Relational Conversations on Meeting and Becoming: The Birth of a True Other Michal Barnea-Astrog & Mitchel Becker (Eds.)Routledge, 2023

The Birth of a True Other - book cover

What makes an encounter fertile and growth enhancing? When does it bring us closer to experience and to the other, and when does it disconnect and alienate? When does it take us beyond selfhood and duality, and when does it constrict our sense of self and create a confrontational or violent stance?

This book is a shared attempt to creatively meet these questions via associative dialogues and trialogues, where every text is an open-ended stream of thought inviting the next one to follow it. Forsaking modes of mostly intellectual, systematic and often comparative debate, the authors offer a meeting of minds and hearts, which occurs spontaneously at the actual moments of reading and responding.

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A beautiful book. A dialogical exploration of the human condition drawing on science, philosophy, psychology, poetry, art, spirituality – which is to say, open, un-dogmatic, and resourceful. One feels appreciation of life’s depths and surfaces, one’s own life and life of the Other. The writing is down to earth, personal and accessible, drawing on a rich background of human struggle, backslides and growth. We are born all life long and the Work of the Other furthers contact with the Work of Being.

Michael Eigen, author of The Challenge of Being Human, The Sensitive Self, The Psychoanalytic Mystic, and Contact with the Depths.

The discussions emerge from a flow between inner, private reveries and shared ones, and between individual expressions of thought and evolvements of newly born thirds. They are inspired by psychoanalysis and Buddhism, poetry and religion, philosophy and meditation, theory and case studies, academic and free styles of writing – each enriching the other. Alongside theoretical and clinical observations, writers also reflect upon their own ability to engage in dialogue and to surrender to evolutions and realizations embedded in the unknown.

This book is an intriguing journey in search of our basic experience of otherness in its various manifestations. There is a beautiful variance of voices that come together in a space of mutual enhancement. The concepts of dialogue and of trueness are dealt with in a unique fashion, in which the writers actively follow each other in the here and now. They thus inspire a hope that we as therapists and as human beings can rediscover our natural urge and curiosity for relations, for opening to the unknown, for co-creating.

Ofra Eshel, faculty, training and supervising analyst, Israel Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, and honorary member of the New Center for Psychoanalysis, Los Angeles; author of The Emergence of Analytic Oneness: Into the Heart of Psychoanalysis

Through this experimental setting of “dialogic writing", which in itself demonstrates an intersubjective, relational way of thinking, the book explores the phenomena of intersubjective encounter: its enhancers and inhibiters, and their influence on the possibility to reach truths and meanings that each individual would not have achieved on their own.

Conversing: Mitchel Becker, Michal Barnea-Astrog, Rina Lazar, Irene Bleier Lewenhoff, Yorai Sella, Clara Mucci, Hilit Erel-Brodsky, Hagit Aharoni and Paul R. Fleischman.

We can no more change our heartfelt commitments by talking to ourselves, than by defensively reiterating them in divisive dispute. But conversing with trusted others can. Glimpsing ourselves reflected in their caring eyes, enables the kind of potentially transformative self- distancing we can never achieve alone. Relational Conversations explores this epitome of relational psychology with uncanny insight, first by taking the psychotherapeutic dialogical interaction between analyst and patient as paradigmatic of true otherness, and by reflecting on it in a series of truly transformative non-Socratic dialogues.

Menachem Fisch, professor emeritus of history and philosophy of science, director of the Center for Religious and Interreligious Studies at Tel Aviv University, and author of The View from Within: Normativity and the Limits of Self-Criticism; Creatively Undecided: Toward a History and Philosophy of Scientific Agency; Dialogues of Reason: Science, Politics, Religion, and other books