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Friedman, H.J. (2019). The W.R. Bion Tradition: Lines of Development, Evolution of Theory and Practice over the Decades, edited by Howard B. Levine and Giuseppe Civitarese, Routledge, Abingdon and New York, 2018. 514pp.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 79(1):127-130.

(2019). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 79(1):127-130

The W.R. Bion Tradition: Lines of Development, Evolution of Theory and Practice over the Decades, edited by Howard B. Levine and Giuseppe Civitarese, Routledge, Abingdon and New York, 2018. 514pp.

Review by:
Henry J. Friedman, M.D.

There is a Bion boom, of that, there can be little doubt. Bion, a British Kleinian with a restless nature reflected not only in his re-definition of psychoanalytic theory and technique but in his leaving Great Britain for Los Angeles, spending a decade or more there before moving on to other continents and countries, has finally, many years after his death, become a central figure in a movement that is manifest on at least three continents. Despite Bion's declaration that no one can be a Bionian analyst because each analyst needed to be in the end his or herself, he has become a central figure to many analysts in South America, Italy, England and increasingly in the United States. Those who follow Bion appear to be devoted to him at a level that seems to reject what has come before him; they appear to accept his by now famous dictum that the analyst should approach each analytic hour without memory or desire as applying to the entire field of psychoanalysis, the implication being that its history, its present and its future can be ignored.

The container and the contained concept is at the center of how Bion characterized the analytic endeavor, equating the analyst's taking in the content of the patient's projective identifications, digesting them and then feeding them back to the patient in a more acceptable, translated into secondary process form. This is a model that is based upon the analyst-patient dyad being identical to the mother-infant interaction; an identity that is at best highly theoretical and open to question both as to whether or not this is actually how it works between a mother and her infant and even more so whether this can be duplicated with patients in analysis.

[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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