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Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud

Well Known Figures in Psychoanalysis

Psychoanalysis Ireland


Well Known Figures in Psychoanalysis

Lou Andreas-Salomé (1861 - 1937)

Born in St Petersburg to an aristocratic German-Baltic general and his wife, the only
daughter after 5 sons, Lou wrote in her autobiography Lebensruckblick of the warmth
and affection that surrounded her in her early years. The atmosphere of love and
fidelity created in her a trust in the world, and a confidence in herself that never left
her. Most of the descriptions of her by those who were later to become her
psychoanalytic colleagues talk of her physical beauty, her cheerful optimism and
gratitude for the bounty of life, her intellectual gifts and her deep understanding of
After this privileged childhood, she was sent away to Zurich when her father
died, where she studied history, logic and metaphysics for a year. A few years later
she met and became the close companion of Nietzsche, thus beginning a life of
intellectual endeavour and a series of close associations with some of the great
thinkers and writers of the age. She had an affair with the poet Rilke, and counted
Tolstoy and Turgenev amongst her friends. She married an older man, orientalist
Friedrich Carl Andreas, in the late 1880's, a marriage which lasted forty four years
until his death, and seemed to have been a source of great satisfaction for both,
despite the fact that the relationship was never consummated and she had many sexual
liaisons with other men during that time.
She was a prolific writer, having produced a monograph on Nietzsche, a book
on Ibsen's heroines and several novels and some poetry. When she arrived in Vienna
aged 51 in 1911 to learn about psychoanalysis, her reputation had preceded her. By
all accounts she was liked by both men and women and very quickly won the trust,
admiration and affection of Freud. She immersed herself in Freud's writings and
began to produce papers focusing on narcissism, love and female sexuality,
expressing her belief that the feminine partakes of a primordial fusion with the All.
She saw woman as being in harmony with nature, self-sufficient, at ease in the
cosmos. Despite having broken with religion in her late teens, there remained in her a
fascination with the ineffable, the sublime.
She practised in Gottingen where she had settled with her husband and carried
on a correspondence with Freud for many years (published as Sigmund Freud and
Lou Andreas-Salomé: Letters ed. E Pfeiffer, trans. W&E Robson-Scott). Much of her
work is available in only French or German, which may account for her lesser profile
in the anglophone psychoanalytic world.

Selected Works:
Sigmund Freud and Lou Andreas-Salomé: Letters (1985)
Further Reading:
Lou von Salomé: A Biography of the Woman Who Inspired Freud, Nietzsche and Rilke, by Julia Vickers (2008)
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