Repair of the Soul: Metaphors of Transformation in Jewish Mysticism and Psychoanalysis

Routledge
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Repair of the Soul examines transformation from the perspective of Jewish mysticism and psychoanalysis, addressing the question of how one achieves self-understanding that leads not only to insight but also to meaningful change. In this beautifully written and thought-provoking book, Karen Starr draws upon a contemporary relational approach to psychoanalysis to explore the spiritual dimension of psychic change within the context of the psychoanalytic relationship. Influenced by the work of Lewis Aron, Steven Mitchell and other relational theorists, and drawing upon contemporary scholarship in the field of Jewish studies, Starr brings the ideas of the Kabbalah, the ancient Jewish mystical tradition, into dialogue with modern psychoanalytic thought. Repair of the Soul provides a scholarly integration of several kabbalistic and psychoanalytic themes relating to transformation, including faith, surrender, authenticity, and mutuality, as well as a unique exploration of the relationship of the individual to the universal. Starr uses the Kabbalah’s metaphors as a vivid framework with which to illuminate the experience of transformation in psychoanalytic process, and to explore the evolving view of the psychoanalytic relationship as one in which both parties - the analyst as well as the patient - are transformed.
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About the author

Karen Starr, Psy.D., is Visiting Assistant Professor and Postdoctoral Psychology Fellow at CUNY, The Graduate Center, and Adjunct Professor at the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program, Long Island University at C.W. Post.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Routledge
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Published on
Apr 15, 2010
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Pages
160
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ISBN
9781135468873
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Language
English
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Genres
Psychology / Movements / Psychoanalysis
Religion / Judaism / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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The first in-depth psychoanalytic study of the Old and New Testaments, Beyond Yahweh and Jesus centers on God's role in enabling humans to cope with death and the anxieties it evokes. Yahweh is seen as tending to increase rather than diminish these death anxieties, while Christ offers near-perfect solutions to each type. Why, then, asks Dr. Langs, has Christ failed to bring peace to the world? Langs' answer is focused on what is, he argues, Western religion's lack of a deep understanding of human psychology—i.e., an absence of the psychological wisdom needed to supplement the spiritual wisdom of religion. This is a void bemoaned as early as the mid-1800s by the Archbishop Temple and by Carl Jung in the early 20th century. The journey on which Langs' study embarks leads through an examination of the related topics of knowledge acquisition and divine wisdom; the failure of psychoanalysis to provide religion with the psychology it needs to fulfill its mission; and a set of propositions that are intended to bring psychological wisdom to religion and thereby to initiate the third chapter in the history of God, in which a refashioned morality and fresh divine wisdom play notable roles. Simultaneously, the book offers a foundation for secular forms of spirituality and morality, as well as for human efforts to cope with death and its incumbent anxieties. The mission of this book is a lofty but necessary one: to reinvigorate religion with new dimensions and insights so as to empower it, at long last, to help bring peace to the world, both individually and collectively.
Ever since its nascent days, psychoanalysis has enjoyed an uneasy coexistence with religion. However, in recent decades, many analysts have been more interested in the healing potential of both psychoanalytic and religious experience and have explored how their respective narrative underpinnings may be remarkably similar.

In Toward Mutual Recognition, Marie T. Hoffman takes just such an approach. Coming from a Christian perspective, she suggests that the current relational turn in psychoanalysis has been influenced by numerous theorists - analysts and philosophers alike - who were themselves shaped by an embedded Christian narrative. As a result, the redemptive concepts of incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection - central to the tenets of Christianity - can be traced to relational theories, emerging analogously in the transformative process of mutual recognition in the concepts of identification, surrender, and gratitude, a trilogy which she develops as forming the "path of recognition." Each movement on this path of recognition is given thought-provoking, in-depth attention. Chapters dedicated to theoretical perspectives utilize the thinking of Benjamin, Hegel, and Ricoeur. In her historical perspectives, she explores the personal and professional histories of analysts such as Sullivan, Fairbairn, Winnicott, Erikson, Kohut, and Ferenczi, among others, who were influenced by the Christian narrative. Uniting it all together is the clinical perspective offered in the compelling extended case history of Mandy, a young lady whose treatment embodies and exemplifies each of the steps along the path of growth in both the psychoanalytic and Christian senses.

Throughout, a relational sensibility is deployed as a cooperative counterpart to the Christian narrative, working both as a consilient dialogue and a vehicle for further integrative exploration. As a result, the specter of psychoanalysis and religion as mutually exclusive gives way to the hope and redemption offered by their mutual recognition.

Despite a half-century of literature documenting the experience and meanings of countertransference in analytic practice, the concept remains a source of controversy. For Peter Carnochan, this can be addressed only by revisiting historical, epistemological, and moral issues intrinsic to the analytic enterprise. Looking for Ground is the first attempt to provide a comprehensive understanding of countertransference on the basis of a contemporary reappraisal of just such foundational assumptions.

Carnochan begins by reviewing the history of the psychoanalytic encounter and how it has been accompanied by changes in the understanding of countertransference. He skillfully delineates the complexities that underlie Freud's apparent proscription of countertransference before tracing the broadening of the concept in the hands of later theorists. Part II examines the problem of epistemology in contemporary analytic practice. The answer to this apparent quandary, he holds, resides in a contemporary appreciation of affect, which, rather than merely limiting or skewing perception, forms an essential "promontory" for human knowing. The final section of Looking for Ground takes up what Carnochan terms the "moral architecture" of psychoanalysis. Rejecting the claim that analysis operates in a realm outside conventional accounts of value, he argues that the analytic alternative to traditional moralism is not tantamount to emancipation from the problem of morality.

With wide-ranging scholarship and graceful writing, Carnochan refracts the major theoretical and clinical issues at stake in contemporary psychoanalytic debates through the lens of countertransference - its history, its evolution, its philosophical ground, its moral dimensions. He shows how the examination of countertransference provides a unique and compelling window through which to apprehend and reappraise those basic claims at the heart of the psychoanalytic endeavor.
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