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  • Created by: vicky
  • Created on: 26-04-11 11:34

Freud case study.

The aim of the case study was to report the findings of the treatment of a five-year-old boy for his phobia of horses.

Freud was attempting to demonstrate that the boys (Little Hans) fear of horses was related to his Oedipus complex. Freud thought that, during the phallic stage (approximately between 3 and 6 years old), a boy develops an intense sexual love for his mothers. Because of this, he sees his father as a rival, and wants to get rid of him. The father, however, is far bigger and more powerful than the young boy, and so the child develops a fear that, seeing him as a rival, his father will castrate him. Because it is impossible to live with the continual castration-threat anxiety provided by this conflict, the young boy develops a mechanism for coping with it, using a defence mechanism known as 'identification with the aggressor'. He stresses all the ways that he is similar to his father, adopting his father's attitudes, mannerisms and actions, feeling that if his father sees him as similar, he will not feel hostile towards him.

Freud used a case study method to investigate Little Hans’ phobia. However the case study was actually carried out by the boy’s father who was a friend and supporter of Freud. Freud probably only met the boy once. The father reported to Freud via correspondence and Freud gave directions as how to deal with the situation based on his interpretations of the father’s reports.

Freud noted that it was the special relationship between Hans and his father that allowed the analysis to progress and for the discussions with the boy to be so detailed and so intimate. The first reports of Hans are when he was 3 years old.

The first reports of Hans are when he was 3 years old when he developed an active interest in his ‘widdler’ (penis), and also those of other people. For example on one occasion he asked ‘Mummy, have you got a widdler too?’ Throughout this time, the main theme of his fantasies and dreams was widdlers and widdling. When he was about three years and six months old his mother told him not to touch his widdler or else she would call the doctor to come and cut it off.

When Hans was almost 5, Hans’ father wrote to Freud explaining his concerns about Hans. He described the main problem as follows: ‘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’. The father went on to provide Freud…


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