1st Edition

A Beam of Intense Darkness Wilfred Bion's Legacy to Psychoanalysis

By James Grotstein Copyright 2024
    406 Pages
    by Routledge

    406 Pages
    by Routledge

    Written by pioneering analyst and creative thinker, James Grotstein, A Beam of Intense Darkness offers a thorough overview and illuminating insight into the often-complex work of W. R. Bion.

    This psychoanalytic classic sees Grotstein introduce over 30 key Bionian theories, comprehensively explaining them to the reader before offering his own insight and commentary. Grotstein first encountered Bion as his analysand and, later, as his friend. This book offers a level of insight only possible through such a close relationship, and offers a dialogue between Bion and Grotstein as they delve into the inner workings of the human psyche. Throughout, Grotstein offers his own original thoughts on topics such as projective transidentification, transcendent position and the truth drive.

    With a new introduction from Nicola Abel-Hirsch, this book is an essential read for anyone interested in Bion’s work and legacy.

    1. An introduction 2. What kind of analyst was Bion? 3. What kind of person was Bion? 4. Bion's vision 5. Bion's legacy 6. Bion's metatheory 7. Bion on technique 8. Clinical vignette encompassing Bion's technical ideas 9. Bion, the mathematician, the mystic, the psychoanalyst 10. The "Language of Achievement" 11. Bion's discovery of O 12. The concept of the "transcendent position" 13. The quest for the truth, Part A: the "truth drive" as the hidden order of Bion's metatheory for psychoanalysis 14. The quest for truth, Part B: curiosity about the truth as the "seventh servant" 15. Lies, "lies," and falsehoods 16. The container and the contained 17. "Projective transidentification": an extension of the concept of projective identification 18. Bion's work with groups 19. Bion's studies in psychosis 20. Transformations 21. Learning from experience 22. Points, lines, and circles 23. The Grid 24. Fetal mental life and its caesura with postnatal mental life 25. What does it mean to dream?" Bion's theory of dreaming 26. Dreaming, phantasying, and the "truth intellect" 27. "Become" 28. P-S to D 29. L, H, and passion 30. Faith 31. Bion's discovery of zero ("no-thing") 32. Epilogue


    James Grotstein, M.D. (1925–2015) was clinical professor of psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA, and training and supervising analyst at the New Center for Psychoanalysis and the Psychoanalytic Center of California, Los Angeles. He was on the editorial board of the International Journal of Psychoanalysis and past North American vice-president of the International Psychoanalytical Association. A world-renowned and prolific contributor to psychoanalytic literature, he is considered one of the foremost scholars and elucidators of the work of Wilfred Bion, who was also his analyst.

    "A Beam of Intense Darkness, is a treasure trove of thoughts about Bion’s work, filtered through the fertile mind of James Grotstein. This rich, scholarly book has served me well in my pursuit of deeper understanding of Bion’s endlessly complex and evocative contributions to psychoanalysis. My copy of the book, inscribed by Dr. Grotstein, is well worn after many decades of reading and re-reading, for I have gone back to it as a reference over and over again, sometimes getting answers to questions I have had, sometimes stimulating new questions, that can also be explored with reference to this classical work on Bion.

    Dr. Grotstein’s imaginative, poetic, and scholarly perspectives on Bion’s theories have made this book instrumental in providing a deeper intuitive grasp of Bion’s revolutionary ideas, and rare wisdom."

    Annie Reiner, Los Angeles. Member and senior training analyst at The Psychoanalytic Center of California (PCC)

    "Jim Grotstein, an analysand, colleague and friend of Bion’s during the latter’s sojourn in Los Angeles, was one of our foremost North American explicators of and heirs to Bion’s thought. This classic book, enriched by Grotstein’s personal anecdotes and reminiscences of their exchanges and by his own uniquely creative and provocative extensions of and contributions to Bion’s models and theory, is an authoritative, foundational text that will assure and pay tribute to the enormity and relevance of Bion’s legacy as psychoanalysis continues to move forward into the 21st century."

    Howard B. Levine, Editor-in-Chief, The Routledge W.R. Bion Studies Series