Dissertation Title:

Sabina Spielrein: Echoes and Reflections on Female Expression


Angela Megan Sells

Date, Time & Place:

June 4, 2015 at 3:00 pm
South Hall, Lambert Road Campus


Who was Sabina Spielrein? Clearly, with the release of the recent (2011) film, A Dangerous Method, the story of Sabina Spielrein is still stirring in collective consciousness, though the scope has been greatly limited. Outside of the current cultural trend of presenting Spielrein solely as C. G. Jung’s patient and/or mistress, relatively little is written on her academic contributions—like the “death-instinct”—to the field of depth psychology. Additionally, Spielrein’s professional and personal writing proves profoundly important not only to psychology, but also to the fields of mythology and autobiography, and to the larger psychosocial concerns of gender equity and female suppression. Accordingly, this dissertation explores the life, publications, and personal diaries and correspondence of Dr. Sabina Spielrein, one of the first female psychoanalysts in history, from the kaleidoscope lens of mythology, depth psychology, and philosophy.
Though she is rarely remembered for her scholarship, for over thirty years Spielrein was as analyst in her own right and frequently contributed to multiple psychoanalytic journals. She was also a teacher, pianist, and mother who lived life with intense passion, intellect, and courage in the midst of continuous social upheaval. As a result, this dissertation remembers her for her achievements and grants her a full and complex humanity in the face of historical silencing and gendered biases.


All oral defense attendees must shuttle to the Lambert Road Campus from the Best Western Hotel in Carpinteria. Parking on campus is not available.

  • Program/Track/Year: Mythological Studies, Track E, 2010
  • Chair: Dr. Dennis Slattery
  • Reader: Dr. Elizabeth Terzian
  • External Reader: Dr. Lauri Ramey
  • Keywords: Sabina Spielrein, Transference, Hysteria, Feminism, Echo, Death-instinct, Jung, Freud, Autobiography, Mythology