goto Appendx main menu Three Boys and Their
Growing-Up Performances :
Benton Komins
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 J'ai beaucoup souffert, et j'ai souffert seul! seul! abandonne de tous! Ma place  n'etait pas marque dans ce monde qui me fuyait, qui m'avait maudit. Pas un etre vivant ne devait s'associer a cette immense douleur qui me prit au sortir de l'enfance, a cet age ou  tout est beau, parce que tout est jeune et brillant d'avenir. 
  Herculine Barbin1 

Vienna 1909: Little Hans's Consolidation 

    I believe that concealment leads a girl or boy to suspect the truth more than ever. Curiosity leads to prying into things which would have roused little or no interest if they were talked about openly without any fuss. If this ignorance could be maintained I might be more reconciled to it, but that is impossible . . . the mystery with which things he has already surmised are treated by his parents actually increases his desire to know more.  Then this desire that is only incompletely and secretly satisfied gives rise to excitement and corrupts his imagination, so that the child is a sinner while his parents still believe that he does not know what sin is.2 
Does parental concealment lead the child to create a "deviant" erotic economy?  In Freud's model of juvenile sexuality and development, ignorance is an impossibility: there is either a false narrative built through a mesh of fragments and fantasies, or the "true" (authoritative, socially sanctioned) narrative of the parents. In line with this notion of fragmented and parental narratives, in human societies there can be only consolidating or corrupting knowledge of sex.  According to Freud's paradigm, each form of sexual knowledge results in different psychic manifestations: Where consolidating knowledge guides the child toward procreative sexuality, corrupting knowledge inhibits "normal" fulfillment.  Consolidating knowledge helps to direct libidinal energy in an appropriate way toward an obtainable object—in Freud's construction, the appropriate way is an expression of genital sexuality and the obtainable object is the heterosexual body.  Corrupting knowledge leads to a breakdown of psychosexual development, to a point of rupture in the normal flow of the life narrative.  Unlike the appropriate/obtainable qualities of consolidating sexual knowledge, corrupting knowledge hampers the flow of libidinal energy.  In Freud's scheme, it results in a condition of dammed-up libido. 

At the point where corrupting knowledge becomes actively eroticized (or when the libidinal dam begins to fracture), the corrective potential of the psychoanalytic approach becomes apparent. In the "Little Hans" case study ("Analysis of a Phobia in a Five-Year-Old Boy"), Freud outlines a model of "corrective" psychoanalytic technology that attempts to replace a boy's corrupt knowledge with consolidating knowledge.  Bundles of repressed sexual fantasies are rooted out of  Little Hans's phobic narrative, which includes feces babies, horrifying fat horses, giant penises, and collapsing Appendx 3 page break 27 | 28furniture vans.3   At the end of the analytic process, Freud and Little Hans's father give the precocious boy the keys to understanding the meaning of his corrupting knowledge; collectively the three characters redirect Hans's libidinal energy in an appropriate way toward an obtainable object.  Where horses and widdlers were, little girls and family will be. 

"It was only because the authority of a father and a physician were united in a single person; in him affectionate care and scientific interest were combined" (p. 47).  The case study begins with a disclaimer: With the exception of one brief meeting, Freud admits that he never dealt with Little Hans directly.  The phobia that Freud addresses—the grist for the psychoanalytic mill—develops from the observations of an interested third party.  The juvenile phobia is both explored and explained through the dialogue of an analyst father and an analysand son; Freud is totally removed from the analytic setting.  In the introduction to the study Freud acknowledges the importance of the father to the research; he states that Little Hans's father is the only person who could conduct an analysis on a child of such a young age (p. 47).  In other words, the removed Freud points to the fact that only a parent would be able to discern the signs of dysfunction.  More emphatically put, only the parent really has the vested interest in correcting the dysfunction, as the process of correction itself strengthens the bonds of the family.  The "analyst as father" ensures that Freud's hypotheses will be confirmed when it comes to the "analysand son."  The commingled interests of both psychoanalysis and the family facilitate the success of the treatment.  "The guarantee that one would find the parents-children relationship at the root of everyone's sexuality made it possible—even when everything seemed to point to the reverse process—to keep the deployment of sexuality coupled to the system of alliance."4  Freud boldly acknowledges the dual function of the father (as analyst and as upholder of the law); within this realm of dual functionality, the greatest rate of "corrective" success could take place. 

Little Hans's story begins with an account of the boy at age three.  At this time, he experienced the threat of castration: "If you do that, I shall send for Dr. A. to cut off your widdler.  And then what'll you widdle with" (p. 49).5   Hans's mother threatens to have her son's "weeweemaker" cut off.  In response to this threat, the intrepid boy boldly states that he will widdle, like his nurse and his mother, with his bottom (p. 49).  Hans's defiance, not to mention his sense of humor, clearly indicates that the threat of castration has not really been considered.  In Freud's reading, the memory of the Dr. A. scene—the specter of the castration threat—is seminal to the correctiveAppendx 3 page break 28 | 29 analysis at a later point in the text. I would suggest that the text itself is carefully manipulated to prove a specific hypothesis.  According to Freud's note, the verbal castration threat occurred two years before Hans's phobia manifested itself.  In this exchange between mother and son, there is no mediating presence of the father.  (This widdler talk between the boy and his mother is different from any other exchange in the text.)  The manipulation of the exchange marks the point where Freud's voice directly emerges, intervening as a participant in the scene. 

"I have set out these hypotheses in my Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, and am aware that they seem as strange to an outside reader as they seem inevitable to a psychoanalyst. But even a psychoanalyst may confess to the wish for a more direct and less roundabout proof of these fundamental theorems" (p.48).  Little Hans provides the "less roundabout proof" that fully corroborates Freud's earlier theoretical model of sexuality.  The "Little Hans" case study can be critically interrogated from the first page: Could the exchange between the boy and his mother be an editorial fiction to begin a corrective tale?   Could Freud have been closer to the proceedings than he leads his reader to believe?  (At an earlier date Freud analyzed Hans's mother, for clinical reasons that remain quite vague.)  What matters here is that there are indeed moments of doubt.  By the second page of the case study, the future analysand already shows the paradigmatic mark of male neurosis.  There are serious analytic problems before the diagnosis is even made: Freud's constant allusions to his theory of infantile sexuality in the Three Essays point to the fact that Little Hans's story itself was predestined. 

    We should be doing an injustice if we were to trace only the autoerotic features of his sexual life. His father has detailed information to give us on the subject of his love relationships with other children. From these we can discern the existence of an 'object choice' just as in the case of an adult; and also, it must be confessed, a very striking degree of inconstancy and a disposition to polygamy. (pp. 56-57) 
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