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Shengold, L. (1982). Anal Erogeneity: The Goose and the Rat. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 63:331-345.

(1982). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 63:331-345

Anal Erogeneity: The Goose and the Rat

Leonard Shengold


A case is presented in which the patient's traumatically derived intense anal erogeneity (associated with traumatic anxiety as well as with castration anxiety) inhibited his phallic sensations and potency and also his power to sustain productive thought. His passive cravings were disguised and reacted against in his compulsive-exhibitionistically phallic role of a Don Juan. He described at least two levels of anal feelings: a dangerous but exciting, tolerable or even pleasurable tension associated with the imago of the goose; and an unbearable, terrifying overcharged level embodied in the imago of the rat. (He had read of, and had felt himself identified with, Freud's Rat Man.) Contrasts are presented with François Rabelais' account of the instinctual development and anal training of Gargantua, in which the connotations of the goose lead to a happy anal, phallic and intellectual control. Generalizations are ventured about the crucial attainment of command over the anal sphincter for the taming of 'primal affect' (Fliess). With early psychopathology there is a defensive overcathexis of anal control (and of anal mechanisms and character traits) to try to contain overstimulation. In contrast true anal mastery contributes to the acquisition of optimal genital feelings and functioning and to the capacity for sustaining integrative thinking so necessary for 'owning' one's affects and impulses, and therefore for a feeling of identity. Finally, some remarks of Freud on Rabelais are reviewed in relation to levels of urethral erogeneity, seen as developmental way stations between the anal and the phallic, and partaking of both.

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