May 06, 2006

W.R. Bion

The psychoanalyst W.R. Bion developed a concept he called attacks on linking (perhaps the more elegant "deconstruction" was already taken). Bion is a notoriously abstruse thinker, and yet, his ideas are at their core quite simple and exceptionally fruitful. Once you are aware of the concept, you will see how pervasive it is. Certainly it is something the clinician encounters all day long, for it is one of the primary mechanisms involved in most neuroses and any kind of deeper character pathology.
Bion had an epistemophilic theory of the mind, in that he thought that our minds not only intrinsically seek truth, but grow as a result of "metabolizing" it. (As usual, I’ll have to give the short version in order to move the argument along to its presently unknown destination.) Various exigencies of childhood can derail this process, as there are certain emotional truths that are too painful to bear. As such, our truth-seeking mechanism can become compromised at its foundation, so to speak. “None so blind as he who will not see,” you might say.
Meaning--any meaning--always involves the bringing together of diverse details into a higher unity. In reality, it is a sort of “vision” that sees through the surface to the inner unity of a mass of data. It is very much analogous to those “magic eye” pictures, which look like a bunch of random markings on the page. But when you relax your eyes, out of nowhere pops a three-dimensional image. The image was “there” all along, but was buried amidst the phenomena. You might say that it was a message awaiting a messenger capable of seeing it. posted by Gagdad Bob at 7:03 AM

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