Based upon Zimbardo’s and Boyd’s (2008) Time Perspective Theory, a therapeutic technique known as Time Perspective Therapy (Zimbardo, Sword and Sword) was developed.
Time Perspective Therapy is predicated upon Zimbardo’s idea that the way in which we view and relate to the past, the present and the future strongly influences how we think, feel, behave and perceive events that are going on around us. According to this theory, each individual may be represented, to a greater or lesser degree) by any of the following types.
- THE ‘PAST-NEGATIVE’ TYPE
- THE ‘PAST-POSITIVE’ TYPE
- THE ‘PRESENT-HEDONISTIC’ TYPE
- THE ‘PRESENT-FATALIST’ TYPE
- THE ‘FUTURE-FOCUSED’ TYPE
- THE ‘FUTURE-TRANSCENDENT’ TYPE
Let’s look at each of these in turn :
- THE ‘PAST-NEGATIVE’ TYPE : this type of individual is preoccupied by the negative aspects of his/her personal past experiences
- THE ‘PAST-POSITIVE’ TYPE : this type of individual feels nostalgic about the past and might describe it with phrases like ‘the good old days‘
- THE ‘PRESENT-HEDONISTIC’ TYPE : this type of individual seeks immediate pleasure and has an impaired ability to delay gratification
- THE ‘PRESENT-FATALISTIC’ TYPE : this type of individual has a tendency to feel that making plans and decisions ‘now’ (i.e. in the present) is futile as the future is predetermined and beyond their control – in this way they may develop a kind of ‘whatever will be will be…‘ attitude.
- THE ‘FUTURE-ORIENTED’ TYPE : this type of person adopts an optimistic view of the future, is able to delay gratification for the sake of the longer-term good, makes confident plans for it, is ambitious and sets him/herself challenging goals.
- THE ‘FUTURE-TRANSCENDENT’ TYPE : this type of individual focuses on his/her belief that an ‘after-life’ exists.
The degree to which individuals can be represented by the above types can be measured by the Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory (ZTPI).
Childhood Trauma And Time Perspective Type :
Individuals who have suffered severe and protracted childhood trauma and who have, perhaps, as a result, go on to develop conditions such as borderline personality disorder (BPD) or complex posttraumatic stress disorder (complex-PTSD) are prone to :
- ruminating excessively upon the negative aspects of the past
- feelings of helplessness and powerlessness
- feelings of profound pessimism about the future
- seeking instant gratification in an attempt to reduce intense psychological pain (e.g. drinking, smoking, drugs, gambling, promiscuous sex)
In terms of Zimbardo’s time perspective theory, therefore,