In his work on psychosis, Bion described what he called ‘attacks on linking’ as the psychotic part of the mind directing destructive (i.e. ego-destructive superego) attacks on the links among objects (i.e. emotion, reason). It is when normal projective identification breaks down, due to ruptures in mother-infant communication (i.e. the mother/caregiver is unreceptive), that thought itself is compromised. It was in his work with people suffering with schizophrenia that Bion described the psychotic and nonpsychotic parts of the self, common to all people; when these parts are separated, one dominating the other, the gap becomes unbridgeable (Bion, 1967) and the psychotic part of the personality attacks everything enabling awareness of reality; destructive attacks by the psychotic part of the mind are directed at all links among objects. The result is a breakdown in the mental activity necessary for linking: the psychotic part of the self directs attacks against functions necessary for perceiving reality. Bion writes in ‘Attacks on Linking’ (1959), the ‘patient’s disposition to attack the link between two objects is simplified because the analyst has to establish a link with the patient… therefore we should be able to see attacks being made upon it’ (p. 308).
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