Dialectics of Mortality and Immortality: Time as a Persecutory vs. Holding Object


PRESENTER: Susan Kavaler-Adler, PhD, ABPP, DLitt, NCPsyA

March 16, 2012 (Friday); 8:00 to 10:00 p.m.

Baruch College Library, 151 East 25th Street (@ Lexington & 3rd Ave); Room 320A

Fee: Non-members, $20, Members, $15, Students, $10

Please RSVP at lin362@earthlink.net or drkavaleradler@gmail.com

Dr. Kavaler-Adler offers her unique insights into the role of time in the therapeutic relationship, from an object relations perspective. She discusses patients' negotiations of time in treatment, illustrated with clinical case vignettes, as well as postulating a dialectic between the clinical moment and the Argentine tango moment.

Expanding Winnicott's notion of transitional space to include time, as it either creates feelings of being trapped or providing greater freedom as the patient becomes able to feel more intensely and more related and alive, Dr. Kavaler-Adler adds the dimension of comparative moments in therapy and Argentine tango.

Some of the topics that will be discussed within the broader topic are the following. Each will be illustrated with clinical case vignettes, and with dialectic, back and forth, between the "eternal now" clinical moment and the Argentine tango moment. While integrating theories of Freud, Klein, Winnicott, Bion, and Kavaler-Adler, the subtopics within the paper are:

The presentation promises to be stimulating and highly original.

Dr. Susan Kavaler-Adler's paper is a stimulating mediation on time, play and the potential revitalization of psychoanalysis. Any of one of those topics would have been enough of a gift to us. Susan gives us all three. Susan is playing with expanding Winnicott's seminal – and unceasingly generative – notion of transitional or potential space. Potential space for Winnicott and Winnicottian-inspired analysts like Ogden is an atmosphere, an attitude, a spirit of openness and playfulness, rather than a physical location. People, experiences, life – all take on an added richness and aliveness. Susan is enlarging potential space and extending it into the zone of time; temporizing potential space, elucidating what we might call potential time.

Susan distinguishes between two different kinds of relation to time:

  • When we are obsessed or preoccupied and feel impinged on, trapped and imprisoned and persecuted by time; and
  • Time as a matrix in which the moment of experiencing opens up and we are connected to ourselves; allow ourselves to feel – especially intense and unresolved emotions – and are thus less bounded and more related and alive.

Susan's lovely paper has many virtues. It illuminates an important and neglected topic – the role of time in object relations theory, the therapeutic relationship, and clinical process.

— Dr. Jeffrey Rubin,