Reverie refers to the maternal capacity for sensing and making sense of the infant’s mental life and is, for Bion, essential to what he called alpha function (see alpha and beta elements (and functions)). Transformation of alpha elements (i.e. raw sensory experience, body feelings and relational experiences) requires what Bion called the ‘alpha function’, a function of the maternal mind (i.e. capacity for maternal reverie) necessary for containing the infant’s chaotic, overwhelming, unbearable and inevitable frustrations. In a state of reverie the mother recognizes and holds projections and emphatically responds to these mental states so they can be returned to the infant in digestible and comprehensible forms.
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