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[Undated]

Wilfred R. Bion Karnac Books ePub

Need for a scientific method

Preoccupation with the psychology of the philosopher might lead to disregard of the truth or falsity of his ideas taken in themselves (F. Copleston, A History of Philosophy, vol. 1, p. 9). Similarly, it is presumably true that in addition to distortion produced in the analyst by his own conflicts, there must be other elements that might contribute to his failure to be scientific, e.g. insufficient knowledge of the subject. We may too easily assume that all difficulties can be dealt with by more analysis. The subject of this discussion is how to determine, elaborate, and display the procedures that constitute correct analysis, or that conform to standards that at least avoid methods that could not possibly be scientific in any circumstances. And, reciprocally, how to see that findings allegedly psycho-analytic cannot possibly be scientific even if true.

The first requisite is a means by which one could tell that one was going wrong; the second, a means by which one could rectify the mistake.

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8. Vertices: Evolution

Wilfred R. Bion Karnac Books ePub

Some psycho-analytic tensions appear in a simpler, less disguised form if we use as a model the impact of the thought of Jesus on the Jewish group and on later religious institutions. The stress on miracles of healing represented an urge to ‘medicalize’ the institution intended to serve the teaching of Jesus. Healing retains its dominance in Christian Science, Lourdes, faith-healing. An example in the early Christian group of a problem of institutionalizing is the query put to Jesus by the disciples who wanted to have a ruling on recognition of those who cast out devils in Jesus’ name. His attitude appears to have been against rigid qualification for membership of the group - ‘those that are not against me are for me\ Although this reply cannot now be interpreted with sureness and may have been referable to the favourable (for Christianity) effect of turpitude in the opponents of Christianity, it shows the recurrent configuration of the problem of selection (lay versus professional, or outgroup versus ingroup). These conjectures illustrate the configuration to which I want to draw attention.

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7. 27 March 1979

Wilfred R. Bion Karnac Books ePub

[The “winter of discontent“ began with a wave of industrial action at the end of 1978; by early 1979 Britain was paralysed by strikes, and the normal life of the country came perilously close to a complete halt.]

BION: [first part of recording missing] . . . an establishment, shall we say, like the government of this country; then it buds off plenty more, called “devolution“, and each bit of the devolved thing takes in a whole lot of other people—so you get bigger and bigger bureaucracies. In this respect I think we in psychoanalysis are well in the mainstream: there’s the British Psychoanalytic Society, there’s the International Psychoanalytic Society, there’s the European Psychoanalytic Society, and I don’t know what else—there are plenty of them, all of them presumably with their distinguished people, all of them with the distinguished people swallowed up in the administration, never having a chance of getting near a patient because they have to spend so much time organizing things. This raises a very difficult problem—that of whether people who are engaged in thinking can indeed combine it in any way, and, if so, how?

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[Undated—1968]

Wilfred R. Bion Karnac Books ePub

Drugs are substitutes employed by those who cannot wait.

The substitute is that which cannot satisfy without destroying the capacity for discrimination of the real from the false.

Whatever is falsely employed as a substitute for the real, is transformed thereby into a poison for the mind.

The substitution of that which is peripheral to action instead of that which is central must cause imbalance.

Imbalance is betrayed by the resort of the helpless to an assumption of omnipotence.

Immaturity, confusion, helplessness and impotence are replaced, in those who are intolerant of frustration, by prematurity, order, omnipotence and power.

That which should be a prelude to action is replaced by action; action is replaced by what should have preceded it.

Hubris is the sin of Oedipus, the planners of the Tower of Babel, Adam and Eve, the animal that uses action as a substitute for thought, and thought as a substitute for action (not a prelude to it).

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Chapter eight

Wilfred R. Bion Karnac Books ePub

THE domain of thought may be conceived of as a space occupied by no-things; the space occupied by a particular no-thing is marked by a sign such as the words “chair”, or “cat” or “point” or “dog”. The attempt to free this domain from associations of space perception is supported by use of concepts such as “thought” or “thinking” or “in the mind”, but a thought continues to have the penumbra of associations proper to “the place where …” the no-thing is. This is also true of feelings and emotions however expressed.

The “objects” with which psycho-analysis deals include the relationship of the no-thing and the thing. The personality that is capable of tolerating a no-thing can make use of the no-thing, and so is able to make use of what we can now call thoughts. Since he can do so he can seek to fill the “space” occupied by the thought; this makes it possible for the “thought” of space, line, point to be matched with a realization that is felt to approximate to it. In this respect contrasts with and new uses can be found for that cannot be found for . The search for, and discovery of, elements perceived in space is part of the procedure by which elements of category I begin to acquire meaning; the negative quality of the definitory hypothesis is discarded or replaced by new elements that saturate the (ξ) elements of φ (ξ).1 It is convenient to postulate the existence of a mind represented entirely by points, positions of objects, places where something used to be, or would be at some future date. Objects perceived in space contribute to the transformation of these elements (analogous to ξ) into specific no-things.2

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