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Body Image and Transience: Frozen in Time

Les M. Fleischer


Our body image is subject to distortion throughout the lifespan. People often
deny or minimize the body’s deterioration. However, with advancing age
the individual has the capacity to mourn losses and incorporate or integrate
bodily changes. Early remnants of body image tend to be retained, and may
become conscious in dreams, illness, or regressive states. In pathological
states, body image is psychically frozen. This article proposes that disturbances
in body image and time, which are often interrelated, may reflect
an enduring unconscious fantasy associated with trauma and/or intrapsychic
conflict. A clinical vignette examines a disturbance in body image and
time, its pathogenesis, impact on character, object relatedness, and work,
along with transference and counter-transference issues. It addresses challenges
that all individuals face in maintaining a realistic, healthy body
image and sense of time. Neuroscientific research enriches a psychoanalytic


body image, psychic time, physical abnormalities, neuropsychoanalysis, narcissism, mourning

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