Explaining Phobias

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Explaining Phobia Paper
Stacy R. Lee
University of Phoenix-Online
November 26, 2012

In this paper the principles of operational, classical, and observational learning theories will be discussed as those theories pertain to the Case Study of Little Hans. I will review Sigmund Freud’s case study of Little Hans, the child that developed a fear of horses, and relate how this case is explained by the above mentioned theories. I will also discuss this case from the psychoanalytic perspective.
The case of Little Hans and the Psychoanalytic Perspective The case study of Little Hans was published in 1909 by Sigmund Freud. Little Hans did not receive treatment directly from Freud himself but rather from his own father. Little Hans is noted as a five year old boy with an extreme fear of horses, particularly of being bitten by a horse, and who refuses to leave his house. Freud noted that the boy’s father kept detailed notes of his son’s behavior and treatment and that he often discussed this with Freud. The beginning of Little Hans behaviors started showing when he was three years old. Little Hans became fascinated with his penis, which he called his “widdler”. Freud noted that this is the beginning of the phallic stage of his Psycho-Sexual Stages of Development. Due to Little Hans’ constant touching of and talking about his penis his mother threatened to take him to a doctor and have his penis removed. This Freud noted as the beginning of what he posited as Castration Anxiety. Little Hans often had fantasies and dreams about penises. He also enquired to whether his mother had a penis and shared that he imagined hers was as large as a horse’s penis. This supports Freud’s theory of the Oedipus complex. Once Little Hans made the reference to how large a horse’s penis is and how firm his mother was he began to have bad dreams. Due to these bad dreams he would frequently end up in bed with his mother. Little Hans became extremely frighten when walking



References: Cervon, D., & Pervin, L. (2010). Personality: Theory and Research (11th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Son, Inc. McLeod, S. A. (2008). Little Hans-Freudian Case Study. Retrieved November 26, 2012, from SimplyPsychology: http://www.simplypsychology.org/little-hans.html

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