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(1973). Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society. Psychoanal Q., 42:486.

(1973). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 42:486

Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society

May 16, 1972. THE INFANTILE FETISH. Herman Roiphe, M.D. and Eleanor Galenson, M.D.

The authors distinguish two situations in which a child may have intense attachment to a particular inanimate object: 1, the object may be a transitional one used by the child to help him endure separation from the mother; 2, the object may be a true fetish, 'a substitute for the missing penis of the mother and hence a means of defense against castration anxiety'. In a previous study, Roiphe reported that children between sixteen and twenty-four months of age regularly, and normally, experience sexual arousal and that some children develop castration anxiety during this period.

The present paper considers the formation of a true fetish, based on castration anxiety, which may develop in the preoedipal child under certain conditions: 1, normal sexual arousal at ages sixteen to twenty-four months; 2, observation of the anatomical differences between the sexes; 3, experiences such as birth defect, severe illness, surgery, loss of a parent or not-good-enough mothering, which result in instability of self- and object representations. Clinical cases were presented to demonstrate this thesis. The authors feel that the fetish reassures against castration anxiety by defining and supplementing the body schema, especially the genital.

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