Kabbalah and Psychoanalysis

Author(s) : Michael Eigen

Kabbalah and Psychoanalysis

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Wilfred Bion once said, “I use the Kabbalah as a framework for psychoanalysis.” Both are preoccupied with catastrophe and faith, infinity and intensity of experience, shatter and growth of being that supports dimensions which sensitivity opens. Both are preoccupied with ontological implications of the Unknown and the importance of emotional life.

This work is a psychospiritual adventure touching the places Kabbalah and psychoanalysis give something to each other. Michael Eigen uses aspects of Bion, Winnicott, Akivah, Luria and Nachman (and many more) as colours on a palette to open realities for growth of experience. Bion called faith "the psychoanalytic attitude" and Eigen here explores creative, paradoxical, multidimensional aspects of faith.

Eigen previously wrote of psychoanalysis as a form of prayer in The Psychoanalytic Mystic. In Kabbalah and Psychoanalysis he writes of creative faith. Sessions as crucibles in which diverse currents of personality mix in new ways, alchemy or soul chemistry perhaps, or simply homage to our embryonic nature which responds to the breath of feeling moment to moment.

This book brings out ways that a sense of infinity interweaves with everyday life, at the same time it faces the destructiveness of life and human nature and attempts to work with it. Read these chapters and see where they take you. They are meant as personal support for your own inner work, touching nooks and crannies hungry for touch.

Reviews and Endorsements

This book is an amplified transcript of two seminars on Kabbalah and Psychoanalysis given for the New York University Postdoctoral Contemplative Studies Project (2010, 2011). The additional eight part Appendix enriches basic themes and is almost a book in itself.

'Now that Bion's work is becoming more widely read and appreciated, growing interest has increasingly developed over his later work, which deals with mysticism. This new tack seems to represent a radical departure from his earlier, more conventionally scientific writings. The Hebrew Kabbalah was one of the principal mystical texts that captured Bion's rapt interest in his attempt to align psychoanalytic concepts with strikingly parallel revelations in mystical writings. Michael Eigen has done an important service in presenting, on the one hand, his highly articulate and readily comprehensible rendition of Bion's mystical venture into "Transformations in O", "Faith in O", and many other of Bion's associated ideas, and their correlations in the Kabbalah. The result is admirable. Eigen is no stranger to psychoanalysis nor to mysticism, and this beautiful work shows it. I was pleased with his ease of demystifying mysticism in Bion and in the Kabbalah. We learn that each body of work deals with different surges in our daily emotional lives. This is a must-read book.'
- James Grotstein, author of A Beam of Intense Darkness: Wilfred Bion's Legacy to Psychoanalysis

'Michael Eigen, who in his previous writings opened windows to bold and thrilling connections between psychoanalysis and other methodologies, now lays out a brilliant link between Jewish mystical teachings (Kabbalah and Hassidism) and psychoanalytical theory. In this book as well, Eigen, in his unique way, interweaves a rational, intelligent and lucid analysis, with an empathetic listening to the longing heart. Here we have an extraordinary book that dares to draw parallels and show similar lines of thinking between the foundations of Lurianic Kabbalah, the Hassidic teaching of the Baal Shem Tov and Rabbi Nachman from Bratslav and the most complex theories that psychoanalysis offers today: from Freud, Klein, Balint and Winnicott, to the depths of Bion.'
- Admiel Kosman, Poet and Pofessor at University of Potsdam and Geiger College, Berlin

'Michael Eigen dazzles his students and followers with personal gems of wisdom, mystical tales, and charming stories. He fills them with spirit, compassion and with love meant to heal their brokenness and help them survive the inevitable catastrophic condition of life.'
- Lewis Aron, Ph.D. is the Director, New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis.

'Michael Eigen's Kabbalah and Psychoanalysis is a passionate journey into the world of the soul, one that lives, breathes and renews the Kabbalistic spirit for our time. Eigen brings the Jewish mystics into dialog with the theory and practice of psychoanalysis in a manner that resonates with and transforms the reader's own psyche and spirit.'
- Sanford Drob, author of Kabbalistic Visions: C.G. Jung and Jewish Mysticism

About the Author(s)

Michael Eigen is a psychologist and psychoanalyst. He is Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology in the Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis at New York University (adjunct), and a Senior Member of the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis. He is the author of a number of books, including Toxic Nourishment, The Psychoanalytic Mystic, Feeling Matters and Flames from the Unconscious.

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