The first thing the introduction of the notion [of deferred action] does is to rule out the summary interpretation which reduces the psycho-analytic view of the subject’s history to a linear determinism envisaging nothing but the action of the past upon the present. … The Freudian conception, however, would seem to be a much more precise one. In our opinion, it may be characterised as follows:
- It is not lived experience in general that undergoes a deferred revision, but, specifically, whatever it has been impossible in the first instance to incorporate fully into a meaningful context. The traumatic event is the epitome of such unassimilated experience.
- Deferred revision is occasioned by events and situations, or by an organic maturation, which allow the subject to gain access to a new level of meaning and to rework his earlier experiences.
- Human sexuality, with the peculiar unevenness of its temporal development, provides an eminently suitable field for the phenomenon of deferred action.
— Jean Laplanche and Jean-Bertrand Pontalis, The Language of Psycho-Analysis. Trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith. (W. W. Norton, 1973)