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Bleger, L. (2017). José Bleger's Thinking about Psychoanalysis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 98(1):145-169.
(2017). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 98(1):145-169
José Bleger's Thinking about Psychoanalysis
(Accepted for publication 24 June 2016)
The work of José Bleger is not easy to summarize. It is the fruit of developments in his thinking which took many years, with turning points which arose from his praxis, a concept that he was to re-elaborate in 1969 (Bleger, 2012). Although psychoanalysis was Bleger's central preoccupation, he believed that it should be put to work in different ways, in different fields, and not confined either to clinical practice or theoretical elaborations. For him, psychoanalysis was the vehicle of a profound epistemological revolution (Bleger, 1971a), one that is internal to the field of psychoanalysis itself. “The study of how we acquire and systematize psychoanalytic knowledge”, he wrote, “is part of psychoanalysis itself” (Bleger, 1958, p. 22).
In this paper I shall first indicate the context of Argentinian psychoanalysis in the 1950s, the period when Bleger was in training, and then I shall articulate the four main ideas that he was to work on: the psychoanalytic session, symbiosis, ambiguity and the question of psychoanalytic setting. To better convey the evolution of his work as a whole, I also need to explain some aspects of the works of a French philosopher of Hungarian origin, Georges Politzer (1903-1942), and of the Argentinian psychoanalyst Enrique Pichon Rivière (1907-1977). My intention is to show a way of thinking in action. The best way to discuss a way of thinking is to grasp its logic, the way in which it generates problems and articulates them: we always think within a framework.
Following the tradition of psychoanalysts of that period, clinical material is used throughout Bleger's most important work, Symbiosis and Ambiguity: A Psychoanalytic Study. Chapters 1 and 4 of this book are constructed from two clinical cases narrated in detail, with long extracts from sessions. Chapters 5 and 6, on ambiguity and the setting respectively, make use of many clinical examples and I shall briefly revisit two of these.
[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.]