When I was in college, most of my professors went to graduate school in the era of the fifties and sixties when Freudian psychoanalysis was practically a fad.  Of course they would never have agreed that Freudianism was a fad, because the Freudian principles of analysis were accepted as gospel and applied across disciplines outside of psychology to explain just about everything: for instance, characters’ motives or authorial intent were psychoanalyzed in Freudian terms in literature, Freudian explanations of historical figures’ behavior was popular , and so on and so forth.  That generation believed Freud explained everything.  225px-sigmund_freud_life-1

But it turns out it was kind of a fad, because by the time I went to graduate school in the early 1990’s, nobody talked about Freud (pictured to the right, photo courtesy of Wikipedia).  By this time, the Freudian fad had been supplanted by fashionable scholarly preoccupations with feminism and gay/lesbianism.  As for what happened to Freud, if you ask my college-aged daughter or her brother who graduated several years ago about Freud, they’d probably say, “Who?”

Just like if you’ll ask my daughter’s or son’s kids a generation from now about feminism, they’ll probably look at you blankly and say, “Huh?”

Anyway, we oldtimers remember Freud. So in a moment of jocularity with one of my academic associates last week, someone we knew whom we characterized as “anal-retentive” came up in the conversation.   I couldn’t resist posing the question, “What’s the opposite of anal-retentive behavior?  It must be ‘anal-effusive’.”

We laughed at that.  Anal-effusive is not a Freudian term, but it’s fun to imagine what kind of behavior would deserve that label.  Here’s the explanation of Freud’s anal-retentive from Wikipedia:

“Freud theorized that children who experience conflicts during this period of time may develop “anal” personality traits, namely those associated with a child’s efforts at excretory control: orderliness, stubbornness, a compulsion for control,[1] as well as a generalized interest in collecting, possessing, and retaining objects.”

OK, if that be anal-retentive, here must be the opposite anal-effusive:

“Personality traits associated with a child’s lack of effort at excretory control: messiness, stinkiness, incontinence (including fondness for noisy outbursts of public flatulence), a compulsion for undisciplined speech (as in “potty mouth” and “diarrhea of the mouth”), as well as generalized interest in getting rid of, giving away, and letting go of objects (but only worthless, objectionable, or disgusting objects).”

Does this describe people you know???  If the label fits, they must wear it.

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