The day the earth stood still: The presence of trauma in time experience

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The experience of time is commonly perceived as developing within the context of the early relationship between mother and infant. The beginning of life occurs in an adapted environment, aimed to protect the child from internal and external disruptions. Through healthy development, the mind acquires a feeling of continuity that gradually becomes a cohesive sense of personal identity. However, in cases of traumatic interruptions to the primary environment, the defensive shield of the self is penetrated and the individual becomes prematurely aware and adapted to the external reality. This forced acknowledgement of time and reality could be manifested in various types of time disturbances, such as disorientation about time or difficulties in following a schedule. In therapeutic relationships, this drama would be enacted in a struggle against the psychoanalytic setting, which disrupts the continuity of being with the therapist. Importantly, these patients express a deep conscious or unconscious fantasy to live in a timeless world, in which they would not be forced to adapt themselves to others’ expectations or needs. Clinical examples are used to illustrate how traumatic history is evident in the patient’s time experience and in the psychoanalytic dialogue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-60
Number of pages11
JournalPsychodynamic Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • development
  • psychodynamic psychotherapy
  • psychotherapeutic relationship
  • time
  • time-experience
  • trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'The day the earth stood still: The presence of trauma in time experience'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this