the oral retentive smokes them; the anal retentive shreds them

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Senior Member
His small pink fingers plucked at the thin cigarette paper, spilling out neat little cones of golden-brown tobacco.
Better to let the imagination run on a free rein while this boredom went on. He was trying to give up smoking. The oral retentive smokes them; the anal retentive shreds them.
Source: Firestarter by Stephen King
Context: This scene is taking place at the lecture hall in Harrison’s combined Psychology/ Sociology building. The described character is Dr Wanless. Andrew is bored with all the questions. He is letting his imagination run on a free rein about Dr Wanless’s bizarre habit of breaking up cigarettes.

What does the lexical cluster in bold actually mean in simple language?


retentive: have the ability to remember.

adj. Psychology
Indicating personality traits, such as meticulousness, avarice, and obstinacy, originating in habits, attitudes, or values associated with infantile pleasure in retention of feces.

Thank you.
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    English - England
    As you understand each word, this is more a question about Freudian Psychoanalysis than language:
    Oral stage - Wikipedia
    Theoretically, oral-stage fixations are manifested as garrulousness (talkativeness), smoking, continual oral stimulus (eating, chewing objects), and alcoholism. Psychologically, the symptoms include a sarcastic, oral sadistic personality, nail biting, oral sexual practices (fellatio, cunnilingus, analingus, irrumatio), et cetera.[citation needed].
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