ABSTRACT

Bion came to psychoanalysis slowly and had four attempts at therapy – the last two, with John Rickman and Melanie Klein, being full analyses. In the second part of his autobiography, All My Sins Remembered (1985), he writes about an ‘analyst’ to whom he had been for ‘cure’ to dispel the anxiety from which he was suffering after scholastic and athletic failures at Oxford in the early 1920s. He was told that he would require about 12 sessions, but as he was not cured in this time and ran into debt with his analyst, he stopped treatment. He is contemptuous of this analyst, calling him ‘Dr Feel-It-InThe-Past’! His analyst even sent him a patient, an adolescent boy, with whom he again failed. James Hadfield (1882-1967): We know that for several years he was in some form of psychotherapy with Dr Hadfield, a well-known eclectic psychotherapist of the times, and author of Mental Health and the Psychoneuroses (1952), whom Bion described as ‘charming and intelligent’. Hadfield was one of seven doctors employed by Hugh Crichton-Miller when founding the Tavistock Clinic, in 1920 (Dicks 1970). When Bion went to work there, in 1933, as an assistant doctor (in effect, a trainee), Hadfield was in a commanding position and served as Bion’s trainer in psychotherapy. Hadfield rejected the significance of the transference, and using free associations and dream interpretation, he emphasised the importance of linking the symptom with the nuclear incidents from the past. He also modified Freud’s dual instinct theory to become a three-pronged motivation – a sexual libido, an aggressive/self-preservative drive, and a drive towards dependence. Interestingly, as Bléandonu points out ‘Here we can note, in passing, the similarity between Hadfield’s theory and the three “basic assumption” groups proposed by Bion’ (1994, p. 43). Like others in Hadfield’s circle, Bion became disillusioned by the limitations of Hadfield’s theories – and maybe by the therapy. Clearly, he had a contempt for this man; but he also described himself as an imposter in his first attempts to set up as a Harley Street consultant psychotherapist.