Ann B. Addison

‘I Feel, Therefore I Am’: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Emotions and their Impact

In my research, I have been making historical comparisons between Jung and Bion, in terms of the influences on and evolution of their respective psychoid and protomental concepts, both of which envision a deeply unconscious and unknowable stratum, in which body and mind are undifferentiated and from which distress may manifest as much in diseases of the body as in disturbances of the mind. In other words, both contemplate a locus of emotional experience based on the indivisibility of body and mind.

Both men were influenced by the same source of vitalist ideas in philosophy, namely Henri Bergson, and yet ultimately they developed entirely different visions for their concepts. Jung went on to expand this vitalist background in his search for living meaning, linking body and mind, instinct and spirit, with the imaginal and the symbolic, and emphasising the teleological aspect of a psychoid organising function in the service of individuation. By contrast, Bion grounded his proto-mental concept in an understanding of psychotic mechanisms through his group work. This contrast between a teleological organizing function versus fragmented psychotic mechanisms, imports also entirely different understandings of the fate of emotion in human experience.

In this presentation, therefore, I should like to explore the ways in which Jung and Bion through their two concepts conceptualised the transmission of emotion and the social circumstances under which such transmission takes place. I propose to consider ideas of empathy and contagion in the light of both Jungian and post-Jungian thinking about personal and cultural complexes and Bion’s ideas on groups, reviewing the role that emotion plays in transformation and individuation both at an individual level and at a group level. I shall illustrate my theme with examples from history, the media, and the arts


Dr Addison is a Training analyst, SAP, UK, since 2008 and a member of BPC since 2000. She gained her PhD at Essex University UK, where she now lectures.

Recent publications

  • Jung, Bion and social phenomena: Intra-psychic dynamics, inter-psychic dynamics or something else? Funzione Gamma (2021) Accepted but not yet published
  • Underlying Assumptions in Analytical Psychology, Underlying Assumptions in Psychoanalytic Schools: A Comparative Perspective (2021) Ed. Huppertz, B. Accepted but not yet published
  • Jung’s psychoid concept contextualized (2019) London: Routledge
  • Jung’s psychoid concept: an hermeneutic understanding’, IJJS (2017) 9:1-16
  • Jung’s psychoid concept and Bion’s protomental concept: a comparison’, JAP (2016) 61: 567-587


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