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Lyth, O. (1980). Wilfred Ruprecht Bion (1897–1979). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 61:269-273.

(1980). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 61:269-273

Wilfred Ruprecht Bion (1897–1979)

Oliver Lyth

With the death of Wilfred Ruprecht Bion in Oxford on 8 November 1979, psychoanalysis lost one of its most distinguished practitioners and original thinkers. Building on the work of Freud and Melanie Klein, he extended our understanding of psychotic thought processes well beyond the previous limits. In doing this he also threw much new light on normal thinking and the emotional factors which differentiate the psychotic from the normal. His writings are exciting and stimulating to his psychoanalytic colleagues because of his new ways of looking at things. They are also difficult and call for considerable work and effort to understand them; but to meet him in person was to be aware of being in the presence of an immensely powerful intellect who in conversation was astonishingly simple and direct.

Wilfred Bion was born on 8 September 1897, in Muttra, in what were then the United Provinces of India. His father was working there as a Civil Engineer. Besides being a skilled engineer, he was a trusted administrator deeply identified with the Indian scene since he served for part of his time there as Secretary to the Indian Congress. His mother seems to have been a simpler person with an intuitive approach which must have meant a great deal to her young son, who remained deeply devoted to her.

India made a lasting impression on him and he maintained his interest in that country to the end of his life, so that shortly before his death he was planning to visit Bombay to work with the psychoanalytic group there.

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