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Shoham, M. (2008). The Affirmative Experience Remains: A review of Lust, by Michael Eigen. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2006, 118 pp.. Contemp. Psychoanal., 44(1):157-166.

(2008). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 44(1):157-166

The Affirmative Experience Remains: A review of Lust, by Michael Eigen. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2006, 118 pp.

Review by:
Moran Shoham, Ph.D.

For a moment the eyes of my eyes were opened, the affirmative experience remains, and consoles through all suffering

—Emerson

MICHAEL EIGEN'S recent book, Lust, offers readers an encounter with the author's special voice (Ogden, 1998). It is difficult to miss Eigen's unique style of writing and intensity of expression. Gordon (2006) suggests the term “affective phenomenology” to describe Eigen's insistence on teasing out colors, shadings, and varieties of emotional experience. The effort to give an expressive form to lived experience, to reach an openness that enhances and enlarges emotional capacity, is, as Gordon notes, a constant element in Eigen's writings, writings that otherwise evade, almost consciously and certainly out of inner conviction, the attempt to present a systematic theory that amounts to a comprehensive whole (Molino, 1996). Growing out of Eigen's thinking is a heightened awareness of transformations (Ferro, 1999), an affinity to the time element of experience, one that underlies and undercuts our (still dominating) spatial model of the mind:

Our formulations are couched in terms derived from sensuous experience, but the emotional truth we seek to express is not sensuous or spatial. It is not localizable anywhere. When speaking about psychic reality spatial references are metaphorical or analogical. Emotional truth is inherently intangible, invisible or ineffable [Eigen, 1993, p. 125].

While it is almost a commonplace of psychoanalytic thinking that theories are, to some extent, complementary and that their structuring reflects a deeper emotional disposition, the ease with which we accept the structuring of theories, that is, that we are such stuff that allows experience to be presented in the form of abstraction, seems to evade our attention.

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