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Balint, M. (1935). A Contribution on Fetishism. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 16:481-483.

(1935). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 16:481-483

A Contribution on Fetishism

Michael Balint

In his paper on 'Fetishism' Freud has pointed out that the fetish usually signifies a penis-substitute. Here I should like to describe two further interpretations of the fetish that came to light in a case analysed by me, and which led me to suppose, after looking through the literature on the subject, that they play an essential rôle in nearly every case.

There are very many people for whom the one or other quality of the love-object is of special significance in their love choice, sometimes representing even a 'conditio sine qua non'. These people are certainly not quite free: that is, strictly speaking, not perfectly healthy, but still not really perverse. Only those can be called fetishists in the real sense who do not need a sexual partner, but only a fetish, and whose sexual activity has not the act itself as its aim.

These people—as is generally known—are with few exceptions men. The actions that give them gratification consist nearly always in putting on the fetish, or in putting part of their body into the fetish. Very many fetishes are by nature hollow or are used as receptacles in the perverse actions; such are shoes, corsets, articles of clothing, under-linen in general, especially drawers, then fur articles, handkerchiefs and, for instance, in a remarkable case told me by Dr. Pfeifer, the hollow part of an artificial leg. The interpretation of these objects as the vagina and the womb respectively is quite as obvious as the penis interpretation of the use of the body itself or part of the body.

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