Anal eroticism is erotic activity focusing on the anus, and sometimes the rectum. Sigmund Freud hypothesized that the anal stage of childhood psychosexual development was marked by the predominance of anal eroticism.
Since the mid-twentieth century, English speaking sex manuals like The Joy of Sex have acknowledged the erogenous sensitivity of the anus, and its role in love play. Its author, Alex Comfort, recognised that anal intercourse was part of many heterosexual as well as homosexual relationships (as indeed had Freud at the start of the century). Comfort also stressed the importance (in the French tradition) of postillionage or anal fingering prior to orgasm.
Some decades after Comfort, Margot Anand explored how liberating anal eroticism might contribute to peak experience in sexual activity.
D. W. Winnicott would speak accordingly of "the tremendous pleasure that belongs to the doing of a motion just exactly when the impulse comes...another little orgy that enriches the life of the infant".
Freud in his 1908 article Character and Anal Erotism argued that, through reaction formations and sublimation, anal eroticism could turn in later life into character traits such as obstinacy, orderliness and meanness. Sándor Ferenczi extended his findings to cover the sublimation of anal eroticism into aesthetic experiences such as painting and sculpture, as well as into an interest in money. Otto Fenichel linked anal eroticism to feelings of disgust, to masochism, and to pornography.