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Bion, W.R. (1956). Development of Schizophrenic Thought. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 37:344-346.

(1956). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 37:344-346

Development of Schizophrenic Thought

W. R. Bion

In this paper, which must be regarded as a preliminary announcement, I do three things:— (i) I discuss the point at which the psychotic personality diverges from the non-psychotic; (ii) I examine the nature of that divergence; and (iii) I consider the consequences of it. Experience at the Congress at Geneva showed that the attempt to give clinical illustrations in a paper as compressed as this produced far more obscurity than illumination. This version is accordingly restricted to theoretical description.

The conclusions I arrive at were forged in analytic contact with schizophrenic patients and have been tested by me in practice. That I arrived at some degree of clarification, I owe mainly to three pieces of work. As they occupy a key position in this paper I shall remind you of them.

First: Freud's description, which I referred to in my paper at the London Congress of 1953, of the mental apparatus called into activity by the demands of the reality principle and in particular of that part of it which is concerned with conscious awareness of sense impressions. Second: Freud's tentative suggestion, in Civilization and its Discontents, of the importance of the conflict between Life and Death instincts. The point was taken up and developed by Melanie Klein, but Freud seemed to recede from it. Melanie Klein believes that this conflict persists throughout life, and this view I believe to be of great importance to an understanding of the schizophrenic. Third: Melanie Klein's description of the phantasied sadistic attacks that the infant makes on the breast during the paranoid-schizoid phase, and her discovery of Projective Identification.

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