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Birksted-Breen, D. (2009). ‘Reverberation Time’, Dreaming and the Capacity to Dream. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 90(1):35-51.

(2009). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 90(1):35-51

Psychoanalytic Theory and Technique

‘Reverberation Time’, Dreaming and the Capacity to Dream Language Translation

Dana Birksted-Breen

(Final version accepted 3 November 2008)

In this paper the author suggests that understanding the roots of the subjective sense of time can throw light on the disturbances in psychic time which are found in particular in the more severe pathologies. She introduces the argument that the roots of the development of the sense of time rest on a primitive sense of time she calls ‘reverberation time’. By this notion she refers to the particular quality of the earliest ‘back and forth’ internalized exchange with the mother in which the auditory dimension plays a significant part. Referring to a wide range of literature and clinical examples, the author thus suggests that the subjective sense of time is created by the reverberation between mother and infant. Disturbances in this area will be reflected in the pathological ‘arresting’ of time which is observed in the different pathologies and, in particular, around the negotiation of the depressive position and the oedipal situation.

Extending this argument, the author goes on to suggest that it is the internalization of this experience of ‘reverberation’ which lies at the heart of the experience of dreaming; she considers that dreaming understood as an internal dialogue points both to its roots in the relationship to the maternal object and to its fundamental role in psychic life. The author concludes that ‘reverberation time’ is also the building block of a psychoanalysis, leading to ‘unfreezing’ psychic time and enabling the reconnection of ‘here and now’ with ‘there and then’ in a flexible way which promotes open possibilities, and that this takes place via the analyst's reverie, or time of reverberation.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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