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Towards an ethics of responsibility

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Commenting on recently discovered letters sent by Bion to Rickman, the author highlights the influence Bion's first analyst had on him. It is strikingly evident that both shared very similar points of view about key matters in psychoanalysis, including clinical theory, epistemology, scepticism, antiauthoritarianism, the intersubjective conception of the subject, the concept of analytic field, epistemology, the “truth drive,” and what can be called an ethics of responsibility. A special emphasis is put on the “principle of evidence,” which leads Bion to stress that what counts in the session is the unknown and what is happening in the present. In this regard, his writings assume an almost militaristic tone. He reveals the “tankishness” that was a feature of his character and a legacy of his dramatic war experiences. Like the soldier engaged in a battle, the analyst's task is to remain alive and attentive to what is going on around him at any given moment, and to maintain the capacity to think clearly when faced with violent emotions. For both Rickman and Bion, the goal of psychoanalysis is to help patients to take responsibility for their inner world, to dare think courageously with their own mind, and to struggle against the enemies of arrogant stupidity, of bigotry of certainty, and of mental narrowness.
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Keywords: Bion; Northfield; O; Rickman; here-and-now; reverie

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2011

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