Adolescent states of mind recalled in Bion’s ‘The Long Weekend’

Smith, Tim (2021) Adolescent states of mind recalled in Bion’s ‘The Long Weekend’. Professional Doctorate thesis, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust/University of East London. Full text available

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This research examines W. R. Bion’s autobiography ‘The Long Weekend: Part of a Life (1897 - 1919)’ in which he tells the story of what happened to him during his childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood including an account of those around him and what was happening to them, especially in their relationships with him. A very painful upbringing is portrayed; one that is full of emotional deprivations. The nature of memory and the autobiographical method, including the text as a partial and selective account of his schooldays, is considered and viewed as having the potential to arrive at intimate truths given the condition of interior observation is met. Psychoanalytic conceptualizations of the adolescent states of mind that Bion recalls are made using a reverie-informed approach and drawing on contemporary psychoanalytic writing to add a further perspective to the one he chose to provide. What is presented is a personal reading of the pre/adolescent states of mind Bion describes at his Hertfordshire boarding school. The social-contextual aspects of Bion’s situation who was also a child of his time are also considered and viewed as providing the clues to the emotional atmosphere he grew up in. The focus is on the impact of this atmosphere on his interior states. A further argument is presented that Bion’s descriptions of his pre/adolescent states of mind have unique value to the understanding of wider experiences of adolescent development, both in his time and as it is relevant to adolescent development today, especially in its more deprived instances such as with child psychotherapists’ experiences. Research findings reveal the ubiquitous nature of adolescent bullying, the importance for boys to have access to helpful male figures to identify with, the dangers of socio-political censoring of adolescent boys’ sexuality and the impact of anxiety and deprivation on their capacities to relate. They also contribute to biographical understandings of the child Bion.

Item Type: Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Additional Information: Thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust and the University of East London for the degree of Professional Doctorate in Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Professional Doctorate in Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, Memory, Intimate Truths, University of East London
Subjects: Schools of Psychology > Autobiography
Schools of Psychology > Bion, Wilfred
Children, Young People and Developmental Pyschology > Adolescents- Psychology
Psychological Therapies, Psychiatry, Counselling > Psychoanalysis - History of
Department/People: Children, Young Adult and Family Services

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