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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.

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

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

William C. Menninger


An attempt has been made to analyze the events occurring in the anal phase of psychosexual development, and to correlate the adult expressions related to these infantile experiences. In addition, consideration has been given to the complicated relationship between the oral, anal and genital psychosexual phases of development, with particular attention to the influence of the anal phase on each of the other two. On less certain ground is based the consideration of the oral influences on the anal phase, an influence which certainly exists in potent form, as illustrated in a reaction of guilt over oral aggressions which is subsequently expressed by diarrhoea. In such an instance the oral expression determines the anal response. Similarly, it is

probable that anal aggressions might be substituted for abortive oral aggressions.

From this study one is compelled to question the importance of the primal scene as the first object of the child's curiosity. On the contrary, it seems quite possible that his fear concerning the primal scene may be an example of the repetition compulsion—a reënactment on a genital level of something expressed already on an anal level. It very possibly is connected with the child's curiosity to see the parents urinate and defæcate, and theoretically possible that still earlier the child had a curiosity about how the parents ate. This is suggested by the well-accepted fact that the child has fantasies about eating his parents, and the possible fear that his parents might eat him. Thus, the importance placed upon the primal scene may be antedated by a curiosity as to how the parents eat, and then repeated with regard to excretion, and finally with the primal scene.

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