Freud's case study of Little Hans


Hans' parents were supporters of Freud's ideas.

They agreed to log their son's development and send Freud regular letters to keep him informed.

Little Hans (only about three years old at the time) knew that Freud was studying him. He even sent messages to Freud through his parent's letters. However, Freud only met Little Hans once or twice.

Little Hans had a phobia of horses. He was scared to go out of the house and particularly frightened of horses.

Freud analysed what Little Hans said, including his dreams, to find out what it was in Hans' unconscious that was causing the phobia - this was so that these wishes and desires could be revealed to Little Hans to cure his phobia (the unconscious being revealed to become conscious).

Little Hans' father reported that one day, just before Little Hans was five years old, he woke up in tears and when he was asked why he was crying, he said to his mother that he thought that she was gone and he had no mummy.

Freud said this was an anxiety dream, and showed he was anxious that his mother would leave him - this links to Freud's theory of the Oedipus Complex.

Oedipus Complex - the idea that a boy from about the age of four years old will have unconscious feelings for his mother and want his father out of the way, though then he fears his father and feels guilty too.

Unconscious wishes (wishing to possess his mother in this case) are repressed and will 'leak' out in dreams. When Little Hans…


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