Introducing the Clinical Method of Wilfred Bion

May 23, 2020, 9:15 AM - 12:15 PM

This event will take place online via Zoom. Once you register, you will receive an email with the link and more information.

Joseph Aguayo, PhD, and Barnet Malin, MD

Bion’s "Notes on Memory and Desire"—Then and Now
Joseph Aguayo, PhD

Bion’s seminal paper, “Notes on memory and desire” (1967), is presented in the context of his seminars at the L.A. Psychoanalytic Institute. Since its members were primarily male psychiatrists, many of whom had psychotic patients in hospital, Bion demonstrated in a very plain-wrapped and direct way how he worked with extremely difficult-to-treat patients. Along the way, he discussed what passed for “Kleinian technique,” which, according to Bion, worked best when the analyst could take into account the obstructive factors of the analyst’s memory and desire. In short, he or she should not desire a specific outcome nor spend time reconstructing the patient’s infantile neurosis.

After setting out this context, which will be explicated by: (1) a 45-minute video lecture that all attendees will have access to prior to the May 23 meeting, we can take up any questions about Bion’s short paper on memory and desire; (2) a brief discussion of Bion’s short “Notes on Memory and Desire” paper of 1967; before (3) turning to a discussion of Thomas Ogden’s (2015) follow-up paper, “Intuiting the Truth of What’s Happening: On Bion’s ‘Notes on Memory and Desire.’” Psychoanal. Q., 84: 285-306. What has changed in terms of psychoanalytic technique in the last 50 years?

Learning Objectives
As a result of attending this session, participants should be able to:

  • Describe the characteristics of how Bion listened to his patients in the “here and now”
  • Explain how the issue of reconstructing the patient’s early/conflictual history is taken up by Bion as a London Kleinian
  • Examine the contemporary clinical relevance of Thomas Ogden’s intersubjective approach in terms of intuiting the truth of what is happening through the expanded use of Bion’s notions of abandoning memory and desire
  • Explain some of the key differences between how Bion and Ogden handle the issue of working in the here and now through the abandonment of memory and desire

Bion’s Clinical Methods in the International Seminars
Barnet Malin, MD

Bion’s seminal paper, “Notes on memory and desire” (1967), was his most direct published statement on his clinical method, which had evolved from his earlier traditional Kleinian stance. This paper’s overly condensed nature and rather confrontational style prevent it from being misused as a manual or set of technical instructions, which was part of Bion’s intention. By contrast, Bion’s international seminars contain a wealth of information on his evolved clinical methods, presented in straightforward language. This presentation offers examples from these seminars, and assembles the essential elements of Bion’s clinical methods from these excerpts.

Learning Objectives
As a result of attending this session, participants should be able to:

  • Describe what prompted Bion’s evolution from his relatively traditional Kleinian clinical methodology
  • List three core elements of Bion’s evolved clinical methodology
  • State the clinical relevance of and difference between interpretation and construction
  • Describe why Bion’s later work was one of the several emergence points of modern relational psychoanalysis


Joseph Aguayo, PhD, is a Training and Supervising Analyst at the Psychoanalytic Center of California, an Associate Member of the New Center for Psychoanalysis, both in Los Angeles; and a Guest Member of the British Psychoanalytical Society. He maintains a private practice in west Los Angeles. He recently participated in two Bion-related IPA London Congress panels with RBS colleagues: R.D. Hinshelwood, Sira Dermen, Barnet Malin; as well as a panel on ‘Maternal Function’ with Caron Harrang, Susan Finkelstein, Marie Murphy, Maxine Nelson and Agnes Regeczkey. He has also just completed a set of 16 video-conference lectures: ‘Introduction to the Clinical Work of W.R. Bion’ for Chinese students of psychoanalysis, (Ken Zhang, University of Essex, Co-ordinator).

Barnet D. Malin, MD, is a psychoanalyst and psychiatrist in Santa Monica, CA. He is senior faculty and a Supervising and Training Analyst at NCP and PCC, a member of APsaA and the IPA, and an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA. He teaches at the UCLA Geffen School of Medicine, the UCLA psychiatry residency, and at NCP and PCC. He has presented original work locally, nationally and internationally, and has published professionally, including the book Wilfred Bion: Los Angeles Seminars and Supervision, co-edited with Joseph Aguayo. His forthcoming book, Questioning Bion’s’ O’ Concept, will be published by Routledge. 

Caron Harrang, LICSW, FIPA is a board-certified IPA training and supervising psychoanalyst in full-time private practice in Seattle, Washington.  She is a Past President of Northwestern Psychoanalytic Society and Institute and current Secretary of the North American Psychoanalytic Confederation (NAPsaC).  Caron co-directed the Tenth International Evolving British Object Relations Conference in 2014 titled, ‘From Reverie to Interpretation:  Transforming thought into the action of psychoanalysis” featuring Giuseppe Civitarese as a keynote presenter.  She co-edited with Dana Blue a book of the same title (Karnac, 2016).  Current projects:  she is also authoring a book chapter titled “Speaking to the body in terms that the body can understand” and serving as co-editor with Drew Tilotson and Nancy Winters for the forthcoming Body as Psychoanalytic Object:  Clinical Applications from Winnicott to Bion and Beyond (Routledge).

Target audience: Mental health professionals and open to the public interested in psychoanalytic perspectives. Open to members and the community.

3 CE/CME Credits

$55 Pre-registration $30 Students

"How do I get my CE/CME Credit?"

  1. Pre-Register below
    • If you are registering for the first time you will receive a welcome email. You must follow the directions in this email to complete your registration in order to access your certificates. 
  2. You will receive an email with an evaluation 2 days after the event
  3. Complete the evaluation
  4. Wait 2 business days
  5. Download your Certificate on the NCP website


IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION FOR ALL LEARNERS: None of the planners and presenters of this CME/CE program have any relevant financial relationships to disclose. 

PHYSICIANS: This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation requirements and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint providership of the American Psychoanalytic Association and the New Center for Psychoanalysis. The American Psychoanalytic Association is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians. 

The American Psychoanalytic Association designates this Live Activity for the maximum of 3 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.  

PSYCHOLOGISTS: The New Center for Psychoanalysis is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. New Center for Psychoanalysis maintains responsibility for this program and its content. Full attendance is required for psychologists to receive credit; partial credit may not be awarded based on APA guidelines. For the psychologists’ records, certificates of attendance are provided at the completion of the course.  

SOCIAL WORKERS, MARRIAGE and FAMILY THERAPISTS (LCSW, LMFT, ASW, IMF, LEP, LPCC, PCCI): The New Center for Psychoanalysis is a continuing education provider that has been approved by the American Psychological Association, a California Board of Behavioral Sciences recognized approval agency. 

REGISTERED NURSES: The New Center for Psychoanalysis is an accredited provider approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing (Provider #CEP1112). Registered Nurses may claim only the actual number of hours spent in the educational activity for credit.