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Goldberg, A. (1971). On Waiting. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 52:413-421.

(1971). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 52:413-421

On Waiting

Arnold Goldberg

The intent of this essay is to examine the experience of waiting or the subjective sense of time passage by the psychoanalytic method. Much of this is an articulation of some newer analytic considerations about narcissism and the self system. A subsidiary theme will be to extend the concept in an attempt to generalize to parallel processes in other disciplines or areas of study. The problem of continuity in science is a yet unsolved one and no doubt we insist upon processes of continuity where none exist. Many attempts to supposedly bridge or connect disciplines fail because of this. However, the issue of generalizing about areas of scientific study remains valid if we concentrate on phenomena that are called isomorphic by Bertalanffy (1968), i.e. those that belong to a unitary theory with unifying principles and thus have a similarity in form. Such phenomena as organization, differentiation and goal-directedness are of importance in all biological, behavioural and social phenomena. Certain other isomorphic concepts may be familiar as, for example, excitability, reaction time, changeability, etc. These are not discipline-specific and perhaps can lend themselves to study via one method such as psychoanalysis and still allow for generalizing to and from other disciplines. The particular example of this investigation will be of waiting or the sense of passage of time.

Susanne K. Langer (1967) says:

Waiting is not necessarily behavioural; it occurs in organic activities, too, and in cytological processes, and may well be the basis of the much discussed mystery of 'timing'.

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