Anal Phase

A photograph of horse dung © Barbara Dietl
What is the Anal Phase?

According to Freud's theory, the anal phase follows the oral phase and is the second stage of childhood sexual development. It does not replace the earlier phase, but is superimposed upon it. It introduces rules and prohibitions that deal primarily with the control of the excretory organs.

In the anal phase, the child is confronted with the fact that his actions are not always welcome. In order to continue being loved, the child must learn to control his drives. This is why the anal phase is a complex stage in the attempt to accommodate the desires and laws of others and to become a member of society - along with all the happiness and frustration this entails. This individual experience of the link between desires and laws recurs later in life.

Wolf Man

The Wolf Man "related how during a long period he was very pious. Before he went to sleep he was obliged to pray for a long time and to make an endless series of signs of the cross. It was utterly inconsistent with this pious ceremonial - or, on the other hand, perhaps it was quite consistent with it - that he should recollect some blasphemous thoughts which used to come into his head like an inspiration from the devil. He was obliged to think 'God-shit [Gott-Kot].' Once while he was on a journey he was tormented by the obsession of having to think of the Holy Trinity whenever he saw three heaps of horse-dung or other excrement lying in the road." Biblical stories about God and Jesus provide the Wolf Man with a way of understanding his own respect for paternal authority. This respect, however, always turns into the exact opposite, and his unconscious returns to a phase in which he suffered most from his father's desires: when he was being taught to be cleanly.