chapter  Eleven
14 Pages

Schizophrenia, meaninglessness, and professional stress

WithR. D. Hinshelwood

The inevitable stress on professional carers can easily lead to serious organizational problems and loss of functioning of the service as a whole, as communication between different groups breaks down and the capacity for real teamwork is lost. Meaninglessness is thus a failure of alpha-function, where "the appropriate machinery is felt to be, not an apparatus for thinking the thoughts, but an apparatus for ridding the psyche of accumulations of bad internal objects". Wilfred Bion traced the essential problem of schizophrenia to a destruction of mental functions, leaving a mind incapable of having a conflict. Bion stressed that the countertransference experiences evoked in the analyst in these situations are of great importance. The development of an ideology within a professional group can be compared with the work of Britton and Steiner with regard to the subtle shifts in the analyst's relation to his own ideas.