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The Most Unusual Cases in Freud's Practice

Antonia R.Antonia R.

In his practice, Sigmund Freud has come face to face with a few particularly strange cases. These patients, besides breaking the boundaries of the generally accepted norms a century ago, also laid the foundation for some of the main theories in psychoanalysis.

The Dora Case

In October 1900, the father of 18-year-old Dora, whose real name was Ida Bauer, came to Freud's office asking him to cure his daughter of her sexual fantasies, after she had begun flirting with one of their family friends at dinner in their home.

After this event, Dora began suffering from migraines, compulsive coughing, loss of voice and suicidal thoughts. During analysis it became evident that Dora had not gone through her Oedipus complex but during his sessions Freud was not fully aware of the transference his patient was making to him - her analyst.

Dora would quit going to Freud's sessions, while Freud came up with a new theory - about the transference and countertransference between patient and psychologist.

The Rat Man Case

The analysis of Paul Lorenz, whose real name was Ernst Lanzer, is known in Freud's notes as the Rat Man case. Paul Lorenz had been going to the analyst in 1907 to rid himself of his intrusive neurosis.

During the sessions it became clear that the patient was sexually attracted to his father. His earliest childhood memories are of his father punishing him, which helped him determine where his anal sexual fantasies came from.

The Little Hans Case

Little Hans's real name was Herbert Graf, his father was in fact a close friend of Freud. The 5-year-old boy went to the psychoanalyst due to his inexplicable fear of horses. Hans had been experiencing an irrational phobia of biting horses, horses that might burst into the room and falling horses.

In the process of analysis, Freud discovered that the boy had the Oedipus complex and was highly aroused every time his mother caressed him. Freud explained his fear of horses as a fear of his sexual fantasies since he associated the animal with his penis.