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.
This article broadly discusses the concept of the death drive. It demonstrates how a biological frame of reference is inadequate for interpreting the (sexual) drive. The notion of the compulsion to repeat helps us to understand why Freud was forced to introduce the death drive and, at the same time, to acknowledge it as being the underlying determining principle of every drive. Making use of the notions das Ding and objet a we show how Lacan’s reading of this controversial concept of the death drive precludes an organic interpretation. Finally, two clinical fragments illustrate how the activity of the death drive may reveal itself.
It is widely known that Freud gives Oedipus a central place in both his psychoanalytic theory and praxis. Freud introduces the Oedipus myth as the crucial key for understanding the tragedy of human life. One of the most problematic issues innate to the human condition is aggression. This paper argues: (1) that Freud’s insights into human aggression can at the very least be viewed as one-sided and problematic; and (2) that the heuristic potential of the Oedipus myth, correspondingly, is limited. It considers how the Hungarian psychiatrist and analyst, Lipót Szondi, tries to bridge this gap using the myth of Cain and Abel. The aim of this paper is to explore how Szondi’s interpretation of this myth offers a much more subtle approach to human aggression. Szondi’s alternative and distinctive look at aggressive phenomena offers an exciting and fruitful addition to Freud’s interpretation as exclusively referring to sadism and/or the death drive. This contribution wants to highlight Szondi’s amendment to Freud’s Oedipus and aims to show that psychoanalysis can benefit from taking into account the mythical figures of Cain and Abel as its ‘prodigal sons’.