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Williams, M.H. (2008). A Beam of Intense Darkness: Wilfred Bion's Legacy to Psychoanalysis by James Grotstein. Published by Karnac, London, 2007; 382 pp; £29.99 paperback.. Brit. J. Psychother., 24(4):529-532.

(2008). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 24(4):529-532

Book Reviews

A Beam of Intense Darkness: Wilfred Bion's Legacy to Psychoanalysis by James Grotstein. Published by Karnac, London, 2007; 382 pp; £29.99 paperback.

Review by:
Meg Harris Williams

This is an avowedly idiosyncratic work that refuses to dumb down Bion's ideas or regularize them to suit established preconceptions. It is steeped in the author's long apprenticeship to Bion and his works, which began - he tells us - in the 1970s when, as an analysand of Bion's, he first became enthralled by his ideas. In line with this seminal identification, Grotstein takes fast hold of Bion's Platonic emphasis on ‘becoming’ and invites us to participate in his current phase of ‘digestion’ of Bion as a life-changing phenomenon. From this vertex his book could perhaps have been subtitled ‘Wilfred Bion's legacy to an analysand’. It is not intended to be a summary of the Bionic canon but, rather, a model for immersion in Bionic turbulence. Much of its vitality derives from the author's personal wrestling with the concepts, and he states frankly that, even after years of study, the conclusions presented here are still ‘tentative in my mind’:

This is one of the rewards and joys of ‘dreaming’ - that is, absorbing and transforming - Bion's works and maintaining the personal faith, not that I would understand Bion and his works, but that I would become as much of the wisdom, O, of his works as my mind can possibly progressively accommodate. (p. 329)

When confronted by a thinker of Bion's magnitude, who ‘disturbs the universe’ of our existing mentality, we are invited into regions where ‘most of us absolutely cannot follow’ (Meltzer 1997, p.

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