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Hunt, W. (1973). Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society. Psychoanal Q., 42:486-486.

(1973). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 42:486-486

Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society

Winslow Hunt

DISCUSSION: Dr. Manuel Furer questioned the definition of a fetish as an inanimate object which represents the missing maternal phallus and nothing else. He felt that this concept did not do justice to the complexity of the interrelationship between preoedipal and Oedipal development. He also thought that a genetic and dynamic continuity between the infantile and adult fetish was not proven by the data presented.

Dr. Robert Bak suggested the following classifications of inanimate object attachments in the first two years of life: 1, transitional objects which primarily soothe the trauma of the infant's separation from the mother's body; 2, prosthetic objects which serve the narcissistic purpose of maintaining the sense of body integrity, especially as props of the phallic self-image; 3, infantile fetishes which reassure against castration anxiety by symbolically representing the maternal phallus. The existence of an infantile fetish is in doubt as it would vitiate the temporal factor, the fetish being contingent on the phallic stage. Dr. Bak felt the issue may be impossible of solution since direct infant observation cannot tell us the precise meaning of a given behavior to the infant.

Dr. Margaret Mahler noted that the phenomena reported were commonly observed, especially in the violent reactions in girls to the early discovery of sexual differences.

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