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
1903
Hans born. (April)

1906
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)

1907
3 ¾ First dream.
4 Removal to new flat.
4 ¼ to 4 ½ Second visit to Gmunden. Episode of biting horse. (Summer)

1908
4 ¾ Episode of falling horse. Outbreak of phobia. (January) 5 End of analysis. (May)

Background
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 sexual activity; Giving himself pleasure by touching his member. The castration complex was first planted in to Hans’ head at three and a half years when his mother told him the doctor would come and chop his widdler off if he didn’t stop playing with it. [p.7-8]. At the present time he was unfased, and suggested he could wee out of his bottom. His mothers threat made Hans believe it was possible to lose your genital organs, which he would later subconsciously believe would happen for repressing oedipal desires. This concern for the loss of his widdler was initially dismissed from his thoughts but made its effects apparent at a later period. Taking pleasure in his own sexual organ soon turned in to scopophelia, in active and passive forms with his main fantasies and dreams being aimed around widdlers, widdling and wishing that the girls in Gmunden would help him widdle [p.19]. At age 3 ¾ he asked his father ‘Daddy, have you got a widdlers too?’ When he asked his mother if she had a widdler, she replied with ‘why of course’. He also repeatedly expressed the desire to see his mother and fathers widdlers in order to draw comparison. Hans had observed that larger animals had correspondingly larger widdlers and formulated the hypothesis that this was the case with his parents. For example; his mother he thought must have a widdlers ‘like a horse’. This reflection could be interpreted that a child’s wish to be ‘bigger’ had been concentrated on his genitals. The sexual aim in which he pursued his girl playmates had ‘found it’s way into object love’ in the usual manner from the care he had received as an infant. It’s suggested that this sudden erotic urge originated from the pleasure derived from the cutaneous (skin) contact of sleeping next to his mother (Hans would crawl into bed most mornings). This caused sexual arousal or ‘Satisfaction of the instinct of concentration [Moll (1898). Cf &SE;, 7, 169 n. 2.]. This facilitated his increased interest in other girls...
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