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Kernberg, O. (2017). Wilfred Bion: Los Angeles Seminars and Supervision edited by Joseph Aguayo and Barnet Malin Karnac Books, London, 2013; 176 pp. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 98(1):250-253.

(2017). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 98(1):250-253

Wilfred Bion: Los Angeles Seminars and Supervision edited by Joseph Aguayo and Barnet Malin Karnac Books, London, 2013; 176 pp

Review by:
Otto Kernberg, M.D.

This volume presents the recording of four seminars in the context of a group supervision carried out by Wilfred Bion with members of the Los Angeles Psychoanalytic Society and Institute in April 1967. The recording of these lectures and discussions includes comments and questions by the audience, and Bion's reaction to them. Given the prominence in the psychoanalytic community of some of these participants, this volume represents an interesting historical document. This, however, is not the main impact generated by the reading of this volume. What impresses this reviewer is the extraordinary actuality of Bion's comments on psychoanalytic technique, the relevance of his views for the ongoing discussion about the extent to which an interpretive psychoanalytic stance is indicated in the treatment of borderline conditions, and what are some of the outstanding technical considerations relevant in this regard. In addition, in raising questions about the basic listening attitude of the analyst in the clinical situation, Bion challenges the traditional technical implications of the recommended attitude of ‘evenly suspended attention.’ These seminars, in short, constitute an important contribution to contemporary psychoanalytic technique.

Throughout these seminars, Bion explicates some central aspects of his late contributions to psychoanalytic theory and technique. He provides clarifying comments on the concept of projective identification, container and contained, ‘O’ as ultimate reality, the relation of the mystic to the establishment, and the function of auditory and visual hallucinations in severe psychopathology.

[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.]

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