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Armstrong, D. (1992). Names, thoughts and lies: the relevance of Bion's later writing for understanding experiences in groups. Free Associations, 3(2):261-282.

(1992). Free Associations, 3(2):261-282

The Psychoanalytic Movement

Names, thoughts and lies: the relevance of Bion's later writing for understanding experiences in groups

David Armstrong

Bion didn't think much of Experiences in Groups.1 In a letter to one of his children he comments wryly on its critical reception compared to his later published work: the one book I couldn't be bothered with even when pressure was put on me 10 years later, has been a continuous success.2

It is tempting to interpret this in terms of the redirection of Bion's energies and interests, following his second analysis with Melanie Klein, from group phenomena to the dynamics of individual psychoanalysis. These he was to explore in a unique series of publications from Learning from Experience to Attention and Interpretation and the three volumes of psychoanalytic and partly autobiographical dialogues, A Memoir of the Future.3

This view, however, ignores the evidence of Bion's continuing interest in and use of the ‘group’ in much of his later writing, including his occasional papers, discussions and seminars.

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