Wilfred R. Bion:An Odyssey Into the Deep and Formless Infinite


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Bion’s public language, both in his speeches and writings, closely epitomize his metapsychological beliefs. He eschewed understanding because of his belief that understanding closed off the experience and therefore foreclosed the transformation in O. He often cautioned that one should not try to understand what he said or wrote but rather should be receptive to one’s individual impressions and responses to what he said. “Do not listen to me, but listen to yourself listening to me,” would be a succinct restatement of his view. He thereby clarified a theory of thinking whose rationalistic roots go back to Plato and have coursed through Kant. It embraces a philosophical conception of the human being as the innovator of imaginative conjecture, that intersects with the data of external experience (K) to emerge as thought. He arrived at these ideas about thinking from many years of psychoanalyzing psychotics who could not think. Psychoanalysis had previously concentrated on the treatment of neurotics who could think but would not in selected areas of inhibition. By clarifying that realm of psychotic transformation that is beyond repression and comprises the mutilation of thoughts and thinking, Bion added a whole new domain to our clinical knowledge as well.

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