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Aguayo, J. (2016). Response to Amit Fachler's Letter regarding ‘On Bion's Notes on Memory and Desire’. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 97(2):509.

(2016). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 97(2):509

Response to Amit Fachler's Letter regarding ‘On Bion's Notes on Memory and Desire’ Related Papers

Joseph Aguayo

Dear Editor,

I am pleased to have an opportunity to respond to Amit Fachler's letter regarding a recent publication of mine (IJP 95, pp. 899-910) on Bion's Notes on memory and desire. It is always pleasing when readers take the time to both read and cross-check any author's citations of the primary sources. After reviewing my understanding of this particular clinical vignette in Bion's text (summarized on p. 899, footnote 2), I see why Fachler would maintain that the patient was jealous of a third, separate other in the form of another one of Bion's patients. I had depicted it as the patient being upset at Bion's favoritizing the patient himself in a previous session, essentially rendering it into a two-person situation. After reviewing the text, I do take Fachler's point - and his reading is closer to Bion's actual meaning than my own. This point is also reinforced by Bion also saying a bit further (Bion, 2013, p. 10) that this particular interpretation “is quite easily generalized, by saying it fits in with ordinary Oedipal theory”.

Well, as the saying goes, the Devil is in the details! Fachler's reading not only gets right Bion's meaning, but also reminds us of the tremendous admiration Bion maintained for Freud's Oedipus complex, one that he originally enshrined in the first version of the Grid (Bion, 2014, Complete Works, V: 93). Moreover, Fachler's point led me to re-listen to the actual recording of Bion's Los Angeles Seminars, and this led to a further consideration. After hearing Bion's Oedipal interpretation, the patient responded with a long drawl, in which he simply said, ‘Yes’. There was a mixture of murmuring and laughter on the audience's part at Bion's deft intonation, where he conveyed over and over again how contemptuous and dismissive the patient was of his interpretation. This led to a rather salient point: that Bion was more interested in listening to how his interpretations were being received rather than insisting that his was the correct understanding.

I thank both Amit Fachler and the IJP Editor for allowing me a response.


Bion W (2013). Los Angeles Seminars and Supervision. Aguayo J, Malin B, editors. London: Karnac.

Bion W (2014). Taming wild thoughts. Introduction by Parthenope Bion in The complete works of Wilfred Bion. London: Karnac.

[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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