Elizabeth Severn: The 'Evil Genius' of Psychoanalysis (Routledge, 2017) chronicles the life and work of Elizabeth Severn, both as one of the most controversial analysands in the history of psychoanalysis, and as a psychoanalyst in her own right. Condemned by Freud as "an evil genius", Freud disapproved of Severn’s work and had her influence expelled from the psychoanalytic mainstream. In this book, Rachman draws on years of research into Severn to present a much-needed reappraisal of her life and work, as well as her contribution to modern psychoanalysis.
Arnold Rachman’s re-discovery, restoration and analysis of the Elizabeth Severn Papers – including previously unpublished interviews, books, brochures and photographs – suggests that, far from a failure, that the analysis of Severn by Ferenczi constitutes one of the great cases in psychoanalysis, one that was responsible a new theory and methodology for the study and treatment of trauma disorder, in which Severn played a pioneering role.
Elizabeth Severn should be of interest to any psychoanalyst looking to glean fresh light on Severn’s progressive views on clinical empathy, self-disclosure, countertransference analysis, intersubjectivity and the origins of relational analysis.
Christopher Russell is a Psychoanalyst in Chelsea, Manhattan.