317 Slices
Medium 9781855750616

TWELVE

Wilfred R. Bion Karnac Books ePub

PRESENTER: The patient is a twenty-six-year-old man who has been in analysis with me for six years. He wanted to be analysed by me—not by anybody else. He was worried about his homosexuality.

His father owned a farm of thousands of acres,, a large house, and was a very powerful, wealthy man. His mother was born in China, then went to Russia; from there she came to Brazil before she was thirteen. His father met her when she was about fifteen years old. She was described by everyone who knew her as a beautiful girl. She was always afraid that her son would be regarded as Chinese or Russian, not Brazilian.

He said his mother had a very easy delivery when he was born and he was breast-fed. His brother, who was born seven years later, became very ill and could not take the breast. The patient remembered being very anxious about this. He also remembered once trying to kiss his mother when he was eight or nine years old. He kissed her mouth, and she said, “No, you mustn’t kiss my lips—that’s not allowed.”

See All Chapters
Medium 9780946439980

9 August 1959

Wilfred R. Bion Karnac Books ePub

Heisenberg: Physics and Philosophy

P. 32 ‘Influence of physics on the general situation.’

No: the influence of physics has simply been to modify the potency of the man with power to use the atomic bomb. It has no political aspect, but advances in physics have had political consequences. But Heisenberg shows that his meaning is not properly expressed by his first paragraph when he goes on in the second to show ‘that every tool carries with it the spirit by which it has been created’. And here I think of the theory I put forward that man's tool-making capacity is hypertrophying as the defensive armour of stegosaurus hypertrophied and led to its extinction.

p. 32 ‘What will be the outcome of this impact of a special branch of modern science on different powerful old traditions?’

I prefer, ‘What will be the impact of powerful old traditions on this special branch of modern science?’ as alternative reading.

p. 36 ‘Light could either be interpreted as consisting of electromagnetic waves…or as consisting of light quanta, energy packets travelling through space with high velocity…. Einstein…was not able to dispute the complete contradiction between this wave picture and the idea of the light quanta.’

See All Chapters
Medium 9780946439041

7. On Arrogance

Wilfred R. Bion Karnac Books ePub

83. In this paper I propose to deal with the appearance, in the material of a certain class of patient, of references to curiosity, arrogance and stupidity which are so dispersed and separated from each other that their relatedness may escape detection. I shall suggest that their appearance should be taken by the analyst as evidence that he is dealing with a psychological disaster. The meaning with which I wish to invest the term “arrogance” may be indicated by supposing that in the personality where life instincts predominate, pride becomes self-respect, where death instincts predominate, pride becomes arrogance.

Their separation from each other and the lack of evidence of any relatedness is evidence that a disaster has occurred. To make clear the connection between these references, I shall rehearse the Oedipus myth from a point of view which makes the sexual crime a peripheral element of a story in which the central crime is the arrogance of Oedipus in vowing to lay bare the truth at no matter what cost.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780946439058

Chapter Nineteen

Wilfred R. Bion Karnac Books ePub

CHAPTER NINETEEN

1. ATTRIBUTION OF A VALUE to the term alpha-function is a task of psycho-analysis and can be achieved in no other way. Its status, as I discuss it here, is that of an unknown variable to be used to satisfy the need for a system of abstraction adequate to the requirements of psycho-analysis. This and related problems are objects of the enquiry; they are also instruments by which the enquiry is conducted.1 A distinction must be made between the concept of alpha-function and the realization which is felt to approximate sufficiently closely to the theory in which this concept is employed to warrant appropriation of the term alpha-function as a name, however temporary, for the realization.

2. The genesis of all abstraction is to be supposed, for purposes of analytic investigation, to be a factor in alpha-function. Such an hypothesis is compatible with the association of breakdown in alpha-function with predominance of beta-elements which are remarkable for their concreteness to a point where some patients regard words not as the names of things but as things-in-themselves. The hypothesis must be matched against emotional experiences that are a part of the clinical problem of establishing a value for alpha-function itself. First we need to know what is the counterpart of a sense impression in the relationship of a person with an emotional experience. The sense-organs, the awareness belonging to them and their realizations derive from the sensuous experience of concrete objects. What deals with the counterparts of a sense impression of an emotional experience? How are these counterparts of a sense impression then transformed into alpha-elements? It is helpful to postulate1 sense impressions of an emotional experience analogous to sense impressions of concrete objects. If there are such impressions we shall have to consider whether the alpha-elements into which alpha-function transforms the sense impressions of an emotional experience differ from the alpha-elements into which alpha-function transforms the sense-data of a concrete object and if so in what the difference consists. Freud suggested that the model for primary and secondary processes was the reflex apparatus; the application of the theory of functions requires that the model is formed first, and then inspected to see if it can be represented by the theoretical abstraction I have called a link and if it can represent, and if so how, the realization that has stimulated the production of the model. Alpha-function represents something that exists when certain factors operate in consort. It is assumed that there are factors which operate in such consort or alternatively that if for some reason they do not, that is to say that if the available factors have no alpha-function, then the personality is incapable of producing alpha-elements and therefore incapable of dream thoughts, consciousness or unconsciousness, repression, or learning from experience. This failure is serious because in addition to the obvious penalties that follow from an inability to learn from experience there is a need for awareness of an emotional experience, similar to the need for an awareness of concrete objects that is achieved through the sense impressions, because lack of such awareness implies a deprivation of truth and truth seems to be essential for psychic health. The effect on the personality of such deprivation is analogous to the effect of physical starvation on the physique.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780946439980

[Undated]

Wilfred R. Bion Karnac Books ePub

Splitting of the breast enables the infant to take the milk without understanding its dependence on the breast and the indulgence it extends to him. Such understanding involves hate and envy, and these impel attacks on the apparatus of understanding to prevent the stimulation of envy—envy thus destroying envy. The attacks mean that in effect the breast as a source of understanding, the ‘mental’ breast, is felt to be destroyed since no apparatus to understand it means no understanding of it, and so no ‘it’ to understand. That leaves the sucking breast only as a ‘thing’ incapable of loving and understanding, and incapable therefore of endowing something else with understanding.

[None of the entries on pages 188–283 was dated, but it can be assumed that they were written between 1961 and 1967.]

See All Chapters

See All Slices