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Peto, A. (1973). The Olfactory Forerunner of the Superego: Its Role in Normalcy, Neurosis and Fetishism. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 54:323-330.

(1973). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 54:323-330

The Olfactory Forerunner of the Superego: Its Role in Normalcy, Neurosis and Fetishism

Andrew Peto

SUMMARY

Infantile olfactory stimulations, apart from their libidinous significance, are experienced by the child as threatening traumatic events attached to the primary parental objects. Through this mechanism they gain a threatening quality because they become part and parcel of the 'bad' parental imagos. These dynamics determine that earliest stages of superego development are, ceteris paribus, anchored in this olfactory forerunner. It is, as a matter of course, not operational in the final mature, neutralized structure of the superego. However, regressions in the neurotic transference and psychotic hallucinations and delusions may bring to the fore this forerunner as an actual experience of the patient. It is suggested that the typical 'sniffing' in the course of finding through minute olfactory stimulants the object that smells (Hermann) is a useful genetic and functional model for the corresponding moral activity to reach judgement and condemnation. Also, idiomatic expressions in languages point in this direction.

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