Repair of the Soul
Metaphors of Transformation in Jewish Mysticism and Psychoanalysis
Foreword by Lewis Aron
Routledge – 2008 – 160 pages
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.
"In Repair of the Soul, Karen Starr has provided us with a sophisticated and well-informed discussion of the ways in which kabbalistic metaphors of transformation can be related to the work of psychic change in psychoanalysis. Writing with intelligence, passion, and a rigorously imaginative grasp of her two fields of discourse, she succeeds in delineating areas of vital conversation between them. Not the least of her achievements is a writing style in which the kabbalistic and the analytic encounter each other without strain. Starr's book makes a valuable contribution to the contemporary awareness of issues of faith, of the ineffable other, and of the 'transcendent Third,' in analytic work."
- Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg, Ph.D., author, The Beginning of Desire: Reflections on Genesis
"An exciting interaction of sparks between psychoanalysis and Kabbalah, showing how fruitful it is when diverse dimensions of psyche and spirit meet."
- Michael Eigen, Ph.D., author, Feeling Matters
"Repair of the Soul marks a milestone in the ongoing and often troubled dialogue between psychoanalysis and religion. Karen Starr offers a deep and serious reading of both Kabbalah and psychoanalytic thought. Her consideration of the roles of faith, interpretation, and multi-leveled truth in both traditions will open many doors for the therapeutic community, to whom her work is primarily addressed. Thoughtful therapists should find both challenge and inspiration in this most interesting and truly barrier-breaking work."
- Rabbi Arthur Green, Ph.D., Hebrew College
"This is a challenging interdisciplinary dialogue, which is likely to be meaningful for specialists."
- David J. Zucker, Journal of Pastoral Theology
Aron, Foreword. Introduction: The Kabbalah. Transformation. The Interpretive Encounter. Faith as the Fulcrum of Change. The Transformation of Evil. Epilogue: Jacob's Ladder
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.