3. About “Anlehnung”

Anlehnung” (“leaning-upon”) is a German word used by Freud, and especially called to my attention in the work of Cornelius Castoriadis. Freud’s English translators established ‘anaclisis’ as a technical term in English for its translation (see below). Castoriadis writes of how the socially-historically instituted imaginary “leans upon” the natural stratum, explicitly evoking Freud’s usage.

The following is from “No Subject” (Encyclopedia of Lacanian Psychoanalysis) (http://nosubject.com/Anaclisis), with some typos corrected.  Note in particular the second paragraph.

The term ‘anaclisis’ is used by Freud to describe the early relationship between the sexual and the self-preservative drives. The sexual drives are not initially autonomous, and are supported by the vital functions of nutrition and protection that supply them with an object and an aim. The relationship between the two is most apparent in the oral activity of a child at the breast; the pleasure associated with sucking is associated with the need for nourishment, but also establishes an erotic relationship with the breast. The need for repeating the sexual satisfaction gradually becomes detached from the physical need as the sexual drive takes on an independent existence. The expression ‘anaclitic object-choice’ refers to a form of object-choice in which the love-object is selected because it in some way resembles the parental figure that once provided the child with food, care and protection. This is one of the two major categories of object-choice, the other being the narcissistic choice in which the love-object represents some aspect of the desiring subject.

Like cathexis, anaclisis is a pseudo-classical coinage; it is derived by Freud’s English translator from a Greek verb meaning ‘to lean on’. The German Anlehnung derives from the commonplace verb anlehnen (‘to lean against’) and has no classical overtones.