Bion: An Introduction

Author(s) : Nicola Abel-Hirsch

Part of Karnac Introductions series - more in this series

Bion: An Introduction

Book Details

  • Publisher : Karnac Books
  • Published : April 2023
  • Cover : Paperback
  • Pages : 152
  • Category :
  • Catalogue No : 96866
  • ISBN 13 : 9781912691838
  • ISBN 10 : 9781912691

Also by Nicola Abel-Hirsch

Bion: 365 Quotes

Bion: 365 Quotes

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Wilfred R. Bion’s life spanned key events in the twentieth century. Born in India in 1897, he came to boarding school in England aged 8 and at 18 fought in the tanks in World War One. He trained as a doctor between the wars and, in his World War Two work for the army, he was an innovator. After the war, he became a patient of Melanie Klein, qualified as a psychoanalyst, and was part of an extraordinary period in psychoanalysis of work with psychotic mechanisms in patients. In the late 1950s, he identified the configuration container/contained as being at the heart of human development. He looked outside of psychoanalysis to philosophers, scientists, mathematicians, and even theo-mystical thinkers. His work evolved radically throughout the 1960s and, at age 70 when many would be thinking of slowing down, he emigrated to California and began to travel internationally, giving lectures and supervisions across three continents. After Freud, Bion appears to be the most quoted psychoanalyst of our time and this book provides the opportunity, even for those familiar with his work, to gain insight into its sheer breadth, showcased so brilliantly in this slim volume.

As author of Bion: 365 Quotes, Nicola Abel-Hirsch’s immersion in Bion’s vast œuvre has enabled a comprehensive introduction to Bion and his work. Her lightness of touch, whilst retaining the necessary depth, makes it a joy to read. Bion and his work can be somewhat enigmatic but Abel-Hirsch’s understanding offers the ideal introduction to the man and his work.

Reviews and Endorsements

‘Nicola Abel-Hirsch is a masterful teacher of Bion’s works; knowledgeable of his history as an individual and a psychoanalyst. Like the best of teachers, she knows her subject intimately and explains even the most obscure concepts clearly. Her new book, Bion: An Introduction, displays her deep appreciation and knowledge of the work of Bion. I highly recommend Bion: An Introduction to all clinicians and psychoanalysts who want to understand Bion’s life and work in depth.’
Lawrence J. Brown, author of ‘Transformational Processes in Clinical Psychoanalysis: Dreaming, Emotions and the Present Moment’ and ‘On Freud’s “Moses and Monotheism”’

‘Underpinned by six opening thoughts and six closing thoughts as pointers, Bion: An Introduction is a masterpiece that captures the heart of Bion’s life and works brilliantly. Nicola Abel-Hirsch’s intimate knowledge of the thinking of W. R. Bion, combined with her deep capacity to dialogue with disciplines such as mathematics, philosophy, literature, the arts, and science, enables her to tackle a wide range of topics in a high-quality, original work. Bion: An Introduction is an essential, up-to-date, scholarly book for the study and exploration of Bion which intelligently stimulates new paths for thinking and dreaming.’
Jani Santamaría, co-editor of ‘Autistic Phenomena and Unrepresented States: Explorations in the Emergence of Self’

‘Nicola Abel Hirsch has written a short, comprehensive new book on Bion, encompassing and interweaving his life and the progression of his work from the first to the final books and papers. Her extensive knowledge and profound understanding of Bion’s immense contribution to psychoanalysis makes her the ideal author for this book. The book is a pleasure to read; we feel her deeply engaged presence throughout, as if in a vivid dialogue with Bion in which she is always trying to understand him better. The compactness of the format consistently avoids over-simplification; one is left with an experience of fluidity and integration, and a sense of satisfaction for having been offered an accomplished, lively portrait of Bion the man and Bion the thinker.’
Ignês Sodré, author of ‘Imaginary Existences: A Psychoanalytic Exploration of Phantasy, Fiction, Dreams and Daydreams’

Table of Contents

About the author
Five opening thoughts

1. Bion’s war
The Battle of Cambrai
War languages
Turning the guns round

2. Oxford, medicine, Samuel Beckett
The 1920s and 1930s
Some detail
Bion and Samuel Beckett

3. What groups do
The 1940s
Starting to ask questions again
World War Two work: including Northfield
The Tavistock groups: including Bion the observer, basic assumptions
An eyewitness account of Bion’s group-work
(From an occasion when Bion took a group in 1964 for about four months)

4. A time of membership
Late 1940s/1950s
Analysis with Klein and Klein’s group of 4
The Imaginary Twin
‘Verbal thinking’ in the 50s papers
Bion and Winnicott

5. A breakthrough
And then Bion made a breakthrough
On Arrogance (1958)
Attacks on Linking (1959)
Braithwaite and Frege
The beginning of Bion’s ‘cogitations’

6. Going back to beginnings
Bishop Stortford School

7. Thinking
The Theory of Thinking
Hume and Kant

8. Opening up his own thinking: Learning from Experience (1962)
The “name givers”
Beta elements
Bion’s own clinical work in this period
Galileo and Poincaré

9. A new instrument: Elements of Psychoanalysis (1963)
The Grid
Reversible Perspective
An eyewitness account of Bion’s clinical work in the 1960s

10. Going as far as possible: Transformations: Change from Learning to Growth (1965)
Transformations and Invariants
Bion’s own clinical work in this period
The emergence of ’O’: the last chapter of Transformations
Plato and Milton

11. Talking about his findings
Memory and Desire 1965
Catastrophic Change 1966
The Commentary to Second Thoughts: Selected Papers on Psycho-Analysis 1967

12. Los Angeles 1967
Dispute with Greenson

13. Elaborations: Attention and Interpretation: A Scientific Approach to Insight in Psycho-Analysis and Groups (1970)
Intuition and ‘F’[Faith]
Bion’s own clinical work in this period
An eyewitness account of Bion’s clinical work in the 1970s

14. International lectures, seminars and supervisions
The Brazilian Lectures
The Brazilian Clinical Seminars
The Tavistock Seminars
The Italian Seminars

15. Autobiography and A Memoir of the Future
Bion’s autobiography
A Memoir of the Future

Five closing thoughts
Brief glossary

About the Author(s)

Nicola Abel-Hirsch is a training analyst of the British Psychoanalytical Society, and works in full-time psychoanalytical practice. She has given theoretical and clinical papers on Bion in the UK; Taiwan (annually 2005–2012); the USA; and Europe. From 2013 to 2015 she was the visiting professor at the Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies, University of Essex. She is the author of Bion: 365 Quotes (2019), and editor of Hanna Segal’s last book Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (2007). Under the auspices of Understanding Primitive Mental States NYC, she chairs an ongoing series of seminars on Bion’s later lectures, seminars and supervisions.

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