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Menninger, W.C. (1943). Characterologic and Symptomatic Expressions Related to the Anal Phase of Psychosexual Development. Psychoanal Q., 12:161-193.

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(1943). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 12:161-193

Characterologic and Symptomatic Expressions Related to the Anal Phase of Psychosexual Development

William C. Menninger

The influence on character formation exerted by the anal period of psychosexual development in infancy is extremely complicated, and in our culture is probably the most potent factor in character formation. Its importance arises from the facts that first, the events which transpire in this particular phase are of tremendous interest to the infant and small child, and are further emphasized by the fact that society enforces more repression and suppression on them than on the events of any other phase; second, this phase is tremendously influenced and conditioned by the events and reactions set up in the earlier or oral phase; and third, it is greatly influenced and complicated, on the part of the child, by the phase which follows, namely the genital phase.

Our culture emphasizes the importance of the anal period, in contrast to the primitive cultures described by Mead (1) in Samoa, and Róheim (2) in Central Australia which place no taboos or restrictions on the excremental functions, and where no so-called anal character develops. Time means nothing to these natives, there is a laissez faire attitude about work, money is of little interest, and the people share everything with their fellows. The emphasis on production, the value of time, the importance of material possessions, the striving for wealth and its implied power, are all paramount goals in our age of civilization, which might be said to be in an anal phase. Perhaps because these have all assumed such large proportions in our personal strivings, acceptance of their psychological origins meets with special resistance. But this same importance

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