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Anal retentiveness

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Anal retentiveness is a personality trait that is characterised by excessive concern with trivial details.[1] The concept originated in Freudian psychoanalytic theory, where one aspect of the anal stage of psychosexual development is pleasure in the retention of faeces. Fixation in this stage can potentially result in a personality marked by frugality, obstinacy and orderliness.[2] Despite its psychoanalytic roots and the literal meaning of the words, in common usage the term generally refers merely to certain kinds of obsessive behaviour.


In Freudian psychology, the anal stage is said to follow the oral stage of infant or early-childhood development, and occurs from around the age of 18 months to 3 years old. The infant's attention moves from oral stimulation to anal stimulation, usually synchronous with learning to control its excretory functions. Freud posited that children who experience conflicts during this stage may develop certain fixations or personality traits. If the association of the libido with the anal erogenous zone and excretory function is not satisfactorily resolved (for example, as a result of the child being too frequently or severely chastised for toilet training accidents), so-called 'anal retentive' character traits, such as excessive orderliness, stubbornness, and compulsions for control, may develop at a later stage.[3] If excretory pleasure is overindulged during this period the individual may develop "anal-expulsive" personality traits.[4]


Freud's theories on early childhood have been influential on the psychological community; the phrase anal retentive and the term anal survive in common usage. The second edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-II) introduced obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), with a definition based on Freud's description of anal-retentive personality.[5] According to Kathleen Berger, writing in the year 2000, there is no conclusive research linking anal stage conflicts with "anal" personality types.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Anal retentiveness". Collins Dictionary. Collins. Retrieved 4 May 2024.
  2. ^ "Anal-retentive phase". APA Dictionary of Psychology. American Psychological Association. Retrieved 4 May 2024.
  3. ^ Hall, Calvin S. (1954). A Primer of Freudian Psychology. New York: New American Library. p. 108. ISBN 0-452-01183-3.
  4. ^ "Psychosexual Development". www.victorianweb.org. Retrieved 2023-09-06.
  5. ^ Pinto, Anthon y; Eisen, Jane L.; Mancebo, Maria C.; Rasmussen, Steven A. (2008). "Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder" (PDF). In Abramowitz, Jonathan S.; McKay, Dean; Taylor, Steven (eds.). Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Subtypes and Spectrum Conditions. Elsevier. pp. 246–263. ISBN 978-0-08-044701-8.
  6. ^ Berger, Kathleen (2000). The Developing Person. New York: Worth Publishers. p. 218. ISBN 1-57259-417-9.