Analysis of a Phobia in a Five-Year-Old-Boy

In the article “Analysis of a Phobia in a Five-Year-old-boy” by Sigmund Freud describes the events of child named Hans who begins to develop an anxiety disorder about being outside amongst horses, big carts with lots of belongings with baggage, and busses. Along with this anxiety driven phobia he begins to acquire both Oedipus and castration complexes. Freud’s stemmed the phobia from sequence of events that he believed derived from:

1. Fear of being castrated when his mother said she would send him to the doctor to have his “widdler” cut off if he touched his widdler agagin (Freud, 1909, p. 9). 2. Developing an Oedipus complex especially when his father went away and he had his “mummy” all to himself. Freud correlated both these complexes to the fear of horses which in turn made him fearful of being outside. Freud states that these phobias originated because of initial reactions of his mother when he found out he played with “his member” and also due to fact that his father did not let him sleep in the same bed with them. Freud decided to train the father of Hans to be his insider psychoanalyst.

He instructed the father to write down the events of each conversation he had with the child pertaining to the events of his phobia and psychosis. The child was had a obsession with sexual organs from the age of three and his mother never at one point differentiated the fact that boys and girls have different sexual organs , Hans just assumed that both male and female had a “widdler” until his father enlightened him. Freud confirms Hans obsession with his sexual organs, “…

This interest aroused I him the spirit in inquiry, and he thus discovered that the presence or absence of a widdler made it possible to differentiate between animate and inanimate objects. He assumed that all animate objects were like himself, and possessed this important bodily organ” (Freud, 1909, p. 142) Mainly these talks between Hans and his father were to try to shed some light on what may have been just pure confusion in the boy about the basic cycle of life. There were many analytical talks between the father and Hans that were primarily pointed to his obsession with widdlers, and “lumfs” (Freud, 1909, p. 02). Many of their conversations were able to produce much more positive reinforcement with Hans coming to terms with his phobia. Most of the time Hans spoke about being the daddy and having children that he took care and let sleep in the same bed as him. I suppose he really wanted to show his father if he does it then his father should allow it as well. While conversing with his father Hans finally admitted a day where he was walking with his mother and he saw that a horse in a bus fell down and it scared Him very much.

Freud confirms this information with the notion again with the basis of the boy’s Oedipus complex, “Hans was right, however improbable this collection may sound. The train of thought, as we shall see, was that the horse (his father) would bite him because of his wish that it (his father) should fall down” (Freud, 1909, p. 90). Eventually after many conversations that Freud and his father had with the boy Hans was finally cured of his phobia and able to take walks, see horses, busses and so forth.

After reading the article it confirmed my belief that Freud is a bit wacky and almost always biased with most of his analogies. To start he based all his analytical theories on sex or the repression of some kind of sexual desire even at some points where there really no connection to sex at all with the patient. Here Freud confirms my belief that he somehow will always try to manipulate the conversation or situation in references to his theories: “Hans had to be told many things he could not say himself that he had to be presented with thoughts which he so far had no signs in possessing” (Freud, 1909, p. 141).

The child from the beginning was brought into a lot of confusion he was never correctly told where babies ” came from” instead the parents insisted that babies came from storks and the poor child continued to refer to that , causing continuous confusion about “the birds and the bees” . Hans’s mother in addition never made it clear to the child that girls and boys had different sexual organs even when the child asked her directly. Also, when the child shows signs of masturbation, a parent should try not to scare the child or give them the will to repress by saying if he does masturbate, it will be chopped off!

Also I suppose Hans may have shown some signs of the classic oedipal complex, but it seemed to be more engrained by the father and Freud’s accusations then an actual problem. Anyway most neurosis originate with families and/or parents, past down from generation to generation. Also the whole idea that somehow Hans fear of horses or just being outside came about because of a castration and Oedipus complex is simply plain “nonsense” to me.