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Malater, E. (2013). Eigen in Seoul: Volume 1: Madness and Murder. By Michael Eigen. London: Karnac, 2010, 100 pp.Eigen in Seoul: Volume 2: Faith and Transformation. By Michael Eigen. London: Karnac, 2011, 124 pp.. Psychoanal. Rev., 100(3):518-522.
(2013). Psychoanalytic Review, 100(3):518-522
Eigen in Seoul: Volume 1: Madness and Murder. By Michael Eigen. London: Karnac, 2010, 100 pp.Eigen in Seoul: Volume 2: Faith and Transformation. By Michael Eigen. London: Karnac, 2011, 124 pp.
Review by: Evan Malater, LCSW
To start at the beginning, consider the title of these two volumes of Michael Eigen seminars in Korea, Eigen in Seoul. This title spoken aloud could easily be understood as “Eigen in soul,” a fitting confusion for a book that translates speech into writing. On the back cover of Madness and Murder there is a statement from Christopher Bollas, who writes of Eigen “finding the soul of psychoanalysis.” While it may be too much to say that he has found the soul of psychoanalysis, it is fair to say that in these books, he has given us his psychoanalytic soul through this record of a spoken transmission of the major themes of his work and writing.
Although Eigen has described Bion, Winnicott, and Lacan as psychoanalytic mystics, it is his own writing that most overtly stakes a claim for the value of psychoanalysis as the basis of a modern wisdom teaching. While he has long been a careful student and interpreter of his psychoanalytic teachers, his own blending of their works into a unique psychoanalytic and literary style has created a body of work that is much more than the sum of his inspirations. Now with these two books of seminars at a psychoanalytic institute in Korea, the first from a seminar in 2007 and the second in 2009, we have the voice of Eigen as teacher, a role he has honed through close to forty years in an ongoing weekly New York seminar on the works of Bion, Lacan, and Winnicott. That said, his speaking voice here transcribed in sessions for students at a psychoanalytic institute in Korea is not so far removed from his writing voice, a voice that is by turns gentle, prodding, thoughtful, digressive, poetic, and vulnerable.
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