Certain Relationships Between Fetishism and Faulty Development of the Body Image : 1953 : Phyllis Greenacre

by Julia Evans on January 1, 1953

Published in Psychoanalytic Studies of the Child : Vol 8 : p79-98

Available at www.LacanianWorksExchange.net  /authors a-z or authors by date 

This text mentioned by Jacques Lacan

Seminar IV : 19th December 1956 & 30th January 1957 : See Seminar IV : The Object Relation & Freudian Structures 1956-1957 : begins 21st November 1956 : Jacques Lacan or here

References to Sigmund Freud

P82 ‘In the Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex (1904) he mentions that a certain degree of fetishism regularly belongs to the normal, especially during those stages of courtship when the normal sexual aim seems inaccessible or its realization is deferred.’ :  See Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality: 1905d : SE VII p123-245 : Published at www.Freud2Lacan.com see here 

P80 refers to a case of Freud : in Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis: 1915-1917 : Part III – General theory of the neuroses : 1916-1917

– P347 of James Strachey’s translation, published in pfl Vol I : Lecture XX The Sexual Life of Human Beings : After them come others for whom parts of the body are of no importance, but whose ever wish is satisfied by a piece of clothing, a shoe, a piece of underclothing – the fetishists.

– P393 of James Strachey’s translation, published in pfl Vol I or SE XVII : Lecture XXII Some thoughts on development and regression – aetiology : It is often impossible to say what it is that enabled this impression to exercise such an intense attraction on the libido. I will describe a case of this sort which I myself observed.

The subject was a man who is to-day quite indifferent to the genitals and other attractions of women, but who can be plunged into irresistible sexual excitement only by a foot of a particular form wearing a shoe. He can recall an event from his sixth year which was decisive for the fixation of his libido. He was sitting on a stool beside the governess who was to give him lessons in English. The governess, who was an elderly, dried-up, plain-looking spinster, with pale-blue eyes and a snub nose, had something wrong with her foot that day, and on that account kept it, wearing a velvet slipper, stretched out on a cushion. Her leg itself was most decently concealed. A thin, scraggy foot, like the one he had then seen belonging to his governess, thereupon became (after a timid attempt at normal sexual activity at puberty) his only sexual object; and the man was irresistibly attracted if a foot of this kind was associated with other features besides which recalled the type of the English governess. This fixation of his libido, however, made him, not into a neurotic, but into a pervert – what we call a foot-fetishist. You see, then, that although an excessive, and moreover premature, fixation of the libido is indispensable for the causation of neuroses, the area of its effects extends far beyond the field of the neuroses. This determinant, too, is as little decisive in itself as is the frustration which we have already talked about.

p79 ‘Fetishism is a picturesque symptom but one which, in its well developed form, does not come very often under the scrutiny of analysis. Freud (1927) early remarked on this and stated that fetishists often regard their practice as abnormal but not as a symptom  : from Fetishism : 1927 : SE XXI (1927-1931),  Penguin Freud Library vol 7 : p345 : Published at www.Freud2Lacan.com , download here

p83  : Splitting of the Ego in the Process of Defence : 1938  [1940e] : SE XXIII : p273 or Penguin Freud Library (PFL) : Vol 11: p457 : Published at www.Freud2Lacan.com download here 

Reference by Jacques Lacan

– Paragraph 34 of Seminar IV : 19th December 1956 : ‘someone such as Phyllis Greenacre, who seriously attempted to deal with the foundation of the fetishist relation in depth’ :

– Probably Para 28 of Seminar IV : 30th January 1957 : All this can be seen, but we need analysis in order to see what is at stake a little more closely. That is, to see how it happens that each time, for whatever reason, the fetish gives way, exhausts itself, gets used up, simply gives out. 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, Mr. Gillespie, Ms. Greenacre, Mr. Dugmore Hunter, or in the Psychoanalytic Studies of the Child. 

For availability & notes, see Seminar IV : The Object Relation & Freudian Structures 1956-1957 : begins 21st November 1956 : Jacques Lacan

Available, together with some notes and references, here

Poem from the end of this paper:


A shoe is a shoe is a shoe-

A shoe and you are two.

A shoe has no teeth-does not bite,

A shoe does not cause any fright.


You can look at a shoe, you can step on a shoe.

You can smell at a shoe and you’ll never feel blue.

A shoe keeps silent, a shoe does not speak,

A shoe keeps your secrets, there’s never a leak.


A shoe is a father, a shoe is a mother,

Creates only joy and never a b[r]other*,

A shoe can be kicked, a shoe can be torn

And a new one is bought when the old one is worn.


A shoe is a cheap pal, discreet, near and true-

A shoe is a shoe is a shoe,


-Anonymous Contribution to Discussion

*This is bother in the original, which does not rhyme with mother.


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Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst, London


Other texts

On Lacanian History here 

Use of power here

Lacanian Transmission : here

Some Lacanian History : here

Topology : here

By Phyllis Greenacre here

By Sigmund Freud here

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud : here

By Jacques Lacan here

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here

Other texts on ‘Little Hans”  here  

By Julia Evans here