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Synopsis

This selection of clinical seminars held by Wilfred Bion in Brasilia (1975) and Sao Paulo (1978) is the nearest we shall ever get to experiencing his application of his theories and views to consulting-room practice. It is also likely to be the only printed record of this area of his work. As those who underwent analysis with Bion will testify, nothing can approach the experience of the thing itself, but, failing that, these seminars may help to fill the gap now that his voice can only be heard through his published writings and lectures. Other works included are 'Four Discussions' and 'Four Papers'.The reader will find here no jargon, dogma or theoretical exposition; Bion knew that the enormous difficulties involved in communicating verbally this infinitely complex subject are only compounded by the use of what is often nothing more than "psychobabble". His intentional choice of simple language, accurately and consistently used, can come as a surprise; a presenting analyst says "Your suggestion of what to say to the patient seemed much simpler than what is usually said by the analyst."He described analysis as a "tough job", "a dangerous occupation", and the analytic experience as "potentially nasty both for the analyst and the analysand ...like being at sea - it is as stormy for both people." To the question of whether it is the analyst's function to help the patient, he gives this illuminating reply: "...we are trying to say: 'I will help you to know yourself...I am trying to be a mirror to reflect back to you who you are, so that you can see in what I say to you an image of your self.'"Throughout these seminars (and the following discussions and papers) runs the thread of Bion's penetrating insight, his recognition of truth, and his fascination with the human character. In observing the patient he believed that the analyst must combine the disciplined curiosity of the scientist, the warmth of the humanist, the wisdom of the philosopher, and the sensitivity of the artist. A tall order indeed, but one to which this remarkable man came very close to fulfilling.

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