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Greenacre, P. (1970). The Transitional Object and the Fetish with Special Reference to the Role of Illusion. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 51:447-456.

(1970). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 51:447-456

The Transitional Object and the Fetish with Special Reference to the Role of Illusion

Phyllis Greenacre

In the first part of this paper I emphasized that the transitional object is a development of infancy and is generally given up in the oedipal period or in latency, whereas the fetish as we see it in perversions, most frequently has become manifest during latency and sometimes during adolescence. It generally remains an integral part of the equipment necessary for reasonably good sexual performance in the adult male, and is also found in some adult female patients. In the latter it appears in a less obvious but very persistent form and represents an extremely severe form of the deviation.

In their fullest development, the transitional object and the fetish show marked differences, and resemblances may appear to be superficial. Intermediate forms do exist in great variety, but do not come very frequently to the attention of the analyst. Winnicott has emphasized that the use of the transitional object is ubiquitous, though the period of its utilization is variable. It is the first created object of the infant who takes the material from what is at hand and makes something of it. Although it is an illusory something whose form and significance is not always recognized by others, it has attributes of both mother and infant but is external to both. The infant develops the beginning of a tender feeling towards it, which is a step in object relatedness. It serves as a kind of convoy during the period of growth which necessarily involves increasing separation from the mother, which cannot be accomplished without some aggression.

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