First Webinar on the Film “A Dangerous Method” Wednesday (2/8/12) by Daniel Ross

I am looking forward to our seminar and discussion tomorrow night.  The blog has served, for the last several weeks, as an extraordinary guide through this amazing story of Carl Jung, Sabina Spielrein and Sigmund Freud which the film depicts.  I will be pulling from the blog ideas, insights, approaches and hopefully some of the passion that lies therein.  If you have contributed to the blog and are particpating in the seminar you will have an opportunity to delve deeper into the material through discussion.  Your ideas are likely to be reflected throughout the seminar as I believe the blog represents some very honest and knowledgeable points of view.  Whether you are scholar or an avid fan of Jung and his story, you are likely to connect with the material and your unique point of view is welcome.

Whether you liked the film or not, there is a rich history behind the story with many archetypal themes.  As Lance Owens reminds us, this story, these relationships between Jung and Freud and Spielrein during the period of 1904-1910 were crucial for Jung’s transformative experiences reflected in the Red Book.  And it was Sabina who “…helped him find his soul” (Owens).  Brian Skea who is also well versed in this history has published on the subject of Sabina and her role in the history.  There has been clarification on the historical inaccuracies of the film by David Thompson and others as well as the inroduction of new material such as the film , “The Soul Keeper” that I had not heard about until it was introduced by Thompson.  An exploration of the feminine represented in the film was amplified by Len Cruz as well as other contributors to the blog such as Nina Patterson, Gail Gray and Cliff Bostock who all provide a unique perspective from his or her own clinical background.

The archetypal themes amplified by such myths as Persephone/Kore/Hades as well as Chiron and Aesclepius, the wounded healers,  as well Siegfried and the heroic stance will be discussed.  We will explore the origins, from this primal story, of  some of Jung’s concepts of the nature of the psyche and the role of the collective unconscious including anima/animus and shadow.  Cronenberg’s stance toward Freud and Jung, as reflected in our blog,  paints a picture of Freud being more based in the body and instinct and Jung moving toward the spiritual.  From Cronenberg’s other films we learn that he is interested in what lies instinctually in our nature (The Fly, History of Violence) so it makes sense he would be more interested in Freud. From a clinical standpoint what is the perception of the public toward this film and what does this film mean for our clinical work, if anything?  Does this enlighten the public or mislead them?   We welcome you to the blog and to our seminar tomorrow.  We look forward to the discussion.

10 Responses to First Webinar on the Film “A Dangerous Method” Wednesday (2/8/12) by Daniel Ross
  1. Barbara James
    February 7, 2012 | 7:47 pm

    Looking forward to discovering the context this Dangerous Method will be seen and discussed….

    With the neroscience evidence reguarading the brain ..body..and mind connection and that the brain never stops evolving….I see Jungs’ Red Book as delicious evidence that Jung was the first “psychonaught” and came back to us with a “boon for healing”.
    “Consencus” between the right and left hemisphers of the brain is exciting to me!

    • Brinda
      February 9, 2012 | 1:09 am

      Barbara & everyone, Hi!

      “With the neroscience evidence reguarading the brain ..body..and mind connection and that the brain never stops evolving….I see Jungs’ Red Book as delicious evidence that Jung was the first “psychonaught” and came back to us with a “boon for healing”.”

      Brilliantly said!

      It took Roberto Faenza and David Cronenberg all these years to come up, with a rather sugar-coated, Harlequin Romance versions of CGJ-SF and SS of not only Historical but monumental relationship and experience of the Noumenal in ‘The Soul keeper’ and ‘The Dangerous Method’…It will be patience only, I guess, that will take us through this groundbreaking work, done and realised to understand the pinning workings of the psyche, under different labellings as well as definitions!Neuropsychology-science is just dawning in this 21st century, and I am sure we will still have many versions to come, with still more interesting nuggets to delve on and into…

      Likewise, I am looking forward to discover more!!:-))

  2. Daniel Ross
    February 7, 2012 | 8:36 pm

    Thanks for your question. I too am interested in the relatively new field of neurobiology and its meaning for psychotherapy and perhaps we can discuss that in the context of analytical psychology. I would also like to know your interest in a focused seminar at a later time on the advances in neurobiology and our understanding of how neuronal pathways are formed based on psychotherapy and the implications for bridging the biological structures with the psychological structures of analytical psychology. I appreciate your interest in the subject.

  3. Ingela Romare
    February 7, 2012 | 11:19 pm

    I am so sorry that I was not aware about this conversation about ”A Dangerous Method” until very late, just two days ago. Even if it is late, even too late I would like to add some reflections.

    Let me just shortly present my background: My name is Ingela Romare, I am an Jungian analyst with diploma from the Junginstitute in Zürich in 1997 with private praxis in Malmö, Sweden. My first profession was as a filmdirector, educated at Ingmar Bergman´s Filmschool in Stockhom 1965-68. I wrote my thesis in Zürich about ”Film and Jungian Psychology”. I am still making films and am now also working on my Ph.D. under the title ”The Feminine Principle in Filmmaking”.

    I realize two things when I read through the conversation about ”A Dangerous Method” so far.
    The first one is:

    There have been quite few women participating in the discussion and those who have written seem to feel uncomfortable with the film.

    Nina Patterson: ”Too bad there is not more female participation in this discussion. I feel a little lost and it is feeling like dangerous territory to me. I think this may be more of a film for guys???”

    Linda R. Andrews: ”I want to do my small part to bring some ”feminine balance” to the discussion. I will admit to having been deeply disturbed by the violent. Sado-masochistic relationship that the film portrays as having taken place between Spielrein and Jung.”

    Sophia Koltavary wellcomes Lance Owens´questionning of the sexual relationship – physical intercourse – between Jung and Sabina Spielrein.

    Nina Patterson: ”Many thankts to Linda and Sophia for their contributions!!!!!!
    I feel better now. For they say what I have felt about the deep love relationship between Jung and Sabina that was shockingly interpreted in the film. I saw no ”poetry” in the film,

    Sphia Kotavary agrees: ”Very important comment Nina, there was no poetry in the film, despite Sabina´s words.

    Charlene Psykoty: ”My question is, what is the impression the general public will get of Jungian therapy? From what I have read here, I wonder if the film, perhaps slanted toward sensationalism, may do damage to the reputation of Jungian therapy.

    My second reflexion is:
    The discussion is mostly about the content of the film – the dramatic story of Freud, Jung and Sabina Spielrein – not about the form, how it is made, the attitude of the scriptwriter and the director.

    Concerning this I would like to give you a short quotation from my thesis at the Junginstitute:

    “What we mostly see and talk about is what happens on the conscious level in a film or a massmedia sequence, on the content level or the level of action. We are much too unaware about what is there below the surface – in the form or on the level of telling.
    Most of the objects for the camera – people, animals, things, events – can be looked at in two quite opposite ways. Either they are seen with care and respect in their existence, or they are used and exploited for some other pupose, most often commercial. The difference between those two lies on a level that most of the time remains unconscious.
    This is a whole area upon which I think especially we Jungians should focus our attention.”

    The feeling I get from seeing the film ”A Dangerous Method” is that both Jung, Freud and Sabina Spielrein are being used and exploited in their existence in order to make a sensational and spectacular film.

    In the film ”My name was Sabina Spielrein” I can feel quite another respect concerning the historical facts and quite another care and respect for the persons involved and their way to handle their relations and lives.
    ”My name was Sabina Spielrein” is made by a woman, Elisabeth Marton. I recommand it highly to those who want to understand something more about this woman Sabina Spielrein.

    And a short answer to Charlene Psykoty: Of course the film will damage the reputation of Jungian therapy! It already has here in Sweden.
    I saw the film together with my granddaughter, 19 years old. She said that if she had just seen the film without knowing me she would never ever go to Jungian therapy.
    Also in the reviews in the Swedish newspapers they have been quite happy to warn people for Jung, referring to what is shown in the film telling about Jung and his ”dangerous method”.

  4. Brian Skea
    February 9, 2012 | 3:06 pm

    I’m afraid I found the seminar a little disappointing. Too much time was spent in introducing the film, its background, it’s production. I found the archetypal themes section a bit of a stretch, Persephone (Sabina) being led down into the underworld (the Burgholzli hospital!) by Hades (Jung) away from her mother, Demeter (Frau Spielrein!), and the Chiron section seemed more of interest to the commentator than to anyone who viewed the film. Yes, Jung was a wounded healer, as was Spielrein and most of the other pioneer psychoanalysts.
    Regarding the anima, I think we should consider the many questions that have been raised about the concept (also the animus) rather than try to decipher which of the many women in Jung’s life best fits his definition. I could find no reference to Spielrein making the comment about the inner feminine in a man and the inner masculine in the woman. Clearly Sabina had an alluring effect on Jung as an attractive young woman, so different from his wife Emma (at least at this point in their lives) and so received his ‘anima’projection. Yet the movie clearly shows her intellectual powers, her creative imagination. Is this a classic aspect of the anima? I have written that Jung was as attracted to her ideas, often so close to his own, as to her person.
    Was this her ego, or was it her being driven by her animus (as per classical theory). At least these were seen as creative opinions, rather than the negative connotation often given to women’s unconscious thoughts, ideas. It goes back to unfortunate gender stereotyping, which had some validity in Jung’s day, men the thinkers and doers, women the feelers and mothers. Spielrein transcended the stereotype, at least until she married and had children, after which it was difficult to live in both the world of male psychoanalysts and the world of family domesticity. In fact her family life was not orthodox. She and her husband did not just return to Russia in 1923 (as said at the end of the movie). He left her after the birth of their daughter for Russia, she wandered fron city to city, trying to build a practice, or even change careers. finally she returned to Russia, reconneted with her husband who had fathered a child by another woman,took them in and had another daughter, before he died in the thirties.

    Brian Skea

  5. In looking over the various comments re: this provocative movie, I am struck by the limitations of a blog. RE: anima/ animus issues, I found Jung—necessarily given the time during which he lived—-as hemmed in—as certainly were the women in his life—by gender expectations/ demands e.g., the demand of having and rearing children. While he was as free as a bird to spend his time musing and inventing The Red Book, Emma was busy having and raising children. And Sabina reportedly had a child by a man who left her, leaving her wandering w/ her own child, trying to get by—or so it seems to be explained. Not to deny Jung’s ‘time’, what’s wrong w/ this picture? Relatedly, why are one-third of the births in America associated w/ single women (we’ve moved beyond ‘unwed mothers’, thankfully). We obviously continue to live in a culture that saddles women w/ the bearing (de facto) and raising of children w/ the wild men running off for spanking escapades.

    I don’t want to get too far off topic here, and someone did mention in the blog the lack of female interaction re: this blog (and I liked the movie) but—to be perfectly graphic—-what’s w/ the spanking scenes between Jung and Sabina? Smirkingly, I find it not particularly related to anima/ animus or perhaps someone more knowledgeable re: the history of those times or the historical accuracy of the movie can something about this?

    I wondered in my mind during those scenes if Sabina wasn’t desiring to be spanked by Jung (and it wasn’t an isolated event either) because she understood that he was married and though they were enlightened beings that did not preclude that they were violating what must have been very Victorian notions in stiff little Switzerland at that time?

    And as we have alluded to, it would have a lot more challenging to make a movie about the contents of the very phenomenal Red Book. Think of all the special effects they would have needed.

    One of the most basic issues of human rights and concerns in the world—across the world—including this culture—is associated w/ the standing and rights of women.

    This may be far afield from this movie but my feminist head understood this repetitively, well duh of course, notion yet again: men advance on the backs of women. Carl Jung, a remarkable thinker, flowered due to the activities of the women in his life.

    As someone said about Hillary Clinton as she was reportedly throwing the White House dinnerware towards Bill when he experienced that ‘non-sexual’ event w/ ‘that’ woman: he owed her.

    Men still owe women. A lot.

    Marsha V. Hammond, PhD

  6. rosalie macdowell
    February 11, 2012 | 10:39 pm

    I’m a lay person who has read a good deal on Jung and been in therapy
    He was thinking with his penis ( maybe but read on )
    total disregard to either of their feelings
    you can see in his writings that he didn’t think much of women’s thoughts and independence which was non existent during this time period
    The wife taking the notes gave me the creeps for the both women …that seemed like a violation and( was he conscious of them at all?) Did he enjoy having them both there submissive and in love with him?
    The spankings could have been a way to explore what she enjoyed as a child,now in a safe environment as an adult with someone she loved and was attracted too…so as odd as it may sound it may have relieved her mind and help heal her guilt ….strange to have come from her doctor ?
    If you can read the book it it goes much more into detail….I now think they are all nuts and I think I may be sane and no longer in much need of therapy…though I wound like to work on my dreams

  7. Steve Staires
    February 18, 2012 | 5:16 pm

    I have been unable to view the film, as it is not available in my community – though I did buy and read the book
    Can you provide any information about when/if the film will be available online (streaming) or by DVD?
    PS, appreciate the insightful comments of Ingela Romare

  8. Daniel Ross
    February 18, 2012 | 11:37 pm

    I do as well Steve,

    The DVD release date is March 27th. I included the link below. Enjoy!

  9. Louise Dery-Wells LICSW
    February 21, 2012 | 4:03 am

    I am not an analyst. I have read alot of Jung. I think the problem with analysis in general highlighted in the film, is objectification. Objectification of the psyche is obviously needed to help understand it, but it is dangerous to do so in an unrelated way, w/o true empathy. As we see in the film it leads to objectification and exploitation of female hysterics ( including as sexual objects) and the feminine in general. I worry sometimes about the state of female analysts and whether they are at risk to violate their inner nature and the males their feminine. I love many things about analytical psychology and have worked with several wonderful analysts, but this is one thing I do not love.

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