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Denis, A. (1995). Temporality And Modes Of Language. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 76:1109-1119.

(1995). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 76:1109-1119

Temporality And Modes Of Language

Anne Denis

After reviewing some literary, philosophical and psychoanalytic conceptions of time, the author distinguishes between the sensation of time, in which rhythm is all-important, and its representation. The timeless unconscious, which can, however, be rendered temporal through the transference, is contrasted with the sequential chronology of preconscious and conscious functioning. Language, and in particular metaphorical language, is deemed to play a vital part in the structuring of the psyche, and is mediated by the object; the contingency of metaphor is held to be essential because otherwise the object will impose itself too directly, causing the previously undifferentiated death drive to predominate. A primal temporality must, in the author's view, have been laid down in the form of an unrepresentable auto-erotic datum before the individual can perceive himself as a living subject and conceive of lineal and irreversible time with its implications of castration and death; there is no such thing as a timeless subject. All pathologies of temporality are considered by the author to be at the same time pathologies of subjectivation and of language. The paper ends with a clinical illustration in which a key time-related defence of the patient is overcome by an intervention outside the strict time frame of the setting that proves mutative and enables her to recover her personal rhythm as a subject.

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