Introduction, Bion and Foulkes

Introducing the present issue of  Funzione Gamma devoted to”Bion and Foulkes” I would like to thank all the contributors as well as those who took part in preparing it. Going through the several papers I need first of all to emphasize how .meaningful and enriching (in the sense of future developments)the sources of psychoanalytic thinking about the group are, how fascinating it is to inquire about their similarities and differences, how necessary to reread them looking for new integrations and proximities. The topic looks more and more stimulating as we feel the pressures implied by the changes in the rapid development of the social group’s organization and the urgency to compare different epistemological models that permit to work through different approaches to our object.the group. Particularly important the connection to the classical psychoanalytic theory and its development (institutional as well): connection which implies autonomy and distance at the same time, to keep the dialogue with other disciplines alive. If the group’s life and the valuing of the social potentialities of the individual mind are the focus of our attention and research, then the meeting of different minds, on this telematic occasion, represents itself a comunicative space, where group elements come together in a new meaningful and transformative dimension. So the meeting between Bion and Foulkes, historically unsatisfacory, achieves a sort of “mythological representation” in the elegant texture of Leonardo Ancona’s paper, even in the absence of concrete institutional and theoretical confrontations. Thoughts, experiences, motivations, paths and historical contexts regarding Bion and Foulkes – analytically reconstructed and detailed – allow, newcontacts, reciprocal interrelationships, as well as the creation of new perspectives. Specially suggestive is M. Pine’s viewpoint. Pursuing a research with a group of attachment researchers, he concentrates on the concept of empathy – compassion, pity – introducing a dimension that goes far beyond the usual semantics of the word or the specific meanings attributed to it by Kohut, for example. Malcolm Pine’s achievement is even more remarkable as it succeeds in transforming a polemical confronation in a promising changement in perspective. Silvia Corbella’s paper attempts to explain Bion’s and Foulke’s similarities and differences along a temporal axis, paralleling a transformational phenomenon experienced in the microanalytic group. In his interesting paper “How Foulkesian was Bion?” R. Hinshelwood shows in a very precise and detailed analysis how substantially different the approaches of Bion and Foulkes were, reconstructing the context of the famous Northfield’s experiments and particular the clash.of cultures (and their consequences), Bion’s oriented to a military morale, Foulkes to hospital care. Even emphasizing that the two perspectives tend to polarize and have been in the past very hard to reconcile, Hinshelwood thinks that it would result in a real impoverishment to take sides simplistically favouring a group ideology against a different one. The option would prove by far too easy: aiming at personal comfort rather than pursuing the truth (“We need to establish the tension as a creative one”). These contributions prove useful in terms of informations and new explanations, providing new ways of envisaging “old” concepts, like basic assumptions, the matrix, the net, the collective dimension of the individual mind. Moereover all the papers converge on a common target: they provide for the comunity of group analysts and group therapists and for all those interested in the study of the group a good model of comunicating, using their writing as a construction and an attempt to share their experiences.