Psychology - Little Hans

The case study of Little Hans

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Little Hans -

Hans was interested in his 'widdler' (signs of being in the phallic stage)

His mother told him 'not to play with your widdler..or else she would call the doctor to come and cut it off'

Hans' mother threatened to leave him.

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Little Hans -

Hans' sister was born, and there were early signs of jealousy.

He continued his interest in his widdler, according to his father his dreams and fantasies were of widdlers and of 'widdling'.

He also developed a phobia of horses, so his father wrote to Freud.

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Little Hans -

Freud & his father tried to make sense of what Hans was experiencing and to resolve his phobia of horses.

Freud noted that Hans' fear of horses developed after the child had anxiety dreams of losing his mother and after he had been warned not to play with his widdler.

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Little Hans -

Hans' dreams about a giraffe were explained as 'fear of big penis' (long neck = big penis)

Freud theorised that Hans' fear of horses was really fear of father. (horse = symbolic of father)

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Little Hans -

This links to catrasion fear, a part of the Oedipus Complex.

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Little Hans - Criticisms -

Hans is analyses by the father who is emotionally involved.

Father is biased as he already admires the work of Freud.

Freud only met Little Hans twice.

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Little Hans -

Freud had dealt with real people & their problems.

Ecologically valid.

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Little Hans -

Other explanations?

- perhaps hans' dreams about widdlers were caused by his fear that his mother might cut off his penis?

- But - Freud's theory was that mothers were the primary love object of little boys, so not that the mother could be feared.

- Hans also saw a horse fall down in the street, causing fear.

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Little Hans - Ethical Issues

- Treatment not very child friendly, including leading questions.

- Freuds theories are seen as abstract.

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