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Sigmund Freud was the originator to the psychodynamic approach towards psychology and psychoanalysis (Chessick 2014). However, psychodynamic approach includes the unconscious motives, the childhood experiences, id, ego and superego, the unconscious mind where the defense mechanism is used and lastly, psychosexual development.
The case study of Sigmund Freud’s ‘little Hans’ in 1909 can be well discussed through psychodynamic perspective (Ollendick and Muris 2015). Starting from the child’s psychosexual stages of development Freud has already discussed five stages those are oral stage (0-1year), anal stage (1-3years), phallic stage (3-5 to 6years), latency stage (5years until puberty) and lastly, genital stage (puberty to adult) (Newman and Newman 2017). In the case study of Hans, the phallic stage is the important phrase where according to Freud the origin of Han’s fears. The important feature of this stage is Oedipus complex for boys and Electra complex for girls. The boy starts developing a sexual desire for his mother and a hatred for his father. Thus, from there the feeling arises that if his father comes to know about his desires he would take away his mother and punish him (Ward 2014). This fear of punishment turns into castration anxiety where the child thinks that his father might castrate his penis, which is at this point the child’s most loved body part. Moreover, the conflict arises inside the child and to get rid of that he starts adopting the values, behaviors and attitudes of his father so that his father spare from punishing him. This is the concept of identification, which is also seen in Hans where he is feeling that if he becomes like his father then he will not show any hostility towards him. Therefore, the concept of defense mechanism comes into focus where painful and socially unacceptable thoughts and memories away from the conscious mind in the case of Hans. When the id and superego becomes too burdensome then defense mechanism is used to protect oneself from the anxieties and guilt. In this case, Hans has been using identification with the aggressor where Hans is trying to defeat his fear of his father by struggling to become more like him. Another striking feature of the psychodynamic perspective is the psyche, which has been structured by Freud into three, parts the id, ego and super ego. Id is the impulsive or the unconscious part that comprises of the psyche that responds immediately to the instincts, ego mainly works on the principle of reality and lastly the superego that originates in the phallic stage of the psychosexual development. However, little Hans phobia to horses is mainly because in his unconscious mind the horses symbolizes his father and by using defense mechanism, he could get rid of the guilt and anxieties (Cramer 2012).
The case study of Hans also has certain strengths and weaknesses. The very first strength is that in this case study has the capability to disclose and treat the emergence of abnormal behavior. Some psychotherapy depends on developing long and complete case history as assistance to the understanding and helping clients. These types of case studies are very much helpful in developing an extensive qualitative data. Moreover, Freud has insisted for this little Hans case study that Hans and his father shared a special and intimate bond that exhibits such development of the analysis. On the other hand, in this case it has been seen that little Hans has been related as a single individual, which can be a huge drawback for generalizing the findings to the entire population. Another major weakness is that this case study deficit in reliability because replication is not possible about what Hans’s father may have uttered in one day. This case study of Freud is also not thoroughly defended because there are also other reasons behind the major phobia of horses in Hans. In this case, study mainly the explanations are classically conditioned which can also be supported when Hans observed a horse fell down and crumble on the street. Lastly, another weakness is that the theory of Oedipus complex does not clearly explains that how will it work if any one parent or both of them are not available to the child. This theory is also not generalizing the Phobia of Hans.
The relevance of the Freudian theories has subside and moved over in more than 100years. Many practitioners as well as theorists still consider those theories to be an important contributor for the understanding of the personality of humans. Thus, today also much analysis of the most psychological interventions will be observed as an identification of Freud’s work. As stated in the psychodynamic theory by Freud, that human personality is the outcome of mainly the unconscious, inner conflicts among the formations of the human mind (Gabbard 2014). The act of the conflicts is developed on the early stages of development in one’s life, which can control a person’s personality in adulthood. However, today many assumptions of Freud and his methods are into questioning. Moreover, his theories and methods that mainly pays attention on the sexuality of human, his practices of treatment and stressing mainly on the adults lacks little or no empirical evidence in today’s time. The today’s feminist consider Freud’s concepts to be patriarchal, sexist and misogynist has criticized it (Sultana 2012). However, today it the introduction of less isolating and clearer explanations has originated. Therefore, with different theories for human personality it has been observed that Freud’s theories are no longer the only valid one. However, that never interprets that his theories should be rejected based on the interpretations that has an impact on the users. Thus, strong scientific grounds are necessary to reject any theories or methods of Freud. The professional however, does not blindly follow the important featured points of any of the theoretical models.
Thus, it can be concluded by saying that Freud’s primary goal for little Hans who is a 5-year-old boy, was to treat his phobias. Through the psychodynamic perspective, this case study can be clearly evaluated where the concepts like Oedipus complex, defense mechanism, unconscious mind, psyche, unconscious motives and lastly psychosexual development have come up to analyze the reason behind Hans’s phobia.
Chessick, R.D., 2014. What hath freud wrought? Current confusion and controversies about the clinical practice of psychoanalysis and psychodynamic psychotherapy. Psychodynamic psychiatry, 42(4), pp.553-583.
Cramer, P. (2012). The development of defense mechanisms: Theory, research, and assessment. Springer Science & Business Media.
Gabbard, G.O., 2014. Psychodynamic psychiatry in clinical practice. American Psychiatric Pub.
Newman, B.M. and Newman, P.R., 2017. Development through life: A psychosocial approach. Cengage Learning.
Ollendick, T.H. and Muris, P., 2015. The scientific legacy of Little Hans and Little Albert: Future directions for research on specific phobias in youth. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 44(4), pp.689-706.
Sultana, A., 2012. Patriarchy and women’s subordination: A theoretical analysis. Arts Faculty Journal, 4, pp.1-18.
Ward, I., 2014. Introducing Psychoanalysis: A Graphic Guide. Icon Books Ltd.
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