Hello :) Welcome to my first blog, based on Freud’s use of psychoanalysis as a therapy and it’s criticisms.
Freud famously stated that “dreams are the royal road to the unconscious“.
Freud used case studies as a research method, to provide evidence for his gender development theories, and to act upon his methods of dream analysis.
Little Hans therefore, became the ideal ‘participant’ to practice his theories upon and strengthen Freud’s beliefs and theories. Through symbol analysis Freud interpreted Hans’ fear of horses as a fear of his father, and gathered data though his father, of Hans’ thoughts.
However, through gathering data from his father’s letters, information may have been lost which cannot be conveyed through written letters alone. For example, Hans may have expressed some of his emotions through a certain tone of voice, which could have revealed subtle cues as to which fears Hans felt were stronger than others. Due to this, the validity of Hans’ thoughts and feelings are questioned, as they were not recorded directly from Hans’ himself, but from his father, who may have manipulated the content of his letters to fit into Freud’s theories – questioning subjectivity also. The young boy’s parents were aware of Freud’s theories at the time such as the Oedipus complex, and symbol analysis. Therefore they may have been deliberately looking for ‘symbols’, such as wanting his father gone so he could possess his mother, which would then support Freud’s idea of the Oedipus complex. However this could be due to attachment theory, in which Bowlby would state that Hans’ had a natural warm attachment with his mother due to survival instincts, and naturally had separation anxiety when away from her. Validity is questioned once again here, as Freud’s methods are not measuring what they claim to measure if Hans’ parents are subjectively choosing which of his thoughts fit into Freud’s theories best.
Despite this study having little apparent validity, there is some validity deriving from the research method itself. Case studies gather much qualitative data. Freud gathered qualitative data from the letters, and saw Hans’ himself several times for interviewing, therefore collecting in-depth information from the child himself, and was not converted into quantitative data, which may have lost some validity through doing so. Such detail is difficult to gather from other research methods such as laboratory experiments, in which participants are not usually given a long amount of time to express their true emotions and opinions due to time constraints, sometimes having to choose an answer quantitively. However, a vital flaw of gathering such in-depth, valid data, is that it is extremely difficult to replicate case studies and find similar results. So, when this point is applied to the Little Hans’ study, based on the revealing of unconscious desires, it is evident that such results would be near-impossible to find again, as the results are from Hans’s personal thoughts, unique to him only.
Please free to comment/ criticise (constructive criticism!) . Hope it wasn’t too boring!