Fetishes - whence do they arise?

So I did some keyword searching (for “fetish”, and felt very dirty), didn’t come up with anything, and I wanna know if anyone has any explanations for these things. I mean, an explanation for any of them - peeing women, ladies’ feet/socks/shoes, scat/copro, furrie/plushie, that balloon popping/inflating crap, special clothing, getting whipped but good, etc - or (even better) a general explanation for all of them.

My guess is it’s like a Freudian dealie - some experience deeply ingrained during the mysterious phases of childhood, that manifests itself sooner or later in the form of sexual arousal.
However, IANAPsychologist, or even a high-priced call girl, so a lack of experience with this has led me to question the smartest people in the known universe. And I just did.

Related question: homosexuality and bisexuality don’t count as fetishes, right?

Semi-related question: How about phobias? Where do they come from?

Well, thanks in advance.

Uh, when I say I didn’t come up with anything, I meant I didn’t really see anyone explaining where fetishes arose. Got plenty of posts and threads about fetishes. Me dumbass can’t even talk no English good.

I don’t think freud would have known something about fetishism unless he was a fetichist himeself, which i doubt :slight_smile: Because in his time this was not a subject a good doctor would take about. In anycase psychodynamics ( which is the modern form of psychanalysis ) does have explanation for fetishism. But let’s not go into this and let’s try the humanist psychology point of view, it’s a lot easier to understand and, i believe, closer to reality.

Let’s say that bob is going to develop fetishism. Bob is not an exibitionist, he is a voyeur ( everyone is either one of those to some extent ). Bob has some sexual problem. His girlfriend try to put on some sexy panties to help him. This work. But, they do not stop and continue using those. Bob will then associate his possiblity of having sex with the panties not the girl friend. If this goes on, Bob will develop fetishism.

Now, that’s only one explanation. There’s a lot more :slight_smile:

You should try searching psychology site that talk about sexual behavior. I’m sure they will have a fetishism section. I don’t know it in english but in french such a behavior is called a “ParaPhilie”

I don’t want to question your logic just because I have problems with your grammar and spelling, meta-x, but your saying

would seem to indicate that “the humanist psychology point of view” believes in predestination.

Is that what you meant to say?

Ummm that’s like saying a cardiologist can know nothing of a heart attack unless he has one himself. And Freud wrote a number of papers entitled “Fetishism.”

I’ll write more later I just got called to breakfast. I will say there is a big difference in the origin of the classically defined fetish (inanimate object or non-sexual body part) vs. symbolic acts that are now also called fetishes by some (Hitler asking his mistresses to shit on his head) .

KneadToKnow - Sorry about this :slight_smile: I did not meant that we knew in advance that Bob would develop fetishism! But, Humanist psychology does accept genetic predestination in some cases. Namely, schyzophrenia and bipolar disorder ( other one too but i don’t know of any exhaustive list :wink: ).

KidCharlemagne - I did’nt know that freud wrote paper on fetishim. I’ll be looking for this. I’m sure it’s really intersting. What i meant by this was that the it was much less socially acceptable to talk about sex habit in 1940 then it is today. So the chance of knowing about a sexual disorder in 1940 was lower then it is today. In any case, much of freud theory can be questioned today. He offered us a breakthrough in psychology by being the first to discuss openly of determination ( That is : our behavior is determine by factor we don’t control, therefore we do not completely choose our action by our free will ). Of course they were people who talked about this before, but freud really got deep into it and so we remember him ( and ferenzi for the psychology buffs ) for that.

Again, sorry about my bad english, i got to learn to express myself better :slight_smile:

IMO there are two times in a person’s life when there are great spurts in mental development. During these times it is possible to either set up or develop a fetish.

The first is early childhood. I would say for the first 4-6 years of a person’s life the brain is in a total-learning mode and deep emotional associations can develop. This is actually one of the few things that I agree with Freud about, but probably only because it is so obvious. During this time every-day things such as “peeing women, ladies’ feet/socks/shoes, scat/copro, furrie/plushie, that balloon popping/inflating crap, special clothing, and getting whipped but good” can easily be associated with core emotional functions like attachment to one’s mother, hunger, gratification, fear, sensuality, and possibly even sexuality. I don’t know why or when this happens, but my guess is that no one does. It probably has to do with the right combination of brain activity and brain chemistry. It is a process similar to imprinting (like in ducks) and epiphany. Think about how young children spend a great deal of time crying. Crying is a symptom of great emotional upheaval and is usually followed by a boost in learning (note this isn’t necessarily good learning).

The second is what is described as “first love.” I am not sure that it is always really first love, and I don’t want to make any claims about whether this is truly love, but there is a mental and physical state that is characterized by acute learning usually sometime during adolescence. Some of the symptoms are seeing fireworks, a complete lack of fear, great euphoria, acting like a puppy-dog, and frequently, getting the heart broken. During this state I believe a store of learning potential is suddenly opened, and a new round of imprinting/epiphany begins. During this time it is again likely that someone could develop a fetish, especially if the experience is coincidentally in line with childhood experiences.

Finally, many people are entertained by the idea of fetishes and deliberately try them out. Like anything else, a person can convince himself that something turns him on, and disgust mixes well with sexual excitement, or more pointedly, with sexual boredom. In other words, during any part of a person’s life he can train himself to develop a fetish. Obviously there is a big difference between this sort of fetish, and a fetish that is ingrained during childhood or “first love.” The trained fetish is fairly superficial and can be given up, where as the ingrained fetish has the same power and force of a phobia.

Hmm, IANAP (yet [knock on wood]) and I’ve only had one psych class so far which didn’t talk about fetishes, but here’s my WAG/personal experience. I have a thing for women with bellies as opposed to flat stomach. My mother had/has a belly. Until I was 7 I used to take naps on my mother’s belly. Ockham’s razor. Seems simple enough.

I have a thing for spankings. My mother spanked me. Seems simple enough.

I have a thing for feet. I can’t remember anything in my life concerning feet up to my first girlfriend. Weird.

Homosexuality/bisexuality were never considered “fetishes.” Up until the DSMIII (?) in the '70s it was considered a mental disorder. Now I think psychologists are leaning more towards a genetic leaning (redundant, I know).

As for phobias, they tend come around through Pavlovian or simple conditioning. Here is an example of simple conditioning:

After reading about Pavlov and his dogs I, being a huge dork decided to train my dog. Everytime I fed Kozmo I would ring a bell before I poured his food into his bowl. Soon, Koz would come running at the sound of a bell (oversimplified, I know). Imagine, instead of feeding him everytime I ran a bell I hit him with a rolled up newspaper. Soon he would fear bells and hide ever he heard one.

This can happen at any time of life. I hope this has helped.

To speak about something I have little qualification to speak upon…and furthermore to oversimplify even that…

“Explanations” of particular facets of human behavior, explanations considered outmoded and in many respects deligitimated by decades of criticism and experimentation, live on in popular books, pop psychology, recurrent TV talk show “experts,” cops asked to comment on the cause of this or that, novels, movies, and (thus) the mind of the general public.

Classical Freudian explanations of so-called fetishistic behavior are given little credence these days by persons in the general field of behavioral science: perhaps largely because classical Freudian psychodynamic models are given little credence nowadays over all. Whatever the “cause” of, say, a so-called foot fetish, there is no (impartial and replicable) evidence whatever that it usually represents a “cover memory” from infancy, expresses some unresolved anal- or oral-phase issue, or anything of the sort.

The business about a fetish being some object associated with the pleasure of an early sexual experience is equally unsupported–at least as anything robust enough to be termed a “cause.” Why only one particular element in a situation, and no other? What of all the non-fetishists?..did they manage to have an initiatory experience without any surrounding particulars to fixate upon? More to the point, the whole “association of ideas” theory, which I associate with William James, turns out to be either (a) unsupported in an evidentiary sense, or (b) “supported” in what is ultimately a trivial or tautological sense. (All ideas come with “associations”; but mere association does not demonstrate causation.)

Behaviorists of the Watsonian/Skinnerian line point to provable links between excitatory reinforcement schedules and repetition of the corresponding behavioral complex. What is lacking in the usual case is any indication that the requisite reinforcement schedule ever occurred. Oral accounts by most fetishists express, again, the sought after phenomenon in only a trivial and expected sense: yes, the fetish repeatedly gave them pleasure. But that is, of course, what a fetish does. Where is the initial reinforcement series? What made the very first exposure so impactful? Or: how did a series of unimpactful and unnoticed events manage to create a fetishistic response?

So what do I think?

I note that a great many aspects of behavior once deemed to have a psychodynamic or cognitive basis have been shown, over the last 15 years or so, to be amenable to a fairly routine and uneventful pharmacological regimen. Yep, I’m talking Prozac, Zoloft, Wellbutrin, Paxil and all that stuff. Something like kleptomania–which has a bit in common with fetishism–seems to respond well to the right meds. And this is not a trick solution; I’m not saying people are “getting better” by becoming zombified. Most people report that the right meds and dosages leave them feeling clear-headed and active, but relatively asymptomatic. (To be fair, one recent study questioned the effectiveness of these meds on the treatment of depression.)

Now I’m not pumping for the big drug companies. But to me the picture suggests that humans come loaded with a variety of innate micro-programs that are supposed to interact with one another in a certain way, or to turn themselves off at a certain point; and sometimes the mechanism gets out of tune. Chemical activation of what one might call the “right” neural paths dampens the unwanted behavior almost immediately. The genetic predispositions to certain behaviors that sometimes shows up may in truth be a genetic marker of this developmental neuro-chemical deficiency.

It has nothing to do with breast-feeding, Mom and Dad, dreams, bed-wetting, too-early kinky sex, or the drawing of irrational conclusions equating two unrelated occurences: “it” being significant, intrusive fetishistic behavior. It has everything to do with the very same general mechanisms in the nervous system that lead to the ordinary and typical bahaviors of homo sapiens sapiens.

In a way, it may be no more “crazy” to be a foot-fetishist than a breast-fetishist…or to have a very pronounced preference for chocolate, a phenomenon equally unexplained.

I have a foot fetish. I know for a fact that I have been into womens feet since at least kindergarten. Dont know why, just am. I remember looking at my teachers feet and feeling funny.

Now it is a major part of my sexuality. I will not even date a girl that has a problem with my foot fetish. Its a waste of time.

IME, and I have experience because I spent some time as quite a devout sub in a weekly domination show… I didn’t associate pain with pleasure until that exact moment, and there was no sex involved. It was a feeling of release which I don’t put on the same shelf as sex. Maybe I’m not quite a fetishist in the traditional sense, but I did it for the same sense of release and intimacy that one gets from sex without the hormonal complications (and frankly, I feel more comfortable asking someone to beat the crap out of me than to have sex with me… just society, I guess)

Socially acceptable fetishes or non-socially acceptable fetishes?

Heterosexual men have had the run of the land lusting after bigger and bigger tits, nude women wearing high heels in bed, fantasizing about two lesbians with the man, maid’s outfits, Catholic schoolgirl outfits…the list goes on and on…watch socially acceptable sitcoms for the punchlines for all the above.

Where do fetishes come from?

Why do you like chocolate ice cream and not vanilla?
Why do you eat peanut butter and banna sandwiches?
Why do you like/hate Country and Western music?
Why does anyone care?
As long as it is not with children, as long as it is not life-threatening, as long as it is done/experienced alone or with consenting adults, it is nobody’s f***ing business.

Stinkpalm, Loupdebois, DMark…IMHO, your comments support the general view I expressed above.