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Perelberg, R.J. (1995). Feelings and their Absence from the Analytic Setting. Brit. J. Psychother., 12(2):212-221.

(1995). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 12(2):212-221

Feelings and their Absence from the Analytic Setting

Rosine Jozef Perelberg, Ph.D.


In this paper I would like to examine the connection between feeling, thinking and acting out as related to the issue of violence. I will present clinical material derived from the analysis of two patients. One, a young male adult, had presented severe violent behaviour prior to the beginning of his analysis. The second, a middle-aged woman, was close to violence against the analyst in the consulting-room. Through their analysis I came to understand that for these patients violence represented an attempt to find a refuge from feelings towards the analyst which they experienced as unbearable. These feelings were related to terrifying phantasies about the relationship with the analyst, an imago of an all-engulfing mother and a belief in the primal scene as an act of violence (see Perelberg 1995a). When they came to analysis both patients lacked an affective understanding of these phantasies which were repeatedly externalized in their relationships.

In the first section of the paper I will outline some points of reference in the psychoanalytic literature on affect. I will then present some of my own thoughts on the theme, derived both from the literature and from my understanding of some of my patients in analysis. I will then examine some clinical material relating to two specific patients in the light of these hypotheses.

Some Points of Reference in the Literature

Throughout his work Freud continuously discussed the relationship between affect and idea as components of human experience.

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