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Wood, R.H. (1989). Little Hans's Transference. J. Child Psychother., 15(1):63-78.

(1989). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 15(1):63-78

Little Hans's Transference

R.D. Hinshel Wood

Freud's commentary on the Little Hans material never mentioned transference. In 1909 psycho-analysts believed that a child of Little Hans's age could not develop a transference to his own father. The child was in relationship to the actual (external) primary object and this could not be a ‘new edition’. However the present-day view of transference would not necessarily dismiss the possibility of a transference to the external object at this age.

Today psycho-analysts look for evidence of transference in the process of the session. It would be of great interest if the process records of Little Hans could give evidence for a form of transference with which neither Freud nor Father were acquainted at the time. It is striking, therefore, that most published reconsiderations of the Little Hans paper still make little or no reference to the process of the ‘conversations' which the original material is ideally suited to demonstrate. They mostly re-interpret the symbolic content.

Brief review of the literature

There is a large literature on all Freud's case histories. Most re-readings of the Little Hans material conclude with an uneasy feeling that the outcome was not as hopeful as Freud and Father happily believed. There are various features of the case which are thought to be left unanalysed: the level of ego maturation, the environmental effects, the ambivalence to both parents, the role of mother, and the evidence of an internal world.

1. Ego Maturation

On various occasions Anna Freud (1936, 1982) looked at the material from the point of view of the intensely varied defensive armamentarium the ego has available even in the child.

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