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CHAPTER SEVEN: Something wrong

Eigen, Michael Karnac Books ePub

Dr Z: “Sex is not desire so much as needing to feel OK. I don't mean the push and drive of sex and then relief and D discharge. I mean the sense of something wrong. A sense of something wrong with me and sex makes me feel OK.

“Sex makes me feel OK as a person, in my core. Something wrong in my core for some moments gets washed clean by sex. A kind of baptism, cleansing, resetting of self.

“Sex makes people feel dirty and clean. There is a history of sex as sullying, corrupting. Sex as sin, associated with the wretched, dying, decaying body. Something associated with shame, guilt, fear. Sex as menace, disruption, cruel. Something bad.

“Sex makes people feel happy, light, caring, warm, triumphant, fulfilled, justified. A more intense version of what can happen when people say hello to each other, exchange greetings, smiles, inquiries.”


Grace:     “Desire is cosmic. Sex opens me. Fear is part of it. You swim in light, fear, hope, God. I want the other person to be happyand that is important. But that is part of what happens along the way. You leave the other behind and something else opens up. Something that life hides and promises and then it's there. And the good that is there makes the thing that feels wrong go away.”

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5. Cameras

Eigen, Michael Karnac Books ePub

We have always been fascinated with images of ourselves. We now possess little boxes that provide images of ourselves and each other on demand. In view of the camera, we are potential, portable images. We always were, insofar as we viewed each other in our minds. But to be able to produce, nearly instantaneously, images of ourselves that we can hold, pass around, and look at together—such a capability cannot fail to impact upon our sense of self.

When I was a child at school, teachers revelled in stories about “natives” fearing that their souls could be captured by mirror images. A camera, even more than a mirror, was a kind of soul box. Associations of theft, imprisonment, and pictures are seen in terms like “capture”: capturing experience, expression, gesture, reality.

As a child, I could not capture in words the muted thrill that went with the conquistador’s superiority, the “native’s” stupefaction. Not only control of weaponry, but control of soul images— was that not something to marvel at? Not only my own growth lay ahead, but the agonized growth of social consciousness in general. Within a couple of decades, the cultural climate was such that any group could call into question the superiority of any other group, along any conceivable line (e.g. social, racial, sexual, economic). The categories, above/below, more/less, were suspect.

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CHAPTER SEVEN Variants of mystical participation

Eigen, Michael Karnac Books PDF

EIGEN Book_Eigen5 correx 27/06/2014 15:32 Page 77


Variants of mystical participation

ystical participation. Is it a state that underlies experience?

Can we better say it is a dimension of experience or sets of dimensions, rather than situate it below–above or earlier– later? What you and I might mean by mystical or participation or related terms might not be the same. I am not sure what I mean, but loosely refer to something sensed. It may occur in varied affective keys: dread, awe, love, heaven, hell, joy, ecstasy, horror, hope, hate.

Yes, there are hate frenzies, hate ecstasies, hate unions. Destructive as well as creative mystical participations (Eigen, 2001). There are those who say that destructive union is part of creativeness.

Dimensions—plural. Mystics speak of going through many doors, worlds, gates. Beatrice in Dante’s heaven goes from one heaven through another. Heaven keeps opening. Invagination is often an implied image. In my early twenties, after a physical intervention by a somatic therapist, he asked how I felt and I spoke the truth: “I feel like a vagina.” My whole body became vaginal. His paranoid aspect came to the fore and said, “How do you know how a vagina feels?”

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CHAPTER NINE: Faith and destructiveness

Eigen, Michael Karnac Books ePub

Dr Michael Eigen was interviewed in September 2006 by the New York Institute for Psychotherapy Training by faculty D member and supervisor, Dr Regina Monti.

RM: Throughout your writings, there is a thematic grounding of faith. In The Sensitive Self (2004), you describe the infant's agony and hunger for the mother (the Other) leading the infant into a “numbness, stupor, oblivion”. When mother shows up, the infant is full with the “Bountiful Other … whose merciful intervention enables restoration of aliveness.” You go on to say that “something of this pattern remains as an organizing sequence … informing emotional life”. Disintegration-integration, fragmentation-wholeness, etc. Is this the arena of faith? A definition of faith?

Along with faith, you write often about destructiveness. So much destruction in the Bible (a book of Faith). Where does the therapist's faith originate in sitting and witnessing with the patient his/her trauma, destruction and shattering?

ME: I'd like to start by taking these first two questions together. The problem of faith and destructiveness is basic to the human condition. Many sessions I write about are felt to be crises of faith.Faith in face of destructiveness. Can faith survive destruction? In what way? How?

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Chapter Five - What is Evil?

Eigen, Michael Karnac Books ePub

What is evil? It is a little like Pontius Pilate saying, “What is truth?” Where does one go to find a definition that would set what is truly evil off from bad things that happen? Much destruction goes on in life. Two great wishes of humankind are that there should be no evil or death.

No evil or death. We are partly defined by a capacity to wish the impossible. To wish the impossible and somewhere feel it might be possible. When Freud claimed there is no “no” in the unconscious, he might have meant we are the kind of creatures that believe the impossible is possible. More, that it is real. The impossible is real now—and this sense informs the feel of reality. And when reality does not conform to our vision of bliss, we may call it evil.

What does reality want of us? One answer is absolutely nothing. A terrifying answer. Shakespeare suggested we live a masquerade within which is nothing. A relief? Does nothing free us from evil spectres? Or clear a way for them?

When I was a child, I saw the opening of the concentration camps in film newsreels. People who looked like death, whose eyes glared in ways that only eyes that have seen evil can. The scene switches to mass graves, naked bodies piled upon one another, macabre sandwiches in dirt. Horrific death scenes that added meat to my already burgeoning terrors of witches, devils, and the night. Yet, when I was older, I could not stop myself from picturing what it must be like to be inside Hitler. Past the psychopath, the killer, the madman, the calculus of hate and power and revenge, into pain, the torment of the human. Blistering wounds that sought healing in inhuman madness, nests of megalomanic hate. What pain and torment must have festered there. Pain made visible by horror inflicted on others. From the outside, evil, yet, further inside, deeper seas of pain.

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