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Waiting in the Wings
on 9 December 2012
On some levels it works really well, but on others it appears plan revisionist. As if the early psycho therapeutic world was only composed of Freud and Jung. In reality there was a multi-tussle of dynamics between Adler, Jones, Freud, Ferenczi, Jung, Stekel, Rank, Reich and numerous others.
Otto Gross gets a look in, but only to highlight a counterpoint to the more considered Jung. Gross requested the need for more promiscuity. In terms of a bio pic, the Grand daddy of the drop out, deserves a film all to himself and the snap shot in this film does not do him justice.
Otto Gross, the son of Hans Gross, was the perfect child, hammered into submission into being a carbon copy of Daddy. He took to the Adlerian polarity, shifting from inferiority to superiority and rebelled against the dominating values. As a result he ignited the first stirrings of an emancipation for all.
Unfortunately it was the expense of his own wife and children. However trapped within a Victorian/Wilhelmine straightjacket, there were few compass bearings for an individual revolt against all values. Drawing on Stirner, Nietzsche and Bachofen he began to usher in a more individual view. Meanwhile as he sped away from Freud he also fought out a father-son battle. The upshot was he began to self medicate for being overpowered.
A theme that is only lightly touched upon in the film. For those who are interested it is well worth looking him up, a forgotten therapist who worked to influence, Eric Muhsam and Gustav Landauer, touching Kafka, DH Lawrence, Reich and the whole field of sexual liberation.
Jung is portrayed well by Fassbinder, but he lacks a dynamic, a will to power. His ideas arrive as an outside spring into being, suddenly spurting up within conversation and speculation rather than through experience. Telepathy, ancestor myths, collective unconscious, folk memories, the occult all arise without any precedent.
Freud appears to be infused with some human qualities in the film. The man who launched a new paradigm, whilst sailing to no known destination appears pensive rather than tyrannical. The film is dominated by him and his presence.
Speilrein is one of the many female victims of the era and the main focus of the film. Her plight connects to Stekel's main contribution to the therapeutic discipline; an area that Jung seemingly shied away from - sexual paraphilias.
Stekel looked at female sexuality and explored the depths of pathological sexualities along with the various fetishes. Here we see Keira playing the woman committed to a more enlightened type of asylum, run by Jung, as he falls for his patient.
Within the relationship she represents the untamed Dionysian world, whilst he is bound by the more formal discipline of the Apollonian world of wealth, as he is seduced by his wife's money.
The iron bound strictures which surrounded this particular world become apparent as they keep everyone trapped in codes. The sexual preferences of Speilrein and her constant need to return to the sites of her child humiliation - these are well represented. They also provide the film with some titillation. The various splits between Jews and Aryans are also part of the conundrum of the era. Jung was later to embrace National Socialism. Freud was to flee to the UK.
The film, for the viewer is slow paced and it could have been far racier had it concentrated on the clash between the elder and younger Gross along with the flight to find freedom. As it stands it is interesting, ponderous and it provides a certain myopic window onto the early strands of psychotherapy.
A far bigger story however is waiting in the wings.