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Agoston, T. (1945). Some Psychological Aspects of Prostitution: The Pseudo-Personality. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 26:62-67.

(1945). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 26:62-67

Some Psychological Aspects of Prostitution: The Pseudo-Personality

Tibor Agoston


1. The psychiatrist is often called upon to treat patients who (a) practise prostitution or (b) have phantasies about prostitution.

2. On the basis of psychiatric experience, the dictionary definition of prostitution is modified as follows. According to the dictionary prostitution means sexual intercourse (a) for hire, (b) indiscriminately, (c) among a certain class of women. Psychiatric experience shows that in prostitution (a) promiscuousness implies an intentional, defiant indifference in the selection of partners ('Anyone at all will do'); (b) no limitation to class was observed; (c) the relationship is usually marked by brevity; (d) the partners are contemptuous of each other; (è) the partners remain incognito; and (f) their incognito is fortified by fictitious tales about themselves and their families.

3. According to psychiatric experience the psychological essential in prostitution is the development of a pseudo-personality which is manifested chiefly in (a) the psychological incognito of the partners, (b) false tales about themselves and their origin and (c) false toughness.

4. The ætiology of prostitution involves two co-existent factors: (a) deep, intense castration fear with a special, existential quality; (b) complete emotional rejection by both parents, usually in actual fact, very rarely with a partial element of phantasy. This in turn is caused by the repressed, narcissistic, oral-anal character of the parents.

5. Concomitant with the pseudo-personality of the prostitute is pseudo-regression to the oral-anal level, which, in the guise of money-madness, conceals regression to the completely infantile level of (a) exhibitionism, (b) scopophilia and (c) enjoyment of magic power.

6. The prognosis of prostitution and prostitution-phantasies is fairly good if the symptom (prostitution), of which the patient is ashamed, is treated nonchalantly and the patient's positive qualities are supported, so that by 'accepting' the patient, re-education and rehabilitation are made possible.

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