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Nersessian, E. (1998). A Cat as Fetish: A Contribution to the Theory of Fetishism. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 79:713-725.

(1998). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 79:713-725

A Cat as Fetish: A Contribution to the Theory of Fetishism

Edward Nersessian

Since Freud's original study of fetishism and his description of the genesis of the symptom, many additions and elaborations have been made to those propositions. In the past decade, fetishism has been increasingly applied to a wide variety of behaviour and mentation, some with no overt sexual component. In this paper, the author, drawing on his observations made during a very lengthy analysis of a female patient, underscores the need to broaden the applicability of the diagnosis of fetishism but sees value in limiting it to the sexual situation. He suggests that a fetish does not need to be an inanimate object and expresses agreement with those who feel that fetishism is not limited to males. Additionally, he offers for consideration the idea that fetishism belongs on a continuum with a whole gamut of phenomena such as the need for a transitional object, the use of amulets, and the endowment of magical properties to words, ideas, rituals and objects. All these phenomena have in common the use of an outside object bestowed by magic and illusion to control anxiety. The hierarchical level of such anxiety and its ideational content (oedipal versus pre-oedipal) are of less causative value than the ego's inability to master it without resorting to an outside object.

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