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Weissman, P. (1966). The Counterphobic State and its Objects. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 47:486-491.

(1966). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 47:486-491

The Counterphobic State and its Objects

Philip Weissman


This study emphasizes the utilization of crucial object relationships in the counterphobic mechanisms and de-emphasizes the role of ego defences. In general most phobias are temporarily relieved by the presence of a companion object. In addition, some phobias may be transformed into the opposite and are here referred to as counterphobic states.

A case of counterphobia is described in which the patient's wife and mistress were the crucial counterphobic objects. Analytic investigation of his childhood revealed the existence and the dynamics of phobic and counterphobic phases in his early development. His counterphobic object relationships represented a regression to the utilization of loved and magically endowed

omnipotent objects which become once again fused with the self and thus transformed the ego into an earlier infantile state of unlimited omnipotent activity.

A similarity between fetishism and counterphobia is suggested. The utilization of a fetishistic object in fetishism, like a counterphobic object in phobia, counteracts the ego's limitations; the fetishist can then achieve genital functioning. The counterphobic, like the fetishist, is not fixated to his fear but to the object which contradicts his fear.

Explored but unresolved remains the question as to why only some cases of phobia may be transformed into a counterphobic state.

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