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Ogden, T.H. (2004). On holding and containing, being and dreaming. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 85(6):1349-1364.

(2004). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 85(6):1349-1364

On holding and containing, being and dreaming Language Translation

Thomas H. Ogden

Winnicott's concept of holding and Bion's idea of the container-contained are for each of these analysts among his most important contributions to psychoanalytic thought. In this light, it is ironic that the two sets of ideas are so frequently misunderstood and confused with one another. In this paper, the author delineates what he believes to be the critical aspects of each of these concepts and illustrates the way in which he uses these ideas in his clinical work. Winnicott's holding is seen as an ontological concept that is primarily concerned with being and its relationship to time. Initially the mother safeguards the infant's continuity of being, in part by insulating him from the ‘not-me’ aspect of time. Maturation entails the infant's gradually internalizing the mother's holding of the continuity of his being over time and emotional flux. By contrast, Bion s container-contained is centrally concerned with the processing (dreaming) of thoughts derived from lived emotional experience. The idea of the container-contained addresses the dynamic interaction of predominantly unconscious thoughts (the contained) and the capacity for dreaming and thinking those thoughts (the container).

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