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Schubert, J. (2001). Between eternity and transience: On the significance of time in psychoanalysis. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 24(2):93-100.

(2001). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 24(2):93-100

Between eternity and transience: On the significance of time in psychoanalysis

Johan Schubert

In every psychoanalysis, there is a contradiction between an eternal and a limited time perspective as regards the analytic task. This corresponds to the contradictory relationship existing between the unconscious, which is timeless, and the linear time of external reality. On the basis of these conditions, this paper describes how the experience of time in different ways is significant for analytical understanding and how it influences the analytic work. Various phenomena related to time and the perception of time are illustrated by clinical vignettes. The difficulties in handling the time limit are discussed from both a theoretical and a practical point of view. At the termination of a psychoanalysis, the two time perspectives meet. This presents opportunities for insight and change as well as a special challenge to both the analysand and the analyst.

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