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Attention as a basis for thinking in groups

French, Robert; Simpson, Peter


Robert French


Martin Ringer


In this contribution, which is taken from Chapter 1 of our book, 'Attention, Cooperation, Purpose: An approach to working in groups using insights from Wilfred Bion' (Karnac, 2015), we outline the state of mind we talk of as attention. We make an important distinction between two forms of attention: “evenly suspended attention” (a term taken from Freud) and focused attention. The exceptional quality that Bion brought to his endeavours seems to have come from his ability to work with both of these simultaneously. With a contemplative eye he was able to sustain an evenly suspended attention, constantly open to the truth of the moment, while with a scientific eye he gave focused attention to what was happening, concentrating on specific elements of individual and group behaviour.


French, R., & Simpson, P. (2017). Attention as a basis for thinking in groups. In M. Ringer (Ed.), Surfacing New Thoughts: Special Issue on Thinking in Groups and TeamsGruppo: Omogeneita e differenze

Acceptance Date Mar 15, 2017
Publication Date Apr 1, 2017
Journal Funzione Gamma: Online Journal of Group Psychology
Print ISSN 2240-2624
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Book Title Surfacing New Thoughts: Special Issue on Thinking in Groups and Teams
Keywords attention, distraction, anxiety, negative capability, containment, group dynamics
Publisher URL


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