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Yates, S. (1935). Some Aspects of Time Difficulties and their Relation to Music. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 16:341-354.

(1935). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 16:341-354

Some Aspects of Time Difficulties and their Relation to Music

Sybille Yates

Time can be measured exactly by clocks and sundials, but human beings can rarely measure time accurately, for the feeling of the passage of time varies in each human being, and even then is not constant but varies for each one of us with moods and events. One day of twenty-four hours may seem twice as long as another, while still another day is gone in a flash; sometimes time cannot be measured at all.

One does not remember time during great enjoyment, either sensuous or mental; one is temporarily beyond the limits of time and does not appreciate it at all. Also in work, one talks of being so absorbed that one forgets all about time.

When there is fear of being left alone or of losing a loved object, time tends to go quickly, and time tends also to pass quickly when there is something that must be done in time; then one notices the passage of time much more. Dread anything stopping or finishing and time flies. On the other hand, when one is looking forward to anything time tends to drag, becomes slower and slower. Prolonged waiting, beyond endurance, leads to a certain timelessness and in extreme cases a loss of contact and a feeling of unreality. In fact, when anxiety about loss is too great there can be no real enjoyment of anything, no timelessness and absorption, nor can there be any glad anticipation, unless hope has been maintained.

Perhaps this short introduction, even at the risk of repeating what is familiar to you all may bring into focus the ideas about time that I am going to expand in the rest of this paper.

Most Child-Psychologists agree that the small child's appreciation of time differs in some respects from that of the adult; the chief way being, that small children live more in the sensations and wants of the present and find it very hard indeed to appreciate a future. A future can only be envisaged as differing from the present by remembering at the same time a past which differs from the present. It takes time before children are able to do this. This fact then, that the present only is appreciated by small children, makes their idea of the passage of time quite different from that of adults.

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