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Zepf, S. (2012). A Stroke of Genius?. Free Associations, 13(1):83-95.

(2012). Free Associations, 13(1):83-95

Wilfred R. Bion's Psychoanalysis

A Stroke of Genius?

Siegfried Zepf

The author investigates whether it is appropriate to bestow the epithet “genius” on Bion, as Grotstein and others have done. He finds that Bion's conceptualization of psychoanalysis as a process of mutual projective identifications is untenable and that Bion's own epistemological perspective would regard his claims to be lies and falsehoods. The author argues that the term “genius” is not supported by the intellectual quality of Bion's work but seems to be due to his authoritarian-dogmatic style, which precludes critical assessment and presumes that his conceptualizations are indisputable. Since Bion's often cryptic statements are difficult to understand, they appear similar to ‘messages from the gods’ (Thompson) and produce the impression that the breadth and depth of an earth-shaking work have yet to be fully grasped. Therefore, the author finds support for the claim that Bion is a “genius” to be lacking; rather, this assertion appears to be the product of a socio-psychological phenomenon.

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