If you rely solely upon the portrayal of Sabina in the film, you'll leave with the distinct impression that she was both disturbed and a seductress. Neither were true by modern standards. The film's dramatic depiction of her hospitalization leaves the viewer with the impression that sexual deviation was at the core of Sabina's 'neurosis'. In reality, she had suffered a lifetime of trauma - from an incredibly strict household (her mother delivered frequent beatings, which we don't hear about in the film), a childhood of illness, the death of her sister1 - and coupled with a delicate and emotional disposition, left her with something akin to PTSD.
Sabina was also an intellectual who influenced a great number of people within her profession. Her major contributions centred on the idea that sex was both a destructive and creative drive - through destruction of the ego through sex, came a new entity. This theory strongly influenced the work of both Freud and Jung.
Sabina was initially a patient of Jung's, but she went on to study psychiatry - Jung was her mentor and advisor - and she eventually decided to focus on child psychiatry. Following her training, she returned to her home country of Russia. Jewish, she and her children were executed by the Nazis in 1942. (A more detailed account of Sabina's life can be found at the Jewish Women's Archive - reference below.)
Glad you enjoyed the film! It did have merits, indeed. I've watched it a couple of times, so I must have enjoyed it :) And I'll probably watch it again at some point. I suppose when I evaluate parts of films that I think exploit women/actresses, I ask myself whether the film would have had the same impact without the scenes/elements in question. I think the answer is almost always, yes - same impact, just needless exploitation aimed at men, which I have never understood. Only a complete neanderthal would choose to not watch a film because there is no female nudity in it.
Interesting notes. I loved this film, too, and enjoyed your comments. I agree that they sort of twisted the history around the sex vein, but still, it was a good way to put together this film.
I should probably change my profile pic ;)
Absolutely - I now know more about this Sabina character after checking out more scholarly coverage of her - thanks to this film. Seven years of university in psychology, and she wasn't mentioned once. Freud made it into almost every single class I took as an undergrad, however. Priorities, priorities...
Period costume - I once gave a presentation in my History of Psychology class dressed as Sir Francis Galton. Any excuse to wear a cravat... ;)
Kinsey - I saw it, but didn't think much of it.
I certainly hope people aren't watching 90-minute films and considering themselves educated on a topic. Part of its entertainment for me is seeing what parts of history (in the cases where screenplays are based on real people and events, and in this case on a book written about real people and events) are considered interpretable and watchable given the limitations of the art form.
I spent some time thinking about the nudity thing, and after removing my subjective and knee-jerk feminist reaction and removing consideration that sex was the undercurrent for the research and practice of all three of these figures, my argument is that, in film, so much has been done more than adequately in past, more prudish times without the need of nudity (or graphic violence, etc). I wish they'd kept it out, even if it was limited.
I'm neither pro-Freud nor pro-Jung, but I'm interested in history, and how these two figures sparked more progressive thinking (as well as further damage). I also recently watched a documentary on Freud's nephew, Bernays, and his shenanigans in the US. Frightening sociopath, propagandist.
Glad you came to a decision ;)