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Dissertation Title:

A Phenomenological Study of Analysts’ Experience of Their Patient’s Transformation in O


Holly Suzanne Greenberg

Date, Time & Place:

December 21, 2020 at


A transformation in O is Wilfred Bion’s most esoteric concept. O stretches contemporary psychoanalytic thought out of object relations and into the numinous. Much has been written in attempts to understand O, and to understand Bion’s shift into what some consider to be more mystical realms. Pages have been written regarding the philosophical origins of O, such as Kant’s things-in-themselves and Keats’ negative capability. Explorations of the analyst’s experience of their patient’s transformation in O are lacking in the literature. This research questions whether a transformation in O occurs as a dynamic within the field between patient and analyst. Using Giorgi’s phenomenological method, the researcher interviewed analysts who believe they have borne witness to their patients’ transformation in O. This study is significant because it illuminates lived experiences of O, which allows for a deeper understanding of the interplay between patient and analyst within the consulting room.


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  • Program/Track/Year: Depth Psychology with Specialization in Psychotherapy, Track T, 2012
  • Chair: Dr. Allen Bishop
  • Reader: Dr. Jean Palmer-Daley
  • External Reader: Dr. Scott Lines
  • Keywords: O, Negative Capability, Thing-in-itself, Transformation, Lived-experience