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Lambert, K. (1964). Elements of psycho-analysts, by W. R. Bion. London, Heinemann, 1963. pp. v + 110. 15s.. J. Anal. Psychol., 9(2):189-191.

(1964). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 9(2):189-191

Elements of psycho-analysts, by W. R. Bion. London, Heinemann, 1963. pp. v + 110. 15s.

Review by:
Kenneth Lambert

Analysts who worked at Bion's Learning from experience will be prepared for the style and content of his Elements of psycho-analysis. To be so is important, because the present book, addressed specifically to analysts, furthers, if not inaugurates, a new phase in the thinking of analysts about their work in scientific terms, and offers them a new aid to more precise assessments of events in the consulting room. The book assumes in its readers knowledge of psycho-analytic theory, and is not a small handbook of psycho-analysis.

Criticisms of dynamic psychology in terms of its unscientific basis have led analysts to recognize that, although resistance may unconsciously load the critics’ attacks, there is a need to clarify what it is that is being resisted. This is a task that analysts themselves can unconsciously resist as well, because of the pain of increased consciousness or even of the hard work that can be involved. Bion analyses the “non-loaded” reasons for the criticism that psycho-analysis is unscientific by showing that its ideas, in the form hitherto presented, have been (i) too “theoretical” (i.e. too much a representation of an observation) to be accepted as an observation, and (ii) too “concrete” to have the flexibility that allows an abstraction to be matched with a realization. A greater degree of abstraction ensures that a theoretical statement retains the minimum of particularization, with the result that its applicability is more easily apparent.

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