The infant is the baby of the past, observable in the development of an individual. The infantile, according to Freud, is the child within the adult, who can only be reached through a process of construction. The infant is subject to observation, but the infantile is the result of the analyst’s reconstruction in the process of après-coup.
The specific object of psychoanalysis, as André Green reminds us, is the unconscious, which one can reach only by approximations—this other thing in Freud’s formulations, forever an “internal foreign body” in the words of Jean Laplanche. The “real” child has been lost; in the consulting room one has access to memories that have been invested with phantasy. This was the theme of Perelberg’s first psychoanalytic paper, for which she was awarded the Cesare Sacerdoti Prize at the IPA Congress in Buenos Aires in 1991. It culminated in her book Time, Space and Phantasy, published in 2008.
In The Controversial Discussions and Après-Coup (2006, 2008), Perelberg proposed the distinction between the descriptive après-coup, which designates the retrospective understanding in the here-and-now of a session, and the dynamic après-coup, which is deeply embedded in Freudian metapsychology and implies a network of concepts such as repetition compulsion, sexuality, and temporality in the context of the transference.
Perelberg, R.J. (2006). The Controversial Discussions and Après-coup. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 87:1199-1220.
Perelberg, R.J. (2007). Space and Time in Psychoanalytic Listening. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 88:1473-1490.
Perelberg, R.J. (2008). Time, Space and Phantasy. London: Routledge. New Library of Psycho-Analysis. Preface by André Green.