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Greenacre, P. (1953). Certain Relationships Between Fetishism and Faulty Development of the Body Image. Psychoanal. St. Child, 8:79-98.

(1953). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 8:79-98

Certain Relationships Between Fetishism and Faulty Development of the Body Image

Phyllis Greenacre, M.D.


This paper aims to present certain considerations regarding fetishism, especially from the angle of its relation to defective development of the body image. At a later time I plan to present a second paper indicating some probable connections between fetishism and certain forms of drug habituation.

We may define fetishism as the obligatory use of some non-genital object as part of the sexual act without which gratification cannot be obtained. The object may be some other body part, or some article of clothing, or less frequently some more impersonal object. In most instances the need is for possession of the object so that it can be seen, touched, or smelled during or in preparation for the sexual act whether this be masturbatory or some form of intercourse. In some instances it is not only the possession of the object but a ritualistic use of it which is essential. Fetishism is a picturesque symptom but one which, in its well developed form, does not come very often under the scrutiny of analysis. Freud (1927) early remarked on this and stated that fetishists often regard their practice as abnormal but not as a symptom. Most of them manage some way in their sexual life; in fact the fetish may be the cornerstone for the maintenance of sexual activity. Indeed in reviewing all of the clinical cases reported in the psychoanalytic literature there was only one in which fetishism was the presenting symptom, and here it was because of the peculiar nature not only of the fetishistic object but of the fetishistic act, involving the obligatory cutting of the wife's hair during the sexual act. It was largely the wife's rebellion rather than the direct discomfort due to the symptom per se that brought the patient to treatment (Romm, 1949).

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