Everyone knows who Sigmund Freud is. He is arguably, the most famous psychologist of all time. His theories might have become outdated these days, but they still hold a significant place in the world of psychology. So in order to better understand Sigmund Freud’s work, you should really know about the top Sigmund Freud case studies.
Many people today believe in Sigmund Freud and consider the work done by him as to be truly ground breaking. The main reason behind this is that he had a say on many different aspects of life. Here are the top 8 Sigmund Freud case studies in no particular order:
8. Mathilde Schleicher
This is one of the most important Sigmund Freud case studies because Mathilde Schleicher was one of Sigmund Freud’s first case studies as he began his work as a ‘nerve doctor’ in 1886. Her story is quite heart throbbing. Her problems began when she was a musician and was abandoned by her fiancé. She had migraines and her mental issues caused her to develop a deep and dark depression. Someone referred her to Freud and he conducted a series of psychoanalysis tests on her. This all happened in 1886. However, by 1889, she had fought her way out of depression and thanked Freud for all his help.
After a month, her depression turned into insomnia and mania. She constantly talked about the fame and fortune she would have in her music career and also suffered from regular convulsions. Freud referred her to the private practice of Dr. Wilhelm Svetlin, where she wasn’t only diagnosed for something later known as bipolar disorder, but also as a nymphomaniac. But the problem was a bit deeper than this.
During the next seven months, Schleicher was given sedatives like morphine, opium, chloral hydrate and even cannabis to treat her illness. The manic episodes ended and she was released in May 1890. She died in 1890 when her urine was filled with blood, which indicated liver damage. No one noticed it until it was too late.
7. Little Hans
This case was published in 1909 and is about a five year old boy who had a phobia of horses. Because of this phobia, Little Hans didn’t dare traverse into the streets - which was abundant with horses during this period. He had a fear that the horse would come to the house and bite him and this was a punishment for him wishing that the horse would just lay down and die.
Freud analyzed the fears and experiences of the boy as told by the boy’s father, and came to the conclusion that the fear of horses was an ego defense mechanism. The boy actually feared his father. He wished that his father would go away or die because he was a competitor in his mother’s love. Freud had the view that Hans’ feelings towards his mother were “foreshadowing of his sexual wishes.” Therefore, Freud came to the conclusion that the boy had Oedipus complex and had displaced his feeling of fear from his father to the horse. Freud advised Hans’ father to give him reassurance and this proved helpful.
6. Fanny Moser
Fanny had almost everything that a person could want: two children, good marriage and financial security. But when her husband died of a heart condition and his step son accused her of killing him, she was moved from courtroom to courtroom. This caused a nervous breakdown for Fanny and her nerves became weak.
Freud tried to hypnotize her to erase the painful memories of her husband’s death from her brain. But this didn’t work out because she was suffering from severe depression. She was also double crossed by a young lover who extracted millions from her before she finally died in 1925. Freud wrote a letter to her daughter to apologize for not figuring out a way of helping her.
5. Ida Bauer
From a very early age, Ida suffered from hysteria. Her mother was obsessed with cleanliness which led to her nervous breakdowns and she had to receive shock treatment in order to treat her ailment. After that, she turned down a proposition to get married and her state continued getting worse and worse.
When Freud started treating her, he discovered that she was a repressed lesbian. Ida had sexual feelings for her father’s mistress. This led to a strange relationship between the father and daughter. When she finally decided to stop seeing Freud, she became obsessed with cleanliness like her mother and started sexual relationships with her father’s mistress.
4. Daniel Paul Schreber
During his childhood years, Schreber's father forced him to take cold baths and beat him until he stopped crying. He also made him wear a device so that he stood straight at all times. His father died when Schreber's was of 19 years and his older brother killed himself after a few years.
Daniel suffered from hypochondria and speech problems. He was treated in a hospital for 8 long years where he wrote a book. Freud discovered from his writings that he still feared his father. Schreber believed that he was being transformed into a woman, which, according to Freud, was the result of continuous torture and abuse of his father.
3. Ernst Lanzer (Rat Man)
Ernst Lanzer was a lawyer in his late 20s and suffered from obsessional neurosis since his childhood, but his condition worsened during late 1907. He suffered from many fears. For example, he feared that something bad would happen to a lady he loved and he had odd compulsions - he felt that he needed to cut his throat with a razor.
One particular story threatened him with his life. The story was about a punishment given to patients in Orient express. It was a very painful experience which involved rats harming the human body. He was obsessed with the punishment that he feared that this might happen to him. That’s why he was called Rat Man.
Freud traced Rat man’s fear back to his childhood. Freud discovered the man had sexual foreplay with his governess and feared that his father might find out. This made him associate sexual pleasure with the fear of punishment. So he feared punishment for himself and the people close to him. Rat man’s analysis lasted for 11 months and then he was completely cleared.
2. Hilda Doolittle
This is one of the most interesting Sigmund Freud case studies because he wasn’t directly involved in it. When Hilda was traveling with her baby daughter and a friend, Winifred Ellerman, to Greece, she had an affair with a man on the ship. She was involved with her friend’s marriage and when her friend’s husband left the two women, he was replaced by another man, Robert Aclmon.
Ellerman and Aclmon adopted Hilda’s daughter and invited her to play a part in their relationship. Hilda visited Freud to write about writer’s blog. Although they never touched the subject of sexuality, Hilda was inspired to write a “Tribute to Freud.”
1. Sergei Pankejeff (Wolf Man)
This certainly deserve to be the best of all Sigmund Freud case studies because the patient was completely healed after treatment. The wife, sister and father of Pankejeff had all committed suicide due to severe depression. Freud started his treatment and discovered that he had several repressed fantasies.
Pankejeff also discussed one of his dreams with Freud in which he saw six white wolves sitting on a walnut. Freud interpreted this dream as his fear occurring from his father. He had witnessed a violent act between his father and mother when he was only 18 months old. Pankejeff was later healed and became a lawyer.
These are the top Sigmund Freud case studies. All these case studies show his dedication to his work. He worked very hard throughout his career and through his efforts he became known as the ‘Father of Modern Psychology’. Sigmund Freud’s work has immortalized him forever.