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Sandler, P.C. (1997). The Apprehension Of Psychic Reality: Extensions Of Bion's Theory Of Alpha-Function. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 78:43-52.

(1997). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 78:43-52

The Apprehension Of Psychic Reality: Extensions Of Bion's Theory Of Alpha-Function

Paulo Cesar Sandler

The author proposes the need for a term which describes a universal primitive tendency of the human mind to concretise non-sensual mental phenomena. Drawing on Bion's theory of thinking, he suggests that there is an active process whereby a-elements are transformed into b-elements, which can then masquerade as intelligible sense data. This process is identified and illustrated through a series of clinical vignettes in which the analyst was tempted to relate to the patient's material as if it were truly describing concrete external reality rather than disguising immaterial psychic reality. He introduces the term anti alpha-function, to name the process, linked with projective identification, operating in the mind of both patient and analyst, by which painful depressive-position experience may be evaded. He suggests this kind of mental functioning is far more widespread in society than is immediately apparent, accounting for serious distortions in our collective relationship to reality.

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