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Bion, W.R. (1962). The Psycho-Analytic Study of Thinking. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 43:306-310.

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(1962). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 43:306-310

The Psycho-Analytic Study of Thinking

W. R. Bion

II. A theory of Thinking

i. In this paper I am primarily concerned to present a theoretical system. Its resemblance to a philosophical theory depends on the fact that philosophers have concerned themselves with the same subject-matter; it differs from philosophical theory in that it is intended, like all psycho-analytical theories, for use. It is devised with the intention that practising psycho-analysts should restate the hypotheses of which it is composed in terms of empirically verifiable data. In this respect it bears the same relationship to similar statements of philosophy as the statements of applied mathematics bear to pure mathematics.

The derived hypotheses that are intended to admit of empirical test, and to a lesser extent the theoretical system itself, bear the same relationship to the observed facts in a psycho-analysis as statements of applied mathematics, say about a mathematical circle, bear to a statement about a circle drawn upon paper.

ii. This theoretical system is intended to be applicable in a significant number of cases; psycho-analysts should therefore experience realizations that approximate to the theory.

I attach no diagnostic importance to the theory though I think it may be applicable whenever a disorder of thought is believed to exist. Its diagnostic significance will depend upon the pattern formed by the constant conjunction of a number of theories of which this theory would be one.

It may help to explain the theory if I discuss the

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