This essay argues that Freud's case of Little Hans, while complicated by Hans' father's dual role in the analysis and in the Oedipal drama itself, provides valuable insight into the nature of psychoanalytic evidence and argument. Four strands of Freud's analysis of Little Hans' horse phobia are explored. While the toxicological theory of anxiety is problematical and was subsequently abandoned by Freud himself, the other strands have great explanatory power and offer advantages over behaviorist and other alternative accounts. A kind of theoretical rigor in the concepts employed (e.g. "displacement" as opposed to "stimulus generalization") is argued to be among those advantages. The case provides direct, if sometimes ambiguous, evidence concerning infantile sexuality and primal phantasies. In that connection, issues of universality, the role of experience, and the nature of phantasy are explored. The case also occasions some thoughts concerning parental analysis and masturbation. The inevitably theory-laden character of observation is emphasized throughout, and it is argued that psychoanalysis provides a far more powerful theory than certain critiques would allow, thus informing importantly insightful observation.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 137-157
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.