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Anna Blundy is the winner of the 2021 Gavin MacFadyen Prize with her fascinating essay on Bion’s theory of container–contained and how this can be applied to the role of interpreters, who often view themselves, and are viewed as, something akin to a maternal container.
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Bionian Psychoanalysis, Political Theory, Psychoanalysis
Anna Blundy is the winner of the 2021 Gavin MacFadyen Prize. Her fascinating essay reviews Bion’s theory of container–contained with an unusual application to the role of interpreters and their relation to the maternal container. She touches upon the potentially catastrophic (if often humorous) results of poor interpretation and considers the similarities to the results of poor containment in the mother–infant dyad.
She looks in detail at the Reagan–Gorbachev summits in the 1980s, in Reykjavik, Washington, and Moscow. In particular, how the Soviet container-interpreters helped the US and Soviet leaders manage their way towards knowledge and, eventually, towards the end of the Cold War. She brings in Bion’s ‘K’ and shows how ideas from Bion and other key psychoanalysts, including Winnicott and Klein, shed light on the complex task of the simultaneous interpreter.
The hypothesis is that the ‘good enough’ interpreter provides a reverie for the principal and thereby facilitates a positive re-introjection of material into both principal and interlocutor. With this, an ability to tolerate frustration is enabled to assist with the building of realistic relationships and, in ideal circumstances, to ensure relative peace.
A most enjoyable and engaging paper with an innovative application of Bion’s theories, this is a must-read for all with an interest in psychoanalysis, politics, and the intricacies of translation.
Anna Blundy is co-founder of The Mind Field, www.themindfield.world, offering video therapy to journalists and aid workers all over the world. She sees patients via video from her home in rural Italy. She is the author of seven novels (published variously by Random House, Hodder Headline and Little Brown) as well as a memoir, Every Time We Say Goodbye (Random House), about her war correspondent father, killed in El Salvador when she was nineteen. Anna studied Russian at Oxford University and was Moscow correspondent for The Times in the late 1990s after four years as weekly columnist for The Times Saturday magazine. She retrained as a psychotherapist in her late thirties and wrote the monthly ‘Life of the Mind’ column for Prospect Magazine about the experience of training. Anna is now working on a novel about simultaneous interpretation, identity, and Russia.
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