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Sunday, April 29, 2018

Movies: Lou Andreas Salome - The Audacity to Be Free

Lou Andreas Salome, who was born in 1861 in St. Petersburg, Russia, became one of the few women psychoanalysts in Sigmund Freud's inner circle.

Movies: Lou Andreas Salome - The Audacity to Be Free*

At a relatively young age, she was known for being an intellectual with unconventional ideas for her time.  Throughout her life, she had many intellectual pursuits, including psychoanalysis, and she prized her freedom and spoke up for what she believed in, which was unusual for women in her day.

The movie, Lou Andreas Salome - The Audacity to Be Free, traces her life from early childhood until old age.  Although the title of the movie emphasizes Salome's lifelong pursuit of individual freedom and creativity, it actually focuses on her role as a muse to various famous men in her life, including Rainer Maria Rilke and Friedrich Nietzsche and less on her accomplishments, which were many.

The movie focuses only briefly on her accomplishments as a psychoanalyst during the early days of psychoanalysis and her relationship with Sigmund Freud.  As a psychotherapist who is psychoanalytically trained, I would have liked more of an emphasis on her life as a psychoanalyst, especially considering that a career in psychoanalysis in her day was mostly pursued by men.

In many ways, Salome was ahead of her time with regard to understanding the importance of culture, which we take for granted now.  But in her time, the focus in psychoanalysis was on the patient's inner world, the Oedipus Complex and Freud's psychosexual model of psychoanalysis.

It's unfortunate that such an outstanding psychoanalyst, who was well-known and highly regarded internationally in her time, has been all but forgotten these days, except in some psychoanalytic circles and, even there, her books and papers go mostly unread.

Even though the movie focuses mostly on her personal relationships with men, hopefully, it will arouse curiosity about this accomplished woman who was ahead of her time.

For a more comprehensive understanding of Lou Andreas Salome, I recommend Julia Vickers' book, Lou von Salome: A Biography of the Woman Who Inspired Freud, Nietzsche and Rilke.  Although the title emphasizes her role as a muse to some of the most famous men of her time, it also gives an in-depth exploration of her childhood background, how her background influenced her lifelong intellectual pursuits, her accomplishments, and her need for freedom and equality as a woman.

Salome also wrote her own memoir called Looking Back: Memoirs where she gives her own account of her life.  This book is more of a meditation on her life than a chronological account of her life history.

There is also a book, Salome: Her Life and Her Work by Angela Livingstone, that provides a more of a history of Salome's life.

It's important to remember women psychoanalysts like Lou Andreas Salome and Karen Horney for the important contributions that they made to psychoanalysis and psychotherapy in general.

Getting Help in Therapy
If you have been feeling overwhelmed by your problems, you're not alone.  Help is available in psychotherapy (see my article: The Benefits of Psychotherapy).

Working through your problems in psychotherapy can free you from your traumatic history and allow you to live a more meaningful and fulfilling life (see my article: How to Choose a Psychotherapist).

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist (see my article: The Therapeutic Benefits of Integrative Psychotherapy).

I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006 or email me.

*Photo Credit: Shutterstock: A romantic Slavic woman in vintage dress (this is not Lou Andreas Salome).