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Abraham, K. (1974). Little Hilda: Daydreams and a Symptom in a Seven-Year-Old Girl. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 1:5-14.

(1974). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 1:5-14

Little Hilda: Daydreams and a Symptom in a Seven-Year-Old Girl

Karl Abraham


Freud wrote to Karl Abraham on 5 July 1907 in a letter concerning the aetiology of neurosis (A Psycho-Analytical Dialogue: The Letters of Sigmund Freud and Karl Abraham. London: Hogarth, 1965):

According to my impressions the age of three to five is that to which the determination of symptoms dates back. Later traumas are mostly genuine, while earlier ones falling within this period are prima facie doubtful. So here is a gap to be filled in by observation (p. 2).

He reiterated this idea two years later in the introduction to Little Hans (1909, S.E. 10):

I have for many years been urging my pupils and my friends to collect observations of the sexual life of children—the existence of which has as a rule been cleverly overlooked or deliberately denied.

Karl Abraham noted this recommendation and put it into practice three years later than the letter of 1907, when Hilda was four years old. She had been born in Zurich on 18 November 1906, the eldest child and only daughter of Karl and Hedwig Abraham. Hilda's birth coincided with Abraham's passionate involvement in Freud's ideas, and Freud's stimulation led him to combine analytical observation with his natural fatherly love. In 1910 he recorded snatches of his little daughter's sayings during her oedipal phase, and included them in an article entitled, 'Some Illustrations on the Emotional Relationship of Little Girls to Their Parents', published in 1917 (in Clinical Papers and Essays on Psycho-Analysis, vol.

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