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Little Hans - Little Hans Kaitlyn A Herthel Freud and...

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Little Hans A Critical Analysis of Freud’s Case Study Kaitlyn A. Herthel Freud and Feminism December 11, 2007
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2 In the early 1900s, Herbert Graf, a boy aged approximately four and three- quarters, was analyzed by Sigmund Freud through a series of letters written by his father, Max Graf. Little Hans, nicknamed such by Freud, demonstrated signs of anxiety and developed a neurosis after witnessing a horse fall, instantly killing the man beneath. Although this occurrence sparked the onset of Little Hans’ anxieties, Freud attributes such problems as not exclusively belonging to this event. Rather, they are also a result of the typical castration anxieties as well as the young boy progressing through the Oedipus complex and the repression of traumatic events. Although the case inarguably has numerous problems, which will be explained later in the paper, this case study helps to support Freud’s previous findings on infantile sexuality. By bringing to light Little Hans’ anxieties and neuroses, Little Hans’ was ultimately absolved of them, allowing him to grow into a normal functioning man, claimed later observations. Upon the original onset of Little Hans’ nervous anxieties, his father attributed them to the mother’s over-affectionate behavior. As an only child at age four, Hans received much sexual attention from his mother. This attraction can be seen at such an early time through one of his dreams, in January 1908, in which he “woke up one morning in tears. Asked why he was crying, he said to his mother: ‘When I was asleep I thought you were gone and had no Mummy to coax with’” (Freud 23). (A footnote defines ‘coax’ing as ‘cuddling’). Hans is displaying typical fears of a small child. He focuses his attention on his mother, as many §
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2 young children do, as the mother is the primary caregiver. If Hans’ mother was to leave, he would be unable to care for himself, as well as unable to redeem the love and affection he received from his mother elsewhere. According to his father, dreams of this type were somewhat regular for Hans. Whenever he would have such an anxious dream, to the dismay of his father, Hans’ mother would immediately take him away, giving him even more attention and often even taking him into bed with her. This comfort and attention only caused Hans to act in this way more often, for when he realized that such dreams led him to this state, he would replicate the emotions as often as necessary. Although Hans’ interests in his mother’s attention seem innocent enough, they become more and more sexualized as the Oedipus complex takes hold of the young boy, who becomes very interested in his “widdler.” Little Hans developed an increasing interest in “widdlers,” or the penises of people and animals alike. He expressed great interest in his own widdler, although not necessarily as a sexual organ, whereas “the genital organ has as yet not acquired the characteristic of being the object of desire for him. So far it is merely
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