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Bonovitz, C. (2011). The Experiential Modes of Time in Adolescence: The Action Mode, The Timeless Now, and Nostalgia. Psychoanal. Psychol., 28(1):132-144.

(2011). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 28(1):132-144

The Experiential Modes of Time in Adolescence: The Action Mode, The Timeless Now, and Nostalgia

Christopher Bonovitz, PsyD

In this article, the author will describe three modes of time embedded in adolescence, ones that reflect the different phases of adolescence and the ongoing negotiation of separation/individuation. The first mode is the action mode, a mode specific to early adolescence where time is rapid, moving fast and furious with little room for thought or reflection. Action precedes thought; the present overshadows the past and future. In the second mode, described as the timeless mode, one related to middle adolescence, the moment or situation is drawn out and the dramatics of the exchange move into the foreground. Here, it is as though the moment is suspended in time. There is a timeless quality to the experience of others and the surrounding world. The third mode is nostalgia, an experience of time related somewhere between middle and late adolescence in which the adolescent reflects back on the idealized parents of the past in relation to his or her own child self. The past is romanticized in relation to the present. The conflict with holding onto the child self and its attendant longings, wishes, and needs bumps up against the burgeoning young man or woman inside the adolescent. There is a wish to hold on and the urge to let go, or to find some compromise in sustaining the tension between the present and past. A clinical example is used to illustrate each respective mode, its aim and purpose, and the process of integration across the past, present, and future.

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