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Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under Creative Commons licence. In theory, bad scientific ideas are abandoned and replaced by better ones.
We no longer believe living things are animated by a vital force or that combustible matter contains phlogiston. Sometimes, though, ideas are abandoned too soon.
They may simply become unfashionable or contain a germ of truth that is wrapped in a husk of error. In this case, the baby may have been thrown out with its soiled bathwater.
Orderliness refers to excessive conscientiousness and a concern with neatness and cleanliness. Obstinacy involves being stubborn, wilful and rigid.
Parsimony represents stinginess with money and time. Freud found these traits clustered together in people who expressed, during psychoanalytic Anal compulsive disorder, an emotionally charged fascination with defecation. Their anal traits originated in this childhood obsession. Orderliness was a reaction against their fascination with filth, and obstinacy and miserliness were sublimated, socially acceptable expressions of faecal retention.
This character type was perfectionistic, pedantic, detail oriented, prone to disgust, and excessively self-reliant. Anal characters had a passion for classifying, organising and statistics and they were drawn to collecting objects like coins and stamps which, to Freudians, symbolised excrement filthy lucre.
In the mid 20th century researchers began to subject these pungent ideas to empirical scrutiny. Some of their findings were encouraging: However the more basic question is whether these traits are rooted in early childhood and linked to defecation. If not, the anal character is in no meaningful sense anal. One amusing study examined whether anal characters were indeed particularly Anal compulsive disorder by faeces.
People high or low in anal traits were asked to identify by touch objects submerged in different liquids.
In one experimental condition that liquid was Anal compulsive disorder and in the other a malodorous pseudo-faecal mixture of flour and used crankcase oil. As predicted, anal characters performed more poorly in the faecal condition, supposedly thrown off by their excremental anxieties.
Other research was less supportive, however. Studies repeatedly failed to find any correlation between aspects of childhood toilet training and anal traits in adulthood.
As Freudian ideas about the anal character failed to receive empirical support, and psychoanalytic theory was increasingly eclipsed in psychology, they were progressively abandoned.
So has the anal character been wiped from the field? Reports of its death are greatly exaggerated, as anal traits Anal compulsive disorder reappeared in several new guises in more recent personality psychology.
Active research programs explore the complexities of perfectionism, orderliness, disgust proneness and detail focus.
However, the best preserved expression of this very undead idea is obsessive-compulsive personality disorder OCPD. OCPD is a psychiatric Anal compulsive disorder that is alive and unwell. It refers to a pervasive pattern of inflexibility, compulsiveness, overwhelming need for mental and interpersonal control, and excessive attention to detail. Studies suggest it may be the most common of the ten recognised personality disorders, and thus the preeminent form of disturbed personality.
Orderliness reappears as perfectionism and preoccupation with rules and lists. Obstinacy returns Anal compulsive disorder rigidity and a reluctance to delegate tasks. Parsimony lives on in miserly spending habits and an inability to discard worn out objects. Even so, cleansed of its dirty connotations, it captures a common personality variant that remains with us to this day. Available editions United Kingdom. Nick HaslamUniversity of Melbourne.
Research on the anal character In the mid 20th century researchers began to subject these pungent ideas to empirical scrutiny.