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To what extent does the case study of Little Hans provide evidence for
the Oedipus complex?
There have been many theories on Little Hans' phobia of horses such as
Freud's Oedipus complex which suggests that Little Hans was afraid that
his father would castrate him due to him having incestual feelings towards
One of the main pieces of evidence that Little Hans was in love with his
mother was his dream of him marrying his mother, and his father becoming
the grandfather. It is often said that subconscious thoughts emerge in your
dreams, so it is possible that Little Hans had suppressed his feelings and his
desires are submerging in his dreams. Since Little Hans also had another
dream of a plumber giving him bigger body parts, it suggests that Little
Hans has realised that he is not in danger of being castrated. Freud
suggested that by dreaming his desires had come true, the Oedipus
complex was resolved. This was supported by the fact that Little Hans
recovered not long after his dreams.
Little Hans' dream of giraffes (from a different perspective) supports
Freud's theory as the crumpled giraffe and the big giraffe can be seen to
represent his mother and father. It is possible that he is afraid of his
parents, so he represents them in animals because they are seen to be
inferior. Little Hans can then assert more authority over the animals and do
what he wants to do ("took the crumpled one away", "sat down [on it]").
Little Hans might not understand the actual act of sex, and therefore used
a simpler phrase "sat down" as that is how he comprehends the action.
Another fact that supported Freud's theory was that after Graf told Little
Hans that he had no intention of castrating him, Little Hans recovered from
his phobia of horses. This could suggest that Little Hans might not be
consciously aware of his thoughts (e.g. he rejected Freud and Graf's idea of
giraffe's long neck representing his member) but he is subconsciously
worried about it. The worry had built up in his subconscious and in turn
caused the phobia, therefore his phobia only recovered when Graf
resolved his worries.
Also, Little Hans was especially scared of horses with black around the
mouth and wearing blinkers. This is evidence for the theory because his
father has moustache (represented by black around the mouth) and wears
glasses (represented by blinkers). This could have been Little Hans'
defense mechanism as he has transferred his fear of his father to
something which has similar appearance. Graf had recorded an exchange
in after an interview in which Little Hans said "Daddy don't trot away from
me!" which could be interpreted to say that subconsciously, Little Hans
connects his father with horses.
In addition, Little Hans was jealous of his little sister Hannah, and wanted
her to be dropped in the bath. This could be because moving out of his
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This might have
triggered nasty thoughts such as wanting his sister harmed because he
wanted to be with his mother at all times, and he thinks that his sister is just
a newcomer and has no right to take his mother away from him.
Since Freud already had his idea of what causes phobias, it is inevitable
that he was biased about the case of Little Hans.…read more
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It is possible that
her traumatic experience affected her for the rest of her life. Olga had also
referred to Little Hans' member as "filthy thing", which might have made him
guilty and mentally unstable as he might have disliked himself because of
such a hurtful comment. Also, Hans admitted later on, that he had seen his
mother beating his baby sister and heard her screams.…read more