1st Edition

Introducing the Clinical Work of Wilfred Bion

By Joseph Aguayo Copyright 2023
    190 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    190 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Introducing the Clinical Work of Wilfred Bion takes a fresh approach to this much revered analyst, focusing on the unique contributions to be found in his analytical and supervisorial work and developing of received Kleinian theory.

    Starting from his childhood in India and his schooldays, through his experience in the Great War and later life, this book considers the way in which Bion’s personal experience informed his later work as an analyst. Aguayo looks at how Bion’s loyalty to Kleinian theory, especially in his work on psychosis, and how the subsequent in-fighting rife within the psychoanalytic community impacted his approach. Aguayo also considers the epistemological work done by Bion in the early 1960s while President of the British Psychoanalytical Society, as well as his seminars from Los Angeles and Buenos Aires. The book concludes by proposing that the spate of recently published Clinical Seminars, fresh with new clinical examples from Bion’s analytic and supervisory work, now represent a potential for a ‘new wave’ of interest among analysts and scholars alike. Aguayo also engages the work of important contemporary specialists in Bion studies, such as: Ron Britton, Giuseppe Civitarese, James Grotstein, Robert Hinshelwood, Betty Joseph, John Steiner and Rudi Vermote.

    As Bion’s clinical work continues to inform contemporary psychoanalysts, this book will be essential reading to all analysts interested in Bion’s work and the legacy it holds in contemporary psychoanalysis.

    Introduction: 'Orienting Towards Bion's Clinical Work'  Part 1: Beginnings: Forays into Groups and Psychoanalysis of Psychosis  1. Bion's Early Life: India, Schooling in England, Soldiering in World War I and II; and Life as a Psychiatrist and Innovator of Group Methods of Psychotherapy  2. Prelude to Bion's Papers on Psychosis; Melanie Klein's Work on Psychosis and an Overview of his Papers on 'Psychosis' (1950-1959)  3. A Portal into Psychosis: 'The Imaginary Twin' (1950), and 'Notes on the Theory of Schizophrenia' (1954)  4. Bion as an Uneasy Kleinian Psychoanalyst. 'Development of Schizophrenic Thought' (1956), 'Differentiation of Psychotic from Non-Psychotic Personalities' (1957)  5. Further Clinical Contributions - Part I. 'On Arrogance' (1958a) and 'On Hallucination' (1958b)  6. Further Clinical Contributions - Part II. 'Attacks on Linking' (1959)  Part II: Conceptualizing his Clinical Results  7. Bion's Incursions into Metapsychology: 'The Psychoanalytic Theory of Thinking' (1962a)  8. Learning from Experience - Part I (1962b)  9. Learning from Experience - Part II (1962b)  10. Elements of Psychoanalysis (1963); Transformations (1965); and 'Catastrophic Change' (1966)  Part III: The Distillation of Clinical Experience and Everyday Practices  11. 'Notes on Memory and Desire' (1967a)  12. Seminars and Supervisions in Buenos Aires: The Continuing Case of the Stormy Borderline Patient (1968)  13. Clinical Work in Buenos Aires: Presentation of an Over Agreeable Young Male Analysand  14. Attention and Interpretation (1970)  15. 'Bion's Clinical Seminars - An Implicit Method of Clinical Inquiry. (1967-1978). A New Waves of Bion Studies?'


    Joseph Aguayo is a Training and Supervising Analyst at the Psychoanalytic Center of California in West Los Angeles, USA. He is a Guest Member of the British Psychoanalytical Society in London and holds UCLA doctorates in both Clinical Psychology and Modern European History. His many contributions have appeared in the International Journal of Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Quarterly, having also been translated into French, German, Hebrew, Portuguese, Spanish and Japanese.

    'Joseph Aguayo has emerged in recent years as one of the most profound scholars of W. R. Bion's psychoanalysis. Among other achievements, he is credited with curating the valuable Los Angeles Seminars and Supervision. I have always greatly appreciated his extraordinary ability to address difficult issues with great lucidity and a clear and communicative writing style. Now Joseph Aguayo gives us the gift of an entire volume of his writings in which these qualities shine to the fullest. For this very reason, Introducing the Clinical Work of Wilfred Bion stands as an ideal and enjoyable introduction to a thought that often discourages readers because of its inherent difficulties. Not so this book, which instead stands as a fascinating exploration into the geography of Bion's thought, from Kleinian studies to the great books of his mature period, but without neglecting essential references to biography and clinical seminars. I can only recommend Introducing the Clinical Work of Wilfred Bion to all psychoanalysts and psychotherapists. It is easy to predict that this brilliant text will be very well received within the psychoanalytic community. It will become an essential reference not only for Bion specialists or those who are most interested in the clinical use of his concepts, but for all analysts. It is no longer a mystery to anyone that Bion is one of the authors who brought to psychoanalysis a completely unprecedented sensibility, a new and more "humane" way of dealing with psychic suffering.' Giuseppe Civitarese, author of Sublime Subjects: Aesthetic Experience and Intersubjectivity in Psychoanalysis (Routledge, 2017)

    'Here is a beautifully clear and incisive introduction to an aspect of Bion’s work which has tended to lie hidden behind grand theories. This is Bion at work in various clinical settings—psychotherapy, group work, psychoanalysis of psychotic states, and then of the depth of personalities. It is not only a sensitive account of his clinical approach but it is set clearly, though painfully, against the background of the traumas of Bion’s life experiences. And thus, the book comes alive as an enquiry of Bion’s inspiring professional career.' Bob Hinshelwood

    'Joseph Aguayo, a psychoanalyst and historian, has garnered his extensive knowledge of Wilfred Bion’s life and the milieu in which he grew from childhood into the most influential psychoanalyst of our day. Aguayo acquaints us with Bion as an 8 year old in Colonial India; the ‘undeserving’ World War I hero; 'the reluctant Kleinian'; and the internationally venerated psychoanalyst. Aguayo notes that most writing about Bion has addressed his theoretical concepts, leaving a gap in Bionian studies about the important and unappreciated clinical applications of his work. Aguayo’s writing is exceptionally clear and conveys the intertwining of Bion’s life with his analytic theories and his unique 'method of clinical inquiry'. This is a book that beginning and seasoned psychoanalysts can appreciate because of the clarity of Aguayo’s discussions of many complex concepts.' Lawrence J. Brown, Faculty and Supervising Child Analyst, Boston Psychoanalytic Institute, USA and author of Transformational Processes in Clinical Psychoanalysis (Routledge, 2019)