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Studies on the Psychology of Sex, Volume 5


phenomena. "Sexual
Symbolism" gives us the key to the process, the key that
makes all these
perversions intelligible. In all of them--very clearly
in some, as in
shoe-fetichism; more obscurely in others, as in
exhibitionism--it has come
about by causes congenital, acquired, or both, that some
object or class
of objects, some act or group of acts, has acquired a
dynamic power over
the psycho-physical mechanism of the sexual process,
deflecting it from
its normal adjustment to the whole of a beloved person
of the opposite
sex. There has been a transmutation of values, and
certain objects,
certain acts, have acquired an emotional value which for
the normal person
they do not possess. Such objects and acts are properly,
it seems to me,
termed symbols, and that term embodies the only
justification that in most
cases these manifestations can legitimately claim.
"The Mechanism of Detumescence" brings us at last to the
final climax for
which the earlier and more prolonged stage of
tumescence, which has
occupied us so often in these _Studies_, is the
elaborate preliminary.
"The art of love," a clever woman novelist has written,
"is the art of
preparation." That "preparation" is, on the
physiological side, the
production of tumescence, and all courtship is concerned
in building up
tumescence. But the final conjugation of two individuals
in an explosion
of detumescence, thus slowly brought about, though it is
largely an
involuntary act, is still not without its psychological
implications and
consequences; and it is therefore a matter for regret
that so little is
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