Time: The Silent Guest at the Therapeutic Table

Jenkins, Hugh Ventris. 2013. Time: The Silent Guest at the Therapeutic Table. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

Text (The Silent Guest at the Therapeutic Table)
STACS_)thesis_Jenkins_2013.pdf - Accepted Version

Download (43MB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

This thesis explores understandings of time in psychotherapy, philosophy, and anthropology, with particular reference to time in Sigmund Freud and Selvini-Palazzoli’s work. From these findings I propose how a time framework has a bearing on psychotherapy.

My ethnographic approach is through textual research, case vignettes from my psychotherapy practice, transcript analysis from filmed interviews, and accounts of experiences of time in therapy from patients’ self-reports. I state why I have not given significant space to time within the discipline of physics, finding this area of thought has a more abstract and mathematical approach not directly applicable to human nature or psychotherapy. However, I summarise some of Newton, Einstein, Hawking, and Barbour’s contributions, since their ideas form a backdrop to Western thinking about the nature of mankind and our universe, and thus inform the philosophical sections.

The main therapeutic approaches are Freud and Palazzoli’s conceptual frameworks (psychodynamic and systemic) and their different emphases on time in healing. This provides the reference point for the study. Then, taking the Greeks (Parmenides, Plato, Aristotle) and Augustine, followed by a more modern emphasis on phenomenology, (Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Sartre, Camus, and Ricoeur, inter alia) the strengths and weaknesses of philosophical explorations of time are critically analysed in terms of psychotherapy.

An interview with a Romanian family bridges philosophical and anthropological perspectives. I explore the effects of conceptualising time, using qualitative research methods, and propose different kinds of socio-politico-historico-cultural time.

Anthropological scholarship more directly helps think about time in psychotherapy. I make detailed reference to two cultures, Balinese and Sora. I then explore the nature of ritual, which provides fertile ground for conceptualising
time in psychotherapy.

Finally, I evaluate these philosophical and anthropological contributions on time to psychodynamic and systemic psychotherapy, and consider implications for fast-changing temporal relationships in contemporary Western societies.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Social, Therapeutic & Community Engagement (STaCS)



Item ID:


Date Deposited:

27 Jan 2014 13:16

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 13:46



View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)