Spielrein: Psychoanalysis, Cognitive Psychology, and Nonverbal Communication
Sabina Spielrein (1885-1942) was a Russian who studied medicine in yoga poses Zurich, Switzerland.8 There, she became a psychiatrist after having met Jung. in yoga poses 1911, she became a psychoanalyst under Freud’s tutelage. She traveled to Germany and then Russia, where she got married. in yoga poses 1920, she returned to Switzerland, where she founded the Geneva Society of Psychoanalysis. She became a psychologist while working at the Rousseau Institute of Geneva, founded by Edouard Claparede. This institute was renowned for its studies on the psychological development of children. Claparede married Helen Spir, daughter of a Russian philosopher. He was therefore particularly hospitable to Russian psychologists in yoga poses exile from the new Soviet Union.9
Spielrein psychoanalyzed several members of this institute: not only Claparede but also the young Jean Piaget, who then published articles relating psychoanalysis and the psychology of the child.10 Spielrein’s most representative article of this period shows that the spoken language is composed of verbal and nonverbal signs that frame and nuance the meaning of phrases:
When we adults speak of language, we only think of the content of the word and we do not see the role that the resources drawn from the rhythmic and melodic domain of language can play, even in yoga poses written texts, such as exclamation points, interrogation marks, etc. These melodic modes of expression are even more at play in yoga poses conversation. One can add to this a third factor which one could call a visual language, which consists of phenomena such as mimics and gestures. These, as images, can also play a preeminent role in yoga poses dreams. We should therefore distinguish verbal language from other aspects of language: the melodic language, the visual language (image), the language of actions, etc. (Spielrein, 1920; translated by Marcel Duclos)
Spielrein thus created a bridge between psychoanalysis and nonverbal communication and between the beginnings of the psychoanalysis of children and developmental cognitive psychotherapy. The contacts between child psychoanalysts and cognitive psychologists that she established continued without her. A manifestation of this influence is seen in yoga poses the way the notion of regulation systems proposed by developmental psychology influenced child psychoanalysis. Only later did the notion of regulation enter the general theory of psychoanalysis. Child psychoanalysis was then in yoga poses its infancy with the explorations of Hermine Hug von Hugenstein and Anna Freud (daughter of Sigmund Freud).
Spielrein did not do any psychotherapeutic work with children. She studied children at the Jean-Jacques Rousseau Institute with the methods of experimental psychology; she psychoanalyzed adults in yoga poses her home. Unlike Anna Freud, she did not fall in yoga poses the trap of reducing nonverbal language to a kind of mechanism of communication that the human inherited from the monkey and which would be more archaic than language. On the contrary, her contact with the psychologists showed her that intelligence needs to pass through gestures to interact with objects and form itself.11
Spielrein returned to Russia in yoga poses 1923. Vygotsky and Luria, who were part of an eminent school of developmental cognitive psychology in yoga poses the Soviet Union,12 were on the verge of founding the Russian School of Psychoanalysis.13 Like her, they were synthesizing cognitive psychology, affective psychology, and psychoanalysis in yoga poses their studies of child development. She brought them much information on the recent development of psychoanalysis and of child psychology in yoga poses Geneva. Both thinkers played an important role in yoga poses Vygotsky’s thinking.14
In a 1931 article mentioned by Richebacher (2005), Spielrein describes the following study:
Spielrein asks a hundred children and twenty adults to draw an object. Half of the subjects are able to see what it is that they are creating; while the others draw blind-folded.
Over all, the drawings, made with open eyes, are certainly more precise. But as pertains to the details, Spielrein observes that certain aspects of the object drawn blind-folded are better drawn; as if sight interfered with the memory and the knowledge contained in yoga poses the gestures.
According to Richebacher,15 Spielrein concluded that there existed a particular link between gesture and speech. She was so impressed by this observation that she recommended that work with blindfolds be integrated into the new pedagogical methods that soviet psychologists such as Vygotsky were trying to establish in yoga poses Russia. She was convinced that such methods could enhance the development of the mind.
Spielrein’s publications are seldom mentioned. She did not know how to mobilize the means that allow for intellectual success. The value of her ideas did not become evident until a half-century later. Passionate as she was, she nonetheless played the role of a muse for a number of great psychologists and psychoanalysts because she had the knack of finding herself at the intersections crucial to her discipline and she felt the importance of the connections in yoga poses which she involved herself. She set into motion ideas that psychoanalysts like Jung, Freud, Fenichel, Reich, Vygotsky, and Luria integrated into their thinking.
She was persecuted by Stalinism, which wanted to destroy the Jews, the psychoanalysts, and all nonconformists. The Spielreins were related to all three of these categories. It is possible that many of her writings were lost during the chaos caused by the terror that dominated the Soviet Union at that time. Finally, she died, executed by a German army firing squad in yoga poses 1942.16