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Ogden, T.H. (2004). An introduction to the reading of Bion. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 85(2):285-300.

(2004). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 85(2):285-300

An introduction to the reading of Bion

Thomas H. Ogden

The author suggests that a good deal of the confusion that arises in the course of reading Bion derives from the fact that Bion's analytic writing is comprised of two periods of work that involve markedly different conceptions of psychoanalysis. These two periods require of the reader very different ways of reading and generate contrasting experiences in reading. Bion, in passages in Learning from experience (1962) and Attention and interpretation (1970), offers advice to the reader regarding how he would like his ‘early’ and ‘late’ work to be read. The author treats the experience of reading these passages as ports of entry into the fundamental tenets underlying Bion's widely differing conceptions of the psychoanalytic enterprise. The experience of reading early Bion generates a sense of psychoanalysis as a never-completed process of clarifying obscurities and obscuring clarifications, which enterprise moves in the direction of a convergence of disparatemeanings. In contrast, the experience of reading Bion's later work conveys a sense of psychoanalysis as a process involving a movement toward infinite expansion of meaning. The author offers a detailed account of an analytic experience which he discusses from a point of view informed by Bion's work, particularly his late work.

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