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Volume 10

Volume X: 
The Cases of ‘Little Hans’ and the ‘Rat Man’ (1909)

1909B 10/3
Analysis of a phobia in a five-year-old boy.
Editor’s note(1955).
Part I. Introduction (1909).
The Analysis of a Phobia in a 5-Year-Old Boy describes the course of the illness and recovery of a very youthful patient. The first reports of Hans date from a period when he was not quite 3 years old. At that time he was showing a quite peculiar lively interest in that portion of his body which he used to describe as his ‘widdler.’ Around the age of 3-1/2 he realized an essential characteristic for differentiating between animate and inanimate objects: the presence or absence of a widdler. His thirst for knowledge seemed to be inseparable from sexual curiosity and his curiosity was particularly directed towards his parents through his interest in the presence of his mother’s and father’s widdlers. At 3-1/2, Hans’ mother threatened him with castration because he was masturbating. The great event of Hans’ life was the birth of his little sister Hanna when he was exactly 3-1/2, He noticed and remarked on the smallness of her widdler. At 3-3/4 he showed his first, but not his last trace of homosexuality. When he was 4-1/4, he made it clear that having his knickers unbuttoned and his penis taken out was pleasurable. When Hans was 4-1/2, he finally acknowledged the distinction between male and female genitals.

1909B 10/22
Analysis of a phobia in a five-year-old boy (1909).
Part II. Case history and analysis of little Hans.
The case history and analysis of Little Hans is presented. Hans, almost 5 years old, woke up one morning in tears. Asked why he was crying, he said to his mother that he thought she was gone. This is interpreted as an anxiety dream. The fundamental phenomenon in his condition was that his affection for his mother became enormously intensified. Hans relates a phantasy concerning a big giraffe and a crumpled giraffe. This is interpreted as the big giraffe (long neck) being his father’s penis and the crumpled one as his mother’s genital organ. Hans comes to his mother’s bed in the morning and is caressed by her, thus defying his father. Hans was afraid of big animals (especially horses) because big animals have big widdlers. His anxiety, which corresponded to a repressed erotic longing was, like every infantile anxiety, without an object to begin with. After an attack of influenza, his phobia of horses increased so much that he could not be induced to go out. The immediate precipitating cause of his phobia was the fall of a big heavy horse; one of the interpretations of this impression seems to be that emphasized by his father, namely, that Hans at that moment perceived a wish that his father might fall down in the same way and be dead. Hans wished that his father would die and then he, Hans, would take his father’s place with his mother. The theme of Han’s sister Hanna is Discussed in relation to his viewing her as being in a box (womb).

1909B 10/101
Analysis of a phobia in a five-year-old boy (1909).
Part III. Discussion: I.
The observation of the development and resolution of a phobia in a boy under 5 years of age is examined. It is possible that Hans was not normal, but a neurotic degenerate; however, Freud discounts this. Little Hans was described by his parents as a cheerful, straight-forward child. The first trait in Hans which can be regarded as part of his sexual life was a peculiar interest in his ‘widdler,’ This interest aroused in him the spirit of 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; he observed that it was present in the larger animals, suspected that this was so too in both his parents, and was not deterred by the evidence of his own eyes from authenticating the fact in his newborn sister. In little Hans’ sexual constitution, the genital zone was from the outset the one among his erotogenic zones which afforded him the most intense pleasure. The most important influence upon the course of Hans’ psychosexual development was the birth of a baby sister when he was 3-1/2 years old. That event accentuated his relations to his parents and gave him some insoluble problems to think about. In his triumphant final phantasy, he summed up all his erotic wishes, both those derived from his autoerotic phase and those connected with his object love. Hans really was a little Oedipus who wanted to have his father out of the way so that he could sleep with his mother. In that phantasy he was married to his beautiful mother and had innumerable children whom he could look after in his own way.

1909B 10/115
Analysis of a phobia in a five-year-old-boy (1909).
Part III. Discussion: II. Little Hans case sheds light on phobias.
The observation of the development and resolution of a phobia in a boy under 5 years of age is examined. One day while Hans was in the street he was seized with an attack of anxiety. Hans’s phobia soon ceased having any relation to the question of locomotion and became more and more clearly concentrated upon horses. In the early days of his illness, when the anxiety was at its highest pitch, he expressed a fear that a horse would come into his room. The outbreak of the anxiety state was not as sudden as it appeared. A few days earlier the child had awakened from an anxiety dream to the effect that his mother had gone away. His parents represented to him that his anxiety was the result of masturbation, and encouraged him to break himself of the habit. Hans was not only afraid of horses biting him but also of carts, of furniture vans, and of buses, of horses that started moving, of horses that looked big and heavy, and of horses that drove quickly. The meaning of these specifications was explained by Hans himself: he was afraid of horses falling down, and consequently incorporated in his phobia everything that seemed likely to facilitate their falling down. The falling horse represented not only his dying father but also his mother in childbirth. The birth of his sister aroused in Hans the question of birth and the idea that his father had something to do with it. The anxiety in this phobia is explained as being due to the repression of Hans’s aggressive propensities.

1909B 10/141
Analysis of a phobia in a five-year-old boy (1909).
Part III. Discussion: III. Little Hans case and childhood education.
Postscript (1922).
The observation of the development and resolution of a phobia in a boy under 5 years of age is examined. Hans was not a degenerate child. On the contrary, he was well formed physically, and was a cheerful, amiable, active-minded young fellow who might give pleasure to more people than his own father. He was not the only child who has been overtaken by phobia at some time or other in his childhood. The 9nly results of the analysis were that Hans recovered, that he ceased to be afraid of horses, and that he got on to rather familiar terms with his father. Analysis replaced the process of repression, which was an automatic and excessive one, by a temperate and purposeful control on the part of the highest agencies of the mind. Freud claims that he would have ventured to give the child one remaining piece of enlightenment which his parents withheld from him. He would have confirmed his instinctive premonitions, by telling him of the existence of the vagina and of copulation, thus diminishing further his unsolved residue, and putting an end to his stream of questions. Freud was tempted to claim for this neurosis of childhood the significance of being a type and a model, and to suppose that the multiplicity of the phenomena of repression exhibited by neuroses and the abundance of their pathogenic material do not prevent their being derived from a very limited number of processes concerned with identical ideational complexes.

1909D 10/153
Notes upon a case of obsessional neurosis.
Editor’s note (1955) and Introduction (1909).
Notes upon a Case of Obsessional Neurosis concerns a case, the treatment of which began on October 1, 1907. This case judged by its length, the injuriousness of its effects, and the patient’s own view of it, deserves to be classed as a moderately severe one. The treatment, which lasted for about a year, led to the complete restoration of the patient’s personality, and to the removal of his inhibitions. Persons suffering from a severe degree of obsessional neurosis present themselves far less frequently for analytic treatment than hysterical patients. Obsessional neurosis is not an easy thing to understand. Because we are less familiar with obsessional neurosis, we are less able to have expectations about it.

1909D 10/158
Notes upon a case of obsessional neurosis (1909).
Part I. Extracts from the case history:
(A) The beginning of the treatment. (B) Infantile sexuality.
Extracts from a case history of obsessional neurosis are presented. A youngish man of university education introduced himself with the statement that he had suffered from obsessions ever since his childhood, but with particular intensity for the last 4 years. The chief features of his disorder were fears that something might happen to 2 people of whom he was very fond, his father and a lady whom he admired. Besides this he was aware of compulsive impulses, such as an impulse to cut his throat with a razor; and further he produced prohibitions, sometimes in connection with quite unimportant things. The beginning of the treatment involved a pledge on the part of the patient to say everything that came into his head, even if it was unpleasant to him, or seemed unimportant or irrelevant, or senseless. As a result of his statements, Freud discovered that the patient was under the domination of a component of the sexual instinct, the desire to look (scopophilia), as a result of which there was a constant recurrence in him of a very intense wish connected with persons of the female sex who pleased him, the wish to see them naked. This wish corresponded to the later obsessional or compulsive idea. Side by side with the obsessive wish, and intimately associated with it, was an obsessive fear: every time he had a wish of this kind he could not help fearing that something dreadful would happen. Obsessional neuroses make it much more obvious than hysterias that the factors which go to form a psychoneurosis are to be found in the patient’s infantile sexual life and not in his present one.

1909D 10/165
Notes upon a case of obsessional neurosis (1909).
Part I. Extracts from the case history.
(C) The great obsessive fear.
Extracts from a case history of obsessional neurosis are presented. The patient revealed his great obsessive fear that some rats would bore their way into the anus of a lady whom he admired and also into the anus of his father. As his father had died many years previously, this obsessive fear was much more nonsensical even than the first, and accordingly the fear concerning his father was not confessed to for a little while longer. He had ordered a replacement pince-nez which was sent to him through the mails. He felt that unless he paid the charge back directly to a particular person, (Lieutenant A) the rat would actually act upon the lady. He vowed to pay the money directly to that particular person. He stated this vow in such a way that the actual payment was made very difficult. In reality, he owed the money to no one but the official at the post office. The captain who had told him he owed Lieutenant A the money made a mistake which the patient must have known was a mistake – In spite of this the patient made his vow of payment founded upon the mistake. In so doing he suppressed the episode of the other Captain (B) and the trusting young lady at the post office. He was determined to see a doctor and thought that a doctor would give him a certificate to the effect that it was necessary for him, in order to recover his health, to perform his particular obsessional actions.

1909D 10/173
Notes upon a case of obsessional neurosis (1909).
Part I. Extracts from the case history.
(D) Initiation into the nature of the treatment.
Extracts from a case history of obsessional neurosis are presented – Nine years previously the patient’s father had died one evening, when the patient was not there, and the son had felt guilty ever since – Freud helped him to conclude that he actually wished for the death of his father. The patient confessed that from the age of 7, he had had a fear that his parents guessed his thoughts, and this fear had persisted all his life. When he was 12 he felt that if his father died his death might make him rich enough to marry a girl he loved. During the seventh session, he said that he could not believe that he had ever entertained such a wish against his father. He went on to state that his illness had become so enormously intensified since his father’s death; and Freud said that he agreed with him in so far as he regarded his sorrow at his father’s death as the chief source of the intensity of his illness. His sorrow had found a pathological expression in his illness. Whereas a normal period of mourning would last from 1 to 2 years, a pathological one like this would last indefinitely.

1909D 10/186
Notes upon a case of obsessional neurosis (1909).
Part I. Extracts from the case history.
(E) Some obsessional ideas and their explanation.
Extracts from a case history of obsessional neurosis are presented. Obsessional ideas have an appearance of being either without motive or without meaning, just as dreams have. The wildest and most eccentric obsessional ideas can be cleared up if they are investigated deeply enough. The solution is effected by bringing the obsessional ideas into temporal relationship with the patient’s experiences, that is to say, by enquiring when a particular obsessional idea made its first appearance and in what external circumstances it is apt to recur. One of the suicidal impulses which appeared frequently in the patient was explained. It was related to the absence of his lady because she was taking care of her mother. He wanted to kill her mother for depriving him of his lady, and suicide was the way to punish himself for these thoughts. His obsession for protecting can only have been a reaction, as an expression of remorse and penitence, to a contrary, that is a hostile, impulse which he must have felt towards his lady. His obsession for counting during the thunderstorm can be interpreted as having been a defensive measure against fears that someone was in danger of death.

1909D 10/195
Notes upon a case of obsessional neurosis (1909).
Part I. Extracts from the case history.
(F) The precipitating cause of the illness.
Extracts from a case history of obsessional neurosis are presented and the precipitating cause of the illness discussed. The infantile precondition of obsessional neurosis may be overtaken by amnesia, though this is often an incomplete one; but the immediate occasions of the illness are, on the contrary, retained in the memory. Repression makes use of another, and in reality a simpler, mechanism. The trauma, instead of being forgotten, is deprived of its affective cathexis so that what remains in consciousness is nothing but its ideational content, which is perfectly colorless and is judged to be unimportant. The distinction between what occurs in hysteria and in an obsessional neurosis lies in the psychological processes which we can reconstruct behind the phenomenon. The chief result of his illness was an obstinate incapacity for work, which allowed him to postpone the completion of his education for years. A conflict was stirred in him as to whether he should remain faithful to the lady he loved in spite of her poverty, or whether he should follow in his father’s footsteps and marry the lovely, rich, and well-connected girl who had been assigned to him. By falling ill he avoided the task of resolving the conflict in real life.

1909D 10/200
Notes upon a case of obsessional neurosis (1909).
Part I. Extracts from the case history.
(G) The father complex and the solution of the rat idea.
Extracts from a case history of obsessional neurosis about rats are presented. The patient found himself in a situation similar to that in which, as he knew or suspected, his father had been before his marriage; and the patient was thus able to identify himself with his father. The conflict at the root of his illness was a struggle between the persisting influence of his father’s wishes and his own amatory predilections. Freud put forward a construction that, when the patient was a child of under 6 he had been guilty of some sexual misdemeanor connected with masturbation and had been soundly castigated for it by his father. This punishment put an end to his masturbating, but left behind it a grudge against his father and had established him in his role of an interferer with the patient’s sexual enjoyment. The patient’s mother said that he was punished because he had bitten someone. The story of the rat punishment (a rat boring its way into the anus of his lady and his father), provoked all his suppressed cruel, egoistic and sexual impulses. The rat punishment evoked anal eroticism, which played an important part in his childhood and had been kept in activity for many years by a constant irritation due to worms. In this way rats came to have the meaning of money (Rattus is the genus for rat and Rate is German for installment). The relation of some sexual theories of children to this obsession is presented.

1909D 10/221
Notes upon a case of obsessional neurosis (1909).
Part II. Theoretical section.
(A) Some general characteristics of obsessional structures.
Some general characteristics of obsessional structures are discussed. Obsessional structures can be classed as wishes, temptations, impulses, reflections, doubts, commands, or prohibitions. During the secondary defensive struggle, which the patient carries on against the obsessional ideas that have forced their way into his consciousness, psychical structures make their appearance which deserve to be given a special name. They are not purely reasonable considerations arising in opposition to the obsessional thoughts, but, as it were, hybrids between the 2 species of thinking. They accept certain of the premises of the obsession they are combating, and thus, while using the weapons of reason, are established upon a basis of pathological thought. The patients themselves do not know the wording of their own obsessional ideas. Obsessional thoughts have undergone a distortion similar to that undergone by dream thoughts before they become the manifest content of a dream. The technique of distortion by ellipsis seems to be typical of obsessional neuroses.

1909D 10/229
Notes upon a case of obsessional neurosis (1909).
Part II. Theoretical section.
(B) Some psychological peculiarities of obsessional neurotics: Their attitude towards reality, superstition and death.
Some psychological peculiarities of obsessional neurotics are discussed, especially their attitude towards reality, superstition, and death. The patient was highly superstitious, although he was a well educated and enlightened man of considerable acumen, and although he was able at times to assure Freud that he did not believe a word of all this rubbish. His superstition was that of an educated man, and he avoided such prejudices as being afraid of Friday or of the number 13, and so on. But he believed in premonitions and in prophetic dreams. He would constantly meet the very person of whom, for some inexplicable reason, he had just been thinking. Another mental need which is shared by obsessional neurotics is the need for uncertainty, or for doubt in their life. The creation of uncertainty which is among the objects of every psychoneurotic disorder, is one of the methods employed by the neurosis for drawing the patient away from reality and isolating him from the world. In obsessional neuroses, the uncertainty of memory is used to the fullest extent as a help in the formation of symptoms. The patient had a quite peculiar attitude towards the question of death. He showed the deepest sympathy whenever anyone died. In his imagination he was constantly making away with people so as to show his heartfelt sympathy for their bereaved relatives. In every conflict which enters their lives they are on the lookout for the death of someone who is of importance to them.

1909D 10/237
Notes upon a case of obsessional neurosis (1909).
Part II. Theoretical section.
(C) The instinctual life of obsessional neurotics, and the origins of compulsion and doubt.
The instinctual life of obsessional neurotics and the origins of compulsion and doubt are discussed. The patient fell ill when he was in his twenties, on being faced with a temptation to marry another woman instead of the one whom he had loved so long, and he avoided a decision of this conflict by postponing all the necessary preliminary actions. The means for doing this was given him by his neurosis. If we consider a number of analyses of obsessional neurotics, we shall find it impossible to escape the impression that a relation between love and hatred such as we have found in our present patient is among the most frequent, the most marked, and probably, therefore, the most important characteristic of obsessional neurosis. It is doubt that leads the patient to uncertainty about his protective measures and to his continual repetition of them in order to banish that uncertainty. It is this doubt, too, that eventually brings it about that the patient’s protective acts themselves become as impossible to carry out as his original inhibited decision in connection with his love. The compulsion is an attempt at a compensation for the doubt and at a correction of the intolerable conditions of inhibition to which the doubt bears witness. By a sort of regression, preparatory acts become substituted for the final decision, thinking replaces acting, and, instead of the substitutive act, some thought preliminary to it asserts itself with all the force of compulsion. An obsessive or compulsive thought is one whose function it is to represent an act regressively.

1955A 10/251
Notes upon a case of obsessional neurosis (1909).
Part H. Theoretical section.
Addendum: Original record of the case: Editor’s note (1955).
It was Freud’s practice throughout his life, after one of his works had appeared in print, to destroy all the material on which the publication was based. It is accordingly true that extremely few of the original manuscripts of his works have survived, still less the preliminary notes and records from which they were derived. The present record, A Case of Obsessional Neurosis, provides an unexplained exception to this rule, having been found among Freud’s papers in London after his death. Approximately the first third of the original record was reproduced by Freud almost verbatim in the published version. This covers the preliminary interview on October 1, 1907, and the first 7 sessions. The second two4hirds of Freud’s record are translated in full. It contains some material taken up by Freud into the published case history, but a large proportion is new material.

1955A 10/259
Notes upon a case of obsessional neurosis (1909).
Part II. Theoretical section. Original record of the case.
The original record of the case of the ‘Rat Man is produced. On October 10, the patient announced that he wanted to talk about the beginning of his obsessional ideas. An account of the visits proceeds through January 20, when the manuscript ends. The patient’s resistances are discussed and his many dreams are interpreted to and for him. His masturbation and his lack of masturbation are discussed and the role that his father had in this situation is discussed. The connection between rats, worms, and penis is explained. The patient had had a great deal of annoyance over money matters with his friends and did not like it if analysis was diverted toward money matters. Rats have a special connection with money.

Abstracts of the Standard Edition of 
the Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud

Carrie Lee Rothgeb, Editor


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