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Mann, D. (1991). The Brazilian Lectures by W R Bion. Published by Karnac Books; 1990; 213 pages; £16. 95 paperback.. Brit. J. Psychother., 8(1):117-118.

(1991). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 8(1):117-118

The Brazilian Lectures by W R Bion. Published by Karnac Books; 1990; 213 pages; £16. 95 paperback.

Review by:
David Mann

The re-publication of this book gives those of us who missed it first time around a welcome chance to add it to our libraries. Unlike the extremely difficult four volumes which constitute The Seven Servants, these lectures present Bion at his most articulate, that is to say, minus large numbers of references to The Grid and to his algebraic abbreviations. Coltart (1990) remarks that Bion is uniquely forthcoming in these lectures. We can only speculate that the fact of having to talk through an interpreter encouraged him to explain himself more than was his usual custom.

There is no given subject or topic to the lectures. ‘Lectures’ also seems to imply the presenter reading a pre-written paper. This is not the case here. ‘Seminar’ comes closer as a description but even this has its limitations. The only two things which bind these ‘Lectures’ are the. place, two cities in Brazil, and the time, that they occurred between 1973-74. The reason why I have questioned the term ‘lectures’ is that ‘free associations’ might be a better description. Bion freely associates to a certain audience in Brazil in 1973-73. The audience, interestingly, respond in kind. (Even the ugly painting on the book cover, called Improvisation, mirrors this theme of free association.)

The tone of this approach to the lecture is set right at the beginning with Bion's evocative use of the grave robbers of the Royal Cemetery at Ur as a metaphor for therapy, whereby both client and therapist need to experience fear in response to the unknown which faces them.

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