As an approach to the problem of the therapeutic factors in psychoanalysis, it seems to me helpful to consider first the seeds of illness and the defences deployed by patients.

We may accept the view of Bion (e.g. 1962, 1963, 1965) that every mind, at birth, needs another mind in order to develop. This development takes place through an interplay of projections and introjections. Primitive anxieties and sense impressions are evacuated into the mother’s mind (by projective identification) and, after ‘processing and decontamination’ by the maternal α function, returned to the child in the form of representable elements (α elements) together with the method for processing them (the α function).