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Künstlicher, R. (2001). Human time and dreaming. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 24(2):75-82.

(2001). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 24(2):75-82

Human time and dreaming

Rolf Künstlicher

One characteristic of massive trauma is a persistent feeling that time is frozen, i.e., an experience impossible to integrate into a psychic reality. In this paper, the author sets out to explore the dimension of time in the psychoanalytical situation in an effort to shed light on this question. The infant acquires an immediate sense of time through the rhythm of frustration and satisfaction, and out of these encounters, a fundamental dialogue evolves. This primary dialogue is internalised and is regarded as an indispensable structure for psychic life. The child's existence is impregnated by unconscious desires or beliefs of the adult world – enigmatic messages that will constitute an unconscious source of the child's own psychic reality. Timeless desires and enigmatic messages urge on a dreaming in attempts to carry over the psychical sense of time and the implacable time of existence. When we infuse a time dimension through our dreaming and our narratives, we give shape to our timeless wishes. The psychoanalytic situation arouses the primary dialogue and an elementary experience of time. Traumatic experiences are tantamount to the absence of the primary object and thereby the death of time. Dreaming becomes an endeavour to create a psychic space, the aim of which is to restore the primary dialogue. If circumstances obliterate all hope of re-establishing the bond to the primary object, the sense of time is destroyed as well. The author concludes that the experience of time and elaboration of traumatic experiences are closely connected.

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