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Windholz, E. (1943). The Counterphobic Attitude: Otto Fenichel. Int. J. Psa., XX, 1939, pp. 263–274.. Psychoanal Q., 12:144-145.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: The Counterphobic Attitude: Otto Fenichel. Int. J. Psa., XX, 1939, pp. 263–274.

(1943). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 12:144-145

The Counterphobic Attitude: Otto Fenichel. Int. J. Psa., XX, 1939, pp. 263–274.

Emanuel Windholz

This is the continuation of a previous paper, ber Angstabwehr, insbesondere durch Libidinisierung, published in 1934. Fenichel warned against underestimating a return of biological erotogenetic pleasure in the mechanisms of defenses against fear. In the new paper he emphasizes that 'pleasure derived from successful efforts toward defense against fear complicates the picture of primary erotogenetic pleasure'.

Under certain conditions a 'person shows preference for the very situation of which he is or was apparently afraid'. This is the 'counterphobic attitude'. Comparison is made with the mechanisms used by children and traumatic neurotics to master excessive quantities of anxiety by repetition of a danger by means of which are achieved: (1) transformation of passivity into activity as in the example of the 'identification with the aggressor'; (2) belief in a magical protection gained through identification with another whom one protects, such protection sometimes contradicting the sadistic nature of the intended act; (3) 'libidinization of anxiety'; (4) 'flight to reality'.

An interesting example from everyday life is, for some people, the essential pleasure in sport in which 'one actively brings about in play certain tensions which were formerly feared'. Those for whom certain kinds of sports are 'a matter of significance in their lives are true counterphobic subjects'.

Other fear-defenses are certain types of perversions, a special type of fixation which contradicts an opposing anxiety, and some forms of pseudosexuality. For many who derive 'functional pleasure' from counterphobic activities, a real phobia connected with the activities in questions existed in childhood.

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Article Citation

Windholz, E. (1943). The Counterphobic Attitude. Psychoanal. Q., 12:144-145

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