Monday, June 25, 2012

Today's Word: anaclitic

Considering that the prefix ana- can mean "upward" or "backward," I'm certain those dirty-minded among you can come up with a snigger- (or grimace-)worthy definition for anaclitic.

Although it's true that you could use anaclitic when describing your involvement with a woman, that woman is probably your mother or grandmother. Or your father, for that matter.

Cute Baby
"I've got your Pooh right here." (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The -clitic part of the word comes from the Greek klinein, meaning "to lean," and if your relationship with someone is anaclitic, you certainly do lean on that person, at least in a metaphorical sense

There's a bit of duelling dictionaries going on when it comes to anaclitic. Either that or my ability to interpret these meanings is faulty.

According to one dictionary, the word relates to the love toward an object or person that satisfies nonsexual needs, such as toward your parents for keeping you fed, clothed, and safe; for your dog for providing companionship and a steady stream of cuteness; or for your infant child, for providing a seemingly endless stream of toothless grins and pungent green-brown diaper-gifts.

A second dictionary gives the definition simply as "having the libido dependent on another instinct." This sounds like an incomplete definition to me, setting up, as it does, a comparison between one instinct and another, without clarifying or limiting what either instinct is. It also makes anaclitic sound like a synonym for weird fetish, having the libido depend not on anything overtly sexual, but on, say, the size of a man's smartphone, or missing teeth, or plaid.

I hope that some of my readers who have more experience with this word can help clear up what it means. If having an anaclitic relationship with my mother is creepy, I need to know.

From Infinite Jest:
Hal . . . theorizes privately that what passes for hip cynical transcendence of sentiment is really some kind of fear of being really human, since to be really human (at least as he conceptualizes it) is probably to be unavoidably sentimental and naive and goo-prone and generally pathetic, is to be in some basic interior way forever infantile, some sort of not-quite-right-looking infant dragging itself anaclitically around the map, with big wet eyes and froggy-soft skin, huge skull, gooey drool.
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