In defense of Sabina Spielrein

I still remember my great-grandfather, from 3-4 years old,  [as] a large friendly man in black.

What made a much deeper impression was what I heard about him: he was a highly honored rabbi in Ekaterinoslav.

In our town he was borne through the streets by the people. Many stories were told about his prophetic abilities. … My grandfather is still alive.

He has become senile, but remains cheerful and loving. … It is significant that my father speaks with great respect of my grandfather, something he does of no one else …  He was also very good-looking.

He chose … the a daughter of a physician … who was considered to be an unbeliever [which] my great-grandfather could not tolerate … the dream had to be relinquished and he married a girl his father selected for him. … My grandfather must have unconsciously retained the image of his first love, for he considered study of the Christian sciences more important than anything else.

His daughter was supposed to study, only to study. … In spite of all the threats directed against him as a rabbi, he sent his daughter to the Christian Progymnasium … and also saw to it that she was educated at the university.

Mother, who learned everything easily and eagerly, was his pride and joy. How did this complex manifest itself in my mother? … Mother was very much afraid of falling in love with a Christian or being loved by a Christian. … One man … a Christian, a respected figure in St. Petersburg [was told by her] … that she would never marry him, because that would destroy her parents; the next day he shot himself.

For a long time my mother did not want my father … presented to her by my grandfather … my mother did not find satisfaction in her love for her husband. Now for the third generation. … I believe no one could have been happier than my grandfather when I decided to study medicine. Zvi Lothane, In Defense of Sabina Spielrein, Page 1.

Note: Published in International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 5:203—217, 1996  and in Mahony, Bonomi & Stensson, eds., Behind the Scenes Freud in Correspondence. Stockholm: Scandinavian Universities Press, 1997.