Beckett and Bion: The (Im)Patient Voice in Psychotherapy and Literature

Author(s) : Ian Miller, Author(s) : Kay Souter

Beckett and Bion: The (Im)Patient Voice in Psychotherapy and Literature

Book Details

Reviews and Endorsements

‘This is an in-depth study of the famous relationship between Samuel Beckett and Wilfred Bion. Beckett had been Bion’s psychoanalytic therapy case (his first) for only two years, but a “psychic twinship” seems to have developed between them which may have unconsciously lasted both their lifetimes. In fact, Bion used him as his first psychoanalytic presentation, “the Imaginary Twin”. The continuation of the “twinship” appeared in the subject matter of the published works of each: sophisticated psychoanalytic themes especially about the intimate nature of relationships. From their extensive research, especially utilizing Beckett’s recently published correspondence, the authors hypothesize that Beckett and Bion were instrumental in launching the post-modern age in their respective fields. Moreover, they also believe that they were thematically paralleling one another, Beckett experimenting with fictionalized psychoanalytic novellas and Bion with Psychoanalytic Field Theory (Container↔ Contained), the psychoanalytic theory of the indivisible nature of the couple, as contrasted with the one-person analyst model of Positivism.

Their encounter seems to have fateful overtones: Beckett had been Bion’s first “control case” at the beginning of his training at the Tavistock Institute, and Beckett was still a young man with considerable anxiety, much of which had to do with his bad relationship with this mother. Who would have known that the patient would later be awarded the Nobel Prize and that his therapist would become one of the foremost analytic thinkers of our time? What is also extraordinary is how well-informed Beckett was in regard to his grasp of psychoanalysis and how uncannily percipient he was in his fictional applications of them.

Other major themes in this work, however, include highly credible historically-based psychoanalytic postulations about Beckett’s personality and his struggles, but with less emphasis on Bion. This is a very fine work, one which should be read by anyone with an interest in the interface of literature and psychoanalysis.’
- James Grotstein, author of A Beam of Intense Darkness: Wilfred Bion's Legacy to Psychoanalysis and But at the Same Time and on Another Level

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