In 1904, a young Swiss psychiatrist took as his first patient a 19-year-old Russian woman who was diagnosed as suffering from hysteria. The patient, Sabina Spielrein, listed among her symptoms regular visits from a German-speaking angel who often directed her actions. Over the course of 10 months of treatment, Spielrein was cured but fell desperately in love with her doctor, giving their relationship an almost mystical quality in her mind. Under normal circumstances, such an occurrence, while certainly frowned upon, is unlikely to have been remembered. When the psychiatrist is Carl Jung, however, the situation is very different.
Were it not for an incredible discovery in Switzerland, all we know about Spielrein would have come from Jung’s files on his professional relationship with her (in them he freely discussed her feelings). Spielrein, however, kept all of Jung’s letters to her, along with carbon copies of everything she wrote him, and stored all of the letters in a trunk she kept with her for most of her life. This treasure trove of history was accidentally unearthed less than 30 years ago in the basement of a Palace in Geneva that once housed the city’s Psychology Institute and the letters, along with Jung’s files form the basis for Swedish director Elisabeth Marton’s 2002 documentary (just now released in the US for the first time), My Name Was Sabina Spielrein.