Some Observations on the Ego Development of the Fetishist : 1939 : Sylvia Payne

by Julia Evans on January 1, 1939

Published as Payne, S.M. (1939). Some Observations on the Ego Development of the Fetishist. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 20:161

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Quoted by Jacques Lacan in Seminar IV : 30th January 1957

See Seminar IV : The Object Relation & Freudian Structures 1956-1957 : begins 21st November 1956 : Jacques Lacan or here  

Para 28 : What we see in romantic behaviour, and more simply in the erotic relations of the subject, comes down to a defense. You can verify this by reading, in the International Journal, the observations of Ms. Sylvia Payne

& Para 32 : quote Lacan ‘There is a very nice example in Sylvia Payne’s observations. Following an exaggerated medical prescription, a child had been prevented from walking until the age of two; he was held in place by restraints in his bed. And this did not occur without consequences, including that being thus tightly monitored in his parents’ bedroom puts him, as far as we are concerned, in this exemplary position of exposure to a purely visual mode of relation: without any hint of muscular response from its source, and in the presence of his parents’ relation, in the manner of rage and anger which you might suppose.’ :  

see p165-166, He had entered the phallic phase and had partially regressed after puberty. The inability to establish adult genitality was due to regression to a fixation in the oral and anal phases, and the persistence of an unconscious primitive sexual aim, which involved the death of the love object or castration of himself. The weakness of ego development is one aspect of the weakness of genitality, and denotes interference with the libidinization, formation and integration of the body ego, especially of the penis imago. This brings about an exaggeration of the first mechanisms of defence which are employed, namely the projection and introjection mechanisms and an exaggerated dependence on the introjected objects, but no sustained identification with any. 

It was possible in the case of Mr. A. to uncover a number of infantile situations which were concerned in causing the ego weakness and strengthened the dependence on the parents. I wish to mention these shortly because I think they demonstrate the kind of situation which helps to make infantile sadism unmanageable and therefore provoke neurotic defence mechanisms. The patient was bottle-fed, and there was no actual history of difficulty in feeding; if anything I should think his mother tried to overfeed him. He was circumcized at six months and nearly died of bronchitis shortly afterwards. He was rather fat and the doctor did not allow him to stand or walk until he was two years old. The fact was not remembered and was discovered in the analysis and confirmed by his mother, who said that he made the most distressing scenes and had to be tied down, and that he used to try to get up at night. The interference with the development of normal muscular activity, together with the circumcision and serious illness during the first year held up the integration and development of the body ego. Aggression is more easily discharged through the muscular system than in any other way, and the energy expended in learning to walk is probably greater than on any other function. The castration significance of the prohibition of this ego activity was stupendous and in my opinion played an overwhelming part in encouraging the relatively passive orientation which the defence by internalization shews, and increased the tendency to a feminine identification. The aggression normally discharged through the muscular system had to be focussed on excretory discharges which are also the main erotic outlet, hence the sadistic element of these [p166] pregenital activities increased. An exaggerated fear of aggression, which represents the death instinct, is undoubtedly fostered by serious physical illness either of the child itself or of one of the parents. This situation was present in all the cases of fetishism which I have observed closely.  …  [p167] The mackintosh is more obviously a protection than the shoe or corset.

The relationship of a man to his fetish is the same as his relationship to his internalized parents. Sometimes Mr. A. identified with the father, then he put on the mackintosh and would masturbate with a phantasy of intercourse with a woman.

At other times he put on the mackintosh and had a passive anal phantasy.

On other occasions the mackintosh must be present in the room when he masturbated. Sometimes he placed it over his genitals as if to protect them. He preferred a mackintosh which was stolen.


quoted in Fetishism: The Symbolic, the Imaginary and the Real : 1956 : Lacan Jacques and Wladimir Granoff : See here  Reference 24

Also quoted

Quoted in this A Contribution to the Study of Fetishism : 7th February 1940 : William Gillespie  : See here   This paper is also quoted in Para 28 of Seminar IV : 30th January 1957 by Jacques Lacan.

Background notes on Sylvia Payne

Source the internet & › wiki › Sylvia_Payne

Sylvia May Payne CBE (née Moore, 6 November 1880 – 30 May 1976) was one of the pioneers of psychoanalysis in the United Kingdom. She replaced Ernest Jones as President of the British Psychoanalytic Society (BPAS). 

Payne developed an interest in psychoanalysis during the war and began training with Edward Glover at the Medico-Psychological Clinic on Brunswick Square, London. She went to Berlin, where she underwent analysis with Hans Sachs and got to know Karl Abraham. In 1922, Payne became an Associate Member of the British Psychoanalytical Society. In 1926 she became a psychiatrist at Ernest Jones’ London Clinic of Psychoanalysis (later the Institute of Psychoanalysis) and a member of the society. Payne was strong advocate for psychoanalysis and a prolific writer on psychoanalysis and women. Jones put her in charge of administration at the society, where she was very effective. In 1929 she was joint secretary with Joan Riviere in the International Congress in Oxford. Payne was the analyst for Marion Milner and Charles Rycroft, among others.

Between 1941 and 1945, she played an important part in the controversial discussions as one of the moderators between Melanie Klein and Anna Freud. She organised a stenographer to record the discussion accurately, so members who could not get to London because of war work could be kept in touch. At the same time, there was a constitutional debate within the society centring on Edward Glover. The result was that Glover resigned from the society and Anna Freud resigned from the training committee.

In 1944 Payne was elected as president of the society, with Ernest Jones as honorary president. Payne was in charge of discussions on training, with an ad hoc committee including John Bowlby, Anna Freud, Willi Hoffer, Melanie Klein, Susan Isaacs, Adrian Stephen and John Rickman, and as ‘three separately angled trainings arose’ emerged as a leading member of the Independent Group. She ceased to be president in 1947 but was president of the BPAS again from 1954 to 1956. In 1962, she was elected an honorary member of the BPAS. She was also a Fellow of the British Psychological Society. 


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Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst, London


Further posts:

Some Lacanian history here

Lacanian Transmission here 

Of the clinic here 

By Sylvia Payne  here 

By Sigmund Freud here 

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud here 

By Jacques Lacan here 

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here 

Translation Working Group here 

Use of power here 

By Julia Evans here