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Bass, A. (1991). Fetishism, Reality, and “The Snow Man”. Am. Imago, 48(3):295-328.

(1991). American Imago, 48(3):295-328

Fetishism, Reality, and “The Snow Man”

Alan Bass

The psychoanalytic revolution permanently changed our notion of reality. This change was largely effected by recon-ceptualizing perversion, and its crucial place in the real. We have long known that Freud's postulation of psychic reality (the internal reality as real as any physical, biological, or chemical force) was co-extensive with his understanding of the role of perversion in neurosis. An instance of this joint development is in the early paper in which Freud elaborated the seduction theory, “The Aetiology of Hysteria(1896). This paper started as a set of clinical hypotheses about trauma, perversion, and defense, but ended as a glimpse of a new theory of mind, a new conception of (psychic) reality. Concluding the essay, Freud wrote:

… in hysterical people when there is a present-day precipitating cause, the old experiences come into operation in the form of unconscious memories. It looks as though the difficulty of disposing of a present impression … is attached precisely to the power of the psychical unconscious. You see that the remainder of the problem lies once more in a kind of psychology— and, what is more, a psychology of a kind for which philosophers have done little to prepare the way for us.

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