Little Hans and attachment theory: Bowlby's hypothesis reconsidered in light of new evidence from the freud archives

Jerome C. Wakefield

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Bowlby (1973), applying attachment theory to Freud's case of Little Hans, hypothesized that Hans's anxiety was a manifestation of anxious attachment. However, Bowlby's evidence was modest; Hans was threatened by his mother with abandonment, expressed fear of abandonment prior to symptom onset, and was separated from his mother for a short time a year before. Bowlby's hypothesis is reassessed in light of a systematic review of the case record as well as new evidence from recently derestricted interviews with Hans's father and Hans in the Freud Archives. Bowlby's hypothesis is supported by multiple additional lines of evidence regarding both triggers of separation anxiety preceding the phobia (e.g., a funeral, sibling rivalry, moving, getting his own bedroom) and background factors influencing his working model of attachment (mother's psychopathology, intense marital conflict, multiple suicides in mother's family) that would make him more vulnerable to such anxiety. Bowlby's hypothesis is also placed within the context of subsequent developments in attachment theory.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)61-91
    Number of pages31
    JournalPsychoanalytic Study of the Child
    Volume62
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Jan 1 2007

    Fingerprint

    Mothers
    Anxiety
    Separation Anxiety
    Family Conflict
    Phobic Disorders
    Psychopathology
    Fathers
    Suicide
    Fear
    Siblings
    Interviews

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
    • Developmental and Educational Psychology
    • Psychiatry and Mental health

    Cite this

    Little Hans and attachment theory : Bowlby's hypothesis reconsidered in light of new evidence from the freud archives. / Wakefield, Jerome C.

    In: Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, Vol. 62, 01.01.2007, p. 61-91.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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