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Renik, O. (1992). Use of the Analyst as a Fetish. Psychoanal Q., 61:542-563.

(1992). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 61:542-563

Use of the Analyst as a Fetish

Owen Renik, M.D.


In some cases a gratifying transference fantasy is the subject of progressive analytic work, while in other cases the same type of fantasy eludes investigation, and its enactment causes treatment to become an unproductive endless task. One cause for the latter difficulty can be that the patient uses his or her analyst as a fetish, permitting the distinction between reality and fantasy to remain inconclusive, so that relinquishment of magical expectations does not take place. The particular form of thinking involved in use of the analyst as a fetish is described. The role of illusion, its various clinical manifestations, the countertransference reactions they can evoke, and the technical problems posed are discussed. Special attention is given to the crucial issue of termination. By considering extreme instances in which use of the analyst as a fetish predominates, the author hopes to call attention to a phenomenon that appears to some degree in many, if not all, analyses.

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