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4. The sick syllogism: the fear of dying and the sacrifice of truth

Karnac Books ePub

Emanuele Bonasia

Reason is emotion’s slave and exists to rationalise emotional experience”, writes Bion (1970). In this chapter I highlight how, of all the emotions, the fear—or, rather, the terror—of death dominates the scene in the field of human reasoning to varying degrees and in relation to different life experiences and cycles.

It is easy to understand from this introduction that Logic is not the focus of my argument: it is enough for me to say that the theory of syllogism is only one branch of modern Logic, while Aristotle saw it as a general theory of inference. All told, I believe that we can agree that in this specific field we externalize the most sophisticated faculty of thought: deductive reasoning. But how does this latter cope when faced with the ontological condition of the transitoriness of each one of us? I must say that its performance so far cannot be called brilliant.

In previous papers (Bonasia, 1988, 1992), I emphasized how very little space is devoted in the psychoanalytic literature to the theme of our death in contrast to the role this plays in psychopa-thology, in clinical psychoanalysis, and in the life of every human being. Moreover, alongside its neurotic and psychotic aspects, I maintained that there exists a real anxiety (all anxiety is real, but here I use the term to contrast with “neurotic” and “psychotic”) about the inevitability of our own end; I also maintained that this state of anxiety has, to a great extent, been denied in psychoanalysis, through the defensive employment of different theories, which include those of castration anxiety and the death instinct. But let us now take a brief look at this denial.

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7. Sexuality as a narrative genre or dialect in the consulting-room: a radical vertex

Karnac Books ePub

Antonino Ferro

Stories happen to those who know how to tell them

Henry James

This exists that is its after having been said we know

James Joyce

Introduction

Psychoanalysis has contributed enormously to our knowledge of human sexuality right from Freud’s earliest works, and it is to him that we owe the basis of the very concept of psycho-sexuality (Green, 1996).

At the same time, the formulation of theories regarding “sexual states of the mind” have been equally fundamental (Meltzer, 1973). What psychoanalysis has offered to theories regarding infantile sexual development and its relative phantasies, to sexology and to the psychogenesis of sexual pathologies, is a common and shared patrimony (McDougall, 1995).

This chapter is not a dissertation about sexuality as such, but an attempt at using sexual communications as a means of digging deeper into the functioning of the human mind. I shall therefore focus my attention on the “consulting-room”, since in effect it is here that, in almost all cases, we have to deal with stories regarding sexuality—that is, communications about or concerning sexuality. (I shall not take sexual acting during the session into consideration, since on the one hand—the analyst’s—this refers back to the analyst’s pathology, and on the other—the patient’s—it refers back to the vast subject concerning acting in.)

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Chapter Sixteen - Bion's Contribution to Psychoanalysis (1996)

Talamo, Parthenope Bion Karnac Books ePub

Before I do anything else I would like to express my gratitude to Professor Pisani for this invitation, for which I feel very honoured, and I am also very happy to have the chance to come back to Rome, however fleetingly. I lived in Rome for ten years, and I feel a great affection towards the city.

I thought this evening that I would talk in the simplest possible way, not least because Bion is a very difficult writer, whose work branches off in different directions. I will try to give a sense of him as a person, because I maintain that for any psychoanalyst or anyone working in the field of the psyche or in the field of human relationships their primary tool is, in reality, themselves, as well as many theories, a great deal of knowledge and a great deal of study behind them. But the tool with which we put ourselves in contact with our patients is, to a large extent, our personality, so it seems to me that talking about a writer, a theorist in the field of psychoanalysis and totally leaving aside his personal story risks creating a kind of meaningless phenomenon in the void.

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

Talamo, Parthenope Bion Karnac Books 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.

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8. The primordial mind and the work of the negative

Karnac Books ePub

Andre Green

When I was invited by Parthenope Bion Talamo and Francesca Bion to give the opening lecture of the Conference on which this chapter is based, I felt not only honoured, I was also moved. I have had the privilege of meeting Bion personally, of having long conversations and exchanging letters with him. I keep a vivid and strong memory of our relationship. In her invitation, Parthenope Bion Talamo told me that her father had a sort of “fellow feeling” for me—a remark that struck me, as on my part I had a sort of filial respect for him. Another reason I was moved was that, as every one knows, I am neither a “Bionian” nor even a Kleinian. Replying with this objection, I was told that not being a disciple of Bion was in fact one of the reasons why I was invited. It seemed that, while knowing Bion’s ideas, I could “use” them and remain true to my own thinking. Bion, who was probably the best example of independent thought in psychoanalysis, encouraged those who went to him to act in the same way. During my oral or written exchanges with Bion he never tried to “convert” me to his ideas or to Klein’s. We both agreed that our greatest debt was towards Freud.

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