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Vonofakos, D. Hinshelwood, B. (2012). Wilfred Bion's Letters to John Rickman (1939-1951) Introduction. Psychoanal. Hist., 14(1):53-94.

(2012). Psychoanalysis and History, 14(1):53-94

Documents and Commentary

Wilfred Bion's Letters to John Rickman (1939-1951) Introduction

Dimitris Vonofakos, Ph.D. and Bob Hinshelwood

This is a collection of 29 letters, 27 from Wilfred Bion to John Rickman, one addressed to Mrs Rickman and one from Rickman to Bion. These letters have been fully transcribed, annotated and published for the first time and offer a rare glimpse into the blossoming relationship between the two men and the gradual emergence of Bion's intellect through his work in War Office Selection Boards (WOSBs), the Northfield Military hospital and the exploratory groups at the Tavistock Clinic. Through this material it becomes evident that Bion's fascination with the work undertaken at WOSBs had more to do with the social ramifications of the principles and ideology applied there rather than with particular techniques per se, such as ‘leaderless groups’. Furthermore, the reader becomes witness to Rickman's profound influence on Bion's analytic work and in cultivating his interest in therapeutic institutions, ultimately leading to their groundbreaking work at Northfield Military hospital. While Bion's descriptions of his post-war group work at the Tavistock Clinic offer the first signs of his unique theory and technique on the exploration of group dynamics. The continuation of their correspondence until Rickman's untimely death is a testament to their strong collegial and personal relationship which transcended analytical work and other professional engagements.

[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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