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Crockatt, P. (1995). Wilfred Bion: His Life and Works By Gérard Bléandonu. Translated by Claire Pajaczkowska London: Free Association Books. 1897-1979 £18.95 (paperback). Pp. 303.. Psychoanal. Psychother., 9:309-311.

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(1995). Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 9:309-311

Wilfred Bion: His Life and Works By Gérard Bléandonu. Translated by Claire Pajaczkowska London: Free Association Books. 1897-1979 £18.95 (paperback). Pp. 303.

Phil Crockatt

Bion was a remarkable psychoanalyst. A brilliant clinician, he had a deeper understanding of the work of Freud and Klein, and, like them, was a prolific creator of new theories. In this book, Bléandonu, a French community psychiatrist, highlights Bion the philosopher, and in particular his contributions to epistemology.

Though the subtitle of his book includes ‘his Life’, Bléandonu has based his account solely on Bion's autobiography. There is no new, biographical research. Nor is this a clinical book. What we do have is a full account of the ideas as they develop, a demonstration of the essential unity of the work, and pointers towards the philosophical influences upon the later, epistemological work. This account is framed by what Hinshelwood, in his helpful introduction, describes as ‘episodic sketches’ of the main events in Bion's life.

The book is divided into five parts.

The first part describes Bion's childhood in India, his education in England, service as a tank-commander during the First World War, a period as a schoolteacher; then training in medicine and psychiatry. As in the autobiography, these events are recounted as a sequence of dream-like episodes, always vivid, sometimes witty, often painful, confusing, or filled with menace.

The second section covers Bion's service as an army psychiatrist from 1939 to 1945, ending with the publication of Experiences in Groups. Helped by analysis with Rickman and the work at the Tavistock

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