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Corbett, K. (2020). Abandoned by Time. Psychoanal. Dial., 30(5):630-631.

(2020). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 30(5):630-631

Abandoned by Time

Ken Corbett, Ph.D.

Mr. A pushed past “Hello,” on the phone to say, “This is going to be for a very very long time, and who knows what that will be?”

I took note of how Mr. A’s burst was carried by indefinite pronouns, the staccato of superlatives, the doomed interrogative (the “who” who cannot know), and the auxiliary verb as it searched for the promise of progress and existence (“time”).

Before I could speak, Mr. A said, “I feel abandoned by time.” Time, he seemed to be saying, had stopped looking after him.

“Stop all the clocks,” beckoned Auden (1936/2007) in the face of death (p. 48). Indeed, Mr. A has been stopped by the countless deaths around him. He asked if I had read the recent reports about children dying, but could not finish his inquiry, as he began to weep. Caught in the shadow of melancholia and anguish, Mr. A. has struggled to hold onto time’s slippery promise.

One might also listen to Mr. A’s proposition regarding time’s abandonment as evidence of the modern deconstruction of ideas about duration and the accumulation of past, present and future. They do not add up; they circulate.

And yet, in the gust of anxiety with which Mr. A opened our session, I heard him speaking to yet another aspect of time’s registration: despite time’s circumlocution, it nevertheless shapes us. Outside of time’s steady beat, Mr. A felt dropped. Good enough timing is a central feature of Winnicott’s (1971) good enough parent, as they spontaneously join the flow of a child’s perceptual and motoric engagement with the world.

[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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