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Pareja, J. (1976). Meeting of the New York Psychoanalytic Society. Psychoanal Q., 45:181-182.

(1976). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 45:181-182

Meeting of the New York Psychoanalytic Society

John Pareja

April 16, 1974. DISTURBANCES OF THE SENSE OF TIME. Freud Memorial Lecture. Jacob A. Arlow, M.D.

Dr. Arlow examined disturbances in the subjective sense of time, focusing on four elements that shape the time experience: the sense of self, affect, unconscious fantasies, and ideas concerning death. Arising from childhood impressions of physiologic duration connected with intervals between need and gratification, time becomes the representative of realistic necessity; frustrations experienced at subsequent developmental levels intensify the connection between time and reality. Hearing that time flies, heals, can be saved, wasted, or even killed reenforces the child's metaphorical and concretistic notions of time. In fantasy, time may be dealt with a sa substance extended in space or as a being with human attributes. As a substance, it may serve as a derivative representation of objects specific for the various phases of psychosexual development: milk, the fecal mass, the paternal phallus producing an endless stream of fluid. The child's grasp of causality and counting introduces the concept of a unidirectional and unalterable flow of time as well as the awareness that each moment has a specific and unalterable number in the history of eternity.

The developing sense of self carries a time dimension; each present moment is experienced by the self in terms of past memories, fantasies, and future anticipations. Clinically, as in depersonalization and déjà vu, alterations in sense of self and in experiences of time often occur concomitantly.

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