The concept of container-contained proposed by Bion not only proved to be significant for Kleinian thinking but also broadened the scope of the psychoanalytic theory. This concept revived the significance of the external world that had been overlooked by the Kleinian work.
In accordance with the writings of Winnicott, Bion also laid stress upon the significance of a person’s relationship with his external world and on the ability of the world to respond spontaneously to the requirements of her child.
The Bion’s concept of a container is frequently interchanged with the concept of holding environment proposed by Winnicott instead of being an explicit maternal function that serves the purpose of containing and receiving the unprocessed elements and projects that are referred to by Bion as the Beta elements.
A mother should contain intolerable characteristics of a child’s unprocessed sensory experience, emotions, objects, and self-being that are projected by the child into the mother. Although this process of projection is unconscious, in the analytic discussion the dimension of the unconscious is lost.
The term is often characterized as a compassionate function; however, according to Bion, it communicates the implications of processing an assortment of experiences that range from the most catastrophic to the most pleasant. Nevertheless, the concept of container contained is extensively utilized to characterize a benign and often to represent the thoughts of the scholars.
It is also used to designate the endpoint of the therapeutic setting instead of acting as a vehicle that assists patients to comprehend something regarding themselves. An object can act as a container only if it takes into consideration the disconcerting project factors along with those aspects that can be more consciously acceptable and tolerable to the analyst.
Consequently, reassurance cannot be considered as containing since it illustrates the inability of the analyst to withstand the disturbing projections transferred by the patients. According to the viewpoint of Bion, reassurance is non-receptive since it is a sign of the failure of containing the patient’s projections of threatening and disturbing features of their relationship with their early objects. The incapability of the analyst to fit into the role of the container can reinforce the concept of nameless dread.
The concept of container contained is crucial to the development of thinking capacity. Under the light of the concept of container contained suggested by the Bion, it can be put forward that the personality of human beings is consistently equipped with a set of mental operations that aim to perform conscious and unconscious psychological work on emotional experience.
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