The four functions of the mind considered by Meltzer as essential for the balance among the members of a family, are also important in the work of the operators in care institutions.
Added to this is the ability to learn from experience (Bion), and to welcome unexpected thoughts and events into one’s mind, which can contribute to give meaning to the daily routine.
A novel by Calvino, “The Day of a Scrutineer”, is used in order to describe the change in perspective resulting from an unexpected emotional experience. This leads the main character to recognize the reality of the internal world, the feelings of love and hate, both in his private life and in an institutional situation where the defenses of emotional detachment and exploitation of the other prevail.
The four functions described by Meltzer are necessary to contain relational conflicts with patients’ families, their anxieties, that also have an influence on the unconscious dynamics within the group of operators.