Maps for Psychoanalytic Exploration

Views: 245
Ratings: (0)

Maps for Psychoanalytic Exploration brings together Parthenope Bion Talamo's main works, until now published only in Italian. They are made available to a wider readership in this volume through a translation into English by Shaun Whiteside, supported by the generosity of the members of the Melanie Klein Trust.In these chapters Parthenope explores important implications of her father's ideas at different levels of psychic and social organisation. Her writing is very clear and, as Dr Anna Bauzzi, the Editor of the Italian edition, writes in her Introduction, the quality of it makes many of Bion's ideas more accessible, without any reduction of their complexity.

List price: $24.99

Your Price: $19.99

You Save: 20%

 

23 Slices

Format Buy Remix

Preface

ePub

Claudio Neri

It is true that with regard to the history of science it is important to be able to attribute correctly to their authors the paternity of the concepts used, but it is also true that thinking dies if it is not refertilised and subsequently developed in the generation and the mind of each thinker. (Bion Talamo, Chapter Ten in this volume)

One of the numerous threads in this collection may be indicated in a single sentence: Parthenope seeks her father, and after many efforts and vicissitudes, she finds him along with the psychoanalyst. The pages in which Parthenope manages to connect the father of her earliest childhood with the “mythical psychoanalyst Bion” are very beautiful, as in this extract from Chapter Twenty in this volume:

Some years ago, a friend of mine, Silvio Merciai, noticed that when I speak in public about W. R. Bion I tend to oscillate (in quite a disconcerting way). [I tend…] to refer to him as “Bion” and […] “my father”. […] If I am thinking of him as I remember him personally—and when I was a child he was simply “Dad”, and […] I tend to use a more familiar term, but if I am thinking of his theoretical or clinical writings, I tend to refer to him as “Bion”, as people normally do in a scientific context.

 

Foreword

ePub

Chris Mawson

Parthenope Bion Talamo had a deep comprehension of her father's work, and particularly his later work, including the allusive and wide-ranging Memoir of the Future. Her understanding is evident in the papers and the talks that comprise this book, in which she conveys with clarity and directness her own ideas and those of her father. She understood that Wilfred Bion's overall project was, as she put it in her paper Ps D (Chapter Three), “to make the emotions that permeate the abstract formulations of psychoanalytic theories come alive for the reader or the listener”.1

Parthenope appreciated that Bion's model of the mind was, essentially, phenomenological and dramaturgical. He seems, she wrote, to have adopted a model, “…in which all the aspects of the personality in their chronological personifications are simultaneously present”. This derives from Bion's description of the personality and its presentations variously as a drama, a palimpsest,2 and analogous to the images viewed in a kaleidoscope. Insofar as the idea of a palimpsest is useful, the analogy to the human personality holds up particularly well if the reader considers a writing-surface which, when its contents have been erased, something remains nevertheless, mysteriously beneath whatever has been over-written upon it. The large canvases of the painter Gerhard Richter are a good example.3

 

Introduction

ePub

Anna Baruzzi

Parthenope has gone; her bright star was extinguished too soon.

I met Parthenope in the early seventies: I clearly remember our first meeting. She was living in Rome at the time with Luigi and Alessandra, her first daughter who was very young. Patricia hadn't been born yet. I remember that it was a meeting organised by other people for some reason involving her father Wilfred Bion. I remember that I went to that meeting with a certain reluctance, because I imagined that it would be very formal, and was only going out of duty.

It was early afternoon: I remember the immediate impression I had when I found myself face to face with an extraordinary person, and my curiosity was aroused by trying to understand why, as I completely forgot about the problem of her father and the reasons for our appointment.

It all made me very happy, as sometimes happens when we unexpectedly meet an interesting and unusual person.

I remember that we immediately started talking nineteen to the dozen, going off in all sorts of tangents; the sulks disappeared straight away, and I was invited to dinner, and our chitchat about things, some deep and very sad, continued without a break, as we went to the park with Alessandra and then to the kitchen while Parthenope prepared a roast dinner.

 

Chapter One - Why we can't Call Ourselves Bionians (1987): Notes on the Life and Work of W. R. Bion

ePub

Bion has the reputation of being a difficult writer—abstruse, tough, and, I would add, not easily reducible to a “short summary”. In fact, it is practically impossible to speak of his work overall without misrepresenting it: so it seems to me that the simplest, and perhaps the wisest, approach is that of identifying at least some of the elements that make this work such uneasy reading, not least for the psychoanalysts who are the audience the Bion specifically had in mind as the addressees of his books.

To start with, we may make a first, crude (and falsifying) distinction between form and content: then, might difficulties of reading have arisen only because his style of writing was intentionally so concentrated as to appear practically spare? Or is there some difficulty inherent in the nature of the object under discussion?

I think that both these factors probably have a role to play, and I maintain that it is worth looking at them in greater detail, before moving on to some considerations of Bion's life in the light of his intellectual journey. From the first work published by Bion with his own signature—hence omitting articles in scientific journals that were published anonymously—which is a chapter in the contribution to a book edited by Emanuel Miller into shell-shock victims, published in 1940, we see two aspects of Bion's writing which will remain throughout the whole span of his creative life and which give, from the start, an idea of the stylistic difficulties of his work, that is, a need to write in a clear and concise way, and the preoccupation with the emotional effect that his words have been able to produce in the reader. The text of Bion's chapter begins as follows:

 

Chapter Two - Psychoanalysis is a “Poppy Field” (1988): “Vision” in Analysis; a Divertissement about the Vertex

ePub

When I was very young and went on long journeys on the London Underground every day, I always read the advertisements; among them was (and still is) a series of humorous “poems” singing the virtues of pure virgin wool. I remember them only vaguely, apart from the last line, which was always “There is no substitute for wool”. The phrase came into my mind recently as something closely associated with psychoanalysis—perhaps only because those journeys took me to sessions? Could be, but there's also a more serious reason: for tonight I wanted to write an essay elucidating some particularly difficult aspects of Bion's work—or at least those which I find to be so—and thought about calling it something like “From the ‘Grid’ to the ‘O’”. But that would have required some quite ponderous, lengthy restructuring of Bion, which struck me as both presumptuous and fruitless—nothing can substitute for the personal reading of Bion, if you want to read and know him, of course, because he was perfectly capable of writing what he meant to say, and needs no exegesis. It might seem that this assertion sits badly with what I said a moment ago, namely that there are difficult aspects; but taking a closer look, it seems to me that these concern the practical application of Bion's ideas within the analytic session, particular with regard to the concept of absence of memory and desire in the analyst, and I would like to clarify some of my ideas about this problem, which in my view has a great deal to do with the “vertex”, the point of view from which the analyst “sees” the session.

 

Chapter Three - Ps ⇌ D (1981)

ePub

At this conference I would like to present a small “unpublished object” by Bion which seems to me to illuminate an aspect of his way of working and may render more explicit one of the problems in which he was very immersed, particularly towards the end of his life, namely how to enable the reader or listener to understand the emotions in which the abstract formulations of psychoanalytic theories are drenched.

This type of problem has always been present in Bion's work since Second Thoughts, in which he asserts that “the subject matter with which psychoanalysis deals cannot employ any form of communication which can cater for the requirements of a problem in the absence of the problem”. This phrase seems to me to imply the desire was already present in Bion's mind to indicate to the reader the subject under discussion in such a way as to make it emotionally present; to discuss it straight away with an immediate awareness of its emotional aspect. It seems to me that this kind of preoccupation informed the choice of the atypical style of the trilogy A Memoir of the Future, a text, among other things, about which little has been said in this conference, and which is probably a part of his work that still needs to be very well digested, as Meotti has written (Meotti, 1981) before it becomes available to be forgotten, and is the chief reason for alternating these books of highly evocative fragments with others of critical comment and reflection.

 

Chapter Four - The Role of the Group with Regard to the “Unthinkability” of Nuclear War (1987)

ePub

The problem of the existence on earth of nuclear weapons, and of governments which contemplate their use in some way, cannot be seen by a psychoanalyst as exclusively political, economic or social: it is imbued with unconscious thoughts and fantasies, and I consider that it is very important to try to carry these unconscious elements to the conscious level, with a view to mitigating their power. The concept of nuclear war is supported by a fairly complex tangle of fantasies of different kinds; they certainly include fantasies of omnipotence, of personal magical immunity; there are also apocalyptic, millenarian, “religious” aspects—which sometimes emerge publicly in the statements of American politicians. Today I should like to distinguish one of the aspects of this tangle, and attempt to examine it in rather greater detail: the so-called “unthinkability” of nuclear war.”

Recently I happened to read a review of a book about the various concepts of civil defence current in different countries—the USA, the USSR, Switzerland and Great Britain—in which nuclear war was described as “unthinkable”. Apparently the reviewer meant that nuclear war was to be considered unacceptable, given that he was talking about a series of preparations which implied that at least the governments of those four countries were thinking about war in some way, but I have a sense that there is a truth hidden behind that imprecise use of language, which deserves to be studied.

 

Chapter Five - On “Non-Therapeutic” Groups (1989): The use of the “Task” as a Defence against Anxieties

ePub

Introduction

The hypothesis that I should like to present and develop, which has arisen on the basis of some reflections on work made over recent years with three different groups, is that the assignment of a “task” to a group which meets to study group problems gets in the way of the very study that it is intended to facilitate.

The term “non-therapeutic group” might sound somewhat contradictory, and one might also think that it contains a faintly polemical tinge, but by using it I intend to stress the fact that the groups I wish to describe were not formed with the primary intent of providing help or relief to the individuals of which it is composed, but to try to understand how groups work as groups, certainly with the intention of bringing about modifications which should themselves be therapeutic—with regard to the group. I realise that this is a slightly artificial topic one would expect that the improvements which are therapeutic for the group are also therapeutic for the individual when he finds himself elsewhere, with other people or on his own.

 

Chapter Six - Warum Krieg? (1990): The Freud-Einstein Correspondence in the Context of Psychoanalytic Social Thought

ePub

Introduction

The so-called “correspondence” between Freud and Einstein, which in fact consists of only two letters, is in many ways an anomaly in Freud's work, not only because of its genesis and its contents, but also because of Freud's attitude towards it. It is a work with two contexts, the historical context of the age and that of Freud's work as a whole, the latter located within a broader psychoanalytic contest; and yet it seems curiously remote from any physical or mental setting. Nor does Einstein's letter make reference to the political events of the day, even though they may have been the background to his choice of theme.

In 1931 the Permanent Committee for Culture and the Arts of the League of Nations invited the International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation to organise the epistolary exchanges between representative intellectuals “on themes calculated to serve the common interests of the League of Nations and of intellectual life” (Freud, 1933b, p. 197), and to publish the letters. Among the first to receive the invitation was Einstein, who put forward Freud's name. So here we find a first anomaly, in the sense that this letter does not seem to emerge from a spontaneous need of Freud's to write on the subject; in fact Freud says that he was taken by surprise by the contents of Einstein's letter, because he expected him to write on some other subject, in this case the upbringing of children, and not about something that he called “a practical problem, a concern for statesmen” (Freud, 1933b, p. 203).

 

Chapter Seven - Aggressiveness-Bellicosity and Belligerence (1991): Passing from the Mental State to Active Behaviour

ePub

Borrowing from Hobbes the idea of the state or the nation as a single organism, this idea can also be transferred to the mental plane, and to speak of a state or a nation as an entity that “thinks” this or that. Acting in this way, it is then possible to take on some concepts from psychoanalysis and apply them to the state as if it were an individual, using them as heuristic instruments. The concepts that might be fruitful in the context of this study are those of the super-ego, the ego and the id, the concept of mental conflict, of repression and of intra-psychical envy.

But it is also useful in this context to think of the state as a set of groups and apply to these Bion's group theory. In our common terms, we move with agility and without placing much weight on the event, between these two levels of conceptualisation of the state; no one is surprised if the television announcer says something along these lines: “The Soviet Union has recognised the new Romanian government, while on the internal political front the Latvians are claiming greater independence.” In this single phrase, which I have invented as an example, the hypothetical journalist moves calmly from anthropomorphising the state to considering it as a set of groups, identified by nationality, and in conflict both among themselves and with the representative of central power.

 

Chapter Eight - The Creation of Mental Models (1992): Basic and Ephemeral Models

ePub

Psychoanalytic theory uses quite a high number of models of the mind, principally concerning three classes of theoretical problems: the structure of the mind, its functioning (the dynamics of mental events) and the psychological development of the individual.

Among these models are, for example Freud's two tripartite divisions (id, ego, super-ego, unconscious, pre-conscious, conscious), and also the Oedipal theory, which can be seen as a model when it is thought of “visibly” as a triangle.

The class of models of mental functioning rightly includes all the theories which deal with the dynamics of interpersonal relations, from the pair transference/counter-transference to introjections, to projection, to projective identification through to the theory of the proto-mental system that underlies group behaviours.

All of these models have in common at least two characteristics: they can be considered “basic” because they form the theoretical substratum of all of our work, whether with patients in psychoanalysis or with those in psychoanalytic psychotherapy, or with groups with different purposes. They are also “invisible” or at least “not said” within the analytic relationship. That is, we can have in mind the fact that something just said by a patient may be understood against a background of Oedipal theory, but we do not say that to the patient in these terms, we use the words appropriate to the here and now, and keep our theories and technical terms out of the consulting room as far as possible. But there are also two other classes of models that we use all the time. These models are not so easily codifiable because they refer to passing, ephemeral events, in the session or the functioning of the internal world of the patient (or the analyst). A group consists of models that the analyst uses to mentalise and then to verbalise the analytic events, and the patient when he tries to communicate something that falls within a particular class of mental events for whose communication metaphors no longer seem adequate. The second group, on the other hand, is usually of more use to the analyst than to the patient, to describe the patient's mental structure at a given moment. While the models of the first group, which describe mental movements, are so ephemeral as to be able to describe them almost as “throw-away”, those of the second tend to come back into our discussions with the patients, and I am inclined to see them as models of daily use, more natural than the basic models and also more verbalisable (and verbalised) in work with patients.

 

Chapter Nine - Experiences in Groups Revisited (1992)

ePub

What I would like to present for your attention today is a twofold journey of reading—or rather rereading—Bion's Experiences in Groups (1961). I have wondered if, and in what way, this text might be considered seminal for Bion's thinking in the works that followed, and secondly, to what extent Bion “kept the promises” expressed in Experiences. We might probably discuss this second point quite quickly, in the sense that at least superficially the promises were not kept.

Before venturing into this tangled wood, I would like to remind you of two things that it seems to me to be useful to keep in mind against the background of all the rest of the discussion: the first and more technical is the chronological position of different texts of Bion which speak plainly about groups, texts most of which were published between 1930, with “The war of nerves: the reaction of civilians, the social spirit and prophylaxis” in The Neuroses in War, via Psychiatry at a Time of Crisis in 1948 through to the final chapter (Re-View) of Experiences in Groups, in 1952. The last text that should be part of this list is Attention and Interpretation from 1970. The second aspect, which is quite substantial, is the importance of groups in Bion's practical life, because practice and theory are certainly not separable.

 

Chapter Ten - Some Notes on the Theories of Structure and Mental Functioning Underlying a Memoir of the Future by W. R. Bion (1993): Festschrift for Francesco Corrao

ePub

The following annotations on the theories underlying W. R. Bion's book A Memoir of the Future (1975–1979) are largely the fruit of the translation work, along with Gianni Nebbiosi, of the first volume of the trilogy, The Dream. At this occasion I should like to dedicate them to Francesco Corrao as a form of thanks for his great intellectual courage and his generosity in giving space in his own internal world to the ideas of Bion, from the outset, when they were very little known, but feared and attacked out of all proportion as “strange, abstruse and unorthodox”. Not only did Francesco Corrao give space within himself to these ideas, he also introduced them to others, by popularising and studying them, and implicit within this activity is a very important teaching concerning the transmission of psychoanalytic culture. Bion's ideas in Corrao's mind were not left as foreign bodies, as relatively noninteractive guests, but were later developed and used as a basis and as stimuli for the thought of Corrao himself (1977). It is true that with regard to the history of science it is important to be able to attribute correctly to their authors the paternity of the concepts used, but it is also true that thinking dies if it is not refertilised and subsequently developed in the generation and the mind of each thinker.

 

Chapter Eleven - From Free-Floating Attention to Dream-Work-α (1993)

ePub

In Recommendations to Physicians Practising Psychoanalysis (1912e), Freud first introduces the term “evenly suspended attention”, in the course of an open discussion of what we would now call the mental attitude of the analyst. For some time I have felt curious about the connections between Freud's ideas on this subject and those of Bion, not least because the idea is reinforced more and more in my mind that Bion was in fact very close to Freud's thought, much more than appears at first glance. The enterprise of translating the first volume of A Memoir of the Future had as its corollary a sort of “treasure hunt” in search of the roots not only of quotations or word-plays with which the text is scattered, but also about the origins of the psychoanalytic concepts used by Bion: and this search brought me closer and closer to Freudian sources.

Today I would like to try to take part of that journey towards the sources of Bion's thought because it seems important to me with a view to a greater understanding of the mental forces at play when it comes to making an interpretation: I think that Bion was very curious to know what happens to the mind of the analyst at work, because that tiny fragment of mental activity, apparently so specific and limited, is also pertinent to the considerably wider field of mental functioning in general and in all scientific fields; and perhaps artistic fields as well. Taking my cue from some of Freud's earliest works, then, I will attempt to identify and illustrate first of all Bion's theorisation and then the type of clinical phenomenon to which this theorisation corresponds.

 

Chapter Twelve - Inside and Outside the Transference: More Versions of the Same Story (1995)—Or: History versus Geography?

ePub

Geography
Is about Maps.
Biography
Is about Chaps.

G. Clerihew Benson

Delimitation of the field of application of the term “patient's history”

According to the statute of the IPA in 1994, the term “psychoanalysis” refers to a theory of the structure and function of the personality, to the application of this theory to other branches of knowledge, and finally to a specific psychotherapeutic technique. I think that this mixture of the three elements, theory, applied, psychoanalysis and therapy, is present in the mind and the practice of every analyst, but that the proportion of the “ingredients”, so to speak, can vary greatly from individual to individual, just as it can vary in the course of the evolution of the individual analyst—the position of Freud himself moved away over the years from the initial concept of the “patient's history” has a particular connection with the idea of therapy, perhaps originally having been borrowed from the concept of anamnesis, which is a typically medical concept.

 

Chapter Thirteen - The Concept of the Individual in the Work of W. R. Bion, with Particular Reference to Cogitations (1996)

ePub

Every now and again in the works published during his lifetime, above all in clinical and non-clinical seminars, Bion refers to the idea that a person's somatic confines do not correspond to the confines of their personality.1 I think this is quite a curious concept—albeit an intuitively attractive one—but if we stop to think for a moment, it becomes incomprehensible. But there are some passages in Cogitations which shed a little light on what Bion himself meant by this idea, and I think they may be useful as a basis on which to launch a discussion on the subject, on its possible relevance and its usefulness above all with regard to his psychotherapeutic work with groups—but not only with groups.

What I would like to do today is to present some pertinent Bion's texts, refer to a clinical passage and then, with you, to see whether this kind of conceptualisation of the individual confers greater significance to the clinical data and can be used as a heuristic instrument in the various clinical situations. Bion's discussion of what constitutes an individual is articulated around certain nodal concepts that should be examined one by one before we attempt to clarify the links between them. The concepts are: Common sense; Narcissism; Socialism; Myth as group dream.

 

Chapter Fourteen - The Two Sides of the Caesura (1996)

ePub

The slamming of the door alone might be too abrupt a caesura (At the end of a session it's better to have a patient who's irascible but full of thoughts)

The concept of “caesura”, which Bion developed on the basis of a phrase of Freud's, is an appropriate topic to approach a broader consideration of “evolution and fracture”.

This is a phenomenon that occurs in a minor or more consistent interruption in the general course of events. It is a fracture in itself, but it can have an evolutionary importance and become the stimulus of a future evolution, if sufficient care is taken to interpret it in depth. In Bion's works, the concept may be linked to two others that the author made truly his own, one coming from one of his very first publications Experiences in Groups (1961) and the other taken from Attacks on Linking (1959), composed shortly afterwards. The two criteria which, in my opinion, seem pertinent to the theorisation of the concept of caesura are “reversible perspective” and “links”, which can obviously be criticised. Even though they are both among the first concepts of Bion's thinking, they pass through all his works and serve to elucidate one another.

 

Chapter Fifteen - Bion and the Group: Knowing, Learning, Teaching (1996)

ePub

Between epistemology and agnoiology

When Dr. Romano invited me to address this conference, first of all I had emotional reactions: of pleasure on the one hand, with the sense that with this kind offer I am truly being paid a great honour, and of unease on the other.

These reactions have been followed by the process of “thinking about it”. The thought had to deal with two main threads: the first was what would be the content of my paper, and the second consisted of the slightly curious question of the fact that the simple proposition of delivering a paper, let alone its contents, prompted in primis emotions, and only subsequently reflections.

In reality the two threads are not so split, because talking about Bion and the group to a group which in all likelihood is already very familiar with Bion's work in this field inevitably prompts rather precise concerns; to mention one, the fear of being superfluous and boring. But there are also more internal links between the two threads of emotional relationships and more abstract thoughts, as I will try to show in the course of this paper.

 

Load more


Details

Print Book
E-Books
Slices

Format name
ePub (DRM)
Encrypted
true
Sku
9781781813980
Isbn
9781781813980
File size
0 Bytes
Printing
Disabled
Copying
Disabled
Read aloud
No
Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Sku
In metadata
Isbn
In metadata
File size
In metadata