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Williams, M.H. (1999). On Hallucination, Intuition, and the Becoming of ‘O’ by Eric Rhode. Published by ESF Publishers, Binghamton, New York, 1998; 230 pages; paperback. Brit. J. Psychother., 15(4):524-525.

(1999). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 15(4):524-525

On Hallucination, Intuition, and the Becoming of ‘O’ by Eric Rhode. Published by ESF Publishers, Binghamton, New York, 1998; 230 pages; paperback

Review by:
Meg Harris Williams

One of Bion's well-known jokes was that he suspected he would be among those who are ‘loaded with honours and sunk without trace’. And probably he would have been, had not Donald Meltzer led the way in persistent deep-sea diving of his works. Now, despite the weight of establishment honours (which usually take the form of explaining how Bion's ideas are really just badly expressed commonsense), the body refuses to go down. And certainly Eric Rhode must be reckoned among the idiosyncratic deep-sea divers who have bravely entangled themselves in Bion's mesh. Or - to use another of Bion's metaphors - he is one of those tomb-robbers who broke through the magical prohibitions at Ur. ‘Don't go down the unconscious, Daddy!’ spoke his warning voice (Bion 1982, p. 143).

Any interpretation of Bion which is not establishment is idiosyncratic. Bion has ensured that he cannot be read in any other way. The tomb-robbing analogy is as good an entry as any to the fascinating content of Rhode's book. For much of the material which Rhode explores here is anthropological in nature, the result of his study of primitive ancient Egyptian and African cultures, in search of a long-buried ‘religious’ vertex which in Bion's view has been much neglected ever since psychoanalysis replaced religious problems by sexual ones. The religious vertex makes ‘holes’ in what appears to be a smooth continuum of ‘scientific’ knowledge, and to research it Rhode makes use of a mixture of personal ‘reverie’ and anthropological interpretation.

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