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Lothstein, L.M. (1997). Pantyhose Fetishism and Self Cohesion: A Paraphilic Solution?. Gender and Psychoanalysis, 2:103-121.

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(1997). Gender and Psychoanalysis, 2(1):103-121

Pantyhose Fetishism and Self Cohesion: A Paraphilic Solution?

Leslie M. Lothstein, Ph.D.

In this paper a unique fetish, pantyhose fetishism, is presented and highlighted by clinical vignettes from males across the life cycle. Fetishism is explored from a number of diverse theoretical perspectives, including classical psychoanalysis, ego psychology, object relations theory, child developmental psychology, and self psychology. It is suggested that the wearing of pantyhose by males serves a range of functions, including but not limited to repairing psychic structure, an expression and defense against underlying aggression, enabling the development of symbol formation, allaying annihilation and separation anxiety, acting as a type of transitional object in terms of serving as a “second skin” component, soothing primitive anxieties related to the damaged body ego, and serving an erotic function involving desire and excitement. The function of pantyhose as a kind of “magic skin” or “second skin” suggests a relationship between perverse symptom formation and the development of a “skin ego.” Implications for the symbolizing function of this “magic or second skin” as a bridge to the mother figure is discussed in terms of theoretical and treatment issues. The functional use of pantyhose by the child or adult is viewed as a creative solution to a seemingly unresolvable interpersonal-intrapsychic dilemma.

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