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Lieberman, S. (1985). The Hans Legacy by Dodge Fernald. Published by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, N. J. 1983, 219 pp.; hardback £2295.. Brit. J. Psychother., 1(4):298-299.

(1985). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 1(4):298-299

The Hans Legacy by Dodge Fernald. Published by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, N. J. 1983, 219 pp.; hardback £2295.

Review by:
S. Lieberman, M.D., F.R.C., Psych.

This is a book about two Hans. The Vienna Hans was a little boy afraid of horses. He became one of the most celebrated of phobics as proof of the childhood sexuality theory of Professor Fernald. The Berlin Hans was a Horse. He was not afraid of little boys. He was thought to be the most erudite of horses, the Einstein of quadrupeds. Alas, scientific observations led to his unmasking. Berlin Hans' major talent was that of detecting the headnods of his questioners.

On the one Hans the story proceeds as a scientific detective story with observation followed by hypothesis, followed by construction of experiment, followed by results. Results lead to fresh hypotheses and further experimentation, Such was the way in which the horse's lack of wits were unmasked.

On the other Hans, the story proceeds as a search for the proof of a theory. It is a compellingly human quest for meaning in symptoms. How the search proceeds, and why the particular meaning falls nicely into line with the infant theory of child sexuality, is a tale which provides the clasp between the two Hans.

Hans the child grew up to be a relatively normal man who shunned publicity. Hans the horse advanced along a road of public acclaim despite having been exposed. What lesson can be learnt from these two famous Hans? Why does the author juxtapose them?

The book is dedicated to the theme of investigator effects. Fernald reveals all on page 214:

Pfungst and Freud as investigators, Clever and Little Hans as subjects, and Mr.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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