Sigmund Freud
This is an example of ‘Action research’
 One aim was to treat Hans’ horse phobia
 A subsidiary aim was to record evidence to
support Freud’s theory
of psychosexual development
including the
‘Oedipus Complex’
Freud had a theory of psychosexual stages of
child development:
 anal
 phallic
 latency
 genital
0–2 years
2–3 years
3–6 years
6–12 years
12–18 years
Freud suggests most of the mind in inaccessible
‘sub-conscious’ and this is where the psychodynamic
conflicts occur
unconscious conflicts and desires
primary erogenous zone is genital
unconscious desire for opposite-sex parent
develops leading to hatred/jealousy of samesex parent, leading to guilt and fear of
retribution from the father.......leading to
castration fear ....................resulting eventually
in ‘gender identification’
i.e. the resolution of the conflict leads to
adopting the behaviours of same-sex parent
Case study
using interview (one)
using letters from father who asked Hans questions
and noted down Hans’ conversations, dreams and
Little Hans was born in 1903. He was:
 aged 3 when first reports made
 aged 3½ when castration threat made
 aged 3½ when sister Hannah born
 aged 3¾ when had first dream
 aged 4 when moved house
 aged 4½ when visited Gmunden and Hans
heard the warning about the biting horse
 aged 4¾ when saw falling horse and developed
phobia of horses
 aged 5 at the end of analysis.
Hans’s father and mother were devotees of Freud.
They agreed to bring up Hans with as little
discipline as possible.
Hans developed into a cheerful boy.
Hans’s father wrote to Freud, sometimes reporting
what had been said, or what Hans had done,
sometimes putting his own interpretation on
things. He asked Hans questions that he thought
Freud would want him to ask, and also what
Freud told him to ask.
Hans met Freud once during this case study for
one interview.
Hans showed ‘lively’ interest in his penis
(which he called his ‘widdler’).
He often touched his penis.
He asked if others, e.g. his mother has a
Looked at animals, tables, engines, and so on,
for a ‘widdler’ and widdling.
He was told that if he touched his penis, the
doctor would come and cut it off.
When 4½, Hans was being bathed and asked
his mother to touch his ‘widdler’.
Mother says it would be ‘priggish’.
Hans says ‘But its great fun’.
When Hannah was seven days old, he watched
her bath and noticed that she had a very small
Hans was jealous and at first didn’t want
Hannah but after six months had got over his
He fantasised about her being dropped in the
bath –
like lumpf in the toilet!
When Hans is 4¾, he has a fear of baths.
Hans’s father suggests this is because Hans
wants his mother to drop Hannah in bath and
so, if frightened, she might do the same to him.
Hans was friends with lots of children, both
girls and boys. (Freud said this was his first
indication of homosexuality.)
The children of their landlord at the summer
house in Gmunden were friends.
Hans wanted to sleep in the bed with them,
which Freud interpreted as erotic desire, as
Hans slept in parents bed, which is also erotic.
Hans developed a fear that a horse will bite
him in the street.
 Hans had an anxiety dream that his mother
had gone.
 He said that he saw a white horse at Gmunden
and his friend Lizzi was told
‘don’t put your finger to
the white horse or it
will bite you’.
Hans was repressing his desire to masturbate
as his parents had told him not to, so this was
causing anxiety at night-time.
Hans’s obsession with penises had lead to a
fear of horses as they have big ones.
Hans associated being told not to ‘put his
finger’ to his penis with the white horse biting
and developed a castration complex.
Hans goes to his parents’ bed as he has had a
bad dream:
 The dream was of a little giraffe and a big
 The little giraffe crumpled and the big
giraffe called out when Hans took the
crumpled one.
 Hans sat on the crumpled one.
Freud’s interpretation was that the little
giraffe = mother’s genitals, big giraffe =
father’s penis, sitting on = sex.
Hans met Freud just once.
Hans said that he is particularly frightened of
white horses with blinkers and black mouths.
Freud told Hans that he was afraid of his father
(who had pale face, moustache and glasses)
because Hans was so fond of his mother.
After the meeting with Freud,
Han’s phobia improves.
 Hans admits he is
 frightened his father will
leave him,
‘Don’t trot away from me.’
Hans’s ‘dreams’ that a plumber came and took
his behind and penis away and replaced them
with bigger ones.
Freud’s interpretation was that Hans’s
castration complex is overcome and he now
realises that he will not lose his penis, it will
just get bigger.
Hans’s obsession with ‘lumf’ (faeces)
Hans’s final fantasies of having children, being
the daddy. Hans’ mother was his children’s
Mummy and his father was the ‘granddaddy’!
normal sibling jealousy of sister
saw a horse and cart fall over in the street and
that this frightened him (behaviourist
leading questions may have been used
parents’ obsession with Hans’s masturbation
Hans’s father subjective/biased account of
information, which he passes to Freud
Hans was a ‘little Oedipus’ according to Freud.
Hans was at the phallic stage of development.
Unconsciously his fear of castration within the
Oedipus conflict showed in his fear of horses.
By the age of five, with some help, Hans had
overcome the Oedipus conflict and passed out
of phallic stage. Issues with his father were