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Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute & Society

Freud's Little Oedipus: The Anomaly of Little Hans

The University of Michigan Interdisciplinary Psychoanalytic Studies Group (UMIPS) presents:


 Karin Ahbel-Rappe, Ph.D., CSW

Friday, October 12:  12-1:30 pm.  (4448 East Hall)

Freud's 1909 case study, "The analysis of a phobia in a five-year-old-boy" is regarded by Freud and also by analytic readers and commentators as a prototype of his conception of the oedipus complex.  This essay, however, argues that the representation of the oedipus complex that comes through in Freud's Hans paper differs from Freud's essential view; that, unbeknownst to Freud, his effective interpretation of the oedipus in the Hans paper is, in fact, anomalous relative to his other work.  Thus the essay tries to make legible a sort of theoretical unconscious of Freud's paper.  This is approached via a literary methodology-a study of Freud's paper as text.  The essay shows that, in contrast to Freud's typically tragic view of the oedipus complex (in the tradition of ancient Greek tragedy), the Hans' study evokes a comic vision (in the tradition of Greek New Comedy).  Given the deep link between Freud's oedipus concept and a tragic view of human life, this departure in the Hans paper constitutes a fascinating anomaly.