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Implicit in Wilfred R. Bion's concept of inherent preconceptions is the notion of the future of the preconception in a realization in actual experience with its anticipated counterpart; thus, the infant's inherent preconception of a breast becomes mated with the actual breast that is found and becomes realized as a conception. Repeated confirmatory experiences of that kind eventually confirm the anticipated experience as a concept. Thus, realization, in its capacity to confirm that which has already been autochthonously predicted or expected, bestows confidence, faith, and security to the infant's sense of survival and thriving.

The concept of realization becomes even more ratified when the infant is able to tolerate frustration and thereby allow for the experience of the absence of the breast in the context of having faith in its return. Otherwise, in the case of the infant who cannot tolerate frustration, the experience of the absent breast is eclipsed by the negative experience of the "nobreast present," a concrete image of a bad, persecuting breast.

The concept of realization belongs to Bion's epistemological forays into the fundamental understanding of thinking and is associated with his notions of projective identification, alpha function, and container/contained. The inherent preconception of a breast searches for the realization of the breast in the context of felt neediness if there is an allowance for an absence of a breast that awaits fulfillment and exploratorily and projectively identifies itself in the realized breast. The object of the search who possesses the needed breast is the maternal container who is summoned by the outcry of the infant and his preconception of the breast. The container must appose itself accommodatingly so as to contain the infant's anxiety of non-confirmation (negative realization).

James Grotstein

See also: Catastrophic change; Concept; Container-contained; Invariant; Preconception; Learning from experience .


Bion, W. R. (1962). Learning from experience. London: Heinemann; New York: Basic Books.

. (1962). A theory of thinking. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 43, 4-5; in Second thoughts. London: Heinemann, 1967.