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Arlow, J.A. (1949). Anal Sensations and Feelings of Persecution. Psychoanal Q., 18:79-84.

(1949). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 18:79-84

Anal Sensations and Feelings of Persecution

Jacob A. Arlow, M.D.

Staercke and van Ophuijsen suggested that the persecutor in the delusions of paranoid patients, though representing a real object, is identical in the unconscious with the patient's own feces. The latter suggested that the feeling of being assaulted (persecuted) is a projection of subjective disturbance from sensations evoked by the fecal mass. Bibring described a patient whose persecutor bore features which were identical with those of the patient's buttocks. Lauretta Bender described psychotic patients in whose delusions the persecutors were visualized in terms applicable to feces.

The feeling of being persecuted is not limited to paranoid psychotics. Transient delusions, ideas of reference, irritability toward people following too closely or pressing against them in crowds, volatile reactions to the belief that one is discriminated against or being treated unjustly are frequently encountered in psychoneurotic and character disorders.

'Anal sensations', as used in this communication, include all sensations evoked by the fecal mass, and are not limited to the anus proper.

A thirty-year-old veteran with a severe character disorder sought treatment for depression and a feeling of aimlessness in life. He had been expelled from high school when he was eighteen years old after having three times interrupted his studies to run away from home. He had been arrested for vagrancy and for book-making. With one exception, he had worked less than six months in any place he had been employed. At school, at work and in the army, he persistenly complained that he was being treated unjustly. His impulse to retaliate involved him in many fist fights. During his first year of analysis, which began about fifteen months following discharge from the army, he sought almost daily in crowds to encounter and beat his former sergeant who, he was convinced, had blocked his advancement and assigned him to unpleasant details because the patient was a Jew. Of this there was no convincing proof.

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