chapter  2
16 Pages

Linking mathematics to psychoanalysis

WithAlfredo Moscardini

This chapter takes a quotation by influential British psychoanalyst, Wilfred Bion, where he questions the relevance of mathematics to psychoanalysis, and looks at some recent advances in mathematics which might have changed his opinion.

The author shows that the practice of doing mathematics involves the art of using mathematical metaphors to create analogous situations (which could be a set of mathematical equations or a computer programme) to represent a situation in the real world. This process is called mathematical modelling, which moves problems from the physical word to an abstract world where the power of mathematics can be fully utilised. The author’s thesis is that modelling skills (which could be described as mathematics in action) and the interpretative skills of the psychoanalyst described by Edwards in the introduction to this book, are very similar. They both involve non-linear behaviour, feedback, experience and judgement. Despite the fact that we are considering two different academic areas, it seems that non-linear behaviour forms a strong link between them. In this case, some of the non-linear mathematics that has been discovered since Bion’s time might have implications in the area of psychoanalysis. There is certainly more linkage here than was originally imagined by Bion.