Core Phantasy in Violence, A

Psychoanalytic Understanding of Violence and Suicide (1999) was based on at least 10 years work with a group of young adults. Perelberg describes how, in the course of trying to understand and psychoanalytically treat a violent young man, she began to identify in his material a plot or narrative that expressed an unconscious phantasy, a personal myth—namely, that he was born of violent intercourse between his mother and himself; no father was involved in his conception. This phantasy had attained the status of belief. The patient’s view of the primal scene was that it was particularly violent and destructive. This core phantasy was expressed in his acts of violence. The violent act tells a story—a personal myth of creation—and contains both pre-oedipal and distorted oedipal theories. Perelberg also discusses issues of technique in the treatment of violent patients. They need to feel they can terrorize their analyst in order to feel safe in the consulting room. Interpretations that centre on this experience—which are ultimately based on the analyst’s countertransference—have an important impact on the patient; in the case of Perelberg’s patient, they paved the way for violence to give way to depressive feelings. 

Key Publications:

Perelberg, R.J. (1995). A Core Phantasy in Violence. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 76:1215-1231.

Perelberg, R.J. (1999). The Interplay Between Identifications and Identity in the Analysis of a Violent Young Man. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 80:31-45

Perelberg, R.J .(1997) Psychoanalytic Understanding of violence and suicide. London: Routledge and The New Library of Psychoanalysis