Little Hans - Freudian Case Study | Simply Psychology


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By Saul McLeodpublished Little Hans was a 5-year-old boy with a phobia of horses. Like all clinical case studies, the primary aim was to treat the phobia. However, Freud's therapeutic input in this case was minimal, and a secondary aim was to explore what factors might have led to the phobia in the first place, and what factors led to its remission. By Freud's ideas about the Oedipus complex were well-established and Phobia case studies interpreted this case in line with his theory.

Freud didn't actually work directly with little Hans, but instead worked through correspondence with Hans' father, who was familiar with Freud's theories, phobia case studies, and wrote to him when he first suspected that Hans had become a case that Freud might be interested in. Freud suggested possible lines of questioning which the father could try with Hans, phobia case studies the father tried them and reported to Freud what phobia case studies taken place.

Throughout this time, the main theme of his fantasies and dreams was widdlers and widdling. When he was about three and a half years old his mother told him not to touch his widdler or else she would call the doctor to come and cut it off. The father went on to provide Phobia case studies with extensive details of conversations with Hans, phobia case studies.

Together, Freud and the father tried to understand what the boy was experiencing and undertook to resolve his phobia of horses.

Freud wrote a summary of his treatment of Little Hans, inin a paper entitled " Analysis of a Phobia in a Five-year-old Boy. Since the family lived opposite a busy coaching inn, that meant that Hans was unhappy about leaving the house because he saw many horses as soon as he went out of the door.

When he was first asked about his fear Hans said that phobia case studies was frightened that the horses would fall down and make a noise with their feet. He was most frightened of horses which were drawing heavily laden carts, and, in fact, had seen a horse collapse and die in the street one time when he was out with his nurse. It was pulling a horse-drawn bus carrying many passengers and when the horse collapsed Hans had been frightened by the sound of its hooves clattering against the cobbles of the road.

He also suffered attacks of more generalized anxiety, phobia case studies. Phobia case studies Hans was taken to see Freud, he was asked about the horses he had a phobia of. Freud believed that the horse was a symbol for his father, and the black bits were a moustache. Over the next few weeks Hans' phobia gradually began to improve.

Hans said that he was especially afraid of white horses with black around the mouth who were wearing blinkers. Hans' father interpreted this as a reference to phobia case studies moustache and spectacles. After many letters were exchanged, Freud concluded that the boy was afraid that his father would castrate him for desiring his mother. Freud interpreted that the horses in the phobia were symbolic of the father, and that Hans feared that the horse father would bite castrate him as punishment for the incestuous desires towards his mother.

The end of Hans' phobia of horses was accompanied by two significant fantasies which he told to his father. In the first, Hans had several imaginary children. When asked who their mother was, phobia case studies, Hans replied ' Why, mummy, and you're their Granddaddy '. In the second fantasy, which occurred the next day, Hans imagined that a plumber had come and first removed his bottom and widdler and then gave him another one of each, but larger.

Freud saw Hans' phobia as an expression of the Oedipus complex. Horses, particularly horses with black harnesses, symbolized his father. Horses were particularly suitable father-symbols because of their large penises.

The fear began as an Oedipal conflict was developing regarding Hans being allowed in his parents' 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, phobia case studies. 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.

Freud saw the Oedipus complex resolved as Hans fantasized himself with a big penis like his father's and married to his mother with his father present in the role of grandfather. Hans did recover from his phobia after his father at Freud's suggestion assured him that he had no intention of cutting off his penis. Freud was attempting to demonstrate that the boys Little Hans fear of horses was related to his Oedipus complex.

Freud thought that, during the phallic stage approximately between 3 and 6 years olda boy develops an intense sexual love for his mothers. Because of this, phobia case studies, he sees his father as a rival, and wants to get rid of him, phobia case studies. The father, phobia case studies, 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 phobia case studies, the young boy develops a mechanism for coping with it, using a defense 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. The case study of Little Hans does appear to provide support for Freud's theory of the Oedipus complex.

However, there are difficulties with this type of evidence. Hans' father, who provided Freud with most of his data, was already familiar with the Oedipus complex and interpreted the case in the light of this.

It is therefore possible that he supplied Hans with clues that led to his fantasies of marriage to his mother and his new large widdler. Of course even if Hans did have a fully fledged Oedipus complex, this shows that the Oedipus complex exists but not how common it is.

Remember that Freud believed it to phobia case studies universal. The problems with case studies are they lack population validity. Because they are often based on one person it is not possible to generalize the results to the wider population, phobia case studies.

Hans confirmed that he had suffered no troubles during adolescence and that he was fit and well. Brown examines the case in detail and provides the following support for Freud's interpretation. Hans particularly feared horses with black around the mouth.

Han's father had a moustache. Hans feared horses with blinkers on. Freud noted that the father wore spectacles which he took to resemble blinkers to the child. The father's skin resembled white horses rather than dark ones. In fact, Hans said, "Daddy, you are so lovely. You are so white". The father and child had often played at 'horses' together. During the game the father would take the role of horse, the son that of the rider. Freud, S.

Analysis of a phobia of a five year old boy. McLeod, S. Little Hans - Freud Toggle navigation. Download this article as a PDF. Little Hans Case Study. How to reference this article: McLeod, S. Back to top.


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phobia case studies


Generalized Anxiety Disorder Case Study: James. A Paper On Case Studies. Psychology Research & Review. If you are seeking help in this area, please let one of our therapists know. Theravive has thousands of licensed counselors available to help you right away. A Really Bad Case of a Snake Phobia An example of the exposure therapy of phobias. Posted Jun 03, about whatever they fear, in the case of snakes, their habits and habitats, whether they. Sara, A Social Phobia Client with Sudden Change After Exposure Exercises in Intensive Cognitive-Behavior Group Therapy: A Case-Based Analysis of Mechanisms of Change V.L. Jensen, E. Hougaard, & D.B. Fishman pragmatic case studies to the illumination .