We combine this with the clinical observation of Winnicott that playing in itself is therapeutic, illustrated by some short clinical vignettes. A first support for our hypothesis lies in the analysis of the Fort-Da game described by Freud. Furthermore we describe two essential aspects of the child’s play: a supportive function for entering language and the creation of Desire while playing. These two aspects are clarified by making use of the theory of the Russian developmental psychologist Lev Semyonovitch Vygotsky.

A fragment of an analysis with a child, or the importance of language for oedipal structuration

This paper concerns a clinical fragment from the analysis of a four year old child. Several topics relevant for child analysis are addressed. We learn that a child who had abruptly decided to be silent, through the particularity of the transference bond, is once again enough at ease to tell his story. Symbolic exchange, together with the answer of the Other as mirror of language, allows the boy access to the oedipal constellation and allows him to reorient himself psychically. Through a process of drawing, of signifying, being signified, and of writing, we get a glimpse of the significance of language for the Oedipal structuration process.

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