23 Chapters
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Introduction

Talamo, Parthenope Bion Karnac Books 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.

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

Talamo, Parthenope Bion Karnac Books 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.

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

Talamo, Parthenope Bion Karnac Books 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.

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

Talamo, Parthenope Bion Karnac Books 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.

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

Talamo, Parthenope Bion Karnac Books 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).

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