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Romm, M.E. (1949). Some Dynamics in Fetishism. Psychoanal Q., 18:137-153.

(1949). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 18:137-153

Some Dynamics in Fetishism

May E. Romm, M.D.

While fetishism may seem an isolated symptom, other neurotic symptoms are invariably found to be part of the syndrome. Freud traced the phenomena of fetishism to a specific variety of repression which he called partial repression. The basis of fetishism is a specific sexual aberration characterized by an abnormal strength of certain component drives (1). It is composed of a process of displacement and a superimposed partial repression. Abraham states that there is always an extraordinary reduction in the fetishist's sexual activity (3). In view of the fact that analysis of the neuroses has shown quite clearly that instincts which have originally been excessively strong can be paralyzed by repression, the early instinctual drives of individuals who have developed the fetishistic compulsion must be investigated.

In fetishism, a sexual perversion, gratification can be obtained only by the sight of, contact with or possession of some nongenital object which belongs to the body or person of another, usually of the opposite sex (8). It may be some intimate article of wearing apparel (furs, shoes), or a part of the body such as the foot or hair. Fetishists can get sexual satisfaction only when the chosen fetish and specific conditions—determined by repressed memories of infantile experiences to which the individual has become fixed—obtain. The fixation represents to the fetishist an attempt to resolve infantile sexual conflicts. This attempt is unsuccessful, merely acting as a device to relieve tension.

Freud maintained that everyday experience has shown that most perversions, including fetishism, are usually components in the sexual life of normal people who look upon them as upon other intimacies.

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