Call Us: US - +1 845 478 5244 | UK - +44 20 7193 7850 | AUS - +61 2 8005 4826

functions of the skeletal system.

The Case of Anna O

The case of Anna O (real name Bertha Pappenheim) marked a turning point in the career of a young Viennese neuropathologist by the name of Sigmund Freud. It even went on to influence the future direction of psychology as a whole.

Anna O. suffered from hysteria, a condition in which the patient exhibits physical symptoms (e.g., paralysis, convulsions, hallucinations, loss of speech) without an apparent physical cause. Her doctor (and Freud’s teacher) Josef Breuer succeeded in treating Anna by helping her to recall forgotten memories of traumatic events.


During discussions with her, it became apparent that she had developed a fear of drinking when a dog she hated drank from her glass. Her other symptoms originated when caring for her sick father.

She would not express her anxiety for her his illness but did express it later, during psychoanalysis. As soon as she had the opportunity to make these unconscious thoughts conscious her paralysis disappeared.

Breuer discussed the case with his friend Freud. Out of these discussions came the germ of an idea that Freud was to pursue for the rest of his life. In Studies in Hysteria (1895) Freud proposed that physical symptoms are often the surface manifestations of deeply repressed conflicts.

However, Freud was not just advancing an explanation of a particular illness. Implicitly he was proposing a revolutionary new theory of the human psyche itself.