Beckett and Bion: The (Im)Patient Voice in Psychotherapy and Literature

Overview

This book focuses on Samuel Beckett’s psychoanalytic psychotherapy with W. R. Bion as a central aspect both of Beckett’s and Bion’s radical transformations of literature and psychoanalysis. The recent publication of Beckett’s correspondence during the period of his psychotherapy with Bion provides a starting place for an imaginative reconstruction of this psychotherapy, culminating with Bion’s famous invitation to his patient to dinner and a lecture by C. G. Jung. Following from the course of this psychotherapy, ...

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Beckett and Bion: The (Im)Patient Voice in Psychotherapy and Literature

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Overview

This book focuses on Samuel Beckett’s psychoanalytic psychotherapy with W. R. Bion as a central aspect both of Beckett’s and Bion’s radical transformations of literature and psychoanalysis. The recent publication of Beckett’s correspondence during the period of his psychotherapy with Bion provides a starting place for an imaginative reconstruction of this psychotherapy, culminating with Bion’s famous invitation to his patient to dinner and a lecture by C. G. Jung. Following from the course of this psychotherapy, Miller and Souter trace the development of Beckett’s radical use of clinical psychoanalytic method in his writing, suggesting the development within his characters of a literary-analytic working through of transference to an idealized auditor known by various names, apparently based on Bion. Miller and Souter link this pursuit to Beckett’s breakthrough from prose to drama, as the psychology of projective identification is transformed to physical enactment. They also locate Bion’s memory and re-working of his clinical contact with Beckett, who figures as the "patient zero" of Bion’s pioneering postmodern psychoanalytic clinical theories.

This reading of Beckett and Bion is not simply interpretive but a construction that has arisen from a very dynamic process, full of hypothesis and surprise. Far from negating other readings, it adds density to the textured understanding of these two brilliant thinkers, each formally in different lines of work but joined through what Bion himself might call a "reciprocal perception" of psychoanalysis. It is reciprocal because Beckett transformed psychoanalytic thinking into a literary genre while Bion transformed psychoanalytic thinking into process understanding. Each utilized the same object, but with different attentions to different ends. The structure of the book is divided into two parts. Part I begins with a biographical introduction of Beckett and includes a discussion of Beckett’s early metapsychological monograph, "Proust". It presents Beckett’s two years in psychotherapy, between 1934 and 193, and addresses the institutional contexts in which this psychotherapy took place, and also discusses of Wilfred Bion’s history and background. Part II addresses Beckett’s radical use of free association as a literary form and examines Beckett’s Novellas, the Trilogy, and his creative transition from prose to drama. It concludes with an exploration of Bion’s theoretical use of his work with Beckett.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781780491479
  • Publisher: Karnac Books
  • Publication date: 9/28/2013
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Ian Miller is a psychologist and psychoanalyst practicing in Dublin, Ireland, where he teaches in the faculty of psychoanalytic studies at Trinity College Dublin. Together with Kay Souter, he is the author of Beckett and Bion: The (Im)Patient Voice in Psychotherapy and Literature (Karnac, 2013).

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Table of Contents

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
ABOUT THE AUTHORS

INTRODUCTION
PART I: THE CONTEXT AND EVENTS OF BECKETT’S PSYCHOTHERAPY WITH BION
CHAPTER ONE: Presenting problems
CHAPTER TWO: Proust as metapsychology
CHAPTER THREE: The first year of treatment: 1934
CHAPTER FOUR: Year two: 1935
CHAPTER FIVE: Broadening the context of this psychotherapy
CHAPTER SIX: Beckett’s Bion and Bion’s Bion

PART II: AN INTERPRETATIVE CONSTRUCTION OF BECKETT’S LITERARY DEVELOPMENT AND BION’S LATER CLINICAL THEORIES
CHAPTER SEVEN: Free association: Beckett’s private theatre
CHAPTER EIGHT: The novellas: Part One
CHAPTER NINE: The novellas: Part Two
CHAPTER TEN: Three essays on “the trilogy”
CHAPTER ELEVEN: The psychology of characters
CHAPTER TWELVE: Reaching the limit of free association
CHAPTER THIRTEEN: Patient Zero: learning from the Beckett experience

Conclusion
REFERENCES
INDEX

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