Dialogues with Michael Eigen spans 20 years of diverse interviews and interactions with the acclaimed psychologist Michael Eigen, including interlocutors from Italy, Spain, Portugal, Argentina, Sweden, Israel, and the United States, published together for the first time.
This book explores the importance of soul reveries, psychoanalytic "prayers", and cultivation of psychoanalytic "faith" in Eigen’s work. The dialogues lay out Eigen’s privileging of emotions as messengers in need of recognition, as welcoming inner gestures for incubation, enabling a deep vitalizing contact of being with oneself and others. Eigen reminds us that struggling with one’s personality remains a life-long task, exposing us to various existential sufferings, agonies, traumas, and losses in need of soul confession, if not analytic prayer.
The book seeks to help readers find, touch, and work with emotional realities a little better and support a growing intimate, creative relation to ourselves. The rich explorations of the interviews and interactions with Eigen help contribute to further appreciation of our experiential life and worlds it opens. Building on his work on mind–body–soul connections, Dialogues with Michael Eigen is an essential book for anyone interested in the spiritual side of psychoanalysis.
"Dialogues with Michael Eigen represents an extraordinary opportunity to listen to the voice of one of the most influential and internationally respected authors of contemporary psychoanalysis. In this case, the form of the interview introduces the reader to a pleasant and fruitful conversation with him. The plurality of topics addressed, the original perspectives in which they are set, the interweaving with personal history, and the advantage given by the experience of many years of clinical work, teaching and writing, make this book a mandatory reading for psychoanalysts and psychotherapists. No less extraordinary are the portraits of a whole gallery of pioneers of psychoanalysis, from Freud to Jung, from Klein to Bion, from Winnicott to Laing, and so on. As well as re-exploring in these dialogues, which cover a period of 18 years, the themes dear to the author already exposed in the many volumes of of his prolific writing, the human qualities of Michael Eigen emerge more vividly and directly: discipline, study, competence, creativity, curiosity at 360 degrees for all that is vital inside and outside psychoanalysis. But then above all: wisdom, gentleness, humility, humanity, humor. Perhaps he would respond, in fact, as he does in the book to his interlocutor after a presentation, and as we can imagine, smiling and with a sparkle in his eyes: 'Now if I only knew the guy you're talking about'; or, on another page, 'After that introduction, I hope Michael Eigen shows up'. I can assure readers that in this new book Michael Eigen does show up. And we are grateful to him."
–Giuseppe Civitarese, author of Sublime Subjects: Aesthetic Experience and Intersubjectivity in Psychoanalysis (2017)
"For Michael Eigen’s many faithful and avid readers, this book provides the singular pleasure of hearing him in conversation; for others, it will be a splendid introduction. Eigen’s independent and generous psychoanalytic spirit allows him to hear in many registers, and to engage and transmit a spiritually inflected psychoanalysis without falling into dogma or exclusion. Each interlocutor draws out aspects of his unique voice, while Eigen evokes creative response from those who interview him. A book to read for pleasure and inspiration."
–Donna M. Orange, NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis; IPSS (Institute for the Psychoanalytic Study of Subjectivity)
"This book gives us a wonderful insight into one of the most brilliant psychoanalysts of all time. An apt metaphor for his works might be a crossroads: a psychoanalyst who stands in such a place, debating his path, is going neither in one direction or the other; he is literally betwixt and between. This is why, in Mike Eigen's writings and speech, one can recognize a caesura that is not just a paradox, but a space for a deep-thinking performance and quite poetic metaphors, the great substances of his thoughts."
–Arnaldo Chuster, M.D., training and teaching analyst, Rio de Janeiro Psychoanalytical Society, Brazil; author of A Lonesome Road: Essays on the Complexity of Bion’s Work (2014)
"Dialogues with Michael Eigen give room to an exceptional dialogue with the reader, who becomes more and more involved in a companionship with the author's journey along the years as a psychoanalyst with traumas and psychosis. Each chapter makes us feel at home not only with his books, but with a unique rhythm, between negativity and creativity, individual trials and social forces. They progressively open doors to unexpected sources of life linked to contemporary issues and to the land of the sacred. As psychoanalysis is also an oral tradition, I particularly appreciated the oral style, full of wit and humor, while deepening my reflection. Following Bion's advice to psychoanalysts, ‘you work with your personality’, Michael Eigen awakens the reader with great generosity."
–Francoise Davoine, author of History Beyond Trauma (2004)
About the author
About the editor
Preface: Soul to soul: living with Michael Eigen
Preface: So many voices within a voice
Introduction: “Meeting” Michael Eigen: a personal reverie
Emotions as messengers
1 Demons and wounds
2 Emotional transmissions and fluctuations of experience
3 On violence
4 Sensitivity and sense
5 Psyche singing
6 Beginning to wait and waiting as beginning
7 Silence and intimacy
8 Flames and aloneness
Constant struggle and suffering
9 Toxins, damage, and processing traumatic emotions
10 The ever-healing wound: psychoanalysis and Kabbalah
11 I am turning into a barnacle
12 I want to be a woman: caesura, blackout, rebirth
13 The naked beginner
Confession and prayer
14 Psychoanalytic faith
Reply: from touch to touch
15 Swimming in the psyche
16 Faith’s breath
17 In the land of the unknown
The Relational Perspectives Book Series (RPBS) publishes books that grow out of or contribute to the relational tradition in contemporary psychoanalysis. The term relational psychoanalysis was first used by Greenberg and Mitchell (1983) to bridge the traditions of interpersonal relations, as developed within interpersonal psychoanalysis and object relations, as developed within contemporary British theory. But, under the seminal work of the late Stephen Mitchell, the term relational psychoanalysis grew and began to accrue to itself many other influences and developments. Various tributaries—interpersonal psychoanalysis, object relations theory, self psychology, empirical infancy research, and elements of contemporary Freudian and Kleinian thought—flow into this tradition, which understands relational configurations between self and others, both real and fantasied, as the primary subject of psychoanalytic investigation.
We refer to the relational tradition, rather than to a relational school, to highlight that we are identifying a trend, a tendency within contemporary psychoanalysis, not a more formally organized or coherent school or system of beliefs. Our use of the term relational signifies a dimension of theory and practice that has become salient across the wide spectrum of contemporary psychoanalysis. Now under the editorial supervision of Lewis Aron and Adrienne Harris with the assistance of Associate Editors Steven Kuchuck and Eyal Rozmarin, the Relational Perspectives Book Series originated in 1990 under the editorial eye of the late Stephen A. Mitchell. Mitchell was the most prolific and influential of the originators of the relational tradition. He was committed to dialogue among psychoanalysts and he abhorred the authoritarianism that dictated adherence to a rigid set of beliefs or technical restrictions. He championed open discussion, comparative and integrative approaches, and he promoted new voices across the generations.
Included in the Relational Perspectives Book Series are authors and works that come from within the relational tradition, extend and develop the tradition, as well as works that critique relational approaches or compare and contrast it with alternative points of view. The series includes our most distinguished senior psychoanalysts along with younger contributors who bring fresh vision.