Anna Freud following the Footsteps of her Father

Anna Freud and Siegmund Freud

Anna Freud and Siegmund Freud

On October 9, 1982, Austrian-British psychoanalyst Anna Freud passed away. The youngest child of Sigmund Freud, Anna Freud followed the path of her father and contributed to the field of psychoanalysis. Alongside Melanie Klein, she may be considered the founder of psychoanalytic child psychology. Compared to her father, her work emphasized the importance of the ego and its ability to be trained socially.

Anna Freud was born on December 3 1895 as the youngest of Matha and Sigmund Freud’s six children. She finished school at the Cottage Lyceum in Vienna in 1912. After a visit to England, Anna began teaching at her old school. Even though she already read her father’s work during her school years, Anna Freud got involved in psychoanalysis around 1918. Two years later, Anna and her father attended the International Psychoanalytical Congress at The Hague, now sharing the same work field and colleagues. The family got also acquainted to Rainer Maria Rilke, whose work the family admired.

After presenting the paper Beating Fantasies and Daydreams to the Vienna Psychoanalytical Society, Anna Freud was announced a mamber in 1922. One year later, she opened her own psychoanalytical practice with children and began teaching a seminar at the Vienna Psychoanalytic Training Institute on the technique of child analysis. Her book Introduction to the Technique of Child Analysis, was a series of lectures for teachers and parents. Around 1923, Sigmund Freud began to suffer from cancer, and Anna Freud took care of his nursing and accompanied him to Berlin where he was treated. Next to nuring her father, Anna Freud also served as General Secretary of the International Psychoanalytical Association, continued her practice for child analysis, and held seminars on the matter. Anna Freud was announced director of the Vienna Psychoanalytical Training Institute in 1935. In that period, one of her most influential works was published: The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence. This work became known as one of the founding works of ego psychology.

During the 1930s, when the political situation in Austria got worse and worse, Anna and her friend Dorothy Burlingham began to involve themselves in charitable initiatives. Through their initiatives, they were able to observe infant behaviour and experiment with feeding patterns. Unfortunately, Austria was taken over by the Nazis in 1938 and the family fled to England despite Sigmund Freud’s poor health. Shortly after the outbreak of World War II, Freud died. By then, Anna Freud had already established der practice and lectured child psychology and additionally set up the Hampstead War Nursery, fostering more than 80 children of single-parent families. Along with Dorothy Burlingham, Anna Freud published studies of the children under stress in Young Children in War-Time and Infants without Families. During 1947, Anna Freud and Kate Friedlaender managed to establish the Hampstead Child Therapy Courses, followed by a children’s clinic, which highly increased Anna Freud’s reputation. She summarized her material in the book Normality and Pathology in Childhood, published in 1965. During the end of her career, Freud regularly traveled to the United States to teach and lecture, for instance at  Yale and Harvard.

After Anna Freud’s death in 1982, her home was transformed into the Freud Museum.

At yovisto you can learn more about the Foundations of Sigmund Freud’s work in a lecture by Paul Bloom at Yale University.

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