Child’s life

1) The reason of why the patient was being seen. Little Hans had a fear (phobia) of horses which made life difficult in these Victorian times as horses and carriages were the norm for transport. Initial reports about Hans came directly from his family, mostly his father, who reported that at age 3 Hans had cultivated a deep interest in his “widdler” (i. e. , his penis). Further, this interest by Hans had extended to the “widdlers” that other people were assumed to have. On one occasion he even asked his mother, “…do you have a widdler too?

” At this time his dreams and fantasies seemed to have widdlers and widdling as dominant themes. At age 31/2 Hans was told by his mother not to touch his widdler, or she would call the doctor to come around to cut it off. At this time, his mother also birthed his sister Hanna. Further, his mother sometimes threatened to leave the family for good. It appears that Hans was incredibly jealous of his sibling at first. Although his feelings of jealousy appeared to wane after a few months. Hans had also developed a significant interest in other children, especially girls it seems.

He began to form emotional attachments to them. At around age 5 Han’s father was concerned enough to make contact with Freud. The description the father gave of Hans was that the dominant problem was that: ‘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’. In his letter to Freud the father detailed conversations he had had with Hans. 2) A summary of the work with patient. Freud used a case study method to evaluate Little Han’s phobia.

However, the initial study observations were carried out by Han’s father. As the record of work Freud undertook with Little Hans is retrospective, it is not clear if Freud ever actually met with Hans more than once. Freud corresponded with the father to gain information about the case and to provide instruction as to how to proceed. Throughout the case Freud leveraged the special relationship that Hans had with his father, as this provided a medium for detailed disclosures and discussions about thoughts and behaviors intimate to the child.

3) The dynamics of the problem. Freud inquired to Hans about his phobia of horses, which Hans referred to as “nonsense”. Hans pointed out that he did not like horses that had “black bits around their mouth”. From this Freud concluded that the horse actually symbolized Han’s father and the black bits on a horses’ mouth corresponded to his father’s moustache. Following the interview, the father made a record of a conversation he had with his son where Hans said: ‘Daddy don’t trot away from me! ’

It appears he became quite frightened also about horses falling over, and had described to his father a day when he had seen this happen (his mother confirmed the sighting). Although his parents kept detailed records of conversations they had with Hans about his phobia it is clear that they also asked many leading questions that may have biased the results- Hans may just have wanted to please his parents with his responses. For example: Father: When the horse fell down did you think of your daddy? Hans: Perhaps. Yes. It’s possible. 4) The paradigm that was used and how you felt the case was resolved

Freud had developed a theory he referred to as the Oedipus complex, which came to be a critical concept in the discipline of psychoanalysis. Freud felt that the Oedipidal theory could be used to explain Hans’s behaviors and cognitions. Basically for Freud children had five stages of development to pass through, the psychosexual stages, due to the basic human drive during development was believed by Freud to be sexuality. The stages were comprised of the; oral, anal, phallic, latency period and finally genital. The first three stages were determined to take place within the first five years of a child’s life.

It was during the ages of 3-5 that Freud contended the phallic stage occurred, where sexual identification became important for the child. He hypothesized that Hans, like all other young boys at this stage, experienced the Oedipus complex. Thus, Hans would have experienced dramatic conflicts that could only be resolved by Hans identifying with his father, as his father was of the same sex as himself. As such, Hans was supposed to have developed a strong sexual love for his mother, leading to him seeing his father as a rival and wanting him to be gone so that he, Hans, could have his mother all to himself.

However, Hans would realize that his father was much more powerful and physically bigger than he was, and from this the young boy developed a fear that his father would recognize Hans as a rival and attempt to castrate him. The continual threat of castration would have made daily life difficult for Hans. To cope with the anxiety Hans developed a defense mechanism that Freud termed “identification with the aggressor”. For this reason, Hans was quick to let his father know all the ways in which he, Hans, was similar to his father.

In turn adopting similar values and behavioral repertoires; if his father should look to him as see Hans as a similar being then it would be less likely that his father would be hostile toward Hans. To resolve the conflict, Han’s father spoke with him about his assumed fears of his father, castration, mother love and losing his penis. Freud and the father felt that after such discussions Hans did indeed display behaviors and cognitions that implied he had resolved the conflict of his sexuality and was no longer anxious about possible castration.

5) Was it a successful outcome or not. To determine success of Freud’s indirect work with Hans it is perhaps best to go forward in time to when Hans was older. This makes sense as Freud believed the first few years in a child’s life lead to how their personality would develop, so evidence of success of intervention with Hans should be visible in Hans’s later life. If Hans had adjusted adequately to his sexual identity conflict, and resolved the issue of his sexual identification, then his years out of childhood should have been functional.

There is only one record of Hans in later life, when he was 19 he returned to visit Freud and to read through his case notes. Hans claimed at that time that he remembered nothing of the conversations he had with his father on the subject of his fear of horses. He no longer had a phobia of horses. And he felt that hiss teen years were healthy, functional and without significant internal conflict. Based on this brief insight into Hans later life it could be suggested that the intervention worked.

However, given that we are not privy to other events occurring at this time of Hans’s life, or later life, the argument that Freud’s intervention “cured” Hans is unsubstantiated. 6) You may also suggest if you would have preferred another paradigm and, if so why and how it would have worked better that the one utilized. Bowlby (1969/1982) another psychoanalyst may have argued that the phobia Hans was experience could be understood by way of attachment theory. Attachment is the emotional bond that grows between the child and caregiver (Bowlby, 1968/1982).

Attachment processes facilitate a child in future relationship building. Often in Western societies the mother is the primary caregiver. Bowlby used concepts from ethnology to investigate and explain child-mother relationships. Especially, he focused on a critical period for bonding to occur, and initiated studies into mother-child separation. The fact that Hans’ mother often threatened to leave her family, coupled with the birth of his little sister which took his mother away from him anyway due to time commitments to look after the child, may have caused anxiety for the young boy.

This anxiety would then have manifested into fantasies and dreams that involved something dire happening to him, Hans. Also, given the Victorian society at the time, when relationships with children were not fully explored, his boding with his mother may have been inadequate.


As Psychology (2005). Freud, Sigmund (1909): Analysis of a phobia of a five-year-old boy. Retrieved November 6, 2007 from http://www. holah. karoo. net/freudstudy. htm Bowlby, J. (1968/82). Attachment and Loss, Vol. 1: Attachment. New York: Basic Books.