Sex Versus Survival, The Life and Ideas of Sabina Spielrein by John Launer

Duckworth Overlook Biography/ Psychoanalysis 20 November 2014

Duckworth Overlook
Biography/ Psychoanalysis
20 November 2014

The first complete biography on the life and achievements of one of the most significant figures in the field of sex psychology

Who was Sabina Spielrein? Her dramatic life story is most famous for her notorious affair with Carl Jung, dramatised in the film A Dangerous Method starring Keira Knightley. Yet she was a Russian Jew who overcame family and psychiatric abuse to become an original thinker in the field of psychotherapy. This is the first biography to put her life and ideas at the centre of the story,
examining Spielrein’s key role in the development of  psychoanalysis as well as in the rift between Jung and Freud.
Launer shows how Spielrein’s ideas on the death instinct and the survival of the individual were rejected by Jung and Freud, disregarded by her peers on account of her gender, but substantially vindicated by later developments in psychology and evolutionary biology. Sex Versus Survival is a landmark in the rediscovery of an extraordinary thinker.

Sabina Spielrein was a Russian Jew and one of the first female psychoanalysts. She was in succession
the patient, student, and colleague of Carl Jung. She also met, corresponded, and worked with Sigmund Freud. Spielrein worked as a psychoanalyst and teacher in Switzerland and Russia. Her most influential published work is the essay ‘Destruction as the Cause of Coming Into Being’ (1912). In August 1942, Spielrein and her two daughters, aged 29 and 16, were murdered by a Nazi Death Squad near Rostov-on-Don.
John Launer is a doctor and family therapist, and a renowned medical columnist both nationally and internationally. For many years he was on the senior staff of the Tavistock Clinic in London, the leading training institute in the UK for psychological treatment. He is now an Associate Dean for postgraduate medical education based at the University of London.


Media Relations 

My publicity campaign centred on the Jewish media, academic journals, psychology and psychoanalysis publications and culture magazines as well as events.

Sex Versus Survival was reviewed in publications as diverse as The Spectator, the Observer, The Times Literary Supplement, The Lady, Jewish Chronicle,Times Higher Education, Psychoanalysis and History, the International Journal of Jungian Studies, and In Mind Magazine.

John Launer was interviewed on Monocle FM and wrote an editorial piece for Jewish Renaissance. As a result of my approach to Psychology Today,  he is now a contributor to the magazine. Sex Versus Survival was nominated a Christmas read on The London Review of Books Website,


John Launer gave a talk at the Freud Museum, London on 24 November  2014. Tickets sold out in a few days, leading the museum to book a bigger room and releasing new tickets. John Launer’s talk was attended by more than 120 people.

John Launer will lead Cherchez La Femme, a panel discussion based on Sex Versus Survival on  21 February 2015 as part of Jewish Book Week, with Lisa Appignanesi, Stephen Frosh, Eva Hoffman, and Rachel Lasserson and John Launer.

John Launer will give an author talk on 15 July 2015 at JW3, Jewish Life.

Sex Vs Survival the lady 21

Review in the December issue of The Lady

Sex Vs Survival jewish renaissance author article Jan 2015 issue

Author piece in the January 2015 issue of Jewish Renaissance

sex vs survival  review TLS 10

Review in The Times Literary Supplement              10 April 2015 Issue



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s