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(1962). Meetings of the Psychoanalytic Association of New York. Psychoanal Q., 31:444-445.

(1962). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 31:444-445

Meetings of the Psychoanalytic Association of New York

January 15, 1962. ON TIME AND TIMELESSNESS. Shelley Orgel, M.D.

This paper presents clinical and theoretical problems concerning the meanings and uses of time by a young woman in analysis. The patient manipulated her perceptions and handling of time as an essential resource in her object relations. Her severe character disorder was primarily characterized by lateness for those appointments with people who represented mother substitutes. Her typical pattern included a period of lack of awareness of time as well as other aspects of self-awareness, followed by a period of hypercathexis of time and feelings of guilt and anxiety about her impending lateness. Analysis disclosed that the period of timelessness represented a fantasy of fusion with cathected parts of the mother imago while the coming appointment threatened to force her to become aware of her true state of separation from the object. The fantasied fusion could be breached only by a sadistic act which could destroy, in fantasy, both herself and the object. For instance, arriving on time at the analyst's office meant that she had lost control of her pregenital impulses directed toward the analyst in the transference. Expecting frustration and then abandonment, as she had received from her mother in childhood, she would experience mounting bodily tension and helpless rage. This anxiety could be warded off if she could repress her impatience before the session by denying that time was passing and by asserting that she had omnipotent control over time, which meant that she was fused with the cathected parts of the psychic images of the analyst (mother)—breast, feces, and phallus.

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