23 Chapters
Medium 9781782201038

Chapter Nineteen - From Formless to Form (1998)

Talamo, Parthenope Bion Karnac Books ePub

Ps D to public-ation

Public-ation is an essential of scientific method…If [common sense] is inoperative for any reason, the individual in whom it is inoperative cannot publish, and unpublished work is unscientific work (Bion, 1992).

During a conference on psychoanalysis I liked the idea of having a “trans-disciplinary dialogue”, given that it is in the very nature of psychoanalysis to be a “trans-disciplinary” subject: it is impossible to have a “pure” psychoanalysis because it would be like trying to establish a link between non-objects or mental objects. Bion says he reached this situation only in the case of a severely ill patient (Bion, 1967; see also Bion, 1965). Fundamentally, psychoanalysis refers to every single human activity, which passes through the mind before or when it manifests itself, or without manifesting itself, as for example premonition (Bion, 1967); something similar happens with smooth muscle tissue in cases of colitis, ulcers, and tachycardia.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781782201038

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.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781782201038

Chapter Eighteen - Dreams (1998)

Talamo, Parthenope Bion Karnac Books ePub

Let's begin with “blinding ourselves” so that we can see better. Bion never actually wrote anything specific or systematic about dreaming. After the 1960s, he wrote little that was apparently systematic. The famous “trilogy” is not in fact a systematisation, even though it may draw a great deal on his previous thought. But in this “trilogy” one of the clear things, which he drops eventually, allows us to see that Bion's ideas on dreams were different from Freud's. I am quoting from the second volume of A Memoir of the Future:

“‘I won't wish you sweet dreams,’ says Alice, ‘because as P. A.’—the Psychoanalyst, another of the characters—‘would say, the dreams are always sweet by the time we have verbalised them.’ Then the Psychoanalyst who is Bion replies: ‘Not I—Freud.’ That is, Freud's idea of the dream was that once we have managed to verbalise the dream we have sweetened it, some with sugar, some with a more artificial sweetener, but at any rate we make it relatively nice. Bion says that this is something that Freud says, not he, and it is from here that we derive the idea of what a dream is, what the function of the dream is and how it works.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781782201038

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

Talamo, Parthenope Bion Karnac Books 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.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781782201038

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.

See All Chapters

See All Chapters