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Fixation

FIXATION

The notion of fixation involves a certain mode of connection that a drive has with its ideational representatives (its objects) as a function of a primitive phase of the subject's sexual organization. This mode of connection is characterized, at the economic level, by the withdrawal from general circulation of more or less significant quantities of libido. On the dynamic level it is marked by the absence of mobility of the drive in question. On the topographical level, the connection is inscribed in the unconscious.

In Freud's work, the idea of fixation is theoretically associated with four other notions: traumatism, regression, repression, and predisposition. These form the successive stages of Freud's elaboration of the concept of fixation.

The notion of fixation first appeared in a context, which would later turn up again, that is associated with Freud's first work on the psychoneuroses of defense around the time of the Studies on Hysteria (1895d): "The traumatic neuroses give a clear indication that a fixation to the moment of the traumatic accident lies at their root" (1916-17a, p. 274). The fixation to the trauma accounts for the neurotic disorder and for the patient's inability to master the affect contained in the traumatic events. Thus the first version of fixation is dominated by the economic dimension.

The notion of fixation next appeared in the Three Essays (1905d): "[W]e propose to describe the lagging behind of a part trend at an earlier stage as a fixation a fixation, that is, of the [drive]. . . . [T]he portions which have proceeded further may also easily return retrogressively to one of these earlier stageswhat we describe as regression" (p. 340).

In the Freudian conception of infantile sexuality, the sexual function develops according to a graduated rhythm. A partial drive may either pursue a development that achieves the ability to organize freely circulating energy under the aegis of the oedipal genital structures, or stop at some point along the way, lagging behind by fixing upon an earlier stage of sexual development or a primitive object of satisfaction. In clinical work, perversions, just like neurotic symptoms, are evidence of libidinal vestiges from the past.

Fixation appeared in a third context in regard to the case of Daniel Paul Schreber: "The libidinal current in question then behaves in relation to later psychological structures like one belonging to the system of the unconscious, like one that is repressed" (1911c, p. 66). For Freud, in fact, the psychical representatives of component drives are made the object of a fixation that then falls under repression. Similarly, in the formation of symptoms the return of the repressed goes back to the very point of fixation to which the libido has regressed.

Finally, the notion of fixation is associated, in Freud's teaching, with that of sexual constitution insofar as it brings together the various ways in which the different components of the libido are inscribed in the early stages of its development. Fixation thus represents predisposition as a factor in the etiology of neuroses.

The notion of fixation can be found in other currents of psychoanalytic thought, particularly in that of Pierre Marty, whose work represents an original contribution to the concept. For him, the fixation-regression system forms the basis of any functional organization and has a field of influence that stretches from mental to somatic functions. In the course of any psychosomatic disturbance, the presence of fixations, whether psychical or somatic, constitute the stopping points of a counter-developmental current, points from which a psychosomatic reorganization can take place. According to this point of view, the fixation-regression system represents the set of defensive capacities in the development of each individual.

Claude Smadja

See also: Cathexis; Choice of neurosis; Constitution; Disorganization; Ego states; Libidinal development; Psychic causality; Psychic temporality; Psychosomatic; Regression; Repression; Self-object; Stage (or phase); Traumatic neurosis.

Bibliography

Freud, Sigmund. (1905d). Three essays on the theory of sexuality. SE, 7: 123-243.

. (1911c). Psycho-analytic notes on an autobiographical account of a Case of paranoia (dementia paranoides). SE, 12: 1-82.

. (1916-17a). Introductory lectures on psychoanalysis. SE, 15-16.

Freud, Sigmund, and Breuer, Josef. (1895d) Studies in hysteria. SE,2.

Further Reading

Greenacre, Phyllis. (1960). Regression and fixation. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 8, 703-723.

Nagera, Humberto. (1964). On arrest in development, fixation, and regression. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 19, 222-239.

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Fixation

Fixation

An intense psychological association with a past event or series of events that triggers certain feelings or behaviors in a person when confronted with similar events or series of events.

Sigmund Freud theorized that the developmental stages of infancy and early childhood chart our lives in ways that are difficult to change. He believed that most adult neuroses could be attributed to a fixation developed during one of these stages of early life. Freud was especially concerned about how these stages were related to sexual development in later life, and in this he was, and continues to be, quite controversial. In his time, it was considered by many to be outlandish that an infant sucking on her mother's breast was experiencing sexual gratification, yet Freud classified it as such and composed a theory of psychosexual development.

Freud's theory of psychosexual development suggests that children pass through several stages in their earliest years. These stages are the oral stage, the anal stage, the phallic stage, the latency stage, and genital stage. During each stage, children learn to gratify themselves (Freud would say sexually) via distinct patterns of behavior. During the oral stage, for instance, children learn that the highest level of physical gratification occurs through oral stimulation. (They feed by sucking, they routinely place objects in their mouths, etc.) It was Freud's view that during any one of these stages a person could become fixatedthat is, they could be so gratified or, on the other hand, so unfulfilled, that they are marked for life by this fixation. Someone who has a fixation at the oral stage of development, for instance, might suck his or her thumb, eat or drink excessively, chew pencils, or smoke cigarettes. Adults fixated during this period of development are also thought to be inclined toward clinging, dependent relationships. Those fixated during the anal phase of psychosexual development are typically thought of as being overly controlling and obsessed with neatness or cleanliness.

Freud also considered regression closely linked to fixation. In his famous Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis, he spoke of human development as a journey into new territory, much like an early migration of primitive peoples into new territory. He states that as people migrated into new, unexplored territory, certain members of the party might stop along the way at a place that offered them the prospect of a good life. These stopping points would be analogous to the fixations people develop in early life, attaching themselves to a period of safety and security before the entire journey of life is fully accomplished.

Further Reading

Freud, Sigmund. Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1966.

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fixation

fix·a·tion / fikˈsāshən/ • n. 1. an obsessive interest in or feeling about someone or something: his fixation on the details of other people's erotic lives our fixation with diet and fitness. ∎  Psychoanalysis the arresting of part of the libido at an immature stage, causing an obsessive attachment: fixation at the oral phase might result in dependence on others an oral-maternal fixation. 2. the action of making something firm or stable: sand dune fixation. ∎  Biochem. the process by which some plants and microorganisms incorporate gaseous nitrogen or carbon dioxide to form nongaseous compounds: his work on nitrogen fixation in plants. ∎  Biol. the process of preserving or stabilizing (a specimen) with a chemical substance prior to microscopy or other examination: biopsy specimens were placed in cassettes before fixation in formalin. 3. technical the action of concentrating the eyes directly on something: during the period of total blindness there was a complete absence of visual fixation.

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fixation

fixation
1. A soil process by which certain nutrient chemicals required by plants are changed from a soluble and available form into a much less soluble and almost unavailable form.

2. The first step in making permanent preparations of tissues for microscopic study, by killing cells and preventing subsequent decay with as little distortion of structure as possible. Examples of fixatives are formaldehyde and osmium tetroxide, often used as mixtures.

3. A term applied to 100 per cent gene frequencies when all members of a population are homozygous for a particular allele at a given locus (i.e. there is no polymorphism).

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"fixation." A Dictionary of Ecology. . Encyclopedia.com. 28 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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fixation

fixation
1. A soil process by which certain nutrient chemicals required by plants are changed from a soluble and available form into a much less soluble and almost unavailable form.

2. The first step in making permanent preparations of tissues for microscopic study, by killing cells and preventing subsequent decay with as little distortion of structure as possible. Examples of fixatives are formaldehyde and osmium tetroxide, often used as mixtures.

3. A term applied to gene frequencies when all members of a population are homozygous for a particular allele at a given locus.

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"fixation." A Dictionary of Plant Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. 28 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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fixation

fixation
1. The first stage in the preparation of a specimen for microscopical examination, in which the tissue is killed and preserved in as natural a state as possible by immersion in a chemical fixative. The fixative prevents the distortion of cell components by denaturing its constituent protein. Some commonly used fixatives are formaldehyde, ethanol, and Bouin's fluid (for light microscopy), and osmium tetroxide and gluteraldehyde (for electron microscopy). Fixation may also be brought about by heat.

2. See nitrogen fixation.

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fixation

fixation
1. The condition in which a gene occurs at 100% frequency in a population; i.e. there is no polymorphism, all members of a population being homozygous for a particular allele at a given locus.

2. The first step in making permanent preparations of tissues for microscopic study, by killing cells and preventing subsequent decay with as little distortion of structure as possible. Examples of fixatives are formaldehyde and osmium tetroxide, often used as mixtures.

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fixation

fixation (fiks-ay-shŏn) n.
1. (in psychoanalysis) a failure of psychological development, in which traumatic events prevent a child from progressing to the next developmental stage. See also psychosexual development.

2. a procedure for the hardening and preservation of tissues or microorganisms to be examined under a microscope.

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fixation

fixation (pedol.) Soil process by which certain nutrient chemicals required by plants are changed from a soluble and available form into a much less soluble and almost unavailable form.

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fixation

fixation: see psychoanalysis.

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fixation

fixationashen, fashion, passion, ration •abstraction, action, attraction, benefaction, compaction, contraction, counteraction, diffraction, enaction, exaction, extraction, faction, fraction, interaction, liquefaction, malefaction, petrifaction, proaction, protraction, putrefaction, redaction, retroaction, satisfaction, stupefaction, subtraction, traction, transaction, tumefaction, vitrifaction •expansion, mansion, scansion, stanchion •sanction •caption, contraption •harshen, Martian •cession, discretion, freshen, session •abjection, affection, circumspection, collection, complexion, confection, connection, convection, correction, defection, deflection, dejection, detection, direction, ejection, election, erection, genuflection, imperfection, infection, inflection, injection, inspection, insurrection, interconnection, interjection, intersection, introspection, lection, misdirection, objection, perfection, predilection, projection, protection, refection, reflection, rejection, resurrection, retrospection, section, selection, subjection, transection, vivisection •exemption, pre-emption, redemption •abstention, apprehension, ascension, attention, circumvention, comprehension, condescension, contention, contravention, convention, declension, detention, dimension, dissension, extension, gentian, hypertension, hypotension, intention, intervention, invention, mention, misapprehension, obtention, pension, prehension, prevention, recension, retention, subvention, supervention, suspension, tension •conception, contraception, deception, exception, inception, interception, misconception, perception, reception •Übermenschen • subsection •ablation, aeration, agnation, Alsatian, Amerasian, Asian, aviation, cetacean, citation, conation, creation, Croatian, crustacean, curation, Dalmatian, delation, dilation, donation, duration, elation, fixation, Galatian, gyration, Haitian, halation, Horatian, ideation, illation, lavation, legation, libation, location, lunation, mutation, natation, nation, negation, notation, nutation, oblation, oration, ovation, potation, relation, rogation, rotation, Sarmatian, sedation, Serbo-Croatian, station, taxation, Thracian, vacation, vexation, vocation, zonation •accretion, Capetian, completion, concretion, deletion, depletion, Diocletian, excretion, Grecian, Helvetian, repletion, Rhodesian, secretion, suppletion, Tahitian, venetian •academician, addition, aesthetician (US esthetician), ambition, audition, beautician, clinician, coition, cosmetician, diagnostician, dialectician, dietitian, Domitian, edition, electrician, emission, fission, fruition, Hermitian, ignition, linguistician, logician, magician, mathematician, Mauritian, mechanician, metaphysician, mission, monition, mortician, munition, musician, obstetrician, omission, optician, paediatrician (US pediatrician), patrician, petition, Phoenician, physician, politician, position, rhetorician, sedition, statistician, suspicion, tactician, technician, theoretician, Titian, tuition, volition •addiction, affliction, benediction, constriction, conviction, crucifixion, depiction, dereliction, diction, eviction, fiction, friction, infliction, interdiction, jurisdiction, malediction, restriction, transfixion, valediction •distinction, extinction, intinction •ascription, circumscription, conscription, decryption, description, Egyptian, encryption, inscription, misdescription, prescription, subscription, superscription, transcription •proscription •concoction, decoction •adoption, option •abortion, apportion, caution, contortion, distortion, extortion, portion, proportion, retortion, torsion •auction •absorption, sorption •commotion, devotion, emotion, groschen, Laotian, locomotion, lotion, motion, notion, Nova Scotian, ocean, potion, promotion •ablution, absolution, allocution, attribution, circumlocution, circumvolution, Confucian, constitution, contribution, convolution, counter-revolution, destitution, dilution, diminution, distribution, electrocution, elocution, evolution, execution, institution, interlocution, irresolution, Lilliputian, locution, perlocution, persecution, pollution, prosecution, prostitution, restitution, retribution, Rosicrucian, solution, substitution, volution •cushion • resumption • München •pincushion •Belorussian, Prussian, Russian •abduction, conduction, construction, deduction, destruction, eduction, effluxion, induction, instruction, introduction, misconstruction, obstruction, production, reduction, ruction, seduction, suction, underproduction •avulsion, compulsion, convulsion, emulsion, expulsion, impulsion, propulsion, repulsion, revulsion •assumption, consumption, gumption, presumption •luncheon, scuncheon, truncheon •compunction, conjunction, dysfunction, expunction, function, junction, malfunction, multifunction, unction •abruption, corruption, disruption, eruption, interruption •T-junction • liposuction •animadversion, aspersion, assertion, aversion, Cistercian, coercion, conversion, desertion, disconcertion, dispersion, diversion, emersion, excursion, exertion, extroversion, immersion, incursion, insertion, interspersion, introversion, Persian, perversion, submersion, subversion, tertian, version •excerption

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