goto Appendx main menu Three Boys and Their
Growing-Up Performances :
Benton Komins
text | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | notes
previous page 

Beyond the autoerotic, Hans's love objects range from his "two little girls" at the skating rink (paradoxically, each of the girls is twice the boy's age) to his visiting six-year-old male cousin. According to Freud, through his object choices, Hans acts the roles of polygamous husband and enthralled homosexual lover. "Little Hans seems to be a paragon of all the vices" (p. 57).  Rather than engaging/enjoying his love objects themselves, Hans "shares" his erotic fascination with his father. Freud does not Appendx 3 page break 29 | 30address the boy's seductive ploys at the point of this vice intrigue, but their effects on the analytic process cannot be ignored. Why is the father at the center of the boy's erotic universe? The notion of love relationships with other children proves inadequate to explain Hans's constant probing of his father. Does the boy desire other children, or is the harangue about the little girls and cousin an attempt to manipulate the father through jealousy? While the father notices possibilities of eroticism in the boy's play with other children, Hans's "annoying" questions highlight a scenario of triangulation. "'Where are my little girls? When are my little girls coming?' And for some weeks he kept tormenting me with the question: 'When am I going to the Rink to see my little girls?"' (p. 57). Hans asks his father about his child lovers; the boy's very reliance on the response positions the father within the network of erotic games. At the moment when the suffering father acknowledges his state of torment, the analytic veil is irreparably punctured. By seductive maneuvers, Little Hans controls the situation. No longer the figure of "Oedipal Father," Hans's father tumbles into his own unconscious drama. Through the "act" of acknowledging torment, his unconscious issues become as much at stake as the boy's issues. Much like Freud's reactions in the earlier "Dora" case study on hysteria, the depth of the father's response to his son's erotic game points to the phenomenon of countertransference: it is no longer clear who is analyzing whom. 
    In human beings pure masculinity or femininity is not to be found either in a psychological or a biological sense. Every individual . . . displays a mixture of the character traits belonging to his own and to the opposite sex; and he shows a combination of activity and passivity whether or not these last character traits tally with his biological ones.6
Freud's findings in the "Little Hans" case study include a poignant statement about the strength of a child's love for his same-sex parent. "And Hans deeply loved the father against whom he cherished death wishes; and while his intellect demurred to such a contradiction, he could not help demonstrating the fact of its existence, by hitting his father and then immediately kissing the place he had hit" (p. 149). Little Hans follows the classic Oedipal paradigm, yet he punishes himself for his desire to inflict pain upon his father. Inscribed within the description of castration threats, phobias, and perversions are moments of non-erotically charged love. The boy's expressions of aggression are bound to conciliatory expressions of tenderness. In line Appendx 3 page break 30 | 31with this phenomenon of linked aggression and tenderness, Freud posits a model of bisexuality based on the expression of the psychological characteristics of active and passive relations: All human beings are essentially bisexual as psychological structures. "Resisting the notions of 'masculine' and 'feminine' . . . Freud was to argue for 'active' and 'passive' relations, connecting sexuality to the situation of the subject."7  This notion of bisexuality brings forward the question of environment. If individuals are essentially bisexual, what ultimately determines their "dominant" mode of sexuality? Where Freud minimizes the importance of the external, social world on the psychic development of the boy, insofar as it exceeds the corrective parameters of the family, he alludes to it with his notion of situation. Little Hans's "escape" from the neurotic world of feces babies, horrifyingly obese horses, giant widdlers, and collapsing furniture vans represents his active reconciliation with the world as much as it represents his passive integration into the world of consolidating knowledge. 
    In bringing up children we aim only at being left in peace and having no difficulties, in short, at training up a model child, and we pay very little attention to whether such a course of development is for the child's good as well. I can therefore imagine that it may have been to Hans's advantage to have produced [a] phobia; for it directed his parents' attention to the unavoidable difficulties by which a child is confronted when in the course of his cultural training he is called upon to overcome the innate instinctual components of his mind, and his trouble brought his father to his assistance. (p. l78)
next page
text | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | notes
appendx inc.©1997