Space and time in psychoanalytic listening

Int J Psychoanal. 2007 Dec;88(Pt 6):1473-90. doi: 10.1516/vg65-8l74-2317-8492.


The analytic situation is by definition traumatic because it evokes hilflosigkeit, the state of helplessness of the newborn infant, which is the prototype of the traumatic situation, and at the origin of the experience of anxiety. The author addresses the chain of associations between the state of helplessness, repetition compulsion, trauma, infantile sexuality, pleasure and displeasure, which lie at the core of the transference experience, and which find their ultimate expression in the analyst's listening. The discovery of the compulsion to repeat instituted a paradigmatic shift in Freud's formulations, emphasizing the process of repetition of trauma, and instituting a link between the network of concepts indicated above. In the clinical example discussed, the author defines the psychoanalytic process by the primacy of sexuality, the erotic passivation in the transference that evokes the traumatic childhood sexual scene. Sexuality and sexual phantasies are at the centre of the elaboration of meaning. Furthermore, the author distinguishes between two types of interpretations, namely 'open' and 'closed'.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Anxiety / therapy
  • Helplessness, Learned
  • Homosexuality, Male / psychology
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Oedipus Complex
  • Personal Space*
  • Psychoanalytic Interpretation
  • Psychoanalytic Theory
  • Psychoanalytic Therapy*
  • Sexuality
  • Suggestion
  • Time*
  • Transference, Psychology*