Feral Children and Clever Animals: Reflections on Human Nature

By Douglas Keith Candland | Go to book overview

4
The Psychology of Psychoanalysis: Freud and Little Hans

PSYCHOANALYSIS gains its insight and formulates its laws regarding behavior by detailed analysis of the individual case rather than by statistical measure of groups. By referring to psychoanalysis as a myth, I enlarge its importance to human beings, for it is by myths that we conduct our lives. These myths are about the nature of good and evil; about what is appropriate and what is not; about what gives pain and what pleasure; and about the probable outcomes of our actions.

The best way to uncover the meaning of a myth is to strip it to its original meaning, even though it is the overlay of meaning that gives the myth its form and vitality. We can, therefore, best understand the mechanics of psychoanalysis by examining how Freud came to understand Little Hans; how Freud translated the utterings of this child into a powerful myth about all human behavior.


LITTLE HANS

Hans and his family were known to Freud in several ways, and this knowledge may have come to be represented in the way that Freud understood the situation. Freud knew the boy's father, for the father attended weekly seminars with Freud. He was a music critic and is known to have been a literate and sensitive man. Hans's mother was "once treated by [ Freud]. She . . . fell ill with a neurosis as a result of a conflict during her girlhood . . . and this had in fact been the beginning of my connection with Hans's parents," writes Freud. 1 Now, many years later, we know Hans's identity and we, of course, know how his life played itself out. We can judge the effect of the neurosis that Freud diagnosed. Freud Introduces the story:

"The case history is not, strictly speaking, derived from my own observation. It is true that I laid down the general lines of the treatment, and that on one single occasion, when I had a conversation with the boy, I took a direct share in it; but the treatment itself was carried out by the

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