Freud - Analysis of a Phobia in a Five-Year-Old Boy - Little Hans

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Analysis of a Phobia in a Five-Year-Old Boy - Little Hans
Chronological Summary of Events
Hans born. (April)

3 to 3 ¾ First reports.
3 ¼ to 3 ½ First visit to Gmunden. (Summer)
3 ½ Castration threat.
3 ½ Hanna born. (October)

3 ¾ First dream.
4 Removal to new flat.
4 ¼ to 4 ½ Second visit to Gmunden. Episode of biting horse. (Summer)

4 ¾ Episode of falling horse. Outbreak of phobia. (January) 5 End of analysis. (May)

Little Hans (Herbert Graf) was born in April 1903 to Olga Graf (mother) and Max Graf (father). He undertook four months of treatment, which was conducted by Hans’ father himself, and supervised by Freud, who took somewhat of a backseat. Freud wanted to explore what factors led to the phobia and what factors led to its remission. He believed children face subconscious emotional conflicts just as adults do, and their future adjustment depends on how well the conflicts are solved. It was the first ever psychoanalytic treatment on a child. Freud believed that the sexual impulses in a child would be fresh and naive, unlike when conducting the analysis on an adult, where the impulses have to be ‘dug out’. Freud hypothesised that the analysis would correspond with his previous work in the ‘Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality’. Overview

First observations were taken at three years, where Hans’ spirit of enquiry towards ‘widdlers’ became apparent with his initial observation that the presence or absence of a widdler differentiated between inanimate and animate objects [p.9]. He also assumed that all animate objects were like himself and possessed this important bodily organ - thus allowing him to arrive at a genuine abstract knowledge: ‘A dog and horse have widdlers; a table and chair haven’t.’ He was not deterred from this notion despite noting the lack of a ‘widdler’ on his sister Hanna [p.11]. Hans had begun to practise the commonest – and most normal – form of auto-erotic...
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