Sigmund Freud Archives Release of  Max And Herbert Graf  Interviews


Re: Freud (1909),  “ Analysis of a Phobia in a Five Year Old Boy”



       An eminent prolific author, critic, and lecture, musicologist, Max Graf (1873-1958) has a special place in the history of psychoanalysis as the father of “Little Hans”(1903-1973).  The father attempted the first child analysis, of his own son, “supervised” or coached by Sigmund Freud.  The treatment findings were published by Freud (1909) as “The Analysis of a Phobia in a Five Year Old Boy”.  This precursor and landmark of child analysis caused great excitement and controversy when first published and continues to generate great interest.

     Max Graf met Freud through his wife who had been Freud’s patient.  He was an early member of Freud’s Wednesday night study group, leaving in 1911 in close conjunction with the resignation of Alfred Adler and his proponents.  Max Graf contributed some of the initial papers on applied analysis, e.g. on artistic creativity, and on Wagner’s opera “The Flying Dutchman”.

       Freud urged his colleagues in the study group to collect developmental data on their own children.  The Grafs complied, keeping notes, recording dreams, and expecting to rear their children with Freudian enlightenment. Remarkably,  considering their son’s horse phobia, Freud climbed four flights of stairs to bring “Little Hans” a gift of a rocking horse.  Max Graf (1942) wrote of Freud’s gift for his son’s third birthday, but in the 1952 interview he referred to the gift on Little Hans’ fifth birthday.  During his treatment of his son, Max Graf brought his notes to Freud for consultation and evaluation.  In subsequent years many authors have commented on “Little Hans”.  Psychoanalytic theory, developmental knowledge, and clinical experience with parents and children have expanded far beyond the first explorations of the pioneer period.

     “Little Hans’s” phobia and its overdetermination can be  elaborated and reformulated  in terms of parental, sibling, and socio-cultural factors, and as with all of Freud’s cases, in the light of contemporary psychoanalytic thought.  These newly de-restricted interviews of Max Graf (l952) and of Herbert Graf (1960) contribute to the new data and inferences, which add to, extend, and modify the original case report and raise questions about the initial conclusions.

     The policy of Sigmund Freud Archives remains the de-restriction of all documents as soon as possible, consistent with ethical and legal requirements.  During the last fifteen years, the publication of the vast majority of Freud correspondence and documents has been made possible and greatly facilitated by this policy of de-restriction.


                       Harold P. Blum, M.D.

                        Executive Director, Sigmund Freud Archives