Female Experience and the Maternal Body

Female Experience: Four British Women Analysts on Work with Women (1997, second edition 2008), co-edited with Joan Raphael Leff, examines the way in which women construct their identification with their mother’s sexuality and the relevance of the construction of inner space in the sequence of a woman’s development. The capacity to think about an inner bodily space is crucially related to the capacity to have an internal mental space; the capacity to be able to represent an internal body filled with female organs is linked to an identification with a mother who not only has a capacity to mentalize, think, and interpret, but who is also experienced as life-giving. In an analysis, one is confronted with the emergence of sexual phantasies derived from the universal phantasies of the primal scene in their archaic forms. Perelberg believes that the sexual solutions encountered by patients in analysis are, at times, attempts to resolve psychic conflicts that are too painful and unbearable. When put into words, these conflicts may be elaborated psychically. When eroticism is less contaminated by anxieties about destruction and death, then one’s capacity to possess one’s body and one’s sexuality is liberated.

Key Publications:

Perelberg, R.J. (1997). (Introductions 1 and 3: In Raphael-Leff, J. and Perelberg, R.J. (Eds.)). Female Experience: Four British Women Analysts on Work with Women. London: The Anna Freud Centre.

Perelberg, R.J (2015) The structuring function of the Oedipus complex. In Murdered Father, Dead Father; revisiting the Oedipus Complex. London: Routledge. pp 125-169 

Perelberg, R.J. (2017) Love and Melancholia in the analysis of women by women. International Journal of Psychoanalysis. 98(6): 1533-1549.