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Payne, S.M. (1939). Some Observations on the Ego Development of the Fetishist. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 20:161-170.

(1939). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 20:161-170

Some Observations on the Ego Development of the Fetishist

S. M. Payne

Freud first described the significance of the fetish in his classical work entitled Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex. He shewed that the fetish was a substitute for an infantile sexual object, and that the selection of the fetish object was influenced by a coprophilic smell attraction. In later works he emphasized the fact that the fetish symbolized the penis and its presence relieved the castration fear of the male which was aroused by the sight of the female genital.

In an account of a case of shoe and corset fetishism Abraham laid stress on the part played by coprophilic and scoptophilic impulses in the psychical development of the fetishist. Bálint recorded in a recent article his recognition of the fact that the fetish not only symbolizes a genital, male or female, but also has a fæcal significance.

I had made a similar observation independently while working on the cases which I shall refer to in this paper.

Freud's recognition that the presence of the fetish not only stimulated the man's sexual desires but also allayed his castration anxiety introduced a new approach, namely that of the relation of the fetish to ego defence mechanisms and ego development.

In this contribution I hope to shew (a) That the necessity to make a defence against an archaic sexual aim is one of the determinants of fetishism—the aim being to kill the love object; (b) to describe the type of situation in which the fixation of this sexual aim occurs; (c) to make some observations on the form of ego development which accompanies the adoption of this abnormal sexual behaviour.

I have had the opportunity of analysing two cases of fetishism and of observing work done on another case. I shall illustrate my paper from the analysis of a patient whose fetish was a mackintosh. I have been struck by the fact that the special type of sexual behaviour which demands the presence of a fetish is only one manifestation of a pathological mental state, which includes acute attacks of depression and anxiety, the presence of fears and phantasies of a paranoid type, suicidal tendencies which in one case were manifested first in childhood, and serious inhibitions.

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