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O'Shaughnessy, E. (2005). Whose Bion?. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 86(6):1523-1528.
(2005). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 86(6):1523-1528
I thank the Editors, Glen Gabbard and Paul Williams, for inviting me to be one of three contributors to a series about one of the most gifted analysts of our time: W. R. Bion (1897-1979). His work continues to attract and influence analysts of different orientations in whose books and papers will be found widely different readings of his writings. It is these ‘different readings’ of Bion that I shall enquire into—the books and papers themselves being beyond the scope of this short piece.
First of all, there is the reading of Bion's opus itself. What I regard as his powerful and original contribution to psychoanalysis begins with his first papers on groups in the 1940s and continues through the two subsequent decades. During this time, Bion (1948-51, 1950, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958a, 1958b, 1959, 1961, 1962a, 1962b, 1963, 1965, 1966, 1967a, 1967b, 1970) wrote on an astonishing range of subjects—groups; schizophrenic thought and language; the mind and world of psychosis in contrast to neurosis; a theory of thinking; psychic transformations; arrogance; hallucination; learning from experience; the elements and the practice of psychoanalysis.
After a study group lasting eight years, Leon Grinberg, Dario Sor and Elizabeth Tabak Bianchedi published in 1975 the first exposition of these ideas. In the preface to their slim and valuable volume, the authors remark on ‘the particular impact of the experience of immersing ourselves in Bion's thought in all its depth and of finding it surprisingly coherent…’ (my italics).
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