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The Challenge of Being Human
Michael Eigen
Routledge (London: Karnac Books) / Softcover / May 2018
9781782206538 (ISBN-10: 1782206531)
reg price: $56.50 our price: $ 53.68 (may be subject to change)
146 pages
Not in Stock, but usually ships within 2-3 weeks

Freud wrote that the greatest problem facing humanity is its destructive urge. There is no one factor that solves the issue. The Challenge of Being Human explores tendencies that make us up and capacities that try to meet them. The shock of ourselves is perennial. We are challenged by our own aliveness and a need to open doors as yet unknown. We are not done evolving, growing, learning, feeling, caring. Growth of capacity to tolerate and work with experience is part of our evolutionary challenge. This book seeks to support us in whatever ways we can begin to meet this challenge.


"In this book, the prolific and distinguished psychoanalyst, Michael Eigen, weaves together the deeply private, uncanny, and disconnected fragments of self-experience with the lively, aware, and meaningful gestalt of life. Eigen’s optimism is not sentimental or exhortative. It is anchored in the many decades of his clinical work with severely ill patients, Buddhist humility, Bion’s epistemological challenge, and, above all, in a profoundly ethical protest against destructiveness. His robust commitment to the possibility of surprise, growth, and betterment is uplifting for us in both civic and clinical realms. A tour de force indeed!" --Salman Akhtar, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Jefferson Medical College, Supervising and Training Analyst, Psychoanalytic Centre, Philadelphia, USA

"Michael Eigen is a fearless, tireless explorer of the furthest and deepest reaches of the human heart, mind, body and soul. In this latest richly rewarding volume, he displays his unwavering commitment to encourage, with those who seek his help, the development of the capacity to know, tolerate and work with the mysteries and wonders of the inner world. Profoundly engaged and engaging, Eigen brings his masterly clinical wisdom to the exploration of the human experience, from the depths of despair to the heights of ecstasy. He is always in humble awe of what we cannot know, and always infectiously curious about what can be discovered through that mysterious, alchemical process we call psychoanalysis." --Daniel Shaw, author Traumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation.

""Beginning never stops," says Michael Eigen in this, his latest collection of beginnings. Yet some of us – all of us -- need guides, companionship, hope, in order to begin, and that’s what this book provides us. In a world of too many manuals and treatises on how to get unstuck, move ahead, achieve goals, Eigen inspires us to look deeply into our stuck-ness, our conflicts and contradictions, our limitations and infinities, and thereby to transform ourselves. Now more than ever, we need his bold sensitivity, his provision of a path to a beginning that is not only new, but wise. This book is Eigen running past us, arms outstretched, crying out: "Beautiful!" And we look around us, and so it is. Eigen is not done beginning, and nor are we, and we’re grateful." --Nancy Burke, PhD, Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis, USA

"Michael Eigen is one of the most enriching writers of depth psychology today. This inspiring work pulses with drive and dedication and gives brilliant new life to psychoanalysis." --Mark Epstein, MD, author, Advice Not Given: A Guide to Getting Over Yourself.

"Michael Eigen‘s evocative exploration of the many challenges of being human is an utter delight. His writing seems inspired by a passion to understand how the psychological and spiritual meld together. Right from the start, I was drawn into its pages by the intriguing chapter titles Eigen has chosen, "Thinking about Squirrels" to name just one. To my mind, this book has the power to leave its readers feeling uplifted and refreshed for having read it." --Antonino Ferro, President, Italian Psychoanalytic Society

Table of Contents


Chapter One……… Alternate Infinities

Chapter Two ………Psychopathy in Everyday Life

Chapter Three ……Image, Fullness, Void

Chapter Four ……Where Are We Going?

Chapter Five …….Thinking About Squirrels

Chapter Six ………O, Orgasm and Beyond

Chapter Seven ….Just Beginning: Ethics of the Unknown

Chapter Eight ….. Life Kills, Aliveness Kills

Chapter Nine ….. Mini-Moments

Chapter Ten ……. Leaving and the Impossible Place

Chapter Eleven…..Giving It a Try

Chapter Twelve …… Affect Images and States

Chapter Thirteen …… Everything Human, Hidden Sprouts and Psyche Talk

About the Author

Michael Eigen is a psychologist and psychoanalyst. He is Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology in the Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis at New York University (adjunct), USA, and a Senior Member of the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis. He is the author of books including Toxic Nourishment, The Psychoanalytic Mystic, Feeling Matters and Flames from the Unconscious.

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