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Gould, L.J. (1997). Correspondences between Bion's basic assumption theory and Klein's developmental positions: An outline. Free Associations, 7(1):15-30.

(1997). Free Associations, 7(1):15-30

Correspondences between Bion's basic assumption theory and Klein's developmental positions: An outline

Laurence J. Gould

My present work, which I hope to publish, convinces me of the central importance of the Kleinian theories of … the interplay between the paranoid-schizoid and depressive positions. (Bion's Introduction to Experiences in Groups [1961, p. 8])

It may be noted that the conception of sophisticated tasks derives from Bion's conception of the sophisticated task of the work or W group. I am refraining from using Bion's more elaborate conceptual scheme defining what he terms the ‘basic assumptions’ of groups, since the relationship between the operation of basic assumptions and of depressive and persecutory phenomena remains to be worked out. (Jacques, 1955, p. 487)


AS THE ABOVE two quotes indicate, there is a presumed, direct conceptual connection between Bion's theory of basic assumptions in groups and Klein's theory of developmental positions. But, as Jacques (1955) noted, the precise correspondences and linkages between them remained to be worked out. This state of affairs still prevails. While the reasons will be discussed later, why Bion himself did not do so is perhaps less obvious.

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