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Models of Temporality In Psychoanalysis

The Letter, Issue 31, Summer 2004, Pages 79 - 100


Andrew J. Lewis

Psychoanalysis can be defined as a praxis and thus we can assume that this constantly unravelling process requires a certain time in which to both extend and unfold. A logic of the psychoanalytic treatment therefore requires certain temporal concepts such as punctuation, historicity and repetition and these will be the focus of this paper. The paper will also examine the formal representations and demonstrations which are used to integrate and illustrate these concepts.

The understanding of time required by the analytic experience is the subject of an ongoing debate among competing analytic orientations, a debate which has had its institutional ramifications. Both the centrality of speech and the status of time in the analytic situation were similarly neglected in the theory of psychoanalysis until the work of Jacques Lacan. There is certainly more at stake in the concept of time than a question of technique, since the manner in which an analyst 'handles' time - the length and frequency of sessions, the timing of interpretation, the length of the analysis as a whole - can only be derived from his or her general theory of psychoanalytic praxis. Needless to say, what emerges from this 'putting into question...the function of the analyst' has not failed to make Lacan's work both challenging and controversial.[1]

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