Michael Eigen

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Michael (Mike) Eigen (born January 11, 1936 in Passaic, New Jersey) is an American psychoanalyst and writer, who is known for his willingness to allow for the role of mysticism in the therapeutic process.


Eigen was born in Passaic, New Jersey to a Jewish family,[1] the son of Jeanette (née Brody), a teacher, and Sol, a lawyer.[2] Eigen began by working with troubled children in his twenties, before moving on to treat adults. He took his B.A. (with honors) in 1957 from the University of Pennsylvania and his PhD in 1974 from The New School,[3][4] and trained as psychotherapist and psychoanalyst, before becoming one of the directors of the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis.


Described by Adam Phillips as bringing with him “a new kind of moral seriousness”,[5] Eigen is self-confessedly interested in “varieties of spiritual experience and how the psychological and spiritual fuse”, while remaining aware that such “Psyche-talk can sound weird, extravagant, crazy...arouse suspicion and rejection by our normative self”.[6] He draws (among other psychoanalytic mystics)[7] on the work of W. R. Bion, particularly in his conception of O as the unknowable reality.[8]

Eigen saw early experience as marked by an innocent, uncomplicated relation to life, which could be lost in early infancy;[9] he was also interested in Freud's idea of the prevalence of the Narcissistic wound in human experience.[10]


Selected Articles[edit]

  • "The Area of Faith in Winnicott, Lacan, and Bion". International Journal of the Psychoanalytic Association, (1981) 64: 413-33
  • "Dream Images". Journal of Religion and Health, (2004) 43(2), 115–122.
  • "Incommunicado core and boundless supporting unknown". European Journal of Psychotherapy & Counselling, (2007) 9: 415-22
  • "Life kills, aliveness kills". New Therapist, (2012) 76 The Bad Edition.
  • "O, Orgasm and Beyond". Psychoanalytic Dialogues, (2015) 25(5), 646–654.
  • "Affect Images and States". The Journal of Humanistic Psychology, (2019) 59(5), 714–719.


  • The Psychotic Core (1986)
  • Psychic Deadness (1996)
  • The Psychoanalytic Mystic (1998)
  • Toxic Nourishment (1999)
  • Ecstasy (2001)
  • Damaged Bonds (2001)
  • Rage (2002)
  • The Sensitive Self (2004)
  • Emotional Storm (2005)
  • Feeling Matters (2006)
  • Conversations with Michael Eigen (with Aner Grovin) (2007)
  • Flames from the Unconscious (2009)
  • Eigen in Seoul: Volume 1: Madness and Murder (2010)
  • Eigen in Seoul: Volume 2: Faith and Transformation (2011)
  • Contact with the Depths (2011)
  • Kabbalah and Psychoanalysis (2012)
  • Reshaping the Self: Reflections on Renewal Through Therapy (2013)
  • A Felt Sense: More Explorations of Psychoanalysis and Kabbalah (2014)
  • The Birth of Experience (2014)
  • Faith (2014)
  • Image, Sense, Infinities, and Everyday Life (2015)
  • Under the Totem: In Search of a Path (2016)
  • The Challenge of Being Human (2018)
  • Dialogues with Michael Eigen: Psyche Singing, ed.: Loray Daws (2019)
  • Eigen in Seoul Volume Three: Pain and Beauty, Terror and Wonder (2021)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Michael Eigen, The Electrified Tightrope, ed. Adam Phillips, New York: Routledge, 2018 [1993].
  2. ^ Contemporary Authors: A Bio-Bibliographical Guide to Current Writers in Fiction, General Nonfiction, Poetry, Journalism, Drama, Motion Pictures, Television, 1985, p. 145.
  3. ^ Michael Eigen
  4. ^ Contemporary Authors: A Bio-Bibliographical Guide to Current Writers in Fiction, General Nonfiction, Poetry, Journalism, Drama, Motion Pictures, Television, 1985, p. 145.
  5. ^ Quoted in P. Peay, America on the Couch (2015)
  6. ^ Michael Eigen, Contact with the Depths (2011) p. 23 and p. 102
  7. ^ J. Belzen ed., Changing the Scientific Study of Religion: Beyond Freud? (2009) p. 111
  8. ^ Michael Eigen, Contact with the Depths (2011) p. 69-70
  9. ^ Neville Symington, Narcissism (2003) p. x-xiv
  10. ^ E. Mark Stern, Elaborate Selves (2013) p. 107

Further reading[edit]

  • Stephen A. Mitchell/Lewis Aron eds., Relational Psychoanalysis Vol I (2013)

External links[edit]