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O'Shaughnessy, E. (1995). Wilfred Bion: His Life and Work, 1897-1979. : By Gérard Bléandonu. Translated by Claire Pajaczkowska, with a foreword by R.D. Hinshelwood. New York: Guildford Press. 1994. Pp. 303 + xii.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 76:857-859.

(1995). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 76:857-859

Wilfred Bion: His Life and Work, 1897-1979. : By Gérard Bléandonu. Translated by Claire Pajaczkowska, with a foreword by R.D. Hinshelwood. New York: Guildford Press. 1994. Pp. 303 + xii.

Review by:
Edna O'Shaughnessy

In Gérard Bléandonu the life and the work of Wilfred Bion meet—most fortunately—a biographer and an expositor. Bléandonu is a Frenchman and a scholar, who, while cognisant of French traditions, has also had a longstanding regard for Klein (he published L'École de Melanie Klein in 1985), and the work of Bion. His aim in the book under review is ‘to reveal the meaning of given texts, in relation to the development, the historical context and the internal economy of Bion's oeuvre’.

He begins with biography: Bion's early childhood in India, his schooling in England, a plunge at 19 into the ordeal of the First World War from which he emerged with decorations, years of study—first at Oxford where he read History, captained the swimming team and obtained a rugger blue, then at Poitiers University, in order to study French language and literature, and, finally, after a spell as a teacher, University College, London, where he studied medicine. During his medical studies Bion went to a therapist (name unknown) whom he ironically dubbed ‘Mr Feel-it-in-the-past’. On qualifying Bion straightaway launched himself into psychiatry, joining the staff of the Tavistock in 1932, having further therapy from Hadfield. Later Bion approached Rickman, who analysed him between 1937 and 1939. The outbreak of the Second World War terminated this analysis prematurely, and brought patient and analyst together in a pioneering group project in the army.

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