Repair of the Soul

Metaphors of Transformation in Jewish Mysticism and Psychoanalysis

By Karen E. Starr

Foreword by Lewis Aron

© 2008 – Routledge

160 pages

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780881634877
pub: 2008-06-12
US Dollars$40.95
Hardback: 9780881634860
pub: 2008-06-11
US Dollars$135.00

e–Inspection Copy

About the Book

Repair of the Soul examines transformation from the perspective of Jewish mysticism and psychoanalysis, addressing the question of how one achieves self-understanding that leads not only to insight but also to meaningful change. In this beautifully written and thought-provoking book, Karen Starr draws upon a contemporary relational approach to psychoanalysis to explore the spiritual dimension of psychic change within the context of the psychoanalytic relationship. Influenced by the work of Lewis Aron, Steven Mitchell and other relational theorists, and drawing upon contemporary scholarship in the field of Jewish studies, Starr brings the ideas of the Kabbalah, the ancient Jewish mystical tradition, into dialogue with modern psychoanalytic thought. Repair of the Soul provides a scholarly integration of several kabbalistic and psychoanalytic themes relating to transformation, including faith, surrender, authenticity, and mutuality, as well as a unique exploration of the relationship of the individual to the universal. Starr uses the Kabbalah’s metaphors as a vivid framework with which to illuminate the experience of transformation in psychoanalytic process, and to explore the evolving view of the psychoanalytic relationship as one in which both parties - the analyst as well as the patient - are transformed.


"In Repair of the Soul, Karen Starr has provided us with a sophisticated and well-informed discussion of the ways in which kabbalistic metaphors of transformation can be related to the work of psychic change in psychoanalysis. Writing with intelligence, passion, and a rigorously imaginative grasp of her two fields of discourse, she succeeds in delineating areas of vital conversation between them. Not the least of her achievements is a writing style in which the kabbalistic and the analytic encounter each other without strain. Starr's book makes a valuable contribution to the contemporary awareness of issues of faith, of the ineffable other, and of the 'transcendent Third,' in analytic work."

- Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg, Ph.D., author, The Beginning of Desire: Reflections on Genesis

"An exciting interaction of sparks between psychoanalysis and Kabbalah, showing how fruitful it is when diverse dimensions of psyche and spirit meet."

- Michael Eigen, Ph.D., author, Feeling Matters

"Repair of the Soul marks a milestone in the ongoing and often troubled dialogue between psychoanalysis and religion. Karen Starr offers a deep and serious reading of both Kabbalah and psychoanalytic thought. Her consideration of the roles of faith, interpretation, and multi-leveled truth in both traditions will open many doors for the therapeutic community, to whom her work is primarily addressed. Thoughtful therapists should find both challenge and inspiration in this most interesting and truly barrier-breaking work."

- Rabbi Arthur Green, Ph.D., Hebrew College

"This is a challenging interdisciplinary dialogue, which is likely to be meaningful for specialists."

- David J. Zucker, Journal of Pastoral Theology

Table of Contents

Aron, Foreword. Introduction: The Kabbalah. Transformation. The Interpretive Encounter. Faith as the Fulcrum of Change. The Transformation of Evil. Epilogue: Jacob's Ladder

About the Author

Karen Starr, Psy.D., is Visiting Assistant Professor and Postdoctoral Psychology Fellow at CUNY, The Graduate Center, and Adjunct Professor at the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program, Long Island University at C.W. Post.

About the Series

Relational Perspectives Book Series

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.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Movements / Psychoanalysis
RELIGION / Judaism / General