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Quinodoz, D. (2009). Growing old: A psychoanalyst's point of view. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 90(4):773-793.

(2009). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 90(4):773-793

Growing old: A psychoanalyst's point of view Language Translation

Danielle Quinodoz

(Final version accepted 9 February 2009)

With the help of clinical examples, the author shows that psychoanalysis or psychotherapy after the age of 70 can be a fascinating experience, one that enables patients to reconstruct their internal history in such a way that their final years can be given their rightful place in the overall journey through life. Often it will be a matter of going beyond the conflict between paralysing time with the illusion of keeping death at bay and taking the transient nature of life into account in order to perceive its true flavour. We can grow old passively, juxtaposing different periods of our life without linking them together, thereby creating the illusion of time without end; or we can grow old actively, integrating the different phases of our life into a coherent historical narrative. This representation of time leaves the door open for experiences which the author calls ‘small seconds of eternity’. We can all experience such moments when we are deeply moved—joyfully or painfully—by something, so that we perceive another quality of time that goes beyond its chronological dimension without all the same negating it. Helping elderly people to identify these seconds of eternity and catch hold of them can be an invaluable experience for them. Perhaps we need to see our life unfold through the chronology of its different phases in order to discover, second by second, how to express on an everyday basis something of which we have had an inkling in some second of eternity:

[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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