What Does Anal Retentive Mean?

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Anal retentive is a term that derives from Freudian psychoanalysis. It refers to a personality trait that consists of fastidiousness, stinginess and obstinacy.

A recent study found that anal retentive characteristic features were higher in patients with functional constipation. This suggests a link between anal retentive behavior features and constipation.


A person who has an anal retentive personality may spend a lot of time and energy worrying about details that others might consider minor. They are often overly cautious and a bit stingy with money and other resources. They may also research a product extensively before making a purchase.

Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud first developed the concept of anal retentive personality. He argued that this personality type develops during the anal stage of toilet training and that it is caused by the child’s need to control defecation. Children develop anal retentive behavior features during this stage when they understand that they can hold their stool and control the release of waste (17).

People who are anal retentive may also display other types of compulsive personality traits, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). These symptoms include a strong desire for mental and emotional order, excessive thoroughness, and a need to complete tasks without making mistakes. Those who have OCD tend to be obstinate and rigid in interpersonal relationships and have a problem with perfectionism (18).

While a person who is anal retentive may show some of the signs of OCD, they do not necessarily have the same underlying problems. In fact, they may actually be more functional than those who do not have OCD. It may also be hard to tell whether a person has anal retentive personality characteristics or OCD until they are in a stressful situation, such as being hospitalized for constipation.

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The term anal retentive was coined by Sigmund Freud as part of his psychoanalytic theory. He believed that during the anal stage of child development – between the ages of 1 and 3 – children are able to develop personality characteristics associated with control of excretory function, such as orderliness and stinginess. He also believed that these traits could be triggered by toilet training or by having to deal with the passing of feces.

These characteristics are often seen in people who have problems with constipation. In one study, researchers found that patients suffering from functional constipation have significantly more anal retentive behavior features than healthy subjects. They were found to have higher levels of stinginess, obsession with order and tidiness, stubbornness, and a need for perfectionism.

Today, the term anal retentive is more often used metaphorically, to describe anybody who is overly worried about small details and unable to adopt a philosophical attitude toward mistakes. It is also used in a more general sense, to refer to anyone who is obsessive or compulsive about minor things. This kind of behavior is reminiscent of the Oedipus Complex in boys and the Electra conflict in girls. These conflicts are thought to be the origins of a mental disorder called Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder, or OCPD. People with OCPD are characterized by their excessively detailed attention to everything and by their inability to let go of objects or ideas.

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Whether or not a person is anal retentive, if they tend to focus on minor details and have a difficult time accepting mistakes, it may be worth speaking to a mental health professional to determine if this is more than just a personality quirk. This is particularly true if the behavior causes them to feel anxious or if it interferes with their daily functioning.

Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud first proposed the idea of an anal-retentive personality as part of his psychoanalytic theory. He believed that a child would develop this type of personality during the anal stage and toilet training, as they learned to control their bowel movements. He also believed that this personality could be developed if a parent was overly strict during toilet training or punished the child for toilet training accidents.

The anal-retentive personality has since been used more generally to describe anybody who seems obsessive about minor details and unable to adopt a philosophical attitude toward mistakes. This is especially common in business, where anal retentive people are often seen as impatient and demanding. This behavior is often characterized by an overly zealous pursuit of perfection, but can be damaging to a person’s mental health and career prospects. It can also lead to constipation, which can cause significant discomfort and cost $820 million annually in the United States.

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A person who is anal retentive will have a strong need to control their environment and situations. This can be an annoyance to people who live with them and may cause problems in their daily life. They may be stingy in how they use resources such as toilet paper or food. They might have a need to check things over and over again such as making sure the dishwasher is running correctly. They might even have a need to research products to make sure they’re buying the best.

The anal retentive personality was first described by Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud as part of his psychoanalytic theory. He believed that anal retentive personalities could be influenced by the way a child was toilet trained. He believed that if parents were too strict during potty training, children would develop anal retentive personalities. He also believed that children who were punished for toilet training accidents could develop anal retentive personalities as well.

Today, this personality trait is sometimes confused with a mental disorder called obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD). However, it is important to note that there is a difference between being anal retentive and having OCPD. A person who has OCPD will have a compulsive need to control their environment, and this can lead to serious issues in their daily life.