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Learning from Experience

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'As the problems raised in this book are fundamental to learning they have a long history of investigation and discussion. In phsycho-analytical practice, particularly with patients displaying symptoms of disorders of thought, it becomes clear that psycho-analysis has added a dimension to problems if not to their solution. 'This book deals with emotional experiences that are directly related both to theories of knowledge and to clinical psycho-analysis, and that in the most practical manner.'- Wilfred R. Bion, from the Introduction

124 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1962

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Wilfred R. Bion

69 books44 followers

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 9 of 9 reviews
Profile Image for Tylor Lovins.
Author 1 book15 followers
November 25, 2021
In this work, Bion is concerned with the functions and factors that yield “learning from experience.”

Here you will find his introductory ideas about alpha function, beta elements and beta screen, alpha elements and contact barrier, as well as L, H, and K.

This book is remarkable for its brevity (about 100 pages with over 25 chapters) and absolute logical clarity. There is, as it were, no fat on the bones. The form of the book, how he presents the ideas, essentially coincides with how he perceives the origination and use of abstraction and concretization in thinking as well as the development of scientific deductive systems. You will find that in his explanation of the ideas he shows how they work in thinking itself.

I have never read a book like this, and I plan to read it again soon. This is a book that lends itself to several very close readings. It is a work of pure genius.
Profile Image for Hanna.
45 reviews
December 27, 2016
Difficult but satisfying read. Provided framework for abstracting and understanding our thoughts and thinking process.
Profile Image for Mawr.
Author 9 books16 followers
July 1, 2019
Thanks to this short book, I now have a better understanding of container/contained, alpha function/elements, beta elements, L/H/K/-K, etc.
Profile Image for Micah.
133 reviews33 followers
February 15, 2015
"As alpha-function makes the sense impressions of the emotional experience available for conscious and dream-thought the patient who cannot dream cannot go to sleep and cannot wake up."

Given this clinical picture of disturbed thinking, Bion tries to think about thoughts and thinking and their origins, and finds that the psychotic has a model of thought, even a "theory of knowledge," you could say. . . . Unlike many (most?) analysts who focus on the unconscious, desires, phantasies, wishes, Bion places K (knowing) and even -K on the same level as Love and Hate, finding a proliferation of models, pre-conceptions and conceptions, and tries to trace things back to the moment when unconscious and conscious are separated, and Envy can color all models, blocking abstraction and the movement between general and particular. A difficult text.
Profile Image for Jamey.
Author 7 books72 followers
March 1, 2020
This book is a miserable wasteland of cold abstraction, produced by a deeply traumatized person as his picture of fundamental psychic reality. Heartbreakingly empty of any warmth or texture, Learning from Experience is like a daytrip to the dark side of the moon.
Profile Image for Marina Andronova.
107 reviews1 follower
January 19, 2023
С одной стороны, я почерпнула из этой книги несколько весьма и весьма ценных для практики идей. С другой стороны, стиль повествования производит впечатление перегруженного и как будто обрывистого: в некоторых местах возникает вопрос «и что?…» или «а на фига?…» С другой стороны, это можно объяснить моей элементарной невежественностью в области кляйнианской парадигмы. В целом же текст показался мне хорошим объектом!
Profile Image for Lucas.
60 reviews
September 12, 2020
Leitura difícil, mas rica. Descreve como podemos aprender com a nossa experiência lidando de forma fluida com a nossa atividade emocional, e o que impede que tenhamos uma digestão de nossas experiências, retendo emoções indigestas. Clássico da literatura psicanalítica.
Profile Image for FiveBooks.
185 reviews72 followers
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May 5, 2010
Psychoanalyst Dr David Bell has chosen to discuss Learning From Experience by Wilfred Bion on FiveBooks as one of the top five on his subject - Psychoanalysis, saying that:

“…He is very seminal to my work. There are three elements in Freud’s thought that deal with what promotes development. The first is overcoming repression of sexual and destructive instincts, the second is allowing the life instinct to dominate the death drive and the third is knowledge, that is, knowledge of the self. ‘Where Id was there Ego shall be,’ he said. Crudely speaking, the Id is the raging primitive passion and the Ego is the voice of reason and reality. Bion brings knowledge into the centre of psychoanalytic scrutiny. What forces, he asks, can interfere with knowledge? He doesn’t mean knowing things, he means the lifelong process of understanding, of coming to know things. He’s a genetic epistemologist – he deals with the development of knowledge.

The Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget did wonderful work on cognitive development but he leaves emotion out entirely. For Bion emotion and knowledge are intimately connected. He links the emotional capacity to develop and know to the capacity to tolerate frustration. If we can hold ourselves in check whilst we endure frustration then we can come to know things. To some extent we are born with the capacity but we are fundamentally influenced by the world in which we develop, and he deals especially with the relationship between mother and baby.

The more the mother can help the baby, intuitively, to tolerate primitive frustrations, the more the baby can develop and internalise this capacity to manage himself. The psychotic patient, for example, has great difficulty in bearing frustration and his capacity for knowledge of the world is replaced by delusions. Freud talks about this in his essay on the principles of mental functioning, in which he talks about the pleasure principle and the reality principle. In order for the reality principle to function man must be able to manage what he describes as disappointment. Bion leans very heavily on Freud but he also brings in Klein and his own work with psychotic patients…”

The full interview is available here: http://fivebooks.com/interviews/david...
Displaying 1 - 9 of 9 reviews

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