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Gooch, J.A. (1998). Wilfred Bion. His Life and Works, 1897-1979. By Gérard Bléandonu. Translated by Claire Pajaczkowska. New York: The Guilford Press, 1994. 303 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 67(1):172-174.

(1998). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 67(1):172-174

Wilfred Bion. His Life and Works, 1897-1979. By Gérard Bléandonu. Translated by Claire Pajaczkowska. New York: The Guilford Press, 1994. 303 pp.

Review by:
James A. Gooch

This relatively short book is the first attempt at a full biography of probably the most important figure thus far in psychoanalysis after Freud and Klein. The fact that it is translated from the French is not obtrusive or distracting.

Curiously, the author is not a psychoanalyst, but a community psychiatrist. It is clear that he carefully researched not only Bion's ideas and writings, but also his personal history and other pertinent factors. Of particular interest and usefulness are the references scattered throughout, linking Bion's work to the broader context of the history of relevant ideas in philosophy, science, and mathematics. (This is especially useful in Chapter 21, “Genetic Epistemology.”)

Part I consists of four short chapters detailing Bion's family origins and early life. It chronicles his life and career through both world wars and up to the death of his first wife. The remainder of the book gives an overview of Bion's life work, divided into four “seasons”: The Group Period; The Epistemological Period (divided into two parts); and The Final Period, after Bion's move to California.

A few points stand out in the reading of this book.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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