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Kohon, G. (1987). Fetishism Revisited. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 68:213-228.

(1987). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 68:213-228

Fetishism Revisited

Gregorio Kohon

I have built myself on an absent column.

Some of these illnesses, if cured, leave nothing in
man … Henri Michaux.


Love, by definition, is not a simple question. Any simplified characterization of love is, in itself, a caricature. Not all perverse sexual relationships exclude love, and yet, it could be said that the most perfect caricatures of love are the perversions. Gillespie (1964) described fetishism as being one such 'caricature of certain important features of normal sexual love'. How is it possible that a piece of cloth, shoes, a piece of jewellery or long hair, can produce—by themselves—sexual pleasure in an individual? How can something, in its own concrete, solid, materialness become the condition for certain individuals to have an erection or to reach an orgasm? Human sexuality seems, in this light, extraordinary in its variations and very curious in its formation.

Although there are reported cases of fetishism in women (as there are of female transvestites), it is considered almost an exclusively male activity. As well as transvestism and exhibitionism, fetishism is recognized as a male perversion, the core of which rests on the severity of the castration complex. The existence of fetishism in males is explained by some authors as a result of the impossibility for the man to hide any phallic failure: if the man does not have an erection this becomes evident, it is something 'visible' to him and to his partner (Greenacre, 1960).

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