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The Birth of Countertransference as an Ethics Issue with
  Scenes from the Recent Film "A Dangerous Method"

 May 18, 2012 -Presenters: Robert M. Gordon, Ph.D., and Alan Tjeltveit, Ph.D.

Learning Objectives:
1. You will learn about the history of
countertransference, boundaries, self-reflection, and self-
deception.

2. You will see how they can lead to ethical lapses or
facilitate treatment.

3. You will learn how to determine the appropriate use of
countertransference.
• All proceeds from this continuing education in
  ethics workshop will be donated to PPF. PPF
  contributes educational grants to worthy
  psychology graduate students, helps fund
  Disaster Relief training, our Colleague
  Assistance Program and PPA's annual
  Workshops for the Public.
• The proceeds to this workshop will go to the
  Dr. Stephen N. Berk Memorial Education
  Award .
Kerr’s 1993 Book “A Most Dangerous Method”
Using Spielrein’s diary and letters including Jung’s letters to
her, clinical psychologist and historian Kerr reconstructs
Spielrein's relationship with Jung and Freud, portraying her
as an influential figure during their period of collaboration.
His dense and scholarly book was made into the more
sensationalized movie “A Dangerous Method.”
Inaccuracies in the Film


• According to Speilrein’s diary, it is very likely that
  she and Jung had a sexual affair. It is very
  unlikely, however, that he spanked her, as shown
  in the film.
• Otto Gross did contend that repression is a bad
  thing, and that transference should be used for
  the therapist’s advantage, which he saw as
  helping the patient. However, the film implies
  that he was a greater influence on Jung than he
  actually was.
Sabina Spielrein
         (СабинаНафтуловнаШпильрейн)

Born 1885 into a family of Jewish doctors in
Rostov, Russia. One of her brothers, Isaac Spielrein
was a Soviet psychologist. Spielrein was married to
PavelScheftel, a physician of Russian Jewish
descent. They had two daughters: Renate, born
1912, and Eva, born 1924.
At age 19, Spielreinwas admitted in 1904 to the
Burghölzli mental hospital near Zürich, for about
a year. While there, she established a deep
emotional relationship with Jung who later was
her medical dissertation advisor. The historian
and psychoanalyst Peter Loewenberg argues that
this was a sexual relationship, in breach of
professional ethics, and that it "jeopardized his
position at the Burghölzli and led to his rupture
with Bleuler and his departure from the
University of Zurich”.
Jung’s Notes 1907

“She could not sit at table without being
overcome by thoughts of defecation, and if
she was reproached in any wayshe answered
by sticking out her tongue or . . . cries of
disgust, and gestures of horror, because each
time she had before her the vivid image of her
father's chastising hand, coupled with sexual
excitement, which immediately passed over
into ill-concealed masturbation'.
• Spielfrein's meal-time obsession was
  commonplace at the time, and
  unsurprising in a household that
  grotesquely suppressed any mention of
  natural functions.
• Her mother managed to have the
  curriculum of her school changed
  specifically in order to prevent her
  daughter learning about sexual
  reproduction.
C. G. Jung 4 June 1909


“Dear Professor Freud,
 …Spielreinis the person I wrote you about…She
was, so to speak, my test case, for which reason I
remembered her with special gratitude and
affection. Since I knew from experience that she
would immediately relapse if I withdrew my
support, I prolonged the relationship over the
years and in the end found myself morally
obliged, as it were, to devote a large measure of
friendship to her, until I saw that an unintended
wheel had started turning, whereupon I finally
broke with her. She was, of course, systematically
planning my seduction, which I considered
inopportune. Now she is seeking revenge…”
Sigmund Freud        7 June 1909


“Dear friend,
 Since I know you take a personal interest in the Sp. matter
I am informing you of developments…

I understood your telegram correctly, your explanation
confirmed my guess. Well, after receiving your wire I wrote
Fräulein Sp. a letter in which I affected
ignorance, pretending to think her suggestion was that of
an over-zealous enthusiast. I said that since the matter on
which she wished to see me was of interest chiefly to
myself, I could not take the responsibility of encouraging
her to take such a trip and failed to see why she should put
herself out in this way. It therefore seemed preferable that
she should first acquaint me with the nature of her
business. I have not yet received an answer…”
Sigmund Freud 7 June 1909…This is, significantly, the
 first recorded reference to the term “countertransference.

“Such experiences, though painful, are
necessary and hard to avoid. Without them
we cannot really know life and what we are
dealing with. I myself have never been taken
in quite so badly, but I have come very close to
it a number of times and had a narrow
escape…and the fact that I was ten years
older… saved me from similar experiences.
But no lasting harm is done. They help us to
develop the thick skin we need and to
dominate 'counter-transference', which is
after all a permanent problem for us.”
C. G. Jung 21 June 1909


“Dear Professor Freud,
 I have good news to report of my Spielrein affair. I took too
 black a view of things. After breaking with her 1 was almost
 certain of her revenge and was deeply disappointed only by
 the banality of the form it took. The day before yesterday
 she turned up at my house and had a very decent talk with
 me, during which it transpired that the rumour buzzing
 about me does not emanate from her at all. My ideas of
 reference, understandable enough in the
 circumstances, attributed the rumour to her, but I wish to
 retract this forthwith. Furthermore, she has freed herself
 from the transference in the best and nicest way and has
 suffered no relapse (apart from a paroxysm of weeping
 after the separation). Her intention to come to you was not
 aimed at any intrigue but only at paving the way for a talk
 with me…”
Sigmund Freud 30 June 1909


“Dear friend,
 …Immediately after receiving your letter I wrote
Fräulein Sp. a few amiable lines, giving her
satisfaction, and today received an answer from her.
Amazingly awkward—is she a foreigner by any
chance?—or very inhibited, hard to read and hard to
understand. All I can gather from it is that the matter
means a great deal to her and that she is very much in
earnest. Don't find fault with yourself for drawing me
into it; it was not your doing but hers. And the matter
has ended in a manner satisfactory to all. You have
been oscillating, as I see, between the extremes of
Bleuler and Gross…”
• Freud wrote just after hearing from Jung about his
  transference misadventure,'A Special Type of
  Choice of Object made by Men' (1910), in it he
  describes 'rescue phantasies'.

• Sabina Spielrein used this idea of Freud's when she
  came to write her paper, 'Destruction as the cause
  of coming into being' (1912), which is in large part
  based on her experience of her own analysis and
  her theories about it. Jung saw himself as rescuing
  her, she clearly saw him as her child.
• At the end of their affair she wrote in her
  journal, "he loves me because of the
  remarkable parallelism in our thoughts… I felt
  like a mother who only wanted the best for
  him.”
• Sabina saw herself as the mother who bore
  him an imaginary child who was a small
  replica of him. They developed a shared
  phantasy of a child whom they called
  Siegfried.
Sabina, who had married in 1912 and now
 had a daughter, wrote to Jung saying she had
 given up this phantasy of Siegfried for the sake
 of her real daughter.
Jung replied angrily:
“Dear doctor, ...What you are calling killing
 Siegfried is to me a rationalistic and
 materialistic razing to the ground.... One of its
 sparks is Siegfried. This spark can and will
 never be extinguished. If you betray this, then
 you are cursed.” (Jung 1919)
While Spielrein is not often given more than a
 footnote in the history of the development
 of psychoanalysis, her conception of the
 sexual drive as containing both an instinct of
 destruction and an instinct of
 transformation, presented to the Vienna
 Psychoanalytic Society in 1912 “Destruction
 as the Cause of Coming To Be” in fact
 anticipates both Freud's "death drive" and
 Jung's views on "transformation”.
• Spielrein became one of the first female
  psychoanalysts. She received top honors in
  psychiatry upon graduation from the
  University of Zurich, and subsequently wrote
  30 professional papers.
• She contributed to child psychology and the
  origin of spoken language, and was a great
  influence on Jean Piaget, who underwent a
  training analysis with her.
• She was an influence on psychologists
  Alexander Luria and Lev Vygotsky.
1923Sabina Spielrein returned to Russia and worked in
  Moscow at the 'Russian Psychoanalytical
  Institute, the 'Psychoanalytical Home for Children'
  and at the 'Department of Child Psychology' at the
  'First University of Moscow'.
1933Psychoanalysis was prohibited by Stalin.
1935-38Sabina's brothers were deported and executed
1937Her husband died of heart failure.
1942In August, Sabina and her two daughters were
  executed by the Nazis outside of Rostov, together
  with many other Jews.
Spielreinlost the love of her life and two
  mentors, and although she had her career as a
  psychoanalyst, she could not pursue it in the
  same way as in the past without reopening old
  wounds.
Freud lost someone he regarded as a son and
  political ally, along with the excitement and
 intellectual stimulation that Jung contributed.
Jung lost the emotional anchors that Freud and
 Spielrein served for him, and he subsequently
    suffered his own mental and emotional
                     breakdown.
Freud Continued to Explore
        Countertransference
“For the doctor the phenomenon signifies a
valuable piece of enlightenment and a useful
warning against any tendency to a counter-
transference which may be present in his own
mind. He must recognize that the patient's
falling in love is induced by the analytic
situation and is not to be attributed to the
charms of his own person; so that he has no
grounds whatever for being proud of such a
'conquest'.” (Freud, 1915, pp.160-161)
Countertransference and Our Ethics Code
  “I feel that countertransference should retain its
  originalmeaning, and only refer to the therapist’s
  inappropriate reactions to the patient. This should not be
  confused with the therapist’s affective attunement and
  appropriate emotional reactions…

Freud’s original ground rules have been for the most part
  incorporated into our ethical code. Our knowledge of
  appropriate ethical behavior and self-reflection should
  help most therapists to know to suppress and sublimate
  countertransference reactions. But since
  countertransference comes from unconscious needs and
  conflicts, we all need at times consultation, supervision, or
  psychotherapy."
• Gordon, Robert M. (2003) “The Countertransference Controversy”. July Issue
  Pennsylvania Psychologist.pp 8-9.

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A dangerous method

  • 1. The Birth of Countertransference as an Ethics Issue with Scenes from the Recent Film "A Dangerous Method" May 18, 2012 -Presenters: Robert M. Gordon, Ph.D., and Alan Tjeltveit, Ph.D. Learning Objectives: 1. You will learn about the history of countertransference, boundaries, self-reflection, and self- deception. 2. You will see how they can lead to ethical lapses or facilitate treatment. 3. You will learn how to determine the appropriate use of countertransference.
  • 2. • All proceeds from this continuing education in ethics workshop will be donated to PPF. PPF contributes educational grants to worthy psychology graduate students, helps fund Disaster Relief training, our Colleague Assistance Program and PPA's annual Workshops for the Public. • The proceeds to this workshop will go to the Dr. Stephen N. Berk Memorial Education Award .
  • 3. Kerr’s 1993 Book “A Most Dangerous Method” Using Spielrein’s diary and letters including Jung’s letters to her, clinical psychologist and historian Kerr reconstructs Spielrein's relationship with Jung and Freud, portraying her as an influential figure during their period of collaboration. His dense and scholarly book was made into the more sensationalized movie “A Dangerous Method.”
  • 4. Inaccuracies in the Film • According to Speilrein’s diary, it is very likely that she and Jung had a sexual affair. It is very unlikely, however, that he spanked her, as shown in the film. • Otto Gross did contend that repression is a bad thing, and that transference should be used for the therapist’s advantage, which he saw as helping the patient. However, the film implies that he was a greater influence on Jung than he actually was.
  • 5. Sabina Spielrein (СабинаНафтуловнаШпильрейн) Born 1885 into a family of Jewish doctors in Rostov, Russia. One of her brothers, Isaac Spielrein was a Soviet psychologist. Spielrein was married to PavelScheftel, a physician of Russian Jewish descent. They had two daughters: Renate, born 1912, and Eva, born 1924.
  • 6. At age 19, Spielreinwas admitted in 1904 to the Burghölzli mental hospital near Zürich, for about a year. While there, she established a deep emotional relationship with Jung who later was her medical dissertation advisor. The historian and psychoanalyst Peter Loewenberg argues that this was a sexual relationship, in breach of professional ethics, and that it "jeopardized his position at the Burghölzli and led to his rupture with Bleuler and his departure from the University of Zurich”.
  • 7. Jung’s Notes 1907 “She could not sit at table without being overcome by thoughts of defecation, and if she was reproached in any wayshe answered by sticking out her tongue or . . . cries of disgust, and gestures of horror, because each time she had before her the vivid image of her father's chastising hand, coupled with sexual excitement, which immediately passed over into ill-concealed masturbation'.
  • 8. • Spielfrein's meal-time obsession was commonplace at the time, and unsurprising in a household that grotesquely suppressed any mention of natural functions. • Her mother managed to have the curriculum of her school changed specifically in order to prevent her daughter learning about sexual reproduction.
  • 9. C. G. Jung 4 June 1909 “Dear Professor Freud, …Spielreinis the person I wrote you about…She was, so to speak, my test case, for which reason I remembered her with special gratitude and affection. Since I knew from experience that she would immediately relapse if I withdrew my support, I prolonged the relationship over the years and in the end found myself morally obliged, as it were, to devote a large measure of friendship to her, until I saw that an unintended wheel had started turning, whereupon I finally broke with her. She was, of course, systematically planning my seduction, which I considered inopportune. Now she is seeking revenge…”
  • 10. Sigmund Freud 7 June 1909 “Dear friend, Since I know you take a personal interest in the Sp. matter I am informing you of developments… I understood your telegram correctly, your explanation confirmed my guess. Well, after receiving your wire I wrote Fräulein Sp. a letter in which I affected ignorance, pretending to think her suggestion was that of an over-zealous enthusiast. I said that since the matter on which she wished to see me was of interest chiefly to myself, I could not take the responsibility of encouraging her to take such a trip and failed to see why she should put herself out in this way. It therefore seemed preferable that she should first acquaint me with the nature of her business. I have not yet received an answer…”
  • 11. Sigmund Freud 7 June 1909…This is, significantly, the first recorded reference to the term “countertransference. “Such experiences, though painful, are necessary and hard to avoid. Without them we cannot really know life and what we are dealing with. I myself have never been taken in quite so badly, but I have come very close to it a number of times and had a narrow escape…and the fact that I was ten years older… saved me from similar experiences. But no lasting harm is done. They help us to develop the thick skin we need and to dominate 'counter-transference', which is after all a permanent problem for us.”
  • 12. C. G. Jung 21 June 1909 “Dear Professor Freud, I have good news to report of my Spielrein affair. I took too black a view of things. After breaking with her 1 was almost certain of her revenge and was deeply disappointed only by the banality of the form it took. The day before yesterday she turned up at my house and had a very decent talk with me, during which it transpired that the rumour buzzing about me does not emanate from her at all. My ideas of reference, understandable enough in the circumstances, attributed the rumour to her, but I wish to retract this forthwith. Furthermore, she has freed herself from the transference in the best and nicest way and has suffered no relapse (apart from a paroxysm of weeping after the separation). Her intention to come to you was not aimed at any intrigue but only at paving the way for a talk with me…”
  • 13. Sigmund Freud 30 June 1909 “Dear friend, …Immediately after receiving your letter I wrote Fräulein Sp. a few amiable lines, giving her satisfaction, and today received an answer from her. Amazingly awkward—is she a foreigner by any chance?—or very inhibited, hard to read and hard to understand. All I can gather from it is that the matter means a great deal to her and that she is very much in earnest. Don't find fault with yourself for drawing me into it; it was not your doing but hers. And the matter has ended in a manner satisfactory to all. You have been oscillating, as I see, between the extremes of Bleuler and Gross…”
  • 14. • Freud wrote just after hearing from Jung about his transference misadventure,'A Special Type of Choice of Object made by Men' (1910), in it he describes 'rescue phantasies'. • Sabina Spielrein used this idea of Freud's when she came to write her paper, 'Destruction as the cause of coming into being' (1912), which is in large part based on her experience of her own analysis and her theories about it. Jung saw himself as rescuing her, she clearly saw him as her child.
  • 15. • At the end of their affair she wrote in her journal, "he loves me because of the remarkable parallelism in our thoughts… I felt like a mother who only wanted the best for him.” • Sabina saw herself as the mother who bore him an imaginary child who was a small replica of him. They developed a shared phantasy of a child whom they called Siegfried.
  • 16. Sabina, who had married in 1912 and now had a daughter, wrote to Jung saying she had given up this phantasy of Siegfried for the sake of her real daughter. Jung replied angrily: “Dear doctor, ...What you are calling killing Siegfried is to me a rationalistic and materialistic razing to the ground.... One of its sparks is Siegfried. This spark can and will never be extinguished. If you betray this, then you are cursed.” (Jung 1919)
  • 17. While Spielrein is not often given more than a footnote in the history of the development of psychoanalysis, her conception of the sexual drive as containing both an instinct of destruction and an instinct of transformation, presented to the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society in 1912 “Destruction as the Cause of Coming To Be” in fact anticipates both Freud's "death drive" and Jung's views on "transformation”.
  • 18. • Spielrein became one of the first female psychoanalysts. She received top honors in psychiatry upon graduation from the University of Zurich, and subsequently wrote 30 professional papers. • She contributed to child psychology and the origin of spoken language, and was a great influence on Jean Piaget, who underwent a training analysis with her. • She was an influence on psychologists Alexander Luria and Lev Vygotsky.
  • 19. 1923Sabina Spielrein returned to Russia and worked in Moscow at the 'Russian Psychoanalytical Institute, the 'Psychoanalytical Home for Children' and at the 'Department of Child Psychology' at the 'First University of Moscow'. 1933Psychoanalysis was prohibited by Stalin. 1935-38Sabina's brothers were deported and executed 1937Her husband died of heart failure. 1942In August, Sabina and her two daughters were executed by the Nazis outside of Rostov, together with many other Jews.
  • 20. Spielreinlost the love of her life and two mentors, and although she had her career as a psychoanalyst, she could not pursue it in the same way as in the past without reopening old wounds.
  • 21. Freud lost someone he regarded as a son and political ally, along with the excitement and intellectual stimulation that Jung contributed. Jung lost the emotional anchors that Freud and Spielrein served for him, and he subsequently suffered his own mental and emotional breakdown.
  • 22. Freud Continued to Explore Countertransference “For the doctor the phenomenon signifies a valuable piece of enlightenment and a useful warning against any tendency to a counter- transference which may be present in his own mind. He must recognize that the patient's falling in love is induced by the analytic situation and is not to be attributed to the charms of his own person; so that he has no grounds whatever for being proud of such a 'conquest'.” (Freud, 1915, pp.160-161)
  • 23. Countertransference and Our Ethics Code “I feel that countertransference should retain its originalmeaning, and only refer to the therapist’s inappropriate reactions to the patient. This should not be confused with the therapist’s affective attunement and appropriate emotional reactions… Freud’s original ground rules have been for the most part incorporated into our ethical code. Our knowledge of appropriate ethical behavior and self-reflection should help most therapists to know to suppress and sublimate countertransference reactions. But since countertransference comes from unconscious needs and conflicts, we all need at times consultation, supervision, or psychotherapy." • Gordon, Robert M. (2003) “The Countertransference Controversy”. July Issue Pennsylvania Psychologist.pp 8-9.