Fetishism as an Example
Sigmund Freud
 Jacque Lacan
 Fetishism
 Continuations
– ego psychology & object-relations theory
– Connections with Marxism
Video References
Freudian Psychoanalysis: General
Comment --Deconstruction
Freud begins with a series of hierarchical
The first –prior and richer; The second–
negation or complication;
 Freud: the first –”a special case of the
fundamentals designated by the second
term.” (Jonathan Culler qud in Wright 124)
Freudian Psychoanalysis: Major Concepts
& Terms
– [Beginning Theory]
The Unconscious (taking a large part of our
 Repression & Sublimation (the other defense
mechanisms– screen memory, projection,
transference, Freudian slip; see here )
e.g. Psychology of Everyday Life; Forgetting, slips of the tongue,
bungled actions, superstitions and errors'
Freud’s Interpretations of Dreams
Dream work (see here; 4:11~6:30) –
condensation and displacement  sexual
symbols (Note: Freud: 'Sometimes a cigar is
just a cigar‘)
– E.g. a woman dreaming of a bete noire 
– e.g. significant omission of the word 'aliquis'
(which means 'somebody') in a young man’s
e.g. Dora’s dreams (of a fire, in which her father said:
“father said 'I refuse to let myself and my two children be
burnt for the sake of your jewel-case'.
Mrs. K
Mr. K
Freudian Psychoanalysis: Major Concepts
& Terms
– [Beginning Theory]
Sexuality Development, libido, and Oedipus
 e.g. Hamlet – “Hamlet cannot avenge this
crime because he is guilty of wanting to
commit the same crime himself. He has an
Oedipus complex, that is, a repressed sexual
desire for his own mother, and a consequent
wish to do away with his father”
 e.g. Sons and Lovers
 e.g. Homecoming, American Beauty
[challenging the Father]
Freudian Psychoanalysis: possible
functions & criticism
A. Psyche, Id psychology & Child development:
The theory of Oedipus complex and penis
-- helps explain gendering processes in patriarchal
-- Freud's limitations or our misunderstanding?
-- inability to explain female sexuality--"What do
women want?"
-- its focus on infantile psychology. "Between ordinary
adult personality traits and infantile psychology
there are layers upon layers of relationships,
experiences, values and meanings."
Freudian Psychoanalysis: possible
functions & criticism
B. Psychobiography and Art as Dream
-- psychobiography (treating artists as
patients, art as dream work, and explaining
art in terms of his/her life) can be reductive,
ignoring art’s aesthetic aspects on the
conscious level. (e.g. E. Bishop’s
objectification/distantiation of her loss )
-- We can examine our own transference in
-- interpretation of dream: helps us
understand the languages of dream.
Freudian Psychoanalysis: possible
functions & criticism
C. Psychological Pattern & Disorders
1) Patterns in Psychic Processes :
repression  displacement/sublimation or
2) Disorder -- the return of the repressed
through symptoms.
repetition compulsion, defense mechanism,
death/life instincts
-- Helpful for character and self analysis;
-- entering the symbolic order means having
reality checks; otherwise, we may become
Freudian Psychoanalysis: Lacan
Add linguistic elements to Freud’s analysis.
(Evidence: dream work)
The Imaginary
Ego – a mirror image, an illusion.
Barred subject: S-ier/S-ied; or S; 'I am
where I think not'
[Beginning Theory] There is a perpetual
barrier between signifier (the word) and
signified (the referent). … Hence, “we are
forced to accept the notion of an incessant
sliding of the signified under the signifer”
(Lodge, p. 87).
Sliding beneath—the signified, is our desire.
Freudian Psychoanalysis: Lacan
The three orders of human existence:
constant antagonism between the Real and
the Symbolic, our mirror images and the
need to “look.” -- The Symbolic, The
Imaginary, and the Real (black hole, return
as absences  the semiotic for Kristeva)
Entering the Symbolic Order, we follow the
Name of the Father (its power and logic)
Desire as lack - The differences between need, demand
(with language) and desire.
 The mother as feminine Other, our needs for
the “others” (objet a).
--Is this another fiction?
An example of controversies
and continuation
Fetishism – of Different Kinds
(Religious fetishism: body, object, god
and charm 拜物教--人體、物體、神像
和護身符四大類 );
 Erotic/Sexual fetishism;
 Commodity fetishism and Colonial
FETISHISM—general def.
Erotic fetishism-- the dependence on
particular objects (part of a body or an
inanimate object) to obtain sexual
 Most common fetish objects are Female
underwear, Leatherwear, and Rubber.
Using female underwear for fetishistic
purposes is one reason for partial crossdressing. http://www.schools
Erotic fetishism- Examples
Clothing Fetishism
- underwear
- uniforms (e.g. Exotica)
- gloves
- shoes/boots/pantyhose
 (Body) Modification
- tattoos
- piercing
 Material Fetishism
- leather
- fur
- velvet (e.g. Blue Velvet)
Erotic fetishism- Examples
Body Fetishism
- legs/feet
- hair
- nails/claws
- belly buttons
 Other Fetishism
- manaquins/robots
- cross dressing
- cigarette
Erotic fetishism- Freud’s analysis
Disavowal: The little boy sees the mother’s
genitals and simultaneously denies his
perception of her castration.
//his castration fear
Solution -- denial/acceptance of her
castration, and by extension his own, by
finding a substitute.
 Fetish:
– A substitute for the mother’s missing penis;
– Linked metonymically to the female genitalia;
– Never the same as the original, which is a fiction.
(imaginary phallus or phallic mother)
Erotic fetishism- Reasons
– eroticizes an object or a non-genital part of
one’s body;
– allows the boy to remain intimate with the
“phallic mother” while at the same time
enter the symbolic, accepting the father’s
law and developing his masculinity.
 Lacan’s example: Little Harry (Grosz
Is fetishism all about need for power
and identification?
 Are we all fetishists, one way or another
Fetishism: example
•Fazio's Mistress,
•Prosperine, 1877
Erotic fetishism- Extention
Visual Pleasures in Hollywood films
–the camera takes a male perspective,
watching female stars as passive object of
Satisfy two kinds of desire:
Male voyeurism –peeping in order to
Fetishism --look and identify with the
glamorized female stars;
fetishizing women’s body on the screen; in
order to project them as “phallic mother”
(//e.g. film noire: the woman has to be a
lack, losing memory of her identity.)
Erotic fetishism- Criticism
Reflects Freud’s emphasis of-– Female castration, male castration anxiety
– Freud’s privileging the phallus
Feminist responses
1. Rejection –fetishism coincides with the
norm of phallocentrism.
2. Female fetishism: e.g. collection of
memorabilia; self-fetishization;
3. Rewriting: female disavowal—women
disavow their own castration through
narcissism or hysteria. It also explains
female development of lesbianism.
Examples for analysis:
Mulholland Dr. –its “Narcissistic”
As a revision of film noire, it has a
woman, but not a man, in pursuit of a
femme fatale (who is mysterious and
 The fetishistic images in the film turn to
be those of herself.
 Mirror/reality forms a vicious circle, and
there is no outlet for her.
Greta Garbo
vs. Diane
Rene Magritte, The
Dangerous Liaison
The woman
hides behind a
“phallic” image
of herself. 
soliciting gaze
with the gesture
of modesty and
 (Cf. Wright 185)
Fetishism: Literary Examples
 his male heroes – all amputees. (Jake Barnes
is missing his penis. Harry Morgan is missing
his arm. Harry Walden has a gangrenous leg.
Colonel Cantwell has been shot "twice
through the hand.“)
– a fear of castration  envy of masculine grace.
– an unsettling identification with the "castrated"
woman, which paradoxically intensifies castration
anxiety. e.g.
Fetishism: Literary Examples
“問金庸情是何物:禮物、信物、證物” – by 張
-- Some fetishes may not be sexual in nature
-- green light in The Great Gatsby (national
-- commodity fetish (e.g. The commodities in
such realist novels as Bell Jar by Sylvia
Plath or Sister Carrie)
Fetishism of Other Kinds: Colonial
sexual fetish
the sexualized "fetish of
colonial discourse" (Homi Bhabha)
 colonial fetish:
– in the ambivalent space "in between“
• an imposed identity and the reality of their
humanity for the colonized
• between the recognized and the disavowed,
• between fear and desire for the colonizers.
The tropes of the sexual fetish are present in
the colonial fetish, but syncretized with
certain tropes of colonialist experience and
identity to embody the larger socio-political
context of colonial relations.
Fetishism of Other Kinds:
Colonial Fetish
e.g.1. the image of the
submissive and sweet
Oriental woman (Madame
2. Jimmie Durham SelfPortrait (1986) Sexually
powerful aborigine. -- sea
shells for ears, bits of animal
hide hair; one turquoise eye is
just to show a little
"Indianness," and the feathers
revealed by an open chest
cavity imply a certain "lightheartedness." and defiantly
"large and colorful" genitals.
Fetishism of Other Kinds:
Commodity Fetish
The charming and enigmatic nature of
 Exchange values added to it;
 relations between the products // relations
between men
e.g. Cell phone, Hello Kitty, etc.
 More next time.
ego psychology & objectrelations theory
Ego psychology – deal with the
management of fantasies for the
maintenance of identity;
 (id psychology– instinctual drives and
private fantasies)
 Object-relations:
– feelings about the mother projected to an
external object;  multiple interactions with
the object  establish one’s relations with
Combined with Marxism
The symbolic order – filled with signs of
 Commodity –as a sublime object of our
desire (to hide the inner split in us).
 Analyzing cultural symptoms. e.g. the need
for stigmatization when SARRS occurs.
 Treating Psychoanalysis as a discourse that
gets form when traditional families are
challenged. (e.g. Foucault)
Online References
Defense Mechanisms
Psychoanalytic Criticism: A Reappraisal
by Elizabeth Wright. Polity,1998.\
 Elizabeth Grosz Jacque Lacan: A
Feminist Introduction
Video References
 Freud (Biography) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
 Jacques Lacan By Marcus Pond
 Texts:
– all of Hitchcock’s films
– A Dangerous Method (2011) [about Freud, Jung and
Sabina Spielrein]
– Muholland Dr.; The Piano, The Piano Teacher,
American Beauty, etc.
– Mindscape (link)

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