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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bion's Experience in groups
This is a fine book and needs slow and careful reading. Bion's explanatory style is meticulous and detailed but also full of very dry humour. It is not for beginners to group work, and is very much from a psychotherapist's perspective.
Bion shared a lot of common ground with Melanie Klein, and the book argues that projective identification is a mechanism that is...
Published on 11 July 2003 by johnsfbk

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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A dated theory of group dynamics
Wilfred Bion was a British psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. This book describes his observations and experiences of group work during the fifties, and the formation of Bion's theory of groups.
Why only 3 stars? Because I find that the book has little practical relevance for contemporary group leaders or group therapists.

The content of the book describes...
Published 12 months ago by A reader


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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bion's Experience in groups, 11 July 2003
This review is from: Experiences in Groups: and Other Papers (Paperback)
This is a fine book and needs slow and careful reading. Bion's explanatory style is meticulous and detailed but also full of very dry humour. It is not for beginners to group work, and is very much from a psychotherapist's perspective.
Bion shared a lot of common ground with Melanie Klein, and the book argues that projective identification is a mechanism that is very much alive in therapy groups. Bion classifies groups into four types, and provides detailed observations of each. He constantly links his thoughts with his practical experience.
Most usefully he raises important questions on how these group dynamics can appear outside the therapeutic environment, and in the "everyday" world.
One negative - there are a few typographical errors - particularly a significant one on Page 106 which should have been sorted out long ago.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bion's Experience in groups, 11 July 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Experiences in Groups: and Other Papers (Paperback)
This is a fine book and needs slow and careful reading. Bion's explanatory style is meticulous and detailed but also full of very dry humour. It is not for beginners to group work, and is very much from a psychotherapist's perspective.
Bion shared a lot of common ground with Melanie Klein, and the book argues that projective identification is a mechanism that is very much alive in therapy groups. Bion classifies groups into four types, and provides detailed observations of each. He constantly links his thoughts with his practical experience.
Most usefully he raises important questions on how these group dynamics can appear outside the therapeutic environment, and in the "everyday" world.
One negative - there are a few typographical errors.
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant - an expert walking his talk !, 16 Jun 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Experiences in Groups: and Other Papers (Paperback)
This is a superb study aid for those engaged in the counselling or psychotherapy world. An insightful and useful starting point for those engaged in working with groups and their process.
Not only does Bion walk his talk, he explains how he does it !
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A dated theory of group dynamics, 29 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Experiences in Groups: and Other Papers (Paperback)
Wilfred Bion was a British psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. This book describes his observations and experiences of group work during the fifties, and the formation of Bion's theory of groups.
Why only 3 stars? Because I find that the book has little practical relevance for contemporary group leaders or group therapists.

The content of the book describes Bion's attempt to make sense of the dynamics that he observed while working with groups. According to Bion's theory, the behaviour of a group tends spontaneously towards three possible configurations: the dependent group, the fight or flight group, the pairing group. Each of these configurations has certain characteristic behaviours and each looks for a certain type of leadership (for example, the dependent group looks for a benevolent leader who will take care of them). According to Bion, these three types of group formations prevent the group from working successfully towards its goals.

Bion's stated goal was to apply Freud's psychoanalytic approach, supplemented by Melanie Klein's theories, to the analysis of groups. As such, Bion's group analyst is an observer, a scientist who strings together observations into a theory, and much of the book is about connecting and contrasting Bion's findings with and against Freudian theories. What made Bion's approach noteworthy was its focus on the group as a whole, rather than on the individual group participants. This approach came to be called the "Tavistock model".

I have to disagree with the reviewer who maintains that this book is a "superb study aid for those engaged in the counselling or psychotherapy world". This book is not about group therapy. It is about the study of group dynamics. At the most, you could use Bion's theories as a possible foundation for your understanding of group dynamics, but very little practical advice can be drawn from this book. Furthermore, Bion's writing style is sometimes unnecessarily convoluted, and his prose and language inevitably sound dated. Two popular books that cover group therapy in a comprehensive and practical manner are Irving Yalom's and Harold Behr's.

While Bion's work contributed very significantly to the study of group dynamics, I believe that this book is likely to help only those readers interested in the historical development of group dynamics theory.
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Experiences in Groups: and Other Papers
Experiences in Groups: and Other Papers by W.R. Bion (Paperback - Nov 1998)
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