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Grotstein, J.S. (2004). The seventh servant: The implications of a truth drive in Bion's theory of ‘O’. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 85(5):1081-1101.

(2004). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 85(5):1081-1101

The seventh servant: The implications of a truth drive in Bion's theory of ‘OLanguage Translation

James S. Grotstein

Drawing upon Bion's published works on the subjects of truth, dreaming, alpha-function and transformations in ‘O’, the author independently postulates that there exists a ‘truth instinctual drive’ that subserves a truth principle, the latter of which is associated with the reality principle. Further, he suggests, following Bion's postulation, that ‘alpha-function’ and dreaming/phantasying constitute unconscious thinking processes and that they mediate the activity of this ‘truth drive’ (quest, pulsion), which the author hypothesizes constitutes another aspect of a larger entity that also includes the epistemophilic component drive. It purportedly seeks and transmits as well as includes what Bion (1965, pp. 147-9) calls ‘O’, the ‘Absolute Truth, Ultimate Reality, O’ (also associated with infinity, noumena or things-in-themselves, and ‘godhead’) (1970, p. 26). It is further hypothesized that the truth drive functions in collaboration with an ‘unconscious consciousness’ that is associated with the faculty of ‘attention’, which is also known as ‘intuition’. It is responsive to internal psychical reality and constitutes Bion's ‘seventh servant’. O, the ultimate landscape of psychoanalysis, has many dimensions, but the one that seems to interest Bion is that of the emotional experience of the analysand's and the analyst's ‘evolving O’ respectively (1970, p. 52) during the analytic session. The author thus hypothesizes that a sense of truth presents itself to the subject as a quest for truth which has the quality and force of an instinctual drive and constitutes the counterpart to the epistemophilic drive. This ‘truth quest’ or ‘drive’ is hypothesized to be the source of the generation of the emotional truth of one's ongoing experiences, both conscious and unconscious. It is proposed that emotions are beacons of truth in regard to the acceptance of reality. The concepts of an emotional truth drive and a truth principle would help us understand why analysands are able to accept analysts' interpretations that favor the operation of the reality principle over the pleasure principle—because of what is postulated as their overriding adaptive need for truth. Ultimately, it would seem that Bion's legacy of truth aims at integrating finite man with infinite man.

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