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Money-Kyrle, R.E. (1965). Elements of Psycho-Analysis: By W. R. Bion. (London: Heinemann, 1963. Pp. 110. 15s.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 46:385-388.

(1965). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 46:385-388

Elements of Psycho-Analysis: By W. R. Bion. (London: Heinemann, 1963. Pp. 110. 15s.)

Review by:
R. E. Money-Kyrle

This is a difficult book, not because there is any lack of clarity in exposition, but because the ideas defined in it are new. The reader cannot recognize them as belonging to categories of thought already familiar to him; for they are themselves unfamiliar categories, the members of which remain to be recognized by him. It is this process of filling the defined, but at first empty, classes with examples, perhaps from previously unnoticed patterns from one's own psycho-analytical experience, that gives them solid meaning.

It would seem to follow that there are at least two ways in which these new ideas can be misunderstood: they may, from the outset, be misrecognized as special cases of familiar ideas; or they may gradually become distorted by the accumulation of inappropriate examples. In now giving an outline of what I believe to be the main theme of Bion's book, I hope I have not gravely erred in either of these two ways; but the difficulties of precise communication of psycho-analytic concepts are so great that some misunderstanding is almost inevitable.

The kind of attention an analyst accords his patients is peculiar in that it largely disregards conscious meaning in its search for patterns that fit psycho-analytic theories, and so permit what is unconscious to be recognized and interpreted. For this purpose, two things are necessary: knowledge of an adequate number of psycho-analytic theories and accurate observation. As to the first, Bion believes that comparatively few theories should be enough, provided they are formulated with sufficient generality (see his Learning from Experience).

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