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Calhoun, C.J. (1976). Continuity and Change: The Significance of Time in the Organization of Experience. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 3:291-304.

(1976). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 3:291-304

Continuity and Change: The Significance of Time in the Organization of Experience

Craig Jackson Calhoun

The concept of time is one of the most basic tools for the description of experience and one of the most fundamental concepts of both the human and physical sciences. We perceive 'time' after our own fashions, in nearly every act of our existence and most particularly in our reflexions on our experience. All too often, however, we allow our personal styles of perception to confuse and complicate our analytic conceptualization of time. As a conceptualization 'time' has various uses and meanings and we err when we do not grant it this complexity. In this paper I shall suggest that four concepts placed on a continuum: constancy—continuity— change—chaos, provide a better guide to the understanding of the import and operation of time than do our often simplistic notions of a 'fourth dimension' or our watches and clocks.

In order to pursue our exposition it is necessary that we recognize the idea of the intentionality of perception. By this I refer to the absolute creation of each experience or perception by the individual actor. This stance, which I postulate, includes both the physiological and psychical components of the experiencing individual. It is not, of course, the only possible way in which to view human beings. It does seem, however, to be an appropriate focus so long as we are concerned with individuals as discrete units and are willing to grant men the possession of autonomy over their own lives. These choices are implicit in psychoanalysis, for by it we not only affirm the individual's ability to direct (whether consciously or not) his own experience and action, but we assume that it is possible to treat individuals successfully without changing the whole of their environments.

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