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Brown, L.J. (2014). Bion and Being: Passion and the Creative Mind Annie Reiner Karnac, London, 2012; 165 pp; $34.95. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 95(5):1045-1050.

(2014). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 95(5):1045-1050

Bion and Being: Passion and the Creative Mind Annie Reiner Karnac, London, 2012; 165 pp; $34.95

Review by:
Lawrence J. Brown

The writings of Wilfred Bion have had a profound heuristic effect on psychoanalytic thinking for more than a half century and have demonstrated his impressive ability to learn from his experiences, which in turn has guided his readers how to make sense of what impacts their lives. Since his death in 1979, several autobiographical volumes have been published posthumously that deal with his personal trials as a boy and his horrific experiences in World War I which are explored in some recent papers (Brown, 2012; Souter, 2009; Szykierski, 2010) to reveal how Bion learned from these painful experiences. Bion's analytic contributions have primarily focused on the process by which one makes meaning of one's emotional encounters rather than on the specific significance an individual accords to his affective life. For example, he reinterpreted the notion of dream-work, which Freud described as the means by which unconscious wishes are disguised, to also denote the capacity to dream; an elaboration that led to Bion's proposal of alpha function. Thus, he moved away from the usual analytic emphasis on the content analysis of thoughts to the nature of the apparatus for thinking (Bion, 1962) that permits one to learn from experience.

Throughout the 1950s and into the mid-1960s Bion introduced many concepts that have become part of the Kleinian canon and have also been embraced by many other analytic schools. Bion's clinical experiences with psychotic states of mind in the 1950s led him to appreciate that even the most disturbed patients were attempting to communicate, not with words but instead by evoking emotions in the analyst; observations that led him to propose the communicative function of projective identification.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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