Psychoanalysis > Papers

Time Travels, Changing the Past
and the Psychoanalytical Work

By J Jones

The big issue with time traveling is interfering with the course of events – is it allowed or not? If I go back to the past and make a different decision than the one I already made, let's say I get married with a different woman from the ones I said no to, am I not creating a distortion making thus impossible my present, meaning that I basically cancel it and cancel ME?

This question is more than once debated in Startrek and it is the basis for the primary non-interference directive. It seems logical and imposed by the events: you do not get involved and you do not modify something in the past so that you don't cancel a future sequence, basically canceling yourself etc.

But what if going back through time and modifying the past is precisely in the core of the event and an option which is assumed to be used? Meaning the flow of the event also includes the assumption of my going back and modifying the moment from the past that I consider it has to be revised and added? Yes, I go back in time and I make another decision - I am not getting married with T. but with A. Will things evolve differently or will they be the same, including this subsequent change?

Or the third option: no matter what change I make to the past, it does not radically change the present? The present can get over the modification of the past and it's even reinforced by this change...

I don't think we can radically change the present even if we have the possibility to go back now in the past, having all the new knowledge of the events. Not because the present is a fatality, but because it's flow is the sum of all possibilities, including the virtual ones.

I am thinking of the famous statement made by Freud, that the present world is the best possible one because it's the only one possible...

In psychoanalysis we can produce important modifications to the present by analyzing the critical moments (complexes) such as variation of Oedipus complex - in fact, one's specific way of reacting to the complex' requests. If this is a neurotic way - and I don't see how it could be different as I do not believe in Freud's optimism when he talks about solving this complex - it influenced the present in a neurotic way. Meaning it is responsible for the actual neurosis. By eliminating one's distorted "solution" of the complex, I fix the present or avoid other neurotic consequences.

Still, we do not have to count too much on the modification done to the past. As a matter of fact, the id always creates desires, it is a machine of desires, and this cannot be stopped forever. And the way I modify these desires so that they become usable, even if this can be labeled as "healthy" - thing which is actually very difficult or delicate - it means nothing essential in real life. This aspect can only be connected to the above conclusion regarding the fictional modification of the past when I said that "the present can get over the modification of the past and it's even reinforced by this change".

A consequence for psychoanalysis would be that we don't have to hurry to submit the patient to a complete analysis unless his/her current neurosis is extremely noxious. If we can obtain positive results by using not-so-in-depth analysis, by analyzing and interpreting dreams, then it is desirable to stick to it.


<= Back to Papers Section or Home (Psychoanalysis)

Copyright 2002-2024, AROPA. All rights reserved.