Psychical growth normally proceeds in a somewhat continuous fashion through the various stages of development. The process of psychologically growing up, however, is not without stressful and anxious moments. When the prospect of taking the next step becomes too anxiety provoking, the ego may resort to the strategy of remaining at the present, more comfortable psychological stage. Such a defense is called fixation. Technically, fixation is the permanent attachment of the libido onto an earlier, more primitive stage of development (Freud, 1917/1963). Like other defense mechanisms, fixations are universal. People who continually derive pleasure from eating, smoking, or talking may have an oral fixation, whereas those who are obsessed with neatness and orderliness may possess an anal fixation.
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