Dissertation Title:

A Dialectical Hermeneutic of Anality for Ecopsychoanalysis: Dealing With Our Shit


Jesse Fister

Date, Time & Place:

June 22, 2023 at 10:00 am


This study reviews the psychoanalytic theory of anality, a pillar of Freud’s psychosexual theory of human development, and subsequent developments by psychoanalytic clinicians throughout the 20th century, focusing on the metaphysical assumptions underlying theory and practice. Freud encountered anal phenomena in the clinical hour in the free associations of his clients and their syntonic symptomology, leading him to believe that certain characterological traits and behaviors corresponded with developmental periods and libidinal fixation at erotogenic zones: oral (breastfeeding), anal (toilet training), and genital (puberty). Since that time, the psychoanalytic theory of anality has evolved to explain a panoply of psychiatric disturbances, character maladjustments, behavioral disorders, and social aberrance. However, the Cartesian assumptions underlying Freud’s drive theory have been undermined in the past century without parallel adjustments to the psychoanalytic theory of anality, excepting the theoretical work of Stolorow and Atwood. Heidegger’s hermeneutic phenomenology undermined biological determinism by replacing Kant’s res extensa with Dasein’s existential horizon. Subsequent post-phenomenologists have explored the ecological implications of a world beyond Dasein to establish an ethical praxis for ecopsychoanalysis, given post-humanism’s flattened ontology “at the edge of chaos” (Dodds, 2011). Using Gadamer’s dialectical hermeneutics, this study reviews theories of anality before exploring the ecosophical consequences of a revised metaphor in clinical practice, respective of recent trends at the intersection of philosophy, psychology, and ecology. Anality proved to be an ideal phenomenon for synthesizing contemporary metaphysics to psychoanalytic practice, bridging subject and world. This study developed the following conclusions for practicing clinicians and research: a. the anus and anal products have an ontological reality beyond human subjectivity; b. anality cannot be reduced to a drive function, its ontological independence echoes through the three domains of desire, the social, and the ecological; c. ecopsychoanalysis argues for an open and non-dogmatic approach to anal phenomenon in clinical practice; d. psychoanalysis exemplifies mature anality in practice; and e. anality is not a derivative of human consciousness but an ontologically distinct event.

  • Program/Track/Year: Clinical Psychology with Emphasis in Depth Psychology, A, 2018
  • Chair: Dr. Jeffrey Grant
  • Reader: Dr. Douglas Thomas
  • External Reader: Dr. Joseph Dodds
  • Keywords: Anality, Ontology, Object, Ecology, Psychoanalysis, Phenomenology, Shit, Hermeneutic, Symptom, Waste