Wilfred Ruprecht Bion came from a family of the English upper middle class resident in India. His father, Frederick Fleetwood Bion (Dacca, Dacca, then United Kingdom, now Bangla Desh, April 17, 1870 - Iver, South East England, February 16, 1949), was chief engineer of the Irrigation Sector of the British Department of Public Works. He married Rhoda Salter Kemp (1869 - January 13, 1939) on October 24, 1896 in Monghyr (Bihar, then United Kingdom, now India). From this marriage Wilfred Ruprecht Bion was born in 1897 and Edna Bion in 1900. We do not have many other details about his family that he did not like at all. Of his father’s relatives in his biography he wrote that they were all crazy, insignificant and mean and that two of his father’s brothers married two of his mother’s sisters. He said little about his mother and his family members that they were missionaries. We know very little about her sister, who was the favorite of her parents, he said, and with whom he didn’t get along.
The years of his early childhood are marked by a strong ambivalence, on the one hand an unhappy family life and on the other the magical and mysterious India that he always carried in his heart. Bion reports that the father was distant and the mother anaffective. One of his childhood memories was the feeling he had when he lay on his mother’s lap, feeling them warm and reassuring at first and after a while cold and terrible; it is likely that he first felt a kind of excitement and then felt guilty. In this period he lay down on his belly and moved up and down practicing a rough masturbation. Realizing that instead the little sister felt no pleasure, he went to ask the parents the reason for this difference; in response they forced him to take 3 baths lasting 3 minutes for 3 consecutive days in a tank full of water in which a healing substance had been mixed. After the third day the parents became convinced that they had solved the problem, which was obviously not true.
Beyond the frustration of family life, he created an imaginary monster he called Arf Arfer, probably modifying the words of the Lord’s Prayer, to which he thought every night crying in fear. It is probable that his family life was not as terrible as he actually described it, as his memories may have been deformed by an unresolved Oedipus Complex for which he was punished by Arf Arfer. Moreover, regarding family life, he was in India with his elephants, his tigers and his mysterious and unspeakable landscapes; his old nurse whom he called Ayah was also an Indian and who probably he loved even more than his parents.
When it was time to go to school, as used in the colonial bourgeoisie of the time, he was sent to the mother country to study. His mother accompanied him at the age of 8 to Bishop’s Stortford College (East England, United Kingdom
) and then returned to India. This school was founded in 1850 under the name of Bishop’s Stortford Collegiate School to take on a lay form. In 1868 it was bought by independent Protestant religious groups, called Non-Conformists, and, renamed Nonconformist Grammar School, changed its teaching orientation by assuming a strongly religious identity. This implied an important loss of enrollment, so much so that in 1901 the school changed its name again to Bishop’s Stortford College and its didactic address, while maintaining an evident religious imprint, ceased to be integralist. Bion was immersed in a scholastic atmosphere steeped in religiosity, which he began to hate in particular because it promised the worst punishments to fornicators, while he could not abandon his masturbatory activities, so much so that he was surprised by a teacher while he masturbated and for this severely scolded. This period was also characterized for him by a strong sense of abandonment, as he did not see his family in the following three years, and by a marked sense of nostalgia for the loss of his Ayah and the familiar landscapes of India. He was not satisfied with social relations because he could not make friends with his schoolmates whom he perceived as too religious. Lastly, the rainy weather of England fueled the nostalgia felt for the sun and the heat of India. The only positive side of his school was to have a strong reputation in the sports field; from 1895 it was equipped with an indoor pool with hot water, thus becoming one of the first English schools to have this privilege. Indeed, Bion has become one of the owners of his water polo team.
Bion lived better the transition to high school, at the same school, thanks to the greater tolerance towards sexual activities. In spite of this, he felt a strong discomfort due to the increase of the impulses related to the pubertal hormonal explosion, to his own clumsiness in any type of activity, even daily, to a non-acceptance of his own bodily changes. During this period he successfully carried out sporting activities, particularly in rugby.
On July 28, 1914, the First World War broke out. Bion, the following year, having finished high school, he decided to enlist as a volunteer, but was rejected on the conscription visit. The father, realizing that Wilfred had lived very badly this refusal, intervened through his contacts in the army (which shows that he was not as detached as Bion described him), so on January 4, 1916 he was drafted and assigned to the Tank Corps, in a battalion of armored vehicles. Arriving at the front, in France, he soon regretted his military choice, so during the bombing he had moments of derealization, which helped him to survive psychologically. On February 18, 1918 he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order, an important honor for his actions in the Battle of Cambrai (Upper France, France), which took place from November 20 to December 17, 1917. On November 11, 1918 the war ended and Bion returned to England. He lived the vicissitudes of war with ambivalence of feelings, on the one hand terror of war and on the other desire for glory; he was discharged in December 1918 with the rank of Captain after having received Croix de Chevalier della Légion d’honneur. He was very tried by the war because of the 250 course mates he had attended, only three had survived. This war experience have influenced many of his elaborations on the dynamics of groups.
In 1919 Bion joined the Degree Course in History at Queen’s College, one of the colleges of the University of Oxford (South East England); it has been active since 1096, it is the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the second oldest university in the world. It is composed of 38 associated colleges organized independently. Queen’s College was founded in 1341 by Robert de Eglesfield (1295-1349), chaplain to the wife of King Edward III of England (Windsor, South East England, November 13, 1312 - London, London, June 21, 1377), Queen Philippa of Hainault (Valenciennes, Hauts-de-France, France, June 24, 1314 - Windsor, August 15, 1369), in which honor was given the name to the College.
Bion, after graduating in 1921, decided to return to France to improve his knowledge of the French language and French literature; he went for this purpose to the Université de Poitiers (New Aquitaine, France). This university was founded on May 28, 1431 by Pope Eugene IV (Venice, Veneto, January 11, 1383 - Rome, Lazio, February 23, 1447). Bion in those years took compulsive masturbatory activities, which had been sublimated during the war period.
In 1922 he decided to return to England to make the most of what he learned for work. His military honors and his academic qualifications allowed him to obtain the teaching of the History Course at Bishop’s Stortford College, the same one where he had studied as a child. However, this experience was brief: he was accused by the mother of one of his pupils of having abused his son, so he had to resign and did not undergo a legal process only for his military past.
Having seen the book "Three essays on the theory of sexuality " by Freud in the bookstore, he bought it and read it eagerly to find a solution to his sexual problems. Feeling deeply impressed by his contents, he decided to become a psychoanalyst. For this reason, in 1924 he enrolled in the degree course in Medicine at the University of London, University College, the third oldest British university but the first lay. It was born in 1836 from the union of two pre-existing secular London universities, namely London University and King’s College.
The London University, founded in 1826 by two British politicians, James Milne better known as James Mill (Angus, Scotland, April 6, 1773 - London, June, 23 1836) and Baron Henry Peter Brougham (Edinburgh, Scotland, September 19, 1778 - Cannes , Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France, May 7, 1868), due to strong ecclesiastical opposition this university could not issue valid academic titles; this permit, held instead by King’s College, founded in 1829 by King George IV of England, was transferred to University College London. In 1907 the two university institutes, although still federated, regained their autonomy, assuming the unitary name of the University of London and of University College and King’s College. In 1977, the two institutes, while remaining federated, disappearing from the common name, took the name of University College London and King’s University London.
The Degree Course in Medicine of this University dates from 1834 under the name North London Hospital Medical School; following the merger of 1836 it assumed the name of University College London Medical School. In 1987 it merged with the Middlesex Hospital Medical School (which was founded in 1746 at the eponymous hospital, born the year before with the name of Middlesex Infirmary, to treat the poor) taking the name of University College and Middlesex School of Medicine and in 1988 merged with the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine (founded in 1874 under the name of the London School of Medicine for Women, a university created to allow women to graduate in Medicine) in 1998, returning to the ancient name of University College London Medical School. During the course of Medicine studies, Bion saw for the first time, in medical manuals, how a woman’s body was made; in this period he became engaged to the sister of one of his colleague of studies, Rebecca Hall (? -?), but after a short time she left him for another decidedly wealthy man, under pressure from his family.
During the course of his studies, he became friends with one of the Professors of Surgery, Wilfred Batten Lewis Trotter (Coleford, South East England, November 3, 1872 - Blackmoor, South East England, November 25, 1939); Trotter, an expert in Social Psychology, brother-in-law of the great English psychoanalyst Ernst Jones, as well as one of the last surgeons of Freud, whom he had known for many years before his exile in England. Trotter was for Bion the ideal of professional and of man, he exercised a great influence on him, encouraging him in his psychoanalytic vocation. In 1930 Bion graduated in Medicine and received a gold medal for his studies in surgery.
Immediately after graduation, Bion rented a room to use as a medical office in the prestigious Harley Street in London, also thanks to Trotter’s support; realizing, however, that private activity alone was not enough, he sought another employment which arrived in 1931 at the Hospital for Epilepsy and Paralysis and Other Diseases of the Maida Vale Nervous System. This London clinic, located in Charles Street (now Blandford Place) in Marylebone, was established as a clinic in 1867 under the name London Infirmary for Epilepsy and Paralysis by German neurologist Julius Althaus (Detmold, Nordrhein-Westfalen, then Principality of Lippe, today Germany, March 31, 1833 - London, June 11, 1900). In 1868, it was equipped with beds, began to function as a hospital. In 1872 it was moved to a larger location in Portland Terrace. In 1873 it was renamed Hospital for Diseases of the Nervous System and in 1876 Hospital for Epilepsy and Paralysis. In 1903 it was moved to an even larger location in the Maida Vale neighborhood, taking on the name of Hospital for Epilepsy and Paralysis and Other Diseases of the Maus Vale Nervous System. In 1908 it became the seat of a School of massages and electrotherapy. In 1910 a Radiology Service was opened, one of the first in the United Kingdom. In 1920 he was one of the pilot sites in England for the experimentation of barbiturates in the treatment of epilepsy. In 1937 it changed its name again to Maida Vale Hospital for Nervous Diseases and once again it was one of the first English hospitals to use electroencephalography in neurological diagnostics. In 1939 new applications of radiology were introduced, such as ventriculography, encephalography and arteriography in the diagnostic protocols of this hospital. After the Second World War a slow decline began because, beyond the avant-garde technology used, the hospital suffered from the wear and tear of time. In 2003 it was permanently closed.
In 1932 he began his first analysis with James Arthur Hadfield that should have been 12 sessions for 100 pounds, a very substantial sum for the time; this analysis, which lasted almost 3 years, was characterized by an absolutely negative countertransference. Hadfield belonged to the Parafreudian Movement, which was inspired by the Freudian doctrine in which however spiritual concepts of a religious nature and philosophical-spiritual concepts of Jungian tendency were introduced since most of the adherents to this current of thought were direct or otherwise followers of Jung, however, at the same time, they did not feel like passing sic et simpliciter in the Jungian camp. The Parafreudian doctrine accepted the existence of the unconscious and the theory of intrapsychic conflict, but maintained that the sequence of events was attributable to the divine will rather than to psychic determinism, that the libido was not of a sexual type but more generally an indeterminate energy that it could have been used for any bodily and / or mental activity, that psychopathology was actually a disease of the soul and not of the psyche and that its causes had little or nothing to do with sexuality, but rather a spiritual crisis. This line of thought, typically English, was born after the Jungian schism of 1914, increased in importance until the first post-war period and then started to decrease before the Second World War and disappear with the end of it. From the technical point of view the analysis practiced by Hadfield with Bion was rather reductive, as it was restricted only to the search for traumatic events of the past to understand how they could influence the present, without any consideration for the transference and countertransference aspects; for this reason Bion gave Hadfield the nickname Mister FIP, from a phrase that Hadfield often pronounced "Feel In The Past". Hadfield, whose influence in the London environment of the time, was quite rooted, favored Bion’s job placement in 1932 in two psychoanalytic structures of which he had been a founding partner, the Psychopathic Clinic and the Tavistock Clinic, which allowed Bion to leaving the Hospital for Epilepsy and Paralysis and Other Diseases of the Nervous System of Maida Vale, but where he worked as a neurologist, where he would have preferred to be a psychoanalyst.
The Psychopatic Clinic was founded, at the same time as the Association for the Scientific Treatment of Criminals, in July 1931 on the impulse of Grace Winifred Pailthorpe (surgeon, psychoanalyst, surrealist artist). She gathered a group of psychoanalysts determined to apply the Freudian doctrine to criminology; this group was composed, in addition to Pailthorpe, by Edward Glover, David Eder, Ernest Thomas Jensen, James Arthur Hadfield, Marjorie Franklin, Emanuel Miller, Maurice Hamblin Smith. Bion was hired by the Psychopatic Clinic staff in 1932, thanks to Hadfield. The Association for the Scientific Treatment of Criminals was located in the Vauxhall district of London and its mission was to train and update the operators as well as to raise public awareness of criminology issues through study courses, conferences, research and publications. . The Psychopatic Clinic provided psychoanalytic outpatient treatments to aggressive acting-out patients and organized training courses in Forensic Psychology. Due to the lack of adequate premises, for economic-organizational problems, given that the services were provided free of charge and the staff were not paid by operating as a volunteer, the first patients were treated in the private studies of the individual members of the group; the first patient was taken into care in the Clinic premises on September 18, 1933, in a room rented by the Western Hospital in London for 5 shillings during the morning hours only. The Association for the Scientific Treatment of Criminal in July 1932 was renamed Institute for the Scientific Treatment of Delinquency because it began to provide training courses in Forensic Psychology to the operators of the sector. In May 1937 and February 1938 respectively the Institute and the Clinic moved to n. 8 of Portman Street, which is why the Psychopatic Clinic was renamed Portman Clinic. During World War II, both structures greatly reduced their activity, as many staff members had been enrolled in the British Armed Forces. After the war, as the whole area around Portman Street was heavily damaged by bombs, both structures moved to no. 8 of Bourdon Street. From the second post-war period to the present, the vision of English criminology was strongly influenced by these structures. In 1948 the Clinic became part of the British Health Service. In 1950 the Institute launched its own scientific journal with the name of The British Journal of Delinquency and in 1951 it was renamed Institute for the Study and Treatment of Delinquency. In 1960 the scientific journal changed its name to The British Journal of Criminology: an International Review of Crime and Society to extend, at the suggestion of Edward Glover, the area of research and observation also in criminological aspects, not necessarily of a legal nature but also of a social nature. In 1970 the Clinic moved to n. 8 of Fitzjohn’s Avenue, near the Tavistock Clinic. In 1988 the organization of the first European Criminology Congress set off from the Institute. In 1989 the Institute also launched a quarterly magazine with the name of Criminal Justice Matters. In 1994 the Portman Clinic and the Tavistock Clinic, to overcome an important economic crisis, decided to merge by combining their respective competences and giving birth to the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust which in 2006, having assumed the status of Foundation, changed its name to Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust. In 1999 the Institute assumed its current name Center for Crime and Justice Studies, returning to the Vauxhall district, more precisely to n. 2 of Langley Lane, in which his story had started. In 1998 T. Drummond Hunter (historian, lawyer and ex-Administrator of the Tavistock Clinic, Cumnock, Scotland, 1918 - Edinburgh, April 25, 2002) founded, on the model of the Center for Crime and Justice Studies, the Scottish Consortium on Crime and Criminal Justice, with the same mission and identical activities.
In 1932 Bion was able to deal not only with forensic psychology, but also with clinical psychology, as Hadfield also introduced him to the London group Tavistock Clinic, one of the sancta sanctorum of psychoanalysis. The Founding Members of the organization that established the hospital were, besides Hadfield, Hugh Crichton-Miller (Honorary President), James Arthur Hadfield, Edgar Alan Hamilton-Pearson, Mary Hemingway (who later married Rees), William McDougall, John Rawling Rees (President), Leslie Tucker. This structure was originally called the Tavistock Institute of Medical Psychology (from the name of the square of the same name to which it was located at that time); it was inaugurated on January 1, 1920, although the first patient, a child, was taken in charge on September 27, 1920. The clinic treated both children and adults, although initially its main specialty was the treatment of post-traumatic war-type stress disorders. The treatments, especially provided for the indigent population, were free, so the costs of maintaining the structure, including those for the payment of personnel and for carrying out research, were supported thanks to the payment of training courses for psychotherapists, educators, teachers, counselors, general practitioners and social workers. The ruling ideology in the Tavistock Clinic was that of the Parafreudian Movement, whose influence gradually diminished over time, while the Object Relations Theory became predominant after the end of World War II; the Tavistock Clinic was indeed the cradle of this doctrine. Object Relations Theory includes a series of models of the functioning of the mind whose precursor was Karl Abraham; it was later developed by Melanie Klein, her pupil, and was very popular in England. This theory differed from the Freudian one mainly because it shifted the attentional focus from the oedipal period to the previous phases and from the father-mother-child triad to the mother-child dyad.
Group-based analytical therapies such as the Balint Groups and the Group Analysis were developed at the Tavistock Clinic. Many famous psychoanalysts worked in it, including, besides Bion, John Bolwby, Michael Balint, Enid Flora Albu in Balint, Mary Ainsworth, Donald Meltzer, Ronald David Laing, Sylvia Payne, John Rickman; with the exclusion of Laing all the others, Bion included, referred to the Object Relationship Theory. The views of the Tavistock Clinic have had a great deal of influence not only in the clinical and educational fields but also in sociological, military, forensic, penitentiary, art, education, social services, health services, and business consultancy. In 1947 the Tavistock group decided to split up: the clinical and educational part remained at the Tavistock Clinic, while the part concerning human relations within the organizations was entrusted to a new structure the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations; Bion presided over the Planning Committee for the reorganization of the Tavistock Group.
In 1948 the Tavistock Clinic became part of the British National Health Service while several clinical and training divisions were opening over time: in 1948 the Children’s Department was created alongside the opening of a School of Psychotherapy for Children and Adolescence, in 1959 the Adolescent Department, in 1960 the Training Course in Educational Psychology, in 1989 the Gender Identity Development Service.
Another clinical field of the Tavistock was Couple Therapy; in 1948 the Family Discussion Bureau was opened, which in 2005 took the name of Tavistock Institute of Marital Studies. Together with the clinical activity Training Courses in Couple Psychotherapy were prepared; in June 2016 the Bureau had become a national center of excellence, also in the Research on couple issues, it was renamed Tavistock Center for Couple Relationships.
In 1994 the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust was born, from the union of the Portman Clinic and the Tavistock Clinic, which in 2006, having assumed the status of Foundation, changed its name to Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation; this not only overcame the economic crisis of both clinics, which was the reason for the merger, but allowed to open new services in 2010 such as the Family Drug and Alcohol Court in Milton Keynes (South East England) and the City and Hackney Center For Mental Health (in the London neighborhood of Hackney).
From the 1980s onwards, in place of the Object Relations Theory in the Tavistock group, a new type of paradigm was adopted, called the Tavistock Model or Psychodynamic-Systemic or Tavistock Model. This model is a conceptual paradigm of an eclectic type, which recognizes its fundamental theoretical matrices in psychoanalysis and group analysis; to these basic characteristics are added contributions from systemic doctrine, social psychology, sociology both individually and of groups and organizations, political and economic-business sciences.
The doctrine of the Tavistock Method is based on the integration of theories developed by different Authors, including Bion’s basic-assumption doctrine which explains the emotional functioning of the group, the doctrine of social systems as defense mechanisms of Elliot Jacques and Isabel Menzies, the doctrine of institutional roles of Eric Miller and Kenneth Rice, the doctrine of social dreaming by Gordon Lawrence, the doctrine of emotions in the organizations of David Armstrong, the doctrine of mentalization by Peter Fonagy. In this method a clinical theory of the organization is postulated, whose functioning is influenced by the behavior, often unconscious, of the individuals gathered in the company group, whose actions can make the market strategies fail or exalt in an apparently unpredictable way; this is why a group analytic application, which works on the unconscious, can respond better than others in corporate reorganization processes. The Tavistock model training is given through the attendance of the "Group Relations Conference", which are a series of several seminars, each of which can last from 3 days to 2 weeks, during which the participants explore group relations with various roles, respectively as leader or follower in groups of various sizes and with differentiated tasks, using learning processes based almost exclusively on experience.
In 1968 John Derg Sutherland, known as Jock Sutherland, former Director of the Tavistock Clinic, returned to his native Scotland and worked hard to create a twin Institute with the London one, finding fertile ground, very similar to the London one at the time of the Parafreudians, many of which, however, were of Scottish origin. Scottish psychoanalysts have always sought a marriage between their strong religious faith and psychoanalytic doctrine. In Scotland the most widespread Evangelical Creed is Presbyterianism which refers to the Calvinist doctrine. Calvinist theology is based on the Holy Scriptures, denies free will, supports double predestination for some men who are destined for eternal glory or eternal damnation and maintains that civil institutions, desired by God even when they manifest themselves in tyrannical forms, they must be respected and their vocation must be accepted, that is, the acceptance of the place that everyone has in society. Furthermore, they do not believe that the sexual drive is the engine of human behavior or its purpose. In 1972 the Scottish Institute of Human Relations was established in Edinburgh, as well as by Sutherland, also by Johnston Douglas Haldane, James Alan Harrow, T. Drummond Hunter (historian, lawyer and former Administrator of Tavistock Clinic, Cumnock, Scotland, 1918 - Edinburgh, April 25, 2002), Sheila Cecelia Oppenheim (philanthropist and companion of Harrow; 1914 - Edinburgh, 1989), Robert Murray Leishman; Leishman and Haldane besides psychoanalysts were also priests of the Church of Scotland. The Institute, organized like the London one, though independent, promoted the same activities and was very successful in the first two decades of its existence, so much so that in 1992 it opened a branch also in Glascow (Scotland) and consortium with the Sutherland Trust (from name of Jock Sutherland of Edinburgh, founded a year before with the name of Social Workers and Allied Professionals Trust Fund to raise awareness, train and update all the operators of the sociopedic educational sector with psychoanalytic methodology). In the early 2000s the Scottish Institute of Human Relations began to have a slow decline, so much so that in 2012 it stopped its activities and in 2014 it closed its doors. The Sutherland Trust, on the other hand, continues to function today.
Bion, after his arrival at Tavistock in 1932, simultaneously with his first analysis with Hadfield, began attending the Tavistock specialization course in Psychotherapy. At the beginning of 1934 he had as his patient the famous Irish writer and playwright Samuel Barclay Beckett (Dublin, Leinster, Ireland, April 13, 1906 - Paris, Île-de-France, France, December 22, 1989). Beckett presented panic attacks accompanied by palpitations and feelings of suffocation, which is why he had decided to undertake an analysis. Among the causes there were the sudden death of the father, the difficult relationship with the anaffective mother, who criticized the son of whom she did not appreciate the literary talents and finally the repulsion tried by Beckett towards his work as Professor of French Language and Literature at Trinity College Dublin. The analysis lasted almost two years and was quite difficult to sustain as both Beckett and Bion were touchy and restless characters who aroused a certain aversion to each other, but despite this Bion’s great culture gave Beckett a certain respect for the psychoanalyst, despite its strong resistance to psychoanalytic theory and technique. However, the analysis had its benefits so much that towards the end of 1935 Beckett felt better, ending it. During the analysis one of his masterpieces began, Murphy, who published in 1938, inspired by what was said by Jung in his third lecture held at the Tavistock Clinic on 2th October 1935, during which he showed a correspondence between the characters of the novels with the images mental of their authors; the conferences that Jung held at the Tavistock Clinic were 5, from 30th September to 4th October 1935.
Bion, despite working both at the Psychopatic Clinic and at the Portman Clinic, was always short of money as in both of these structures the staff members provided free clinical services and earned something only with the teaching of the various Training Courses they provided. Given that the earnings were not consistent and were not enough to pay even the analysis, Hadfield made a proposal to Bion with these terms: he would send him patients and with a part of the Bion fee he would pay the analysis. Bion took the opportunity to interrupt the analytical treatment by claiming that if he had made such an agreement he would not have felt right with his conscience and not doing so he would not have had the money to pay for the analysis.
In 1938 Bion, having been dissatisfied with his first analysis, undertook a second with John Rickman, who was a key figure in English psychoanalysis of the time having been a direct pupil of Freud. In 1939 Bion, again at Tavistock, obtained the title of specialist in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy and at the sime time the Second World War broke out, after which Rickman was recalled to the British army as a medical officer after just three days from its beginning, which led to end of Bion’s second analysis.
In 1940, during a vacation spent with friends in the countryside at Happisburg’s Church Farm, near Norfolk (East England, United Kingdom) he met the film actress Elizabeth Kittrick Jardine, known as Betty Jardine, born April 17, 1903 in Stockport (North West England, United Kingdom), and fell in love with her, to the point of marrying her a few months later. The marriage was happy, although it did not last long, inasmuch on February 28, 1945, in Bournemouth (South West England, United Kingdom) Betty died of pulmonary embolism during childbirth while Bion was in Normandy for war reasons. From this birth a little girl was born, Parthenope Bion who as an adult became a psychoanalyst, married the Italian musician Luigi Talamo, went to live in Turin, gave birth in turn to his little daughter named Patrizia and died with her in a car accident on 16 July 1998.
On April 1, 1940, Bion was recalled to the army as a medical officer, with the rank of major, as well as all the members of the Tavistock group; its first destination was the Craigmile Bottom Hospital (so called from the area in which it was located), which still exists. It was located in the Aldershot military district of Rushmoor (South East England), where Bion treated the soldiers suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Still with the same purpose, he was first transferred to the Military Hospital of Chester (North West England) and later, to that of York (Yorkshire and Humber), both abandoned after the war. During 1940 Bion, while he was in York, went several times to visit Rickman who had been assigned to the still functioning Wharncliffe War Hospital, located in Wharncliffe Side, a village near Sheffield (Yorkshire and Humber). Rickman’s work had attracted considerable interest and admiration from army psychologists and psychiatrists. Bion wrote in this regard what became known as the Wharncliffe Memorandum, containing the first ideas concerning the functioning of the therapeutic community but unfortunately of which no copy has survived.
In 1942 he was sent first to Edinburgh and then to London to take part, in both cases, in a Military Commission which had to take an interest in the selection of officers; here he, for this purpose, used the method of the Leaderless Group. This method consisted in making the group do a project that would have to carry out it autonomously and later put a problem to every single individual to observe how each of them would have set the solution and finally asked each candidate to give a judgment on his own work; the whole procedure was carried out in the presence of the examiner who, pretending to be also a candidate not to influence the progress of the operation, obtained the information necessary for the selection. This method did not please the senior army, therefore, he invented another in two stages, consisting first of all in a pre-selection made by the troops by vote and then in the actual selective interview done with the officers in charge to the task.
Not even this procedure appealed to the Army Headquarters, Bion, in 1942, having learned that Rickman, as early as April of that year, had been transferred to the Second Birmingham War Hospital which was located in the Northfield neighborhood (Birmingham, West Midlands), asked to join him, which happened in September always in 1942. The Second Birmingham War Hospital was inaugurated in 1882 with the name Rubery Hill Lunatic Asylum, from the name of the neighborhood in which it was located; on May 6, 1885, due to the need for expansion, it was moved to another neighborhood from which it took its new name, Hollymoor Hospital. During the First World War it was used as a military hospital and renamed First Birmingham War Hospital. At the end of the war, it returned to being civil with the name of Birmingham County Hospital. With the Second World War it returned to being used as a military hospital under the name of Second Birmingham War Hospital. At the end of the Second World War it resumed civilian operation under the name of Northfield Hospital. In the 1980s it began to decline and in 1993 it was closed. In this hospital, Rickman and Bion started what was called the first Northfield experiment.
Bion and Rickman, having been commissioned to direct the Training Wing, that is the Military Training and Rehabilitation Department, dedicated to the care of soldiers who are victims of war neuroses, in order to improve their morale and return them to their military duties, they decided to propose again the experience of the group without leaders; the regulations they devised provided that every soldier could freely fit into an existing work team or create a new one or rest without doing anything, but everyone had to participate in a group discussion that would invariably be held every day at 12.10 am. At the beginning of the experiment few adhered to the idea of starting to work, even if over time the number of those who decided to join a work team increased more and more thanks to the increase in team spirit and progressive isolation of idlers. After 6 weeks the Army Headquarters decided to stop the experiment, after only few weeks. Officially due to accounting irregularities but in reality because he considered these procedures to be inconsistent with military discipline; despite the abrupt interruption, this brief revolutionary experiment led to remarkable developments in the understanding and management of group dynamics, not only in mental health but in public services and organizations. At the beginning of December 1943 Bion and Rickman were transferred from the Second Birmingham War Hospital while, about three weeks later, Siegmund Heinrich Foulkes arrived, who would participate, along with others, in the second Northfield experiment the following year.
Bion and Rickman’s next place of work was the War Office Selection Board located in the Selhurst district of London, until August 1943, and Winchester (South East England), until September 1944. In September 1944 while Rickman remained in London, Bion was transferred to Normandy, where he remained until the end of the war, with the task of selecting officers. In Normandy he knew he had become a father and a widower at the same time.
After the war, in 1945 Bion returned to his homeland and bought a house in Iver Heat in Iver, where he went to live with his daughter, a nanny and his father, in addition he began the clinical practice in Harley Street at London, the same street where in his youth he found himself working in a rented apartment. After his wife’s death, Bion had great difficulty managing his relationship with his daughter, to whom he unconsciously blamed his mother’s death. One afternoon the child wanted to be taken in her arms by her father who was sitting in the garden and walking on all fours to reach him broke into a desperate cry; the nurse got up to take her in her arms but Bion stopped her. Then the child cried even louder and the nanny, disobeying him, picked her up. Bion felt freed from that moment and, though he feared he had lost her, he began to have a real relationship with her.
In the same year he wanted to resume his analysis, but Rickman said that after the past spent together in the army it would not have been appropriate and Bion agreed. He then turned to Melanie Klein, whom he had heard a lot about. The relationship with Klein was very ambivalent. On the one hand he considered her authoritative, but on the other he was aware of not being totally in agreement with her theories. He felt very disturbed by having to pay for the missed sessions, even for just reasons, like an attack of viral hepatitis. Transfert was not very positive as Bion every time he received an interpretation from her, he initiated a dispute, even if, after the session was over, he thought better of himself, he admitted to himself that Klein was right.
Also in 1945 he resumed work at the Tavistock Clinic in which he began to practice group therapy, contrary to Klein’s opinion, which did not believe much in this type of therapy. In 1950 he met Francesca McCallum, a researcher at the Tavistock Clinic and, having fallen in love with her, he married her on June 9, 1951. Wilfred and Francesca had a baby Julian, born July 30, 1952 and who became a doctor, and a little girl Nicola, born June 13 1955.
In 1950, Bion applied to be admitted to the British Psychoanalytical Society, whose history is intertwined with the history of English psychoanalysis. The British Psychoanalytical Society was born on 30 October 1913 on the initiative of Ernst Jones under the name of London Psychoanalytical Society. With regard to the number of Founding Members, there is a lack of information: Jones communicates to Freud in letter n. 148 of 3 November 1913 that the founders were nine, but did not list the names. In the announcement appeared on the Internationale Zeitschrift für Ärztliche Psychoanalyse, vol. 2, p. 114, March/April 1914, it was reported that they were fifteen founders. According to this source they were: Douglas Bryan who was elected Vice President, Montague David Eder, David Forsyth, Bernard Hart, Ernst Jones who was elected President, Constance Long, Maurice Nicoll, Maurice Wright all residing in London, while others came from other parts of the world and precisely Henry Watson Smith from Beirut (Beirut, then France, now Lebanon), William Graham from Belfast (Northern Ireland, United Kingdom), Berkeley Hill from Bombay (today Mumbai, Maharashtra, then United Kingdom, now India), William called Leslie Mackenzie from Edinburgh (Scotland, United Kingdom), David Waters Sutherland from Jubbalpoore (now Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, then United Kingdom, now India), Frédéric Joseph Arthur Davidson from Toronto (Ontario, Canada), Henry Devine (Wakefield, Yorkshire and Humber, United Kingdom).
The beginnings of this company were problematic; the first meetings of the company were characterized by a meager number of participants as non-London residents participated in company life from time to time. Simultaneously with its own foundation, it was the scene of a clash between Freudians and Jungians, consequent to the results of the 4th International Psychoanalytical Association Conference held at the Bayerische Hof, a luxurious hotel in Munich, on 7th and 8th September 1913. Here Jung tried a coup to seize the IPA; in fact, against Freud’s opinion, he gave a paper on "Psychological Types", which then became constituent elements of his theory of personality. He hoped for a triumph so that he could give psychoanalysis its imprint, marginalizing Freud and Abraham and destroying all their work. However, the argument presented was judged by the vast majority of those present, and above all by the leaders of the psychoanalytic movement, not only absolutely extraneous to the themes of psychoanalysis but even incompatible with the same and probably more suited to the rubric of a newspaper for housewives rather than at a large international conference. Jung’s clumsy attempt caused the final break with Freud who never spoke to him personally. In July 1914 Jung, acknowledging having lost the battle, resigned from the International Psychoanalytical Association, in IPA, with his followers.
Jones, who was a Freudian, did not want to leave the London Psychoanalytical Association to the Jungians for which a violent internal conflict broke out over the ownership of the company. While this conflict was at the height of the clashes, World War I broke out on 28th July 1914. The newly formed company found itself having to suspend relations with the parent company, the Wiener Psychoanalytische Society as Austria was on the opposite side to that of England. During the war there were only some meetings of the society which, moreover, with the passing of time became less and less frequent and therefore consequently there were also few clashes. On 11st November 1918, the end of the war was declared, so that by returning to normal, the meetings of the company resumed, and therefore also the clashes. On February 20, 1919, Jones, who wanted a society of Freudian faith, renamed the London Psychoanalytical Society on the model of the British Psychoanalytical Society. The formal reasons given by Jones were that by now psychoanalysis had spread throughout England so maintaining the old name would have been proof of provincialism while the new name gave a national breath; in reality the old partners had to receive an approval based on the scientific curriculum to pass to the new society (defined Freudian by statute), such change served to Jones not to admit in it the Jungians.
In 1924 Jones, with the help of John Rickman, gave birth to the London Institute of Psychoanalysis modeled on the Berliner Psychoanalytisches Institut, Polyklinik und Lehranstalt which was both a training institute and a hospital. In fact, those who could not afford private therapy could have access to psychoanalytic therapies, and the Institute was also a training school for analysts.
The method followed in this Institute was defined by Abraham as tripartite because it was based on three points: attendance at theoretical courses, didactic analysis, analytical supervision. This complete didactic methodology included: theoretical learning of the doctrine, undergoing personal analysis and practicing analysis on others patietns and by reporting on their progress to their supervisor for control and verification, was so successful that it was then re-proposed in all other Institutes of formation in Psychoanalysis all over the world, therefore also in the London Institute of Psychoanalysis, and it is still is the model followed.
In 1925 Melanie Klein, whose theories had strongly influenced British analysts, was invited to London to hold a series of lectures, finding a great success for which she was invited by Jones to move to England. In 1926 Melanie Klein, considering that in the German-speaking psychoanalytic world was not much appreciated, that on the contrary she preferred the other great theorist of infantile psychoanalysis, her opponent Anna Freud, and that her teacher Karl Abraham had died l year before, she accepted the invitation to move to London, leaving the Deutsche Psychoanalytische Gesellschaft to become a member of the British Psychoanalytical Society. Klein’s theories differed from Freud’s on many aspects, among which the most important were the early development times of object relations considered by Klein, on the Oedipus Complex considered less important than the previous development phases by Klein and finally on death drive that Freud believed did not exist in children. Also in 1926, within the British Psychoanalytical Society, the London Clinic of Psychoanalysis was born, which like its Berlin counterpart provided psychoanalytic treatments for adults and children at low cost, thus allowing access to this type of treatment to those that, for economic reasons, they would not have been able to afford it.
In 1933 the rise of the Nazi party in Germany, due to racial persecution policies, gave way to a great exodus of Jews, and therefore also of analysts, in other parts of the world, but mainly in England and the USA. A second wave of refugees took place between 1938 and 1939 following the German annexation of Austria and Czechoslovakia and the alliance with various nations that accepted the racial laws including Italy, Hungary, Romenia, Bulgaria; in this group there were also Sigmund and Anna Freud who chose to move to London, where they were received triumphantly in the British Psychoanalytical Society. The beginning of World War II, which took place on September 1, 1939, led the Germans to occupy various nations including Poland, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Yugoslavia, Greece, Denmark, Norway, France in which the racial persecutions were established which led to a third migratory wave of Jews. The arrival of these analysts, mostly followers of Anna Freud, in England could not but lead to tensions with the followers of Melanie Klein.
After the death of Sigmund Freud, in 1939, the conflict between Anna Freud and Melanie Klein, that lasted for a long time, at distance, from the previous decade, exploded furiously within the British Psychoanalytical Society; more and more often, in fact, the publication of psychoanalytic articles or the interventions at the various conferences were used to bring more or less veiled attacks to the theories of the opposite faction. Three factions were born, one linked to the Ego Psychology and led by Anna Freud, one linked to of Object Relations Theory led by Melanie Klein and the third defined Independent, because the members of it were not lined up, led by Ernst Jones. Among Melanie Klein’s followers were Marjorie Brierley, Susan Isaacs, Joan Riviere, Paula Heimann, Roger Money-Kyrle, among those of Anna Freud there were ego psychologists including Kate Friedlander, Hilda Abraham, Willie Hoffer and her wife Hedwig Schulmann-Schaxel and orthodox Freudians including Edward Glover, Melitta Klein in Schmideberg daughter of Klein and her husband Walter Schmideberg, in the faction of the independents lined up Ella Freeman Sharpe, James Strachey, Sylvia Payne, Donald Winnicott, William Gillespie, John Bowlby.
In 1941, following the German bombing of London which had destroyed many homes, Anna Freud established the Hampstead (from the name of the street where they were staying) War Nurseries, which not only offered food and lodging to around 100 homeless children, but provided they too a psychoanalytic treatment for the emotional suffering caused to them by the war events; this structure offered a unique opportunity for observation on children both in the clinical and research fields and for the development of effective therapeutic strategies. Such positive feedback of his own ideas made Anna Freud even more resolute in the affirmation of his ideas, which led to an escalation of the conflicts, to the point of evoking almost a split in the British Psychoanalytical Society for which in 1942, Ernst Jones undisputed leader, after the death of Freud, of the world psychoanalytic movement in general and of the British one in particular, he ordered the two contenders to find an agreement; fearful of an expulsion from the IPA, they decided to negotiate. On October 21st of the same year the Controversial Discussions began which lasted until February 1944. These consisted of periodic meetings in which one member of one group and one of the other presented their respective points of view on the various theoretical, treatment and formative aspects of psychoanalysis to a committee, which was chaired by three members of the society, one for each group which represented one of the main factions, namely from James Strachey for the independents, Marjorie Brierley for the Kleinians, Edward Glover for the orthodox group and for ego psychologists. The outcome of the Controversial Discussions, which took place in February 1944, led to an agreement that, although avoiding a real schism, had however important consequences, since the most orthodox Freudian group led by Edward Glover resigned en masse from the British Psychoanalytical Society, believing that in it were violated the teachings of the Master. The agreement, stipulated after a year of negotiations to apply in practice what had been defined in theory, was taken by the two adversaries in the presence of a guarantor, namely Silvia Payne, as the second President of the British Psychoanalytical Society, a position she held from 1944, when she took the place of Jones, until 1947, when Rickman took over. This agreement, since it was not written in the regulation, was called the Gentlemen’s Agreement; with it were set up in the London Institute of Psychoanalysis: a single commission for selection and exams; two different types of courses for the training of new analysts, one according to the directives of Group A, including the followers of Klein and the members of the independent group coordinated by Heimann and the other according to the directives of Group B, headed by Anna Freud and coordinated by Schaxel-Hoffer; theoretical seminars and extracurricular activities in common; laboratories and technical activities of each group with the possibility of attending those of the other group as a guest; from the third year clinical seminars held indifferently by a teacher of any group; personal analysis with a teacher from own group; two supervisions, one to be carried out with a supervisor of one’s own group and the other with one exponent of the other.
In 1945, the Hampstead War Nurseries, having ended the war, took on another denomination, Hampstead Clinic, which continued to be interested in low-cost diagnosis and treatment of developmental disorders. In 1947, in this clinic, Anna Freud instituted a Postgraduate Course in Child Psychoanalysis, a discipline hitherto briefly dealt with in courses designed for the treatment of adults. This structure was renamed in 1952, after obtaining the status of No-Profit Organization, Hampstead Child Therapy Course and Clinic; the founding partners were Dorothy Burlingham, Anna Freud and Helen Ross. In 1957, a nursery school was opened there, providing pre-school education based on psychoanalytic principles.
In 1967 at the 25th IPA Conference "On the acting-out and its role in the psychoanalytic process", held from 23rd to 28th July at the Falkonercentret in Copenhagen (Hovedstaden, Denmark) the Nederlandse Vereniging voor Psychoanalyse, of strict Freudian observance, presented the Ritvo Report, named after his Author Samuel Ritvo, in which he asked that child analysts, who specialized in the Hampstead Child Therapy Course and Clinic or in similar structures, were accepted as effective members in the Local Psychoanalytic Societies as well as in the IPA; the decision to accept or not this proposal was postponed to the next conference. In 1969 there was the 26th IPA Conference "New developments in psychoanalysis", held from July 27th to August 1st at the Cavalieri Hilton Hotel in Rome; the Kleinian psychoanalysts including Adam Limentani, Masud Khan, Hanna Segal, fearing that the arrival of child analysts in the British Psychoanalytical Society could have overturned the positions of strength within it in favor of Freud, managed to postpone the decision at the next conference.
At the 27th IPA Conference "The Psychoanalytic Concept of Aggression" held from 26th to 30th July 1971 at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna for the first time in this city where psychoanalysis was born, Anna Freud presented a petition requesting that the Hampstead Child Therapy Course and Clinic be recognized as a Study Group; the elected president, the twelfth from the beginning, Leo Rangell, closer to the Kleinians, postponed the decision once again to the next conference. After this conference there were many contacts between the British Psychoanalytical Society and Anna Freud to find an agreement so that a schism could be avoided and problems with the IPA were averted. On 15 May 1972 an agreement was signed between William Hewitt Gillespie, fourteenth President of the British Psychoanalytical Association and Anna Freud; the latter would have abandoned the project of making its own training institute an autonomous study group and revised its study plan by adding more didactic modules related to the treatment of adults and on the other hand the child analysts who graduated from the Hampstead Child Therapy Course and Clinic could have enrolled in the British Psychoanalytical Society with a short educational path supplement. Following this agreement the Hampstead Child Therapy Course and Clinic was renamed Hampstead Center for the Psychoanalytic Study and Treatment of Children. In 1973 the 28th IPA Conference "Transfert and Isteria at today’s time" was held in Paris from 22nd to 27th July 1973, at the UNESCO Headquarters Building; during this Anna Freud withdrew the request to create a study group at her own facility and the Ritvo Report was finally rejected, so that only those who successfully completed the adult treatment training could have applied for membership IPA. After the death of Anna Freud, which took place on 9 October 1982, the Hampstead Center for the Psychoanalytic Study and Treatment of Children was renamed Anna Freud National Center for Children and Families.
On November 1, 1950 Bion was admitted to the British Psychoanalytical Society, siding with Melanie Klein’s group of followers, with which the analysis lasted, between highs and lows, until 1953, when both, unable to bear any longer, decided by mutual agreement to end it, even though Klein was not totally convinced that Bion had solved all her problems. The ambivalence of the relationship with Klein was due to the projection of maternal transfert feelings on the analyst’s person. On February 1, 1955, the Melanie Klein Trust was established, an organization whose purpose was to promote Klein’s ideas, with studies, publications, research of which Bion was the first President; the Founding Members were, besides Bion, Paula Heimann, Gwen Evans, Elliott Jaques, Marion Milner, Roger Money-Kyrle, Lois Munro, Joan Riviere, Emilio Marcus Rodrigue, Herbert Rosenfeld, Hanna Segal, Clifford Scott, Beryl Stanford, Adrian Stokes, Hans Thorner. The First President was Melanie Klein.
In 1956 Bion was appointed Health Director of the London Clinic of Psychoanalysis and in 1960, after the death of Melanie Klein, he succeeded her as President of the Melanie Klein Trust. In 1962 he left the position of Director of the London Clinic of Psychoanalysis as he was elected ninth President of the British Psychoanalytical Society succeeding Willy Hoffer. In the second half of the 1960s, Bion felt that the English psychoanalytic atmosphere was suffocating him because it was too saturated with the Kleinian ideas from which he was slowly abandoning, so in 1965 he did not appear at the elections for the Presidency of the British Psychoanalytical Society to which was elected Donald Woods Winnicott and in 1967 also resigned as President of the Melanie Klein Trust, which went to Herbert Rosenfeld. In 1968 he was proposed to move to Los Angeles (California, USA) as a Didactical Analyst, a position he accepted without hesitation, feeling that there was little room for his ideas in England.
In Los Angeles, psychoanalysis began to spread towards the end of 1927 thanks to the arrival in this city of Thomas Justin Libbin and of Margrit Tobler Munk who will become his wife. They founded a Psychoanalytic Study Group, together with Glenn Myers (psychiatrist and owner of the Compton Sanitarium in Los Angeles), Paul Sophus Epstein (University professor of theoretical physics at the California Institute of Technology and psychoanalyst trained in Zurich), Richard Chace Tolman (professor of Physical Chemistry at the California Institute of Technology; West Newton, Massachusetts, USA, March 4, 1881 - Pasadena, September 5, 1948), Ruth Sherman (psychologist, wife of Richard Chace), David P. Wilson (psychologist), Arthur R. Timme (psychiatrist), Eugene Ziskind (psychiatrist; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, July 2, 1900 - Lake Forest, California, November 5, 1993). This very diverse group had an informal nature and met in the house of the Libbins with a more cultural than practical-educational mission. As time passed he became increasingly qualified: David Brunswick (trained in Vienna) joined him in the fall of 1930, Marjorie Rosenfeld in Leonard (formed in Berlin, Brandenburg, Germany) in 1932, Estelle Levy (trained in Vienna) in September 1935, Frances Deri (trained in Berlin) in 1935. However, to make a qualitative leap, a highly experienced training analyst was needed. In Europe the Nazis were persecuting the Jews and psychoanalysis, on Brunswick’s proposal he was asked on 8th May 1833 to Ernst Simmel, a Jew, a physician, a former lecturer and a training analyst at the Berliner Psychoanalytisches Institut Poliklinik und Lehranstalt, who had just arrived at the time in Topeka (Kansas, USA) to move to Los Angeles; the only one to oppose this decision was Thomas Libbin who feared the upper hand of the doctors within the group. Simmel accepted and arrived in Los Angeles on April 27, 1934 with his wife and two-year-old son. Simmel began to work hard and on July 5, 1935 the Los Angeles Psychoanalytic Group was officially born, which often met at Simmel’s home and sometimes in the other members’ homes. The Founding Members were Forrest Anderson, David Brunswick, Franziska called Frances Herz in Deri, Paul Sophus Epstein, Estelle Levy, Thomas Justin Libbin, Glenn Myers, Margrit Tobler Munk in Libbin (Secretary and Treasurer), Ruth Sherman in Tolman, Arthur R. Timme (Honorary President), Marjorie Rosenfeld in Leonard, Ernest Simmel (President), Ruth Valentine. Compared to the first group, in the second group all those who did not believe in the existence of the unconscious or who did not have the requisites to continue the psychoanalytic path like Tolman were estranged or not admitted. The first seminars on literature and psychoanalysis began (on the education of children), the first didactic analyzes, refresher courses for social workers and educationalists. Control of the group was assigned to the Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute (Chicago, Illinois, USA), directed by Ferenc Gabor known as Franz Gabriel Alexander.
However, in order to be able to request an IPA status of an autonomous institution, there was still no famous analyst who acted as guarantor; for this reason, Herz in Deri invited Otto Fenichel, one of the most important European psychoanalysts, to join the group. He arrived in 1938 with his girlfriend and future wife, also a psychoanalyst, Johanna Heilborn later better known as Hanna Fenichel. In the same year, Simmel moved the control of the group’s activities to the Topeka Psychoanalytic Institute directed by Karl Augustus Menninger, from which he believed it was easier to have an authorization for the birth of an autonomous institution. In 1940 Simmel inaugurated the first official headquarters of the Los Angeles Psychoanalytic Study Group, located at n. 512 of North Rossmore Avenue in which he also inaugurated the School for Nursery Years, a nursery school with a psychoanalytic orientation; in the same year he launched the Los Angeles Psychoanalytic Institute Foundation in order to raise the necessary funds for the opening of an autonomous institute, an event that is negatively influenced by the second world war.
To concentrate on this work, Simmel left the presidency of the study group in 1942 and was succeeded in this position in 1942 by David Brunswick and in 1943 by Otto Fenichel, who died on 22nd January 1946; in its place was named Frances Deri. At the beginning of 1947, coming from New York, Dr. May E. Romm joined the Los Angeles Psychoanalytic Study Group, she would have played an important role in future events. When the latter presented the application for admission to the Los Angeles Psychoanalytic Study Group, highlighting in the curriculum its origin from the New York Psychoanalytic Society, Simmel, mindful that in the past a candidate named Luis Montgomery had boasted that he came from the same company and was subsequently discovered only after his admission, he made sure it was true, which strongly upset Romm, who also thought Simmel’s ideas were antiquated. Another resentment arose from the fact that Simmel called the Romm Lady and not a Doctor; he used this form because in the Germanic world this way of expressing himself considered himself gallant while she thought it was a derogatory fact. On March 21, 1947 the Los Angeles Institute for Psychoanalysis was inaugurated, with the approval of the Topeka Psychoanalytic Institute. The Founding Members were David Brunswick, Ernst Lewy, May E. Romm, Ernst Simmel (President), Charles W. Tidd. This institute did not have an easy life from the beginning because, to the already present personal contrasts between Simmel and Romm, theoretical disputes were added for which two groups were formed, one formed by the followers of Simmel, composed mainly of lay people and faithful to Freudian principles and another formed by the followers of the Romm, composed only of psychiatrists, inspired by the principles of Franz Alexander who was theorising to replace classical analysis with short techniques such as his Corrective Emotional Experience.
With a coup in June 1947, Romm’s group managed to get her elected President of the Los Angeles Institute for Psychoanalysis in place of Simmel, who died, embittered and disappointed, on November 11th 1947. His group, however, meting his revenge, managed to win the elections for the office of President both in June 1948 with Charles Tidd and in June 1949 with Ernst Lewy. The group of psychiatrists, realizing that they are in the minority, at this point decided to carry out what in the history of psychoanalysis will be called the Split. Despite Lewy’s efforts to hold the group together, in March 3, 1950, psychiatrists: Walter Briehl, Arthur A. Clinco, George Frumkes Martin Grotjahn, Frederick Hacker, Norman Levy, Judd Marmor, Milton Miller, May E. Romm abandoned Institute for Psychoanalysis to found the Society for Psychoanalytic Medicine of Southern California, in which only doctors would have been admitted. At the same time, with the leake of psychiatrists, the group of Freudian Orthodox, consisting of David Brunswick, Frances Deri, Ralph Greenson, Ernst Lewy and Charles Tidd founded the Los Angeles Institute and Society for Psychoanalysis. Both companies were recognized during the 1950s by the American Psychoanalytic Association. In 1952 Frances Deri, in her role as President, dissolved the Los Angeles Psychoanalytic Study Group to merge it into the Los Angeles Institute and Society for Psychoanalysis.
In 1956, given the inclination for short therapies of the Society for Psychoanalytic Medicine of Southern California, Alexander adhered to it, then the greatest exponent of this technique; in 1962, however, taking note of the global trend of psychoanalysis, this society also decided to admit the laity and changed its name to Southern California Psychoanalytic Institute and Society. After Alexander’s death on March 8, 1964, the Southern California Psychoanalytic Institute and Society lowly returned on Freudian positions.
In 1967 the Los Angeles Institute and Society for Psychoanalysis changed its name to the Los Angeles Psychoanalytic Institute and Society.
In 1970 a group of psychoanalysts, separating from the Southern California Psychoanalytic Institute and Society, inaugurated the Los Angeles Institute and Society for Psychoanalytic Studies with the intent to create a structure with more liberal rules than traditional ones, it will subsequently be affiliated with the IPA; the founding partners were Charles Ansell, Hedda Bolgar, Barbara Carr, Clifton J. Caruth, Elaine G. Caruth, Milton J. Horowitz, Hans Illing, Miriam Landau, Ernest S. Lawrence, Lars Lofgren, Mortimer Meyer, Ethel Ann Michael, Norman C. Oberman, Martin Reiser, Jean Roshal, Jean B. Sanville, Joel Shor, William Wheeler, Joan Willens, Itamar Yahalom. In those years the thought of Klein and her followers was spreading, so that while some big exponents of "object relations", including Herbert Rosenfeld, Hanna Segal, David Woods Winnicott and Henry Guntrip, from England, often came in Los Angeles to hold seminars, others including Bion, Albert Mason, Susanna Isaacs-Elmhirst moved there. The spread of Kleinian thought led to considerable tensions within the Los Angeles Psychoanalytic Institute and Society, triggering also the Klein Wars in California; at the turn of the late 60s and early 70s, Ralph Greenson, the current leader of the Los Angeles Freudians, came into conflict with both native Californian Kleinians and those from England and with Leo Rangell, also belonging to the Los Angeles Psychoanalytic Institute and Society, in role as the twelfth President of the IPA between 1969 and 1973, he had entered into opposition with Anna Freud, siding with the Kleinians.
Towards the end of the 1970s, the conflict, also thanks to the agreement made between Anna Freud and the British Psychoanalytical Society, apparently seemed to subside; the fire, however, smoldered under the ashes: in 1984, in fact, there was still the split, with the birth in Los Angeles of the Kleinian Psychoanalytic Center of California; the Founding Members were James Gooch (President), Shirley Gooch, Yvonne Hansen, Albert Mason, Avedis Panajian, Michael Paul, Frederick Vaquer, Murray Weiler; the center also set up its own training institute in 1987 and was admitted to the IPA in 1993.
In 1974 Hedda Bolgar and three of her students, Elizabeth Cooley, Nancy Wood, Allen M. Yasser, founded the Wright Institute Los Angeles, as a branch of the Wright Institute Berkeley (Berkeley, California), with the intention of creating a university institute that merged psychoanalytic instances with those of social psychology; it was soon joined by the Hedda Bolgar Psychotherapy Clinic, which specializes in providing low-cost psychoanalytic treatments.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, as the Southern California Psychoanalytic Institute and Society was repositioning itself on classical psychoanalytic positions, in 1991 a group of Los Angeles analysts turned away from it and decided to open a new one training institute, the Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis, based on the Psychology of Self and open to new contributions from Neurosciences and in which analysts were taught a type of approach to the less authoritarian patient than the traditional one; the founding partners were Louis Breger (President), Doryann Lebe, Herb Linden, John A. Lindon, David Markel, Richard Rosenstein, Estelle Shane, Robert Stolorow, Norman Tabachnick, Judith Vida, Arnold Wilson.
Over time, in the Southern California Psychoanalytic Institute and Society the two reasons that led to the Split of 1950 (the non-admission of the laity to psychoanalytic training and the removal from classical psychoanalytic positions), had both been abandoned; therefore in 2005 the aforementioned Institute and the Los Angeles Psychoanalytic Society and Institute merged, creating the New Center for Psychoanalysis, readily accepted by the IPA.
In 2014 the Wright Institute Los Angeles became independent of the Berkeley parent company; indipendentely it continued to deliver low-cost psychoanalytic treatments but stopped providing degree courses in psychology by activating Postgraduate Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Courses in their place.
Bion reached Los Angeles in January 1968 and decided to stop here; the Californian climate and its landscapes reminded him, even if partially, of those he never forgotten of India; he became a Lecturer and Analyst in the Los Angeles Psychoanalytic Institute and Society in which he was involved, despite himself, in Klein Wars. From 1973, the year in which the conflict between the Kleinians and the Freudians had subsided and therefore his daily presence within the Los Angeles Psychoanalytic Institute and Society was no longer necessary, he began to travel periodically abroad to hold seminars at various psychoanalytic institutions in Brazil, Argentina, France, Italy and also at the same Tavistock Clinic where he had trained and worked in his youth.
In August 1979, Bion decided to return permanently to London to be near his children. Arriving in London, he decided to take a break from work to take a trip to that India which had always remained in his heart, setting the start for January 1980. Unfortunately, Bion will not be able to make the trip to India, as he came struck down by fulminant leukemia on 8th November 1979.
Bion’s work is still widely used today, so much so that it has been translated into many languages. Wilfred Ruprecht Bion was the most turbulent student of Melanie Klein, whose dogmatism he refused to construct a complex theory based on a mathematical model, which combines emotions with the development of the ontogenetic of thought. Bion began to formulate his own doctrine during the Second World War; the development of this doctrine took place through the succession of four phases, each lasting ten or more years and partially overlapping. The concepts developed in the first phase, which goes from 1940 to 1950, concern group processes and are included in the text "Experiences in groups". The concepts developed in the second phase, which runs from 1946 to 1960, steeped in Kleinian ideas and included in the text "Reflecting ourselves better", went on to constitute his First Theory of Thought. The concepts developed in the third phase, which goes from 1960 to 1970, regarding the elaboration of one’s own paradigm of thought, by now unconnected with the Kleinian one and included in the volumes "Learning from experience", "Elements of Psycho-Analysis", "Attention and Interpretation"," Transformations: change from learning to growth", these are the foundation of his Second Theory of Thought. The concepts developed in the fourth phase, which goes from 1970 to death, concern a new way for the analyst to turn to the patient, less rigid and formal than the traditional one, which does not aim at healing through the adaptation of the patient to reality but through an aesthetic-literary knowledge of Beckett’s influence, and are included in the trilogy " A Memoir of the future". With the exception of the period in which he brilliantly dedicated himself to groups, his thought in individual metapsychology does not have a systematic dimension; he develops a concept in a certain direction, then he returns to it by modifying it partially or totally, leaving his branches unresolved, giving different names to the same concept without giving reasons that can justify the change and uses the same term for different concepts, he first looks for ’to graft some Freudian concepts onto a Kleinian basis and then attempt an original path complicated by mathematical formulas, abbreviations and metapsychological passages, but not obtaining either before or after fully convincing results. He attempted to formulate a scientific conception of psychoanalysis, but the results obtained are complex and not satisfactory as those obtained by Freud in the text "Project for a Scientific Psychology" were not. Despite these issues, some of his ideas were really intuitive.
Group theories were born in the psychoanalytic field and over time have been enriched with contributions from different disciplines such as psychodrama, social psychology of groups, Lewinian contributions, pragmatics of communication, cybernetics, systemic contributions and complexity theory. They can be used in all relational contexts, therefore clinical, social, penitentiary, criminology, work. There are basically three types: In Group Analysis of which the main theorists were Slavson and Wolf, Analysis Of Group of which the main theorists were Ezriel and Bion, Analysis Through the Group of which the main theorists were Burrow and Foulkes.
In Group Analysis, the individual dynamics of the individual components are analyzed, whose understanding is to be facilitated by the group’s interactive processes.
In Analysis Of Group the interactive dynamics of the group are analyzed, as such, starting from the clinical material brought by the individual components.
In the Analysis through the Group both individual dynamics through group and group contributions are analyzed through individual contributions.
Bion starts from the consideration that all individuals have the need to fit into a group and to be able to do so they must confront their ideology, defined Group Mentality, whose purpose is to determine the structure and organization of the group itself, maintaining the status quo with consequential opposition to any change; it follows, therefore, that the group is considered by Bion as a single subject with its own dynamics and not as the sum of the single individuals who are part of it. The force that binds individuals in the group is defined valence, a term borrowed from chemistry.
Each group has a leader or seeks it. There are two types of leaders: the first is inspired by the Sphinx of Oedipal memory, so it moves and thinks in an enigmatic and interrogative way rather than responsive, causing terror like the Sphinx of oedipal memory; it must be kept in mind that according to Bion the Oedipus Complex has no sexual value but is linked to the knowledge of the truth because Oedipus defeats the Sphinx revealing its riddles. Oedipus is therefore a bearer of truth, that is, in other words a mystic or a Genius who represents the second type of Leader. The mystic or the genius can establish a "convivial" relationship with the group in which neither of them influences the other, "symbiotic" in which both positively influence and "parasitic" in which both mutually damage one another. The group, through the leader, maintains and increases its knowledge through instinct, denying the possibilities of learning and therefore of evolution. From the interaction between the Group and the Individual, intense, chaotic and primitive emotions arise in the group, unconscious and omnipotent fantasies and needs that seek immediate satisfaction by interfering with the functioning of the group itself and which manifest themselves with the visible appearance of one of the three psychic processes that Bion defines as "Basic Assumptions", in the abbreviation AdB, of group functioning.
An AdB of group functioning is defined as "Dependency", in which the individual’s need to be accepted is so strong as to make him accept the Mentality of the Group and make him abandon his convictions; in this case the culture of the group develops around the figure of a leader to depend on and to whom to delegate the resolution of the problems of the group and of the individual members. The group prototype dominated by this AdB is the Church, the psychic mechanism used in it is projective identification, whose concept was elaborated by Klein, for which the analyst will be perceived as a divinity. If the analyst does not accept this role, the group will choose another leader.
Another AdB of the group function is "Fight-flight", in which the individual, not abandoning his own ideology, actually brings a flurry of change that goes to conflict with the Group Mentality; if the valence of the group is strong the desire for change will remain isolated and then the individual will have to use an escape behavior in order not to be persecuted, while if the valence is weak the desire for change will spread, creating a subgroup with a Group Mentality different from the pre-existing one for which the newly arrived and his followers will use an attacking behavior, following which the defeated group, if it will not be eliminated, it will have to escape bringing with it its own Group Mentality. In this situation the leader designated by the group has the task of removing and defending the members from suffering, change and the interpretations of the group leader. The group prototype dominated by this AdB is the Army, the psychic mechanism used in it is that of separation and the analyst will be perceived as an enemy. If the analyst does not accept this role, the group will look for another scapegoat.
The last AdB is "Pairing", in which the newcomer will mate with one of the individuals of the group for which a peaceful integration of his ideology will take place in the Mentality of the Group, with the hypothesis that the latter can be strengthened and renewed; in this case the group lacks a recognized leader so this dynamic will remain within the group until he/she arrives. The group prototype dominated by this AdB is the Aristocracy (in this regard it should be emphasized that the representations as a prototype group of the Church and the Army had already been identified by Freud in his paper "The discomfort of civilization", that of the Aristocracy is an original Bionian concept), the psychic mechanism used in it is idealization and the analyst will be perceived as a model to follow but impossible to achieve. If the analyst does not accept this role, the group will look for another model to refer to.
In his theorization exposed in "Experiences in Groups" (published for the first time from 1948 to 1951), Bion argues that in one group only one AdB can be present at a time while the other two are relegated to the Protomental Matrix of Group, which is an area comparable in structure to the Freudian unconscious but not in composition being the latter only individual. This position will be subsequently modified in the text "Group Dynamics: a revision" (published for the first time in 1952), in which Bion argues that in the Group all three AdBs can manifest themselves in the same group, obviously at different times, based on the specific functionality of each one that could better cope with the anxiety arising from stressful, real or fantasmatic factors in that specific moment that is remote or current. Bion argues that to modify the mentality of the group it is necessary to form a therapeutic group with dimensions between 5 and 9 individuals. The goal of the therapeutic group is to analyze the tensions, emotions and group dynamics that develop within it. The mental activity based on participation and collaboration that is activated within the therapeutic group among the individuals who set themselves a common goal is defined by Bion: Group Work. According to Bion’s perspective, Group Work, which can be compared to the Freudian ego, must become the dynamic of an effective group that can use it by replacing the one connected to the AdB. The Group Work is based on experiential learning and contrasts the constant instinctual drives that push towards returning to the past with the reintroduction in the group functioning of one of the AdB.
To carry out an effective action, the analyst must avoid the role of leader that the group would like to entrust to him and therefore address, in a non-perceptible way, the group’s thought towards the fantasies relating to the ADB present at that moment. The therapist favors the Work of the Group by making use of the interpretations aimed at the elaboration of the emotions that he gives when, through the countertransference, he senses that it is the right moment, avoiding colluding with the request for satisfaction of the immediate needs put forward by the group members. This situation will cause strong frustrations in the group as the stimuli provided by the analyst generate ideas of change by definition with negative energy that disturbs the group. Over time, the group will grow by learning to tolerate frustrations and accepting the emergence of new thought processes.
The second phase of Bionian thought is centered on psychosis; to explain it, Bion formulates his First Theory of Thought. In the newborn, according to Bion, the individual undifferentiated Protomental Matrix is present from birth, which unlike the Freudian unconscious is not empty. In it lie the Proto-ideas which are a kind of generic models of ideas to be shaped with experiential data in the course of life with a process very similar to the assimilation / accommodation of Piagetian memory. It can be distinguished in Preconceptions if they are inherent to the images (similar to instinct) or Ideograms if they are inherent to the language.
At the image level, the most important Preconceptions concern breastfeeding and the Primary Scene. From the encounter of Preconception with the object or the corresponding event, a learning is generated that Bion defines as Conception if during this pairing there has been no frustration or a Concept otherwise. Conception / Concept is associated with the knowledge of the dyad Protomental Phenomena, which are differentiated feelings such as fear, safety, melancholy, euphoria and others; the positive Protomenthic phenomena such as joy, safety, pleasure derive from the mind Notions, negative ones such as Anger, Anguish, Sadness derive from Thoughts. The Protomental Phenomena, associating themselves with their own organic correlates, become Free Emotional States and manifest themselves as we are used to recognizing them.
On a verbal level, the Ideograms existing in the Undifferentiated Protomental Matrix during the experiential encounter between the newborn and the external world become Symbols that are internalized. Growing up the child adapts the Internalized Symbols to the Language of the Caregiver, he begins to produce the first sounds that then become Verbal Symbols, that is, the Words that are the constituent elements of the Group Language of belonging. Bion places these scenarios within the Kleinian evolutionary scheme linked to the Schizoparanoid and Depressive Positions (PS↔D), which however integrates with the Freudian concept of Thanatos. The concept of Schizoparanoid Position, temporally placed by Klein between birth and 6 months of life, consists in the fact that the child has not yet elaborated the notion that the maternal breast is unique for which he lives it split: in a good breast when it breastfeeds and bad breast when, for whatever reason, breastfeeding is late in coming; the bad breast will be introjected by the newborn as an internal persecutory object.
According to Bion, the Projective Identification that follows this moment cannot be defined as pathological but normally occurs transiently in all: the internalized bad breast, denying breastfeeding and therefore nutrition and therefore life, becomes the bearer of Thanatos, that is of persecution, destruction and death; to avoid its own destruction, the psychotic subject shatters the bad internalized breast into small pieces and then expels these fragments onto the external object in order to control and / or damage it. Subsequently, around 5-6 months, Eros takes over Thanatos and, thanks also to the maturation of the sensorial and neurological structures, in the subject the integration of the good breast with the bad breast will take place with the birth of the real breast, which announces the the beginning of the depressive position, with the awareness that happiness is impossible to reach because everything has a façade and a backhand. The integration of the good breast and the bad breast that determines the passage from the Schizoparanoid Position to the Depressive Position takes place through a psychic process that Bion defines Selected fact; this process consists of a connection of several elements whose coagulation determines a sudden awareness, which in classical psychoanalytic terms could correspond to insight. During life each Insight will be preceded with a variable timing by a Selected Fact. In the psychotic a fixation occurs in the Schizoparanoid Position, so that the integration of the good breast with the bad one does not take place and Thanatos continues to maintain dominance. Since all the frustrating objects, not only the bad breasts, can be subject to the same procedure, the psychotic will continuously reduce them and then expel them outside. At this point, according to Bion, the pathological variant of Projective Identification is triggered so that the subject loses all control over the parts projected into the external object which then becomes an independent persecutor, giving rise to those phenomena known as hallucinations. Thus in the psychotic hatred towards reality is born, which causes an evolutionary arrest also from the linguistic point of view. Bion therefore considers Projective Identification as a physiological phenomenon that can become pathological, while Klein considered it to be exclusively pathological.
The internalized symbols do not develop in the sense of the group Language of belonging but take on an absolutely personalized and therefore allusive, ambiguous and often incomprehensible meaning. For Bion a good therapeutic work consists in the constant analysis of the patient’s dissociations. The analyst, starting from the external manifestations, must travel backwards the erroneous process of development of the psychotic, until reaching the point where it began; at this point the individual must be led along the right path, with the raising of the threshold of tolerance to frustrations, with the rejoining and integration of the split objects, with the generalization of the symbols and therefore with access to the Group Language. The analyst must manage the countertransference of the patient who will develop feelings of hatred towards the analyst who brings him back to an anguished and painful reality that he was able to avoid by escaping into psychosis. At the same time, feelings of hate will also give rise to feelings of envy in the patient, as the analyst copes with the feelings linked to Thanatos with skill, unlike the patient who is overwhelmed by it. These situations will lead the patient to perform Attacks on linking and then to the Analyst, on which maternal transference images will be projected. Thus the analysis comes, just as it is in its final phase, to the most delicate point; if the analyst manages to contain the attacks on linking and does not give in to countertransference feelings, the analysis will have a positive outcome, while otherwise the analysis will be interrupted, with a possible worsening of the symptoms.
In the third phase of his thought, Bion formulates his Second Theory of Thought and archives the First with most of the elements connected to it such as Protomental Phenomena, Free Emotional States, Internalized Symbols, Group Symbols and Undifferentiated Protomental Matrix. The raw elements, called Proto-ideas in the First Theory of Thought, are now called Beta Elements. The Beta Elements are processed by the Alpha Function or Reverie Materna; for Bion a psychic function is a complex mental activity composed of several simple psychic activities. The Alpha Function or Reverie Materna allows, thanks to love and understanding, the fusion, in relation to a specific object, of various Beta Elements of the child such as sensory impressions, visual images, somatic sensations, smells, tastes, sounds; from this synthesis an Alpha Element is born which is the symbol identifying that particular object. Although the Alpha Elements are more organized than the Beta ones, they are clearly not detectable as they are located in the subconscious; they are used for the formulation of thought, for the retention of memories, for the birth of dreams. The mother, in order to adequately perform the Alpha Function, must be able to establish a good relationship with the child, who, not yet having the cognitive abilities adequate to the identification of the various objects of the real world and must rely on her so that she face as an interpreter and guide, helping him to develop his own Alpha Elements.
This maternal capacity is defined by Bion "Container" because the Alpha Elements, once synthesized, are contained by the mother for the necessary time and returned to the child filtered and purified from the distressing aspects only when he is ready to receive them. Over time, the child will also introject the Alfa Function thus becoming able to autonomously transform Beta Elements into Alpha. Analogous to the maternal one, there is also an Alpha Function of the analyst or Reverie of the Analyst, which becomes the Container of emotions or symptoms not processed by the patients, which are Contained to then be returned in due time and purified of the distressing aspects in the form of interpretations; thanks to this work, the patient will be able to restructure his alpha function, damaged by definition when a psychopathology occurs. Bion uses the formula ♀:♂ to indicate the container-content relationship and also uses the terms Container and Content to symbolize the Feminine and the Masculine. The Feminine and the Masculine, in the Bionian sense, have nothing to do with the gender, but embody the emotional and rational aspects of the individual respectively. Over time the proliferation of the Alpha Elements will produce a psychic structure, defined by Bion Barrier of Contact that will separate them from the Beta Elements; from this separation will arise the unconscious which will contain the Beta Elements and the subconscious which will contain the Alpha Elements. The Contact Barrier is not a rigid, but permeable structure, so there can be a mutual exchange; this explains the presence of mental settings that leave little room for creativity when the Alpha Elements pass from the part of the barrier that does not belong to them and, on the contrary, the appearance of psychotic crises even in subjects with mental functioning usually in norm. When there is a deficit in the production of Alpha Elements, they will no longer be able to maintain the Protective Barrier solidity with the consequent infiltration of Beta Elements that will create the Beta Screen in its place. Through the Beta Screen, the beta elements pass easily, as they are not transformed into Alpha Elements due to the Alpha Function deficit, they will wander into the psyche causing them as many alterations as they are in greater numbers; these Beta Elements are defined by Bion bizarre objects. The set of Beta Elements constitutes the Non-Thought at the cognitive level and the Hallucinations at the sensory-perceptive level. The Alpha Elements are used to create Thoughts during waking and dream during sleep, through a process of knowledge connected to emotional experiences; Bion diverges from Freud on this point because the dream does not derive from unconscious elements but from subconscious elements.
The contents will be stored only in the presence of an emotion connected to a relationship. Every relationship must have at least two protagonists, that is an acquaintance and a known; they can also exchange one another and position simultaneously. This psychic process first leads to Knowledge, abbreviation K, and to the Constant conjunction later; the latter corresponds to the psychic function which in terms of General Psychology is called memory. Following the action of the Constant conjunction, every time a memory is recalled, it will bring with it the emotional components connected to it. The set of such emotional experiences is called Instinctual matrix. The emotional ties linked to a relationship, for Bion, are basically two and that is Amore, in the abbreviation L, and Hate, in initial H. Each K carries with it simultaneously both L and H, which are not the opposite of each other; their opposites are -K, -L, -H respectively, which can be defined as knowledge deficits, inability to love, lack of tension, they are psychotic manifestations. At the level of analytical procedure, acquaintance and known are identified respectively in the analyst and in the patient; every patient-conscious K causes both H and L in the patient; if H prevails the patient will have a resistance, while if L prevails he will have an insight. K also presupposes the capacity for symbolization; normally the symbol is a psychic and / or verbal image of the object for which the individual makes use of both for personal and relational purposes and which constitutes the shared basis of K. The sign according to Bion is the precedent, in an ontogenetic sense, of the symbol; for example, the babbling is signic, while the language is symbolic. In the psychotic the distance between symbol and object is annulled so that in his psyche they become the same thing; this is the reason that according to Bion explains the alteration of language in the psychotic. The language of the schizophrenic is altered because he uses words as if they were the things they indicate; Added to this is the presence of the Beta Screen that prevents the coherent flow of thoughts from which the language originates.
The Transformation of Beta Elements into Alpha Elements, whether individual or group, occurs for Bion whenever the individual acquires new knowledge. A new knowledge occurs when the individual encounters, obviously for the first time, an Original Fact. Original Facts are the elements that constitute reality and their whole, if not totally superimposable, they are at least partially coincident with the Freudian unconscious. When the individual encounters the Original Fact, a psychic dynamism is generated which Bion calls Emotional Turbulence. Transformation constitutes not only the basis of thought, but also of myth and dream and rising, in order of complexity, to the concept, which is a knowledge devoid of emotional elements and to the scientific-deductive system, which aims to define concepts and conceptions in theories through logical-mathematical doctrines. When the Transformation assumes value of a group, an Evolution occurs. Bion defines the Original Fact with the initial O (as Original) or 0 (as a primordial number), the Transformation with the initial T, the Transformation from Beta Elements to Alpha Elements with the abbreviation T-alpha, the Verbalization of the T-alpha to interlocutor with the acronym T-beta. The directionality of the Transformations can be towards K, -K or towards O; if it happens towards K the instinctual processes will be cognitively processed, if it happens towards -K they will face crystallization, if it happens towards O they will be released in the raw state. The transformation into O is defined by Bion catastrophic and always leads to a disorganization of the pre-existing psychic system; nevertheless, for Bion, it is not necessarily negative as it brings with it the seeds of a subsequent reorganization that will lead to a psyche structured in a more functional way and enriched by past experience. Some elements of the Original Fact do not undergo Transformation and remain at the end of this process exactly as they were at the beginning; this phenomenon is defined by Bion Invarianza. The phenomena related to Transformation take place in what Bion defines as Mental Space, that is, a virtual psychic dimension (concept borrowed from Physics) equipped with the three spatial coordinates (length, width, depth) even of the temporal one. In Mental Space two types of Transformation can occur in relation to the amount of Invariance.
If the unchanged elements are more than O, the Transformation will be called T with rigid motion; in this case, in an analytical session the path backwards of the transformative process, going from T - beta to T - alpha to O, will be easier because the analyst only works on the few transformed elements, since he has many points of reference, that is, the unchanged elements. An example of this type of Transformation is transfert, in which the patient projects only a few elements of the past into the present. If the elements unchanged compared to O are few, the Transformation will be called Projective; in this case there is a massive presence of archaic psychic dynamisms such as splitting, introjection and projection, which generate personal symbolisms without generalization and therefore not easily interpretable. This type of transformation occurs in the psychotic fractures of reality.
The fourth phase of Bionian thought is centered on the analytical technique. This is the period of Bion’s maturity that definitively abandons Kleinian influences, returning to the Freudian doctrine, from which he starts to identify new paths in psychoanalytic science; after all his reasoning of this period reflects his thinking, as he returns to O, at the origin, which in psychoanalysis can only be Freud. In this period he formulates his most important teaching of psychoanalytic technique that he will never tire of repeating to his students; according to Bion the analyst must develop the Negative Capacity, a term indicating the mental disposition to put himself in a waiting state, it is taken up by the poet John Keats (London, October 31, 1795 - Rome, February, 23 1821), which is a mental state of the analyst who allows him to face the patient without memory, without desire and without understanding. Bion formulates these concepts starting from the Freudian assumptions: the lack of memory corresponds to the fluctuating attention, the absence of desire is the analyst’s mental state after having undergone personal analysis with a training analyst, in order to be able not to project the own conflicting contents on the patient, the lack of understanding refers to the fact that the analyst must not assume a necessarily rational state, but must rely on the intuition guided by the unconscious. In summary, the analyst should have in each session a mental state of meditative emptiness, without any certainty or prejudice or information, obviously as far as this is possible and / or lasting. According to Bion this attitude, which on the whole once again refers to the Freudian concept of mirror-like attitude, favors the establishment of the Reverie of the Analyst process which is the basis for the re-activation of the process of Transformation of Beta Elements into Alpha; ultimately Bion, hoping for the establishment of the Reverie of the Analyst that goes to recall the maternal one, for the establishment of a correct analytical process, reaffirms the importance of the Regression exactly like Freud. The analyst thus becomes timeless because not taking into account what he knows does not refer to the past for which he is without memory, not giving any direction to analysis does not refer to the future for which he is without desire, freeing himself from a rationalizing attitude he does not refers to the present for which he is without understanding. The attainment of the timelessness determined by the analyst’s conditions of monadic intrapsychic absence paradoxically becomes, thanks to the uniqueness of the analytic moment thus created, the truest effective moment of analyst-patient dyadic-relational presence.
Of course, while during the session the unknown must prevail, a finished session will require a mental and rational reorganization of the analyst with the integration of new contents with those previously acquired, which allows confirmation of the working hypotheses already in being or their partial modification or a totally different reformulation. The working method of Bion thus makes it possible to integrate both the level of O during the session and K at the end of the session within the therapeutic relationship. In this period Bion abandons the concept of the Protective Barrier, also because it is too close to the assumptions of the Ego psychology, and elaborates the concept of caesura, which assumes a particular value in the relationship with the analyst. The caesuras in Bionian thought are multiple, they are virtual spaces that separate two opposites such as sleep and wakefulness, the Conscious and the Unconscious, the Individual and the Group. Normally the caesuras are not detached, but connected with bridges; however during a psychopathological event these bridges detach themselves causing incommunicability between the different parts of the patient’s psyche. In the therapeutic relationship the analyst and the patient work together to restore the broken bridges; such work causes intense pain in the patient and this indicates that it is proceeding well because if it did not exist, this would indicate that the direction taken by the analysis is not reconstructing the bridges, and is therefore wrong. According to Bion, the Analytical Pair of therapist-patient must function at Unison, that is, trying to align his psychic processes as much as possible. The Analyst to help the patient in his difficulties must use the Language of Affectivity, which has an emotional basis and is the only one that can facilitate the function of the Reverie of the Analyst; language on a rational basis is defined by Bion as the language of substitution and must be used in all those situations where there are no emotional implications such as bureaucracy.
Another important concept of Bion, that related to the Psychoanalytic Grid, was elaborated in 1977, or rather re-elaborated since he had already sketched it in 1963 in a speech presented to the British Psychoanalytical Society; this grid can be used as a synthesis tool for previous sessions and for planning the next one. It is composed of a vertical axis that Bion defines as the Genetic Line, in which the development of thought is synthesized, and by a horizontal axis, which Bion defines as the Uses Line, in which the function of thought is synthesized. With the use of the Grid all the concepts considered important by Bion and highlighted until the last session of that specific analysis, are always within reach and visually immediately recalled.
The model of the Psychoanalytic Grid is as follows: