A Freud question

In his essay on “Fetischismus” (Studienausgabe, vol. III, pg. 383), Freud’s first example is a puzzling one:

Am merkwürdigsten erschien ein Fall, in dem ein junger Mann einen gweissen “Glanz auf der Nase” zur fetischistischen Bedingung erhoben hatte. Das fand seine überraschende Aufklärung durch die Tatsache, daß der Patient eine englische Kinderstube gehabt hatte, dann aber nach Deutschland gekommen war, wo er seine Muttersprache fast vollkommen vergaß. Der aus den ersten Kinderzeiten stammende Fetisch war nicht deutsch, sondern englisch zu lesen, der “Glanz auf der Nase” war eigentlich ein “Blick auf die Nase” (glance = Blick), die Nase war also der Fetisch, dem er übrigens nach seinem Belieben jenes besondere Glanzlicht verlieh, das andere nicht wahrnehmen konnten.

He seems to be citing it only because of the weirdness of the cross-linguistic pun — which surely is weird and interesting! And yet there are other weird things going on here. Does he have a fetish for… shiny noses? How could that have originated out of “glancing up the nose”? He never returns to this example, so I’m kind of lost at sea here. Any ideas?

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12 Responses to “A Freud question”

  1. real Jeff Hanna Says:

    It reads to me like the man merely has a nose fetish, and Freud includes this funny linguistic mix-up story just for the hell of it.

  2. Phaidros Says:

    “Glanz auf der Nase” indeed means some kind of glossiness on the nose. I’m not aware of any other meaning of “Glanz” that could be somehow connected to a nose… my first association (being a native speaker) with a glossy nose is a greasy skin ;-)

  3. ben Says:

    “auf” w/ blicken means at, not up, so it’s not a glance up but at noses.

    I admit that doesn’t shed much light on the whole situation.

  4. Adam Kotsko Says:

    I skipped a step there — Freud will later say that the fetish object is the last thing one saw before gaining the horrifying knowledge that women don’t have a penis (hence often hair, hence nose hair).

  5. Wes Dalton Says:

    I may just be being naive about the conversation, but maybe he is making a pun on the Latin “glans,” which I believe is pronounced similarly as Glanz?

  6. Adam Kotsko Says:

    That makes sense to a certain extent, though it makes the significance of the English-to-German pun that much more opaque.

  7. real Jeff Hanna Says:

    I really don’t think there is a pun. The man looks at noses and gets excited. Because his English is stronger than his German, he describes this problem erroneously in German as a ‘Glanz auf der Nase’, mixing up Glanz with Blick (the former of which, btw, is not pronounced like Latin ‘glans’ but is almost identical to English ‘glance.’

    This search for the meaning of Glanz in its original German sense is a red herring, I think.

  8. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Freud says he’d forgotten his English, though your broader point probably stands — the word “glance” provides the point of contact with forgotten childhood events.

  9. Adam Kotsko Says:

    In fact, presumably the phrase Glanz auf der Nase was initially puzzling to Freud himself as a description of the fetish, right?

  10. real Jeff Hanna Says:

    Ah yes, I assumed he was a German who had spent a large portion of his childhood in England. His Muttersprache that was forgotten would then have been German, which he then would have (re)learned upon returning to Germany.

  11. real Jeff Hanna Says:

    Yes, I assume the patient erroneously described it as a ‘Glanz auf der Nase’ and Freud eventually figured out he meant ‘Blick auf die Nase.’

  12. Adam Kotsko Says:

    I like the adverbial use of the englisch and deutsch in this passage.


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