Thursday, 16 October 2014

Freud - The Case of Little Hans

'A neurosis never says foolish things, any more than a dream'
- Sigmund Freud (1909)

Interpreting the thoughts, feelings and dreams of a child is much more difficult than in adults - essentially, the mental processes of a child are all part of that child's internal life and therefore, intrinsically linked to their subconscious attempts to make sense of the world around them. Freud's analysis of the dream of Little Hans, reported in 1909, is a fascinating insight into how the subconscious mind of the subject was interpreted using the Psychoanalytic Theory. The case study beautifully illustrates the zeitgeist and pedagogic interests of the period in which it was published and in particular, provides an excellent example of Freud's theory of the Oedipus Complex in action. The case study was published in Freud's Analysis of a Phobia in a Five Year Old Boy (1909).

Freud was acquainted with the parents of Little Hans - his father Max Graf, belonged to Freud's Wednesday Circle and his mother was an erstwhile patient of Freud and both were supporters of Psychoanalysis as a useful therapeutic tool. Little Hans' real name was Herbert Graf (1903 - 1973) and he was an Austrian-American opera producer, born in Vienna. In the years prior to the publication of the Little Hans case study, Freud had requested that his associates assist him in collecting material relating to the sexuality of children and therefore, before Little Hans had even displayed signs of neurosis and phobia, his father had been sending Freud notes on his son's development. At the age of 5 years, Little Hans became a patient of Freud and the subject of Freud's extensive study of the Oedipus Complex and castration anxiety. 

At the age of 4 years, Hans was in a local park with the family maid when he witnesses the collapse of a horse carrying a heavy load. Hans became fearful of venturing outside the house and focused his anxiety on horses and heavily-loaded vehicles which he was afraid would fall over, causing a noise with their hooves. This fear was explained an 'equinophobia' - fear of horses and his father initially attributed the phobia to 'sexual over-excitement caused by his mother's caresses' combined with a fear of the large penises of horses. Freud did not reject this explanation, but encouraged Graf to explore further, specifically Hans' response to the birth of his younger sister and unsatisfied curiosity as to where babies come from. Freud felt that the image of the horse falling down - and Hans' fears that the fallen horse he had witnessed was actually dead, could be interpreted as a desire for the death of his father. A number of sexual and excremental fantasies were analysed during the case study, and Freud criticised the Grafs for not explaining reproduction to Hans. 

Freud's case study features Graf's notes on Hans' dreams, behaviours and answers to questions. Freud believed that the information gleaned about Hans confirmed his recent theories on child sexuality and also demonstrated the boy's anxieties over the birth of his sister, his desire to replace his father as his mother's sexual partner and emotional conflict over masturbation. The anxiety stemmed from incomplete repression and other defence mechanisms employed to combat impulses involved in his sexual development. Indeed, Hans' mental and emotional state improved after his father explained sex to him and the relationship between them strengthened. 

There are two phases to Hans' dream: (1) fear of horses and (2) fear of the boxes and containers the horses transported around Vienna. Hans was afraid that a horse would enter his room, bite him or fall over. Freud interpreted this dream as a fear of fear of his father and punishment for sexual impulses towards his mother. Because Graf was 'treating' his son and therefore acting as analyst, Freud believed that this was inhibiting and impeding Hans' treatment and thus, invited the child to meet him personally. Following his interaction with Hans, Freud was able to help Hans, who communicated his phobia and received an explanation from Freud. Following this, Hans developed a preoccupation with excrement, which Freud interpreted as being associated with child birth. Further, the omnibuses and boxes which had been part of his phobia were associated in Hans' mind with the arrival of babies, as he had originally been told that these were used by storks to deliver them to their new homes. Hans feared the arrival of yet another sibling, as this would further reduce the level of attention he received from his mother and he expressed a wish that his younger sister would die. He spoke of desires to have children of his own with his mother and his father being elevated to the status of grandfather. Freud believed the treatment of Hans to be successful when the child expressed two new fantasies: one in which he demonstrates that he has overcome his castration anxiety and another in which he acknowledges his desire to marry his mother, both of which coincided with the disappearance of his phobia. In 1922 Freud amended his case study to note that he had met with an adult Hans who was healthy and suffering no troubles or inhibitions. In Joseph Wolpe & Stanley Rachman, 'A Child Shall Lead Them' (or 'Psychoanalytic Evidence: A Critique Based on Freud's Case of Little Hans') in Rachman, Critical Essays on Psychoanalysis (1963), the authors suggest that the majority of material provided by Hans was planted in his head by the suggestions of his father and Freud.

The Dreams & Fantasies of Little Hans
In spring 1906, when Hans was less than 3 years old he became fascinated with his 'widdler' (penis) and those of other people. However, whereas 'widdler' was used to describe the body part responsible for the urination functions of both males and females, there appears to be little discussion as to the difference in form between the male and the female 'widdler'. Hans wondered if his mother had a penis and whether it was as big as a horse's, because a horse was large and so was his mother. When his mother confirmed that she did have a widdler (meaning place to urinate from) and asked Hans why he questioned this, he stated that he was 'only just thinking'. On one occasion around this age he had gone into a cow-shed and watched cows being milked, exclaiming: 'Oh look! There's milk coming out of it's widdler!'

Hans' mother was 3 months pregnant at that time (Hanna was born in October 1906), but his parents assumed Hans was unaware of the fact. Hans appeared to react calmly to the birth of his sister, stating on that day the stork would be delivering a baby because his 'mummy is coughing'. The explanation of the stork had been told to Hans by his parents in preparation for the arrival of his sister. When his mother went into labour, Hans had been moved out of the room, but could still hear the noises she was making - which he had mistaken for coughing. After witnessing basins of water and blood, Hans had remarked: 'but blood doesn't come out of my widdler'.

Shortly after Hanna's birth, Hans began to exhibit severe jealousy, which gradually began to lessen, with Hans feeling himself to be superior to her because her 'widdler is still quite small'. He also remarked that: 'when she grows up it'll get bigger alright'. On one occasion he responded to his father's question as to why he was laughing at Hanna by saying 'because her widdler's so lovely'. If someone remarked on how beautiful baby Hanna was, Hans would state scornfully 'but she's not got any teeth yet!' and whilst suffering from a fever, stated that he did not want a baby sister.

During this time, his mother had caught him with his hand on his penis and had told him 'if you do that I shall send for Dr A to cut off your widdler. And then what'll you widdle with?' Hans replied: 'with my bottom'. Hans seemed to classify all animate and inanimate objects according to whether or not they had a widdler (or penis). He associated horse penises and adult penises. Further, his parents noted that Hans appeared to be gaining some form of sexual satisfaction with urination and defecation. He expressed fantasies of having children on his own whom he would take to the toilet to make them widdle before wiping their bottoms. Freud suggested that Hans had constructed this fantasy because he had experienced a form of pleasure when himself had been taken to use the toilet by his own parents. He began to experience anxiety and shame about urinating in front of others and showed disgust at his bodily functions. Freud considered that Hans' fantasy about caring for his own children was a defence mechanism to help him cope with his repression.

Before the birth of Hanna, Hans and his parents had spent time in Gmunden (in the countryside) where Hans had formed an attachment to a girl named Mariedl. The Grafs feared that Hans would miss his happy life and many friends in Gmunden when they moved to Vienna, but he did not seem to be affected. Six months after his move (and around 3 - 4 months after the birth of Hanna), Hans recounted a dream to his parents, which they interpreted to be about him missing Gmunden:

Today, when I was asleep, I thought I was at Gmunded, quite alone with Mariedl.

Around this time, Hans was exhibiting strong attractions to all females around him, stating 'I want Mariedl to sleep with me'. Hans seemed lonely after the birth of his sister, fearing that he had lost his mother to his father as well as being unable to continue sleeping in their marital bed with them. Hans was eager to help bathing Hanna and was obsessed with the gender differences between him and her and possession of a penis. 

In the summer of 1907 (in Gmunden), Hans and Hanna were getting along fine. Max Graf informed Freud of a conversation which occurred between Hans and his mother whilst she was powdering his body and taking care not to touch his penis:

Hans: Why don't you put your finger there?
Mother: Because that'd be piggish
Hans: What's that? Piggish? Why?
Mother: Because it's not proper
Hans (laughing): But it's great fun!

Freud interpreted this incident as being an attempt by Hans at seducing his mother.

Hans was now 4 years and 3 months old. He recounted another dream to his parents:

Someone said 'who wants to come with me?' Then someone said: 'I do'. Then he had to make him widdle.

Graf interpreted the dream to Freud, saying: 'I was playing forfeits with the little girls. I asked 'who wants to come with me?' Berta or Olga replied 'I do' then she had to make me widdle.'

In January 1908 Graf informed Freud that Hans (now aged 4 years and 9 months) was suffering from a serious neurosis which Graf attributed to sexual over-excitement stemming from his mother's caresses. Shortly after the family had moved home, Hans had been given a bedroom of his own. Whilst Hans' father was away on business trips Hans would share his mother's bed. Hans had the following dream:

When I was asleep I thought you were gone and I had no mummy to coax (caress) with.

On 8 January 1908, Graf reported than Hans was unable to go out with his mother for fear that a horse would bite him - specifically a white horse. That day his mother had asked if Hans had been touching his penis, which Hans admitted and the following evening she had warned him not to do so again. Despite the threats of his mother, Hans continued to masturbate every day.

Freud believed these actions coincided with the establishment of Hans' anxieties and phobias. His affection and repressed erotic desires for his mother turned into anxiety - a pure anxiety, without fear and no object to focus on it on. 

Freud theorised extensively on the significance of the penis. At approximately 3 - 4 years old, the male infant becomes aware that the penis can be stimulated and is the source of pleasurable sensations. The developmental reasons are both psychological and neurological in nature and the boy is able to comprehend that the penis is central to sexual difference and his identification as a man. Sexual impulses and sensations are both enjoyable, but also subject to shaming and suggestion that it is a social taboo to find pleasure in touching or exposing the penis. During the phallic-narcissistic phase of the boy's development, he will often manifest great pride in his ability to urinate while standing, which increases his self-confidence, located in the penis and this is complimented by a corresponding fear that the penis will be lost or injured in some way ('castration anxiety') - perhaps by the father as punishment for desiring his mother. Freud interpreted Hans' fears of being bitten by a horse as a fear that he would be castrated by his father.

The penis holds significance for reasons other than mere sexuality and gender. The boy associates the penis with masculinity, the father and strength, and it's loss with submission, passivity and femininity - the boy will become aware that men and women are different because they have different genitals. The absence of a penis in the mother/females is associated with castration or a missing part - and therefore, inferiority. 

Oedipal anxiety - part of Freud's Oedipus Complex - is characterised by loneliness. The boy has left his infancy and cannot regain the 'dyad' relationship with his mother and father without submitting himself to some form of regressive passivity/submissiveness which contrasts with his identification as a 'man' by possession of the penis. The dyad relationship with his male and female parent bring pleasure, but cannot satisfy his aroused sexual impulses and instinctual drives. The sexual relationship between his mother and father is forbidden, hidden and secret to the boy - and when he learns that his own sexual behaviour is shameful, taboo and forbidden he associates sexuality with secrecy. The boy understands that his thoughts and feelings are hidden and internal - therefore secret - and the development of the inner mental world creates desires and fears. The boy idealises his father and strongly identifies with him as a 'man' - possessor of a penis. However, he also feels intense jealousy and hatred for his father. The mother is the provider of love and tenderness. The Oedipal male will therefore perceive the father as a rival for the affection, admiration and love of the mother. He wants to triumph over his father and 'win' his mother as his own love-object. This desire is accompanied by a fear of punishment by - and loss of - his father. Hans' fears about being bitten by a white horse were interpreted by Freud as representing retribution by his father for the attempt at usurping him. To not act on these contradictory impulses and drives renders the boy passive and actionless, caught in an impossible conflict. This Oedipal conflict dissipates over time as the boy learns to accept the special relationship between his mother and father and the fact that he is left outside of this.

Hans' had a deep fascination with the large penises of animals and this was coupled with a fear that a white horse might bite him in a special way. These horses had something black around their mouths. Hans said: 'There is a white horse at Gmunden that bites, if you hold your finger to it, it bites'. Around the time that Hans made this statement he underwent minor surgery to remove his tonsils. Freud thought that the 'white things' related to sheets and therefore, the hospital environment. Allegedly, Hans had overheard a father warning a child not to put their finger towards the 'white horse' because it would bite. Freud interpreted the finger being held to the white horse and the white horse biting as associated with the act of masturbation, but later dismissed this notion. 

Hans had a growing obsession with penises and the difference between boys and girls. On 14 March 1908 Hans' communicated to his father a 'masturbation fantasy' which was dream-like in quality:

I put my finger to my widdler, just very little. I saw Mummy, quite naked in her chemise and she let me see her widdler. I showed Grete (a playmate in Gmunden), my Grete, what Mummy was doing, and showed her my widdler. I took my hand away from my widdler quick.

One day Hans stated 'my widdler will get bigger, it's fixed in, of course'. Freud believed that Hans felt anxiety about his small, insufficient Oedipal penis. After noticing that females do not have penises, he has developed a strong castration anxiety.

On 27 - 28 March 1908, Hans recounted a dream, although he told his father: 'I didn't dream. I thought it. I thought it all. I'd woken up earlier':

In the night there was a big giraffe in the room and a crumpled one; and the big one called out, because I took the crumpled one away from it. Then it stopped calling out; and I sat down on top of the crumpled one.

Freud thought that Hans was talking about his Oedipal fantasy, where he steals the mother giraffe from the father giraffe and possesses her. A few days later, Hans tells his father of two more thoughts he has, but it is unclear whether he is describing waking fantasies or dreams:

I was with you at Schonbrunn where the sheep are; and then we crawled through, under the ropes, and then we told the policeman at the end of the garden, and he grabbed hold of us.

I went with you in the train, and we smashed a window and the policeman took us off with him.

Freud thought that boys utilise Oedipal defences. If the Oedipal situation becomes too overwhelming and shameful for the boy, then he may react with too much bravado, bombast and phallicism. Sexual and generational difference become symbols of superiority and supremacy and in the boy's subconscious, the strength of the father is associated with aggression, power and violence. The mental images of reciprocal and sexual love are replaced with force, violence and desire for superiority. In excessive circumstances, phallic pleasure becomes more important than reciprocal love and the violation of limits and use of violence seem to represent freedom and power. 

When Freud met Hans, he asked if the frightening horses had black moustaches and glasses, like Hans' father. It appeared to Freud that Hans feared his father because he desired his mother. The horse clearly represented Hans' father - the black bits (harnesses) around the mouths of white horses were associated with Graf's moustache, while the blinkers worn by horses were associated with Graf's glasses. On one occasion, following a conversation, Hans had said to his father: 'Daddy, don't trot away from me!' and also told his father 'Daddy you are so lovely. You are so white'. Graf and his son had often played horses together, with Hans riding his father, the 'horse'. Graf discussed the children's playtime which had place in Gmunden, and had involved horse games as well as a keen interest in each others' widdlers.

The fact that fear of, and love for, the same object (the father) created a conflict within Hans, and after Freud offered his interpretation, the boy's fears and anxieties seemed to resolve somewhat. However, Hans' more general fear of horses appeared to be changing. He seemed to focus his fear on horses that fall down because their load is too heavy; or horses than turn around/kick with their legs. Freud found that references to sexual thoughts and primal scene associations were clear and obvious, meanwhile Hans' parents thought that there was some association to faeces (which were known to Hans as 'lumpf'), because Hans was experiencing difficulties in defecating, a problem which was being treated using enemas and aperients.

When Hans saw his mother's yellow knickers he reacted with disgust. When asked by his father, Hans denied that he associated the colour yellow with faeces/lumpf. The colour of his mother's knickers continued to preoccupy Hans, and he told his father of a thought he had:

She took off the black drawers when she went out, when she came back she put them on again.

Freud wondered about Hans' desire to go to the toilet with his mother to see her widdler/lumpf. His disgust at his mother's knickers was accompanied by a form of spitting behaviour. Hans explained: 'I spit because the black drawers are black like a lumpf and the yellow ones like a widdle, and then I think I've got to widdle'. Graf persisted with questioning Hans further, but was only able to uncover the fact that Hans associated the noise of a horses hooves or his own stamping feet with the flushing of a toilet after defecation has taken place, and the trickling of water with his widdler.

On 11 April, Hans told his father of another dream-fantasy:

I was in the bath and the plumber came and unscrewed it. Then he took a big borer and stuck it into my stomach.

Graf interpreted the dream to Freud as 'I was in bed with Mummy. Then Daddy came and drove me away. With his big penis he pushed me out of my place with Mummy.' Freud interpreted the dream in an even more primitive sexual way: 'with your big penis you bored me, and put me in my mother's womb'.

The bath dream filled Hans with a fear of falling into the bathtub and Graf perceived this to be a desire that Hanna might have an accident whilst in the bath and die. He asked Hans: 'when you were watching Mummy giving Hanna a bath perhaps you wished she would let go of her so that Hanna should fall in?' to which Hans replied: 'yes'. Freud interpreted this as meaning Hans had a death-wish towards both his father and his sister - if they were permanently gone then he would be the sole object of his mother's affections and he could have her to himself. Hans' difficulty in accepting Hanna's birth had been compensated for over-affection and actively helping to bathe her. Hans had verbalised his wish that she might die so that he could have his mother all to himself. Hanna's birth had preoccupied Hans and he had fantasised about her being in a box even before she was born. Freud thought that Hans had understood that his mother was pregnant and that the story about storks bringing babies in boxes was nothing more than a fairytale - indeed, Hans had told his father that he doubted the story of the stork. Hans' fears of a horse falling down were associated with anxiety about childbirth and fear of his father's death. According to Freud's theories on early sexual intuition in children, childbirth, babies and faeces are often linked in the child's subconscious, and thus, Hans' anxieties were centred around the birth of Hanna. 

Freud interpreted Hans' fear of the bath as being anxiety that he would be punished for his thoughts. Hans associated Hanna with faeces and birth with defecation. All furniture, buses and carts were associated with pregnancy and the cart falling over, symbolised childbirth. Hans' fears of falling horses were linked to thoughts of his father's death and his mother in childbirth. While Graf was discussing the idea of the death of the father with Hans, the boy knocked over a toy horse, further cementing the interpretation which Graf had constructed and discussed with Freud. Freud later reinterpreted  Hans' phobia as being a fear of castration which was seen by the ego as dangerous, therefore releasing 'signal anxiety' which activates ego defences and repression of the desire to kill his father. Instead, the subconscious makes a series of associations, through which his thoughts re-emerge in the form of a wholly irrational, but more acceptable, fear of being bitten by a horse. A horse can be avoided more easily than his father can. Hans is also able to master his anxiety by inhibition: his refusal to leave the house means that his ego no longer needs to produce signal anxiety and he is able to free himself from the love/hate conflict he experiences towards his father.

Hans experienced another dream about the plumber:

The plumber came and first he took away my behind with a pair of pincers, and then he gave me another, and then the same with my widdler. He said: 'let me see your behind!' and I had to turn around and he took it away; and then he said 'let me see your widdler'.

Graff interpreted this as Hans longing to be like his father and questioned whether Hans wanted a bigger widdler and a bigger 'behind'. Hans answered that he did and added: 'I would like to have a moustache like yours and hair like yours'.

I did ask the coachman at Gmunden if I could take the horse and whip it and shout at it.

Hans told Graf that this story was not what he truly wanted - he wanted to whip his mother instead. Hans was conflicted as to whom was angry or jealous towards whom - his mother or his father. He said: 'the horses are so proud that I am afraid they'll fall down'. Graf was able to draw from Hans the fact that 'father' was proud and angry at Hans and so the beating/whipping of the mother was directed at the father as well. Hans still had hostile thoughts that he associated with sexuality:

A street-boy was riding on a truck and the guard came and undressed the boy quite naked and made him stand there till next morning, and in the morning the boy gave the guard 50000 florins so that he could go on riding on the truck.

The same day, Hans was playing in his room...

...with an India-rubber doll which he called Grete. He had pushed a small penknife in through the opening  to which the little tin squeaker had originally been attached, and then he had torn the doll's legs apart, so as to let the knife drop out. He said to the nursemaid, pointing between the doll's legs: 'Look, there's it's widdler'.

Hans' game was interpreted as being due to his curiosity about childbirth and told Hans about chickens laying eggs and how chicks emerge from them. Hans told his father that in Gmunden, he had witnessed his father laying an egg, which his father expressed doubts about. Hans then expressed that it was he who had laid the egg, out of which had come a tiny Hans. Freud suggested that Hans had some understanding of sexual intercourse and birth, but his parents' use of lies so as to avoid explaining the truth of sex and reproduction had confused the boy. Soon thereafter, Graf explained reproduction to Hans and noted that Hans appeared to want to have babies of his own and was disappointed that he was biologically unable to give birth. He seemed to become obsessed by loading and unloading boxes (acting out the process of childbirth) and also hypothesised that childbirth must be like defecation, thereby constructing an idea of fecal birth. 

Graf had the following conversation with Hans:

Father: You are a little vexed with Daddy because Mummy is fond of him and you'd like to be Daddy yourself. When you got into bed with Mummy at Gmunden did you think to yourself that you were Daddy and then you felt afraid of Daddy? You thought then that if only Daddy were to die, you'd be Daddy.
Hans: You know everything.
Father: You'd like to be Daddy and married to Mummy, you'd like to be as big as me and have a moustache and you'd like Mummy to have a baby.

When Graf asked Hans about his imaginary children and whether they were still alive, he reminded him 'You know quite well that a boy can't have any children' to which Hans responded: 'I know. I was their Mummy before, now I am their Daddy'. He stated that his mother was now their mummy and 'You're their Grand-daddy...then my Lainz Grand-mummy (Graf's mother) will be their Granny!'

Hans appears to cope with his conflict over his father by making Graf a grandfather character and marrying him to his own mother. 

Under Freudian theory, the child's transference from the dyadic to triadic relationship creates problems as the child becomes aware that his parents share a different kind of relationship from that which he experiences. The birth of a sibling creates a further conflict within the child's ego because he is forced to confront the issue that he was not enough for his parents and their attention has been divided. The child has an implicit memory of the pleasurable intimacy he once shared with his mother when he was an infant, and this creates a sensual impulse as well as a fear of loss. The child wonders who is responsible (guilty) for the birth of a younger sibling - whether it was an accident or the joint will and desire of both parents - solving the mystery of childbirth would solve the mystery of guilt. At first, the child blames the father for the birth of the baby, and implicitly the sexual power the father possesses. When the child discovers that his mother has sexual desires of his own, the Oedipal conflict reaches a climax. Sexuality will remain a mystery to the child until puberty and usually, the child will transfer into a latency period. Hans' complex fantasy about his imaginary children had demonstrated his mastering of the Oedipus Complex - instead of needing to kill his father, he had simply married his father to his grandmother.

Melanie Klein reconsidered the case of Little Hans in The Psychoanalysis of Children (1932), supporting Freud's view that childhood conflicts might indeed have their roots in the phallic stage of psycho-sexual development, although she also theorised that children may experience subconscious desires and anxiety long before they commence the phallic stage, although she was unable to offer any concrete evidence. Klein reads the case of Little Hans as an example of how the ego reacts to confrontation with danger and the fear of violent objects, both external and introjected. Her focus is on aggression which must be projected and introjected in the correct amounts. At the root of an animal-based phobia such as that experienced by Hans, is an internal danger - a fear of the individual's own destructive forces and his introjected parents. Anxieties are an attempt to resolve the terrifying conflict between the anally retentive super-ego and the sadistic id - first by ejecting them into the external environment and then displacing them onto an animal - usually in a modified form. Hans' anxieties were primitive and stemmed from the early mother-child relationship - hence her re-reading of Little Hans is consistent with her 'Maternal-Oedipus' theory.

In John Bowlby, Attachment and Loss (1973), the author turns his attention to Freud's case of Little Hans, suggesting that Freud's interpretation of childhood phobia was wrong: the child does not fear the presence of a situation so much as the absence of a secure base and therefore, the phobia can be interpreted as a reaction to separation anxiety. Psychoanalytic theory stated that separation anxiety is likely to vary in individuals as a result of them possessing different constitutions (greater libidinal need or stronger death instincts), but Bowlby disagreed, stating that children with separation anxiety tend to deal with greater parental hostility and threats or actual experience of rejection/loss of love. There was evidence that Hans was experiencing a form of anxious attachment and feared that he would be relegated to a subordinate position or overlooked when his baby sister arrived. 

Jacques Lacan (1957) also revised the Little Hans case, interpreting the early mother-child relationship (a 'mirror-relationship') as 'pre-Oedipal' and dual in nature. However, the mother and child never really have a dual, pre-Oedipal relationship because the relationship has always been triangular in structure - although the third point is not the father, but instead the 'imaginary phallus' which the mother desires - a role the infant fulfils. Lacan suggests that two crises befell Hans - he discovered that the penis was real and the birth of his sister. When his mother scolds him for masturbating, Hans perceives this as her rejection of his penis and of him. In On Narcissism (1914) Freud had already theorised that the mother's lost narcissism finds completion in the baby-as-penis. The female is deprived because she lacks a penis. 

The disruption of the mirror-relationship the infant shares with his mother is caused by the child realising that his mother does not have a penis and that he cannot satisfy her desire. His fear therefore, is not directed at his father, but instead his mother - Hans is striving to break out of the symbiotic relationship he shares with her and requires a symbolic father figure to intervene. Her lack of penis - symbolised by a 'gaping hole' causes anxiety as he is 'dislocated' on the cusp of his entry to the complete Oedipus Complex. The intervention by the father - who holds a true claim to possession of the phallus desired by the mother - is interpreted as a symbolic castration of the child. The conflict of the child being the phallus for the mother and identifying with the father on a symbolic level, while becoming a desiring subject means that the transition does not always occur smoothly. Discussing the 'paternal metaphor', Lacan suggests that the intervention by the father may be unsettling, but the child may be equally unbalanced  by the absence of a real father and therefore a substitution of something else is required, creating a neuroses. 

In failing to step in between Hans and his mother and unsatisfactorily explaining the role of the father in making babies, Graf unsuccessfully performed the role of mediator of the mother's desire, leaving Hans anxious and conflicted. It is not the threat of the father which causes Hans such anxiety, but rather his desire for his mother, which is unsatisfied and not limited by laws laid down by his father. Thus, Hans' anxiety forms terrifying imaginary figurations which appear to be dominated by oral cannibalism - the devouring mother, which is associated with his fear of being bitten by a horse. The horse is therefore not a symbol of the father, but actually a substitute for the father. Phobias are a way of binding anxiety - a defensive mechanism which enables the individual to transfer uncontained anxiety by focusing it upon a specific object. Hans' anxieties are a form of existential angst - a nameless dread which occurs because he is poised precariously between the imaginary Oedipal triangle of mother-child-phallus relations and the symbolic Oedipal quadrangle of mother-child-phallus-symbolic father. In his intervention with Hans (largely because he felt that Graf's 'analysis' of his son was hindering his treatment and therefore failing), Freud enables the full installation of paternal law which enables him to overcome his phobia.

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