patient says, “Doctor, last night I made a Freudian slip, I was having
dinner with my mother-in-law and wanted to say: ‘Could you please pass
the butter?’ “But instead I said: ‘You silly cow, you have completely
ruined my life.’“
However, if you don't like Sigmund, here's your chance to
whack Freud -
Little Hans (real name Herbert Graf) went on to
be a successful opera producer.
The aim of the case study was to
report the findings of the treatment of a five-year-old boy for his
phobia of horses.
Freud was attempting to demonstrate
that the boys (Little Hans) fear of horses was related to his
Oedipus complex. Freud thought that, during the
(approximately between 3 and 6 years old), a boy develops an intense
sexual love for his mothers. Because of this, he sees his father as
a rival, and wants to get rid of him. The father, however, is far
bigger and more powerful than the young boy, and so the child
develops a fear that, seeing him as a rival, his father will
castrate him. Because it is impossible to live with the continual
castration-threat anxiety provided by this conflict, the young boy
develops a mechanism for coping with it, using a defence mechanism
known as 'identification with the aggressor'. He stresses all the
ways that he is similar to his father, adopting his father's
attitudes, mannerisms and actions, feeling that if his father sees
him as similar, he will not feel hostile towards him.
Freud used a
case study method to investigate Little Hans’ phobia. However the
case study was actually carried out by the boy’s father who was a
friend and supporter of Freud. Freud probably only met the boy
once. The father reported to Freud via correspondence and Freud
gave directions as how to deal with the situation based on his
interpretations of the father’s reports.
that it was the special relationship between Hans and his father
that allowed the analysis to progress and for the discussions with
the boy to be so detailed and so intimate. The first reports of Hans
are when he was 3 years old.
reports of Hans are when he was 3 years old when he developed an
active interest in his ‘widdler’ (penis), and also those of other
people. For example on one occasion he asked ‘Mummy, have you got a
this time, the main theme of his fantasies and dreams was widdlers
and widdling.When he was
about three years and six months old his mother told him not to
touch his widdler or else she would call the doctor to come and cut
When Hans was
almost 5, Hans’ father wrote to Freud explaining his concerns about
Hans. He described the main problem as follows: ‘He is afraid a
horse will bite him in the street, and this fear seems somehow
connected with his having been frightened by a large penis’. The
father went on to provide Freud with extensive details of
conversations with Hans. Together, Freud and the father tried to
understand what the boy was experiencing and undertook to resolve
his phobia of horses.
and phobia continued and he was afraid to go out of the house
because of his phobia of horses. Hans told his father of a
dream/fantasy which his father summarised as follows: ‘In the night
there was a big giraffe in the room and a crumpled one: and the big
one called out because I took the crumpled one away from it. Then it
stopped calling out: and I sat down on top of the crumpled one’.
Freud and the father interpreted the dream/fantasy as being a
reworking of the morning exchanges in the parental bed. Hans
enjoyed getting into his parents bed in a morning but his father
often objected (the big giraffe calling out because he had taken the
crumpled giraffe - mother - away). Both Freud and the father
believed that the long neck of the giraffe was a symbol for the
large adult penis. However Hans rejected this idea.
When Hans was
taken to see Freud, he was asked about the horses he had a phobia
of. Hans noted that he didn’t like horses with black bits around
the mouth. Freud believed that the horse was a symbol for his
father, and the black bits were a moustache. After the interview,
the father recorded an exchange with Hans where the boy said ‘Daddy
don’t trot away from me!’;
particularly frightened about horses falling over. He described to
his father an incident where he witnessed this happening (later
confirmed by his mother). Throughout this analysis the parents
continued to record enormous examples of conversations and the
father asked many leading questions to help the boy discover the
root of his fear. For example:
the horse fell down did you think of your daddy?
Yes. It’s possible.
Hans’ fear of
the horses started to decline and Freud believed that two final
fantasies marked a change in Hans and lead to a resolution of his
conflicts and anxieties.
had described a fantasy where he was married to his mother and was
playing with his own children. In this fantasy he had promoted his
father to the role of grandfather.
In the second
fantasy, he described how a plumber came and first removed his
bottom and widdler and then gave him another one of each, but
At age 19 the
not so Little Hans appeared at Freud’s consulting room having read
his case history. Hans confirmed that he had suffered no troubles
during adolescence and that he was fit and well. He could not
remember the discussions with his father, and described how when he
read his case history it ‘came to him as something unknown’
that the findings from the case study of Little Hans supported his
theories of child development.
the case study provided support for his theory of Oedipus Complex
in which the young boy develops an intense sexual love for his
mother and because of this, he sees his father as a rival and wants
to get rid of him. Freud believed that much of Hans’ problem came
from the conflict caused by this wish. The final fantasy of being
married to his mother supported this idea.
Freud the cause of Little Hans’ phobia was related to his Oedipus
complex. Little Hans’, it was argued, was afraid of horses because
the horse was a symbol for his father. For example the black bits
around the horses face reminded the boy of his father’s moustache,
the blinkers reminded him of his fathers glasses and so on. Freud
believed that as Little Hans was having sexual fantasies about his
mother he feared his father’s retaliation. Little Hans therefore
displaced his fear of his father onto horses who reminded him of his