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Table of contents
PREFACE
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-1.1
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-1.2
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-2.1
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-2.2
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-2.3
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-2.4
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-2.5
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-3.1
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-3.2
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-3.3
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-3.4
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-3.5
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-4.1
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-4.2
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-4.3
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-5.1
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-5.2
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-5.3
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-6
THE MECHANISM OF DETUMESCENCE-1.1
THE MECHANISM OF DETUMESCENCE-1.2
THE MECHANISM OF DETUMESCENCE-1.3
THE MECHANISM OF DETUMESCENCE-1.4
THE MECHANISM OF DETUMESCENCE-2.1
THE MECHANISM OF DETUMESCENCE-2.2
THE MECHANISM OF DETUMESCENCE-2.3
THE MECHANISM OF DETUMESCENCE-2.4
THE MECHANISM OF DETUMESCENCE-3.1
THE MECHANISM OF DETUMESCENCE-3.2
THE MECHANISM OF DETUMESCENCE-4.1
THE MECHANISM OF DETUMESCENCE-4.2
THE MECHANISM OF DETUMESCENCE-4.3
THE PSYCHIC STATE IN PREGNANCY-1
THE PSYCHIC STATE IN PREGNANCY-2
THE PSYCHIC STATE IN PREGNANCY-3
THE PSYCHIC STATE IN PREGNANCY-4
HISTORIES OF SEXUAL DEVELOPMENT HISTORY-1.1
HISTORIES OF SEXUAL DEVELOPMENT HISTORY-1.2
HISTORIES OF SEXUAL DEVELOPMENT HISTORY-2.1
HISTORIES OF SEXUAL DEVELOPMENT HISTORY-2.2
HISTORIES OF SEXUAL DEVELOPMENT HISTORY-3-4
HISTORIES OF SEXUAL DEVELOPMENT HISTORY-5.1
HISTORIES OF SEXUAL DEVELOPMENT HISTORY-5.2
INDEX OF AUTHORS

EROTIC SYMBOLISM. 

 

I. 

 

The Definition of Erotic Symbolism--Symbolism of Act and Symbolism of 

Object--Erotic Fetichism--Wide extension of the symbols of Sex--The 

Immense Variety of Possible Erotic Fetiches--The Normal Foundations of 

Erotic Symbolism--Classification of the Phenomena--The Tendency to 

Idealize the Defects of a Beloved Person--Stendhal's "Crystallization." 

 

 

By "erotic symbolism" I mean that tendency whereby the lover's attention 

is diverted from the central focus of sexual attraction to some object or 

process which is on the periphery of that focus, or is even outside of it 

altogether, though recalling it by association of contiguity or of 

similarity. It thus happens that tumescence, or even in extreme cases 

detumescence, may be provoked by the contemplation of acts or objects 

which are away from the end of sexual conjugation.[1] 

 

In considering the phenomena of sexual selection in a previous volume,[2] 

it was found that there are four or five main factors in the constitution 

of beauty in so far as beauty determines sexual selection. Erotic 

symbolism is founded on the factor of individual taste in beauty; it 

arises as a specialized development of that factor, but it is, 

nevertheless, incorrect to merge it in sexual selection. The attractive 

characteristics of a beloved woman or man, from the point of view of 

sexual selection, are a complex but harmonious whole leading up to a 

desire for the complete possession of the person who displays them. There 

is no tendency to isolate and dissociate any single character from the 

individual and to concentrate attention upon that character at the expense 

of the attention bestowed upon the individual generally. As soon as such a 

tendency begins to show itself, even though only in a slight or temporary 

form, we may say that there is erotic symbolism. 

 

Erotic symbolism is, however, by no means confined to the individualizing 

tendency to concentrate amorous attention upon some single characteristic 

of the adult woman or man who is normally the object of sexual love. The 

adult human being may not be concerned at all, the attractive object or 

act may not even be human, not even animal, and we may still be concerned 

with a symbol which has parasitically rooted itself on the fruitful site 

of sexual emotion and absorbed to itself the energy which normally goes 

into the channels of healthy human love having for its final end the 

procreation of the species. Thus understood in its widest sense, it may be 

said that every sexual perversion, even homosexuality, is a form of erotic 

symbolism, for we shall find that in every case some object or act that 

for the normal human being has little or no erotic value, has assumed such 

value in a supreme degree; that is to say, it has become a symbol of the 

normal object of love. Certain perversions are, however, of such great 

importance on account of their wide relationships, that they cannot be 

adequately discussed merely as forms of erotic symbolism. This is notably 

the case as regards homosexuality, auto-erotism, and algolagnia, all of 

which phenomena have therefore been separately discussed in previous 

studies. We are now mainly concerned with manifestations which are more 

narrowly and exclusively symbolical. 


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