An invisible man: The phallus dentatus and the atypical end identity of Little Hans

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Ward, Conor
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MA in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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Herbert Graf died in Switzerland in 1973. In 1972, he gave four interviews in which he stated publicly that he was the Little Hans of Sigmund Freud's famous case study ("Analysis of a Phobia in a Five-Year-Old Boy" [1909]). In the interview Graf stated that he had no interest in psychoanalysis, and described himself as an 'Invisible Man' within a professional career, where he had gained some renown. The starting point of this thesis is thereby to take Herbert Graf at his word, and examine what his identification as an 'Invisible Man' might mean, in relation to the outcome of his case. According to Freud the outcome of Little Hans' case was that he recovered from a phobia of horses. The phobia for Freud, was an expression of the boy's difficulty in overcoming his Oedipus complex. Through a process of gradual enlightenment with regard to the child's infantile sexual researches, supervised by Freud, a point was reached whereby, he recovered from his phobia, and resolved his Oedipus complex. In 1975, while delivering a lecture on the symptom in Geneva, Jacques Lacan focused on the case of Little Hans and made some significant statements in this regard. He noted that Little Hans' phobia expressed a fundamental meaning of rejection. For Lacan, the child's castration anxiety fixated in a phobia and could not resolve itself through a normal Oedipus complex, because of the nature of his parents' relationship. The boy experienced an impasse, and elaborated his phobia, as a myth to express his rejection. In Seminar IV (1956-57) Lacan defined the theme of Little Hans' myth with the phrase 'phallus dentatus'. While devouring was noted by Lacan as the theme of phobia, with the term 'phallus dentatus' he seemed to recognise that the action of castration, in the case, had been impaired by the more primordial theme. The rejection suffered by Little Hans derived therefore, from the locus of the parental matrix. This thesis will examine the relationship between castration and the end of analysis, in the case of Little Hans. In particular it will make use of Herbert Graf's nomination of 'Invisible Man‘ to question what effect of separation accrued to him in the end, as a result of this signification of a devouring phallus. This thesis will suggest that this saying of Herbert Graf, his nomination as 'Invisible Man' is not without sense, as a plausible crystallisation, of his Oedipus complex, which dissolved atypically in a matriarchal solution.