Space and Time in the Obsessive-Compulsive Phenomenon

Psychopathology. 2018;51(1):31-37. doi: 10.1159/000485630. Epub 2018 Jan 5.


Following the tradition of researchers of the phenomenological-anthropological school such as Straus, von Gebsattel, Tellenbach, and Blankenburg, the author attempts to approach the obsessive-compulsive disorder from a phenomenological perspective. This means setting aside any previous ideas about the phenomenon in question, including genetic, neurobiological, and clinical-statistical considerations. He takes as his starting point a clinically typical case he studied and treated with psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapy for many years. After delving briefly into the interesting psychodynamic connections between the patient's symptoms and life story, he proceeds to analyze the obsessive world itself from a spatial and temporal point of view. Regarding the former, he points out that the features associated with human spatiality, according to Heidegger, the tendency to diminish distance and concede space, are specifically altered in the obsessive phenomenon. With respect to temporality, the author demonstrates the circularity and sterility of obsessive time (unlike that of creativity, which evolves in linear time) and the fact that the rites involved do not represent a victory over the rule of the clock, as religious rites do, but rather a deep submission to chronological time.

Keywords: Obsessive-compulsive disorder; Phenomenology; Spatiality; Temporality.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Space Perception
  • Time Perception