Helena Comiskey-Texier – Little Hans’ Real Father

THE LETTER 02 (Autumn 1994) pages 125-139

Full fathom five thy father lies;

Of his bones are coral made;

Those are pearls that were his eyes;

Nothing of him that doth fade,

But doth suffer a sea-change

Into something rich and strange.

Shakespeare. The Tempest. (Act 1 Sc. 2)

Lacan, in his seminar of 1956-57, La relation d’objet, tells us that the phobia emerges as a consequence of a shortcoming, a deficiency on the part of the father.1 The story of little Hans, which is in essence and form the story of a father and a son, is a god-send when it comes to trying to explore this statement of Lacan’s, – and something which is sent from God has a very particular importance, as is shown to us by Freud when he eventually intervenes in this drama of filiation. In particular this story of father and son is a witness to the fact that it is not enough that one be a nice man in order that one be a good father, – which brings us to the question around which psychoanalysis turns: what is a father? …

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