Freud - Evaluation (3)
A case study is something that is in-depth and a longitudinal study that focusses on an individual or a small group of individuals.
Strengths of the method: Case studies - Such as this one carried out by Freud, are particularly useful in revealing and treating the origins of abnormal behaviour. In fact some forms of psychotherapy rely on building up a long and detailed case history as an aid to understanding and then helping the client. Case studies allow us to gather rich, qualitative data. For example, Freud argued it was the special relationship between Hans and his father that allowed for the analysis to progress and for the discussions with the boy to be so detailed and so intimate. You can see changes in behaviour over time. For example, over the two years Freud was able to understand the phobia and help investigate how and why he had it and find a solution.
Weakness of the method: You can't generalise to all people, as this case study only focussed on one young individual (Little Hans), so the findings lack generalisability, that is, we can't apply the findings to other children with a phobia of horses. Therefore, we habe to ask whether this study is unique to Hans, his father and Freud or whether it can be generalised to other cases. There is a potential of researcher bias, as the entire case study was subjective. For example, Freud's interpretations of Han's father's interpretaion of his own son's phobia. Freud only saw Hans once or twice over the 2 years, which leads to a reduction in objectivity, particularly as the father (Max Graf) was a supporter of Freud's ideas.