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Ehrlich, R. (2001). Some Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Aliveness and Deadness: A Review of Psychic Deadness by Michael Eigen. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1996.. Contemp. Psychoanal., 37(3):494-500.

(2001). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 37(3):494-500

Some Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Aliveness and Deadness: A Review of Psychic Deadness by Michael Eigen. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1996.

Review by:
Robert Ehrlich, Ph.D.

Many Theorists have pointed to the changing nature of psychological distress in America in the twentieth century. For example, Christopher Lasch (1978), in The Culture of Narcissism, speaks of the way that many people seek psychological help who do not have “well-defined symptoms but … diffuse satisfactions” (p. 37). In Psychic Deadness, Michael Eigen is concerned with one particular dimension of this phenomenon: that is, the widespread sense of emotional deadness. He states that the core pathological structure of our time is the “split between an occultly transcendent self and a fusional-explosive body self” (p. 103). This split is often central to the experience of deadness that Eigen explores from a variety of theoretical perspectives and with the use of case material. He also tries to show how this problem is revealed in public life, so that his work deals with larger cultural issues.

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