IPA Inter-Regional Encyclopedic Dictionary of Psychoanalysis

Back to Table of Contents

The concept of transformation in O, or T(O), is complex. The phrase just cited — “transformations in K are feared when they threaten the emergence of transformations in O” — indicates that T(O) does not involve thinking, language-based meaning, and conscious rational thought. Losing one’s sense of meaning and being subjected to meaningless sensory experience is frightening in ordinary circumstances. Nonetheless, Bion was interested in T(O) particularly with respect to psychoanalytic observation, and this presents many conceptual difficulties. It may help to recall Bion’s claim that “In every consulting room there ought to be two rather frightened people: the patient and the psychoanalyst” (Bion 1973, VII, p. 10). For Bion, T(O) “is a special case of Transformation; it is of particular concern to the analyst in his function of aiding maturation of the personalities of his patients” (Bion 1965, V, p. 268). To be clear, fright is not the goal nor the mutative element, but Bion held that psychoanalytic work that faces Truth is most often frightening. T(O) for analyst and patient may represent the capacity, frightening as it may be, to release oneself from the blinders of certainty of T(K), that is, of meaning or knowledge, and so promote evolutionary growth through receptive intuition of underlying emotional Truth. One more example makes the point: “[…] the analytic situation itself, and then the psycho-analytic occupation or task itself, are bound to stimulate primitive and basic feeling in analyst and analysand ... love, hate, dread, are sharpened to a point where the participating pair may feel them to be almost unbearable: it is the price that has to be paid for the transformation of an activity about psycho-analysis into an activity that is psycho-analysis” (Bion 1970, VI, p. 276; emph. by Bion). Analysts struggle to write clearly about T(O), because it indicates notates experience transcending logic, thinking, memory, desire, and all similar cognition. As with the nature of O, it is impossible to state the nature of T(O) directly. Bion’s texts became increasingly diffuse, opaque, and controversial, as he struggled to write about the un-writable. For example, he wrote, “transformation in O, that is from K ➔ O ... involves ‘becoming’ [and] is felt as inseparable from becoming God, ultimate reality, the First Cause. The ‘dark night’ pain [a reference to the work of 16th century mystic St. John of the Cross] is fear of megalomania. This fear inhibits acceptance of being responsible, that is mature, because it appears to involve being God, being the First Cause, being ultimate reality with a pain that can be, though inadequately, expressed by ‘megalomania’” (Bion 1965, V, p. 269; oiginal italics). The last chapters of “Transformations ” and the entirety of “Attention and Interpretation ” , reflect Bion’s struggles to express his proposals. His last major work, a three- part novel entitled “A Memoir of the Future” (Bion 1975, XII; 1977, XIII; 1979, XIV), was not a psychoanalytic text per se , but used psychoanalytic ideas and situations within its deeply idiosyncratic structure, while attempting to evoke, allude, or point towards so many ideas the author could not express in formal psychoanalytic discourse.


Made with FlippingBook - professional solution for displaying marketing and sales documents online