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Pearson, W. (2019). The Challenge of Being Human by Michael Eigen Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge 2018, 146 pp.. Fort Da, 25(1):68-71.

(2019). Fort Da, 25(1):68-71

Reviews: Book Review Essay

The Challenge of Being Human by Michael Eigen Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge 2018, 146 pp.

Review by:
Willow Pearson, Psy.D., LMFT

Opening to the Challenge

Reading Michael Eigen's new work, The Challenge of Being Human, his 26th book in an extraordinary opus of psychoanalytic texts, I am struck by how he holds up a mirror to my mind (with regard for the unknowable) that is simultaneously unflinching and compassionate with its open, honest questions and invitation to self-reflection. I am compelled and helped to go further because Eigen suggests to do just a bit at a time, to keep beginning, to not have to have all the answers, to open to what I am really, actually feeling and experiencing. In this spirit, reading Eigen is like having a therapy session with him.

The Challenge of Being Human aptly begins with a chapter on “Alternate infinities.” Starting in this way, Eigen exhorts the reader to engage the alternate infinity that he presents in a Bionian/post-Bionian spirit, by oscillating between and among multiple dreams of the infinite. For Eigen, the infinite is very personal: he takes the time-honored, pointing-out instruction to “regard all dharmas as dreams, including this one” and helps me see this pointing-out in a new light. Dreams become infinities through his unique teachings that draw from Bion's O, Kabbalah's ein sof, and Zen's dharma. And Eigen helps me alternate my own experiences of practice in a number of infinities I am immersed in: composing lyrics and melodies, singing, Quakerism, yoga, Zen Buddhism, Vajrayana Buddhism, Grotstein's and Eigen's Bionian/post-Bionian psychoanalytic psychotherapy, and dreaming.

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