Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cruel and Sterile Links

In a series of papers, Bion (1959,1962) developed a theory of thinking and symbol formation that made explicit the role of the other in the development of the process of symbolization. ... In this model the infant or patient, through projective identification, puts unacceptable, concrete experiences in the other [parent or analyst]. If the other is reasonably well balanced and able to tolerate the projected unconscious fantasy, he or she can symbolize the patient's or infant's experience through processes of reverie, which in time allows the patient of infant to re-introject the unconscious fantasy in a symbolic form. ... Bion suggests that this relationship between the container and the contained can be disrupted through the analyst's or parent's incapacity for reverie, by an inability to contain, identify, and effectively elaborate the projective identification, or because of the patient's or infant's experiences of intense envy and inability to tolerate the other's capacity to provide a nurturing constructive experience. ... in situations in which the child's projective identification cannot be tolerated and are evacuated by the parent,
the development of an apparatus for thinking is disturbed ... The end result is that all thoughts are treated as if they are indistinguishable from bad internal objects ... The dominance of projective identification confuses the distinction between the self and the external object. ....
Bion's evacuative model of the mind reflects both the individual's failure to develop the capacity for symbolic thought and the importance of the patient's active, moment-to-moment attempts to disrupt processes of symbol formation and the development of links between patient and analyst and self and other, and in the internal process of linking emotions with thoughts. These attacks on the processes of linking are seen as a function of envy and the inability to tolerate the experience of the good breast: the sense of being cared for, responded to, and identified with by the analyst. ... ``the attacks on the linking function of emotion lead to an overprominence ... of links which appear to be logical, almost mathematical but never emotionally reasonably. Consequently the links surviving are perverse, cruel and sterile'' --- pp. 132-133, Between Emotion and Cognition

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