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Aarons, Z.A. (1975). Fetish, Fact and Fantasy: A Clinical Study of the Problems of Fetishism. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 2:199-230.

(1975). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 2:199-230

Fetish, Fact and Fantasy: A Clinical Study of the Problems of Fetishism

Z. Alexander Aarons

THEORETICAL CONSIDERATIONS

Our understanding of fetishism is based upon Freud's brief but concise accounts of the subject in a short section of the 'Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality' (1905), his papers on 'Fetishism' (1927), 'Splitting of the Ego in the Process of Defence' (1940a), and remarks at the end of chapter eight of 'An Outline of Psychoanalysis' (1940b). The case that will be discussed in this clinical presentation is further verification of Freud's theory of the fetishistic phenomenon which, as he said, is the clearest evidence of the existence of the castration complex. It will also illustrate the predisposition to fetishism, namely, the boy's identification with his mother during the early pre-oedipal period of development. As an introduction to the analytic case material, I would first like to summarize and discuss Freud's explanation of fetishism together with comments on later contributions to the subject by Bak (1953), (1971) and Greenacre (1953), (1955), (1960), (1968), (1969).

The fetishistic patient seeks treatment because of incapacitating and ubiquitous anxiety arising from the precarious basis of his object relationships, and the confusion in his self-image. His fetishism is not, in the beginning, felt as a symptom; however, when it arises in the course of the analysis, it is recognized as an abnormality and revealed with embarrassment. It has been the patient's secret (Greenacre), hidden from the world, and retained as a highly prized erotic gratification around which his fantasy life revolves.

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