Flames from the Unconscious: Trauma, Madness, and Faith

Author(s) : Michael Eigen

Flames from the Unconscious: Trauma, Madness, and Faith

Book Details

  • Publisher : Routledge
  • Published : 2009
  • Cover : Paperback
  • Pages : 176
  • Category :
  • Catalogue No : 27698
  • ISBN 13 : 9781855756991
  • ISBN 10 : 1855756994

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'To feel like an impostor is a recurrent theme among artists and to feel false as a person is a crucial theme in psychoanalysis. The sense that one is living a lie is important to many and often goes with a sense that an important flame is waning. Fused with this is fear that self-discovery is sinful. Guilt, fear and shame attaches to development and to failure to develop. Fusion of opposites is the rule in psychic life. Creative theft melds with destructive dreads. Unbearable agonies prompt easeful lies and falsity to escape pain and helplessness ... Real touches real, sometimes for evil, sometimes for good, often the two indiscernible, indistinguishable. This book affirms that there is something in us that works with all its might to tip the balance towards the good.- Michael Eigen, from the Foreword

Reviews and Endorsements

'Michael Eigen's Flames from the Unconscious aligns us with his consciousness and opens up our experience of the world. We are led into the heart of a deeply caring individual: a restless, demanding, probing, sensitive, tender and inspiring therapist who knows our fears but is no longer afraid himself.'
- Mark Epstein, MD, author of Thoughts without a Thinker and Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart

'An astonishing and gripping psychoanalytic meditation on the collective psyche and the experiences of the recent traumatic past. As always, Michael Eigen has an extraordinary ability to use language in a way that opens and deepens psychic reality. His form evokes what his theory proposes, the constant ebbing and flowing, opening and closing of our ability to stay in contact with that reality. He is a master of psychoanalytic theory who nonetheless brings us up constantly short in the face of what is shockingly raw and untheorizable in life.'
- Jessica Benjamin, author of The Bonds of Love, Like Subjects, Love Objects and Shadow of the Other

'Eigen finds in psychoanalysis - especially in the work of Winnicott - the language of commitment to his patients and to his own unique rewording of psychoanalysis. Time after time as paragraphs open with powerful assertions one is conscripted into Eigen's quotidian psychoanalytic and spiritual depth. Who else can find in the ordinary "grace" of lived experience so many challenging reflections? No one else thinks like this, writes like this, or puts psychoanalysis into a separate realm. Like the writings of Adam Phillips, this is literature for the ages.'
- Christopher Bollas, author of Shadow of the Object, Forces of Destiny, and The Freudian Moment

'This beautifully written book emphasizes the dilemma of how we deal with the "Flame of Life" within us. [Eigen] emphasizes the importance of "Primary Aloneness" both with and without the presence of the other. He urges us to reconcile with the competing oppositions within us: love/joy, madness/creativity, and so many other conflicts. Ultimately, this book constitutes an urgent and moving appeal for us to accept our inner diversities, to live with them, and to reap the benefit of their reconciliation. This contribution represents an integration of psychoanalysis (both theoretical and clinical), religion, mysticism, and philosophy.'
- James S. Grotstein, MD, author of A Beam of Intense Darkness and Who is the Dreamer Who Dreams the Dream?

'Is flames too strong a word? I want to connote fire, intensity, burning, inspiration. Our culture long associated flames with hell. Quit scary: to burn in hell forever for your sins, for the evil in you, the evil you did. Fire, also, was associated with creativity, creative heat, in-flammation, a flame within. Poets tend to gravitate towards the latter, inner flame. For William Blake, the Devil, as well as Jesus, is important for fecundity of creative imagination. We can speak of hells of creative passion, creative work, self-creation and discovery.
Fires of the mind, the gut, the passions, holy and hellish fires, eternal flames ... We won't recount all usages of flame, fires of disaster, cooking, warmth of hearth and home, love and hate fires of all sorts, fearsome, majestic flames of nature and our great venture to control the uncontrollable, what we gain, lose, unleash.
One more will do for my purpose: theft. The Greek myth of Prometheus, who steals fire from the gods as a gift to humanity. A civilizing gift that spans physical, emotional and mental levels. A gift that requires cultivation, growth of ability to channel dangerous energy...'
- Michael Eigen, from the Foreword

Chapter 1: Introduction: Flames From the Unconscious
Chapter 2: Primary Aloneness
Chapter 3: Incommunicado Core and Boundless Supporting Unknown
Chapter 4: Guilt in an Age of Psychopathy
Chapter 5: I Killed Socrates
Chapter 6: Revenge Ethics
Chapter 7: Something Wrong
Chapter 8: Emily and M.E.
Chapter 9: Faith and Destructiveness

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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