Our skeletons do a lot of work for us every
Sigmund Freud is a household name in the realm of psychology. While most of his theories have been disproven, he remains a relevant and vital part of the science. Because of a lack of internet and social media in the early 1900s, most of Freud’s patients weren’t documented well. The lack of documentation makes the following people all the more important to studying Freud.
Codename: Dora (1900)
Dora, born Ida Bauer, began her journey with Freud after the 14-year-old girl thwarted the advances of the man whose family she lived with. One night while settling down for the evening, Herr K – said attacker – attempted to seduce Miss Bauer and was rebuffed. After the attack, she suffered from spontaneous aphonia- sudden loss of voice – and was diagnosed with hysteria.
Freud marks Bauer as a failure in his work because she never recovered from her symptoms. Freud’s major mistake here had been trying to convince Bauer that she fell at fault for the attack. He was convinced that she subconsciously wanted the affections of Herr K.
Codename: Rat Man (1907)
Ernst Lanzer, a lawyer, visited Freud after he was stricken with an intense fear of rats – in particular, rats attacking people he loved, like his fiancé. Lanzer suffered from a variety of neurotic behaviors that Freud concluded were obsessional thoughts caused by two incidents. The first incident was the loss of his pince-nez (corrective lenses) and his inability to pay for them. The second incident was a story Lanzer heard when two police officers discussed the method of using rats to torture people by letting them eat their way through certain body cavities. Unable to push the intrusive thoughts from his mind, he sought medical attention.
For six months beginning in 1907, Freud treated Lanzer, working intensely with his obsessional thoughts. At one point, Freud notes that Lanzer felt he was only being treated because Freud wanted him as a son-in-law. Though the case was deemed a success by Freud, it’s impossible to know for sure because Lanzer died during WWI in 1914.
Codename: Little Hans (1909)
Little Hans, or Herbert Graf, is by far the youngest case study published. At 5 years old, his father, a friend of Freud’s, evaluated him and sent his notes to Freud. Little Hans became plagued by an overwhelming fear of horses and heavily loaded vehicles after seeing a large cart collapse after being filled too full. Hans’ father was convinced that the fear had to do with the fear of not being manly enough. The fear of horses was thought to be a direct link of fear associated with the male desire to be the manliest.
Obviously, Freud agreed with the fear being linked to sexual desires and masculinity, but he also declared the anxiety a result of Hans’ new baby sister. Freud saw Hans regularly. He encouraged Hans’ father to give up being his son’s doctor and instead be a father to him. Hans’ anxieties seemed to decrease once father and son became more open with each other.
Codename: Anna O. (1880-1882)
Bertha Pappenheim was born to a Jewish family in 1859. She would eventually go on to be a renowned feminist and founder of the Jüdischer Frauenbund, which translates to League of Jewish Women. Before her life as a feminine pioneer though, she was yet another female patient diagnosed with hysteria.
Pappenheim fell ill after her father’s illness and matters deteriorated when her father eventually died. Her symptoms included severe cough and temporary paralysis of her limbs. When her father died, she succumbed to full body rigidity and refused to eat. Dr. Josef Breuer treated Pappenheim with the help of Freud after her family locked her away in Inzerdorf Sanitarium. There is uncertainty when it comes to declaring this case a success or not. Freud determined that the treatment was unsuccessful because symptoms reappeared after treatment ended. Pappenheim herself unabashedly refused further psychological treatment later in life and never spoke of her time with Breuer. Perhaps the truth lies in her refusal to speak.
Codename: Wolf Man (1910-1914)
The monster movie fan in me loves the codenames that Freud gave to his patients but alas, this is not the story of a man cursed by the wolf. The name derived from a dream Sergei Pankejeff had as a small child in which a tree full of stark white wolves sat outside his window. In 1906, his sister killed herself while on vacation. The following year, Pankejeff’s father killed himself as well. With depression running deep in his blood, he willingly spent some time in psychiatric hospitals.
In 1910, Freud treated Pankejeff in Vienna. It was then that the dream was exposed and Freud diagnosed him with neurosis brought on at the infancy stage of life. The analysis of this dream was the kick-starter to Freud’s comprehensive study in dream analysis. The Wolf Man, though cured, would remain one of Freud’s biggest supporters until his death. Despite being “cured”, Pankejeff remained under analysis for 60 years. He died in 1979.