chapter  4
13 Pages

Over a beautiful picture, one can become poetry

ByMichael Gerard Plastow

During early 1909 when Sabina Spielrein was writing her letters to Freud, she was also in the midst of the examination period, towards the end of her medical studies. Her thesis is referred to in her diary entry of 23 September 1909. Spielrein’s thesis concerned her analysis of a psychotic woman at the Burgholzli, the first published psychoanalytic account of a clinical case of psychosis. In the medical history of the patient given by Spielrein, she notes that the Protestant woman was married to a Catholic man who was a teacher by profession. The subtitle to Lessing’s work Laocoon, “An Essay on the Limits of Painting and Poetry”, is hence very pertinent to this patient’s utterances, and was surely also known by Spielrein’s patient who was an educated and literary woman with an interest both in visual arts as well as poetry.