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Zavitzianos, G. (1977). The Object in Fetishism, Homeovestism and Transvestism. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 58:487-495.

(1977). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 58:487-495

The Object in Fetishism, Homeovestism and Transvestism

George Zavitzianos

The cases of fetishism encountered in the analytic literature do not always meet the criteria of metapsychology. The libidinal phase to which the object described as 'fetish' belongs, the function of the 'fetish' and its symbolic significance do not always correspond to those described by Freud.

Anna Freud (1965) states that the child has, in common with the adult fetishist, the tendency to hypercathect some object or some part of his own or another person's body with either narcissistic or object libido. These strongly cathected objects represent either a part object or a need-satisfying one. She points out that using the same term to describe both adult and infantile manifestations of this kind leads to the faulty hypothesis that similarities between adult and child behaviour correspond to a metapsychological identity. While the fetishistic object of the child has various symbolic meanings and serves various ego and id purposes which change from one phase of development to another, the fetish of the adult plays a dominant role in the fetishist's sexual life and symbolizes the penis of the mother.

An important point made by the same author is that the ultimate fate of a fetishistic behaviour of childhood cannot be foreseen before the child reaches adolescence. Even then there are a certain number of factors that will determine the outcome.

The intention of this article is not to deal with the developmental aspects of the 'fetishistic' object but to show that there exists a category of adult cases described in the literature as fetishism which do not meet the criteria of this condition.

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