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Goldin, D. (2014). Addiction and Temporal Bandwidth. Int. J. Psychoanal. Self Psychol., 9(3):246-262.

(2014). International Journal of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology, 9(3):246-262

Addiction and Temporal Bandwidth

Daniel Goldin, M.A.

Psychoanalytic thinkers tend to conflate addiction with the use of substances. At any moment of use, a substance can have emotion-regulating qualities and may even appear to be a symbolic substitute for a person or a function (a theory at the heart of the self-psychological approach to compulsive substance use). However, addiction—as opposed to use—is a state that happens over time and represents a loss of choice. It is my belief that far from being a symbolic act, addiction is an anti-symbolic state, plucking an individual from a narrative mode of being, which requires a human context and a broad, dynamic sense of time, to a conditioned mode or a somatic feedback mode, which relies largely on positive and negative reinforcement and tends to narrow temporal horizons. A tenet of this article is that a rigidly narrow subjective sense of time, what I call “low temporal bandwidth,” is the most prominent feature in a person’s vulnerability to addiction, a feature linked to a conditioned mode of being, as opposed to a narrative mode. This article traces some of the early relational pathways to low temporal bandwidth and explores how a new human context in therapy, centered on the elaboration of emotional states into narratives, can allow for more flexible, dynamic temporal bandwidth that often dramatically loosens the pull of addiction.

[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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