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Passion and Melancholia, Red and Black: The Vicissitudes of the Sexual in an Analytic Process (Rosine Perelberg, Ph.D., London)

  • 28 Apr 2024
  • 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
  • Virtual




This paper discusses the different maternal imagoes that emerge in the transference and countertransference over the course of an analysis. A powerful, cherished, and idealised mother of infancy gives way to the cruel and competitive mother of adolescence. The way this mother emerges in the transference is through the sudden use of a foreign language. The author links this emergence to Freud’s search for the meaning of the uncanny in different languages: She suggests that the uncanny is that which provokes curiosity and is simultaneously rejected, as it refers to incestuous desires that are frightening, forbidden, and disgusting. The following question is raised: Is incest at the core of the riddle of anxiety? The author traces the interplay between the sexual and the melancholic in this analysis. It is the force of the repetition compulsion that enables repressed infantile sexuality to find its way into the transference, so that it can, for the first time, be named, in terms of its contradictory and opposing forces: red and black. The author establishes a link between Freud and Laplanche in the understanding that sexuality is only incompletely transformed into psychic reality.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this presentation the participants will be able to:

1. Distinguish between the concepts of instinct and drives in Freud’s writings.

2. Identify how a traumatic past may be repeated in the here and now in the clinical situation.

3. Discuss the link between the “uncanny” in Freud’s work and sexuality as it is expressed in an analysis.


Rosine Jozef Perelberg is a Distinguished Fellow, Training Analyst and Past President of the British Psychoanalytic Society. She also holds positions in the Psychoanalysis Unit at University College London and the Paris Psychoanalytical Society. She has written and edited twelve books, on topics including fantasy, dreaming, and thinking; Freud’s ideas and legacy; the Oedipus complex revisited; and sexuality and excess. Her book Psychic Bisexuality won the 2019 Book Prize for Best Edited Book from the American Board & Academy of Psychoanalysis. Dr. Perelberg was recently appointed European Region Representative to the International Psychoanalytical Association’s “The Community and the World” Committee on Prejudice, Discrimination, and Racism. She is the recipient of the 2023 Sigourney Award honouring outstanding psychoanalytic work worldwide. Dr. Perelberg is in full time clinical practice in London and teaches at the Institute of Psychoanalysis.


Aisenstein, M. (2020) Repetition and the compulsion to repeat, a French perspective. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 101(6), 1203-1214.

Chabert, C. (2019). Plural feminine: Hysteria, masochism or melancholia?. International Journal of Psychoanalysis 100(3), 584-592.

Chaplin, R. (2018). How to be both, by not being both: The articulation of psychic bisexuality with the analytic session. In R. J. Perelberg (Ed.), Psychic bisexuality: A British French dialogue (pp. 207-226). Routledge.

Perelberg, R. J. (2019). Sexuality, excess and representation: A psychoanalytic clinical and theoretical perspecive. Routledge.

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