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The participant was a Jewish boy from Austria named Herbert Graf, however he was referred to as 'Little Hans' in the study. He was 5 years old at the start of the study. Little Hans had a phobia of horses that his father decided to ask Freud for help with.
From the age of 3, Hans developed a great interest in his penis, so much so that his mother threatened to get him castrated by a doctor.
At around the same time, Hans saw a horse collapse and die in the street which upset him greatly. This developed into a phobia of horses, specifically he was afraid that a white horse would bite him.
As Hans' phobia developed, his father banned Hans from his parents bed where he would frequently cuddle his mother in the mornings. His phobia worsened to the extent that he wouldn't leave the family house, so Hans went to visit Freud.
Freud interpreted the case as an example of the Oedipus Complex. He believed horses represented Hans' father. The anxiety he felt about castration was triggered from his mother's threat to cut off his penis & the fear of his father came from the banishing of Hans from their bed.
Freud concluded that Hans' phobia was due to castration anxiety and going through the Oedipus Complex. The problem was resolved by Hans fantasizing himself taking his father's role and making his father have the role of grandfather.
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