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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

Active algolagnia or sadism is thus a form of erotic symbolism; passive 

algolagnia or masochism is (in a man) an inverted form of erotic 

symbolism. Active flagellation or passive flagellation are, in exactly the 

same way, manifestations of erotic symbolism, the imaginative mimicry of 

coitus. 

 

Binet and also Krafft-Ebing[64] have argued in effect that the whole of 

sexual selection is a matter of fetichism, that is to say, of erotic 

symbolism of object. "Normal love," Binet states, "appears as the result 

of a complicated fetichism." Tarde also seems to have regarded love as 

normally a kind of fetichism. "We are a long time before we fall in love 

with a woman," he remarks; "we must wait to see the detail which strikes 

and delights us, and causes us to overlook what displeases us. Only in 

normal love the details are many and always changing. Constancy in love is 

rarely anything else but a voyage around the beloved person, a voyage of 

exploration and ever new discoveries. The most faithful lover does not 

love the same woman in the same way for two days in succession."[65] 

 

From that point of view normal sexual love is the sway of a fetich--more 

or less arbitrary, more or less (as Binet terms it) polytheistic--and it 

can have little objective basis. But, as we saw when considering "Sexual 

Selection in Man" in the previous volume, more especially when analyzing 

the notion of beauty, we are justified in believing that beauty has to a 

large extent an objective basis, and that love by no means depends simply 

on the capricious selection of some individual fetich. The individual 

factor, as we saw, is but one of many factors which constitute beauty. In 

the study of sexual selection that individual factor was passed over very 

lightly. We now see that it is often a factor of great importance, for in 

it are rooted all these outgrowths--normal in their germs, highly abnormal 

in their more extreme developments--which make up erotic symbolism. 

 

Erotic symbolism is therefore concerned with all that is least generic, 

least specific, all that is most intimately personal and individual, in 

sexual selection. It is the final point in which the decreasing circle of 

sexual attractiveness is fixed. In the widest and most abstract form 

sexual selection in man is merely human, and we are attracted to that 

which bears most fully the marks of humanity; in a less abstract form it 

is sexual, and we are attracted to that which most vigorously presents the 

secondary sexual characteristics; still narrowing, it is the type of our 

own nation and people that appeals most strongly to us in matters of love; 

and still further concentrating we are affected by the ideal--in 

civilization most often the somewhat exotic ideal--of our own day, the 

fashion of our own city. But the individual factor still remains, and amid 

the infinite possibilities of erotic symbolism the individual may evolve 

an ideal which is often, as far as he knows and perhaps in actuality, an 

absolutely unique event in the history of the human soul. 

 

Erotic symbolism works in its finer manifestations by means of the 

idealizing aptitudes; it is the field of sexual psychology in which that 

faculty of crystallization, on which Stendhal loved to dwell, achieves its 


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Studies in the Psychology of Sex, Volume 4
A Modern Love Story by H. G. Wells
Plain Facts for Old and Young by John Harvey Kellogg
Studies in the Psychology of Sex, Volume 3
Harris's List of Covent Garden Ladies + The Ladies Book of Useful Information
Studies in the Psychology of Sex, Volume 1
Studies in the Psychology of Sex, Volume 2
Sketches of the Fair Sex, in All Parts of the World + Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex
In Defense of Women + The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana
Private Sex Advice to Women + The Sex Life of the Gods
Woman
Studies in the Psychology of Sex, Volume 6 part 1
Studies in the Psychology of Sex, Volume 6 part 2