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What did anna freud contribution to psychology

The name Freud is most often associated with Sigmund, the Austrian doctor who founded the school of thought known as psychoanalysis. But his youngest daughter, Anna Freud, was also an influential psychologist who had a major impact on psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, and child psychology.

Who Was Anna Freud?

Anna Freud did more than live in her father’s rather long shadow. Instead, she became one of the world’s foremost psychoanalysts. She is recognized as the founder of child psychoanalysis, despite the fact that her father often suggested that children could not be psychoanalyzed. However, she strongly believed that psychoanalysis was not appropriate for children under the age of six, who could be better served through other methods.

She also expanded on her father’s work and identified many different types of defense mechanisms that the ego uses to protect itself from anxiety. While Sigmund Freud described a number of defense mechanisms, it was his daughter Anna Freud who provided the clearest and most comprehensive look at mechanisms of defense in her book The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense (1936).

Many of these defense mechanisms (such as denial, repression, and suppression) have become so well-known that they are used frequently in everyday language.

Anna Freud is best known for:

  • Contributions to ego psychology
  • Defense mechanisms
  • Founder of child psychoanalysis

Birth and Death

  • Anna Freud was born December 3, 1895, in Vienna, Austria.
  • She died on October 9, 1982, in London, England

Early Life

The youngest of Sigmund Freud’s six children, Anna was extraordinarily close to her father. Anna was not close to her mother and was said to have tense relationships with her five siblings. She attended a private school but later said she learned little at school. The majority of her education was from the teachings of her father’s friends and associates.

Career

After high school, Anna Freud worked as an elementary school teacher and began translating some of her father’s works into German, increasing her interest in child psychology and psychoanalysis. While she was heavily influenced by her father’s work, she was far from living in his shadow. Her own work expanded upon her father’s ideas, but also created the field of child psychoanalysis.

Although Anna Freud never earned a higher degree, her work in psychoanalysis and child psychology contributed to her eminence in the field of psychology. She began her children’s psychoanalytic practice in 1923 in Vienna, Austria and later served as chair of the Vienna Psycho-Analytic Society. During her time in Vienna, she had a profound influence on Erik Erikson, who later went on to expand the field of psychoanalysis and ego psychology.

In 1938, Anna was interrogated by the Gestapo and then fled to London along with her father. In 1941, she formed the Hampstead Nursery with Dorothy Burlingham. The nursery served as a psychoanalytic program and home for homeless children.

Her experiences at the nursery provided the inspiration for three books, Young Children in Wartime (1942), Infants Without Families (1943), and War and Children (1943). After the Hampstead Nursery closed in 1945, Freud created the Hampstead Child Therapy Course and Clinic and served as director from 1952 until her death in 1982.

Contributions to Psychology

Anna Freud created the field of child psychoanalysis, and her work contributed greatly to our understanding of child psychology. She also developed different techniques to treat children.

Freud noted that children’s symptoms differed from those of adults and were often related to developmental stages. She also provided clear explanations of the ego’s defense mechanisms in her book The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense (1936).

Select Works

  • Freud, A. (1936) Ego & the Mechanisms of Defense.
  • Freud, A. (1956-1965) Research at the Hampstead Child-Therapy Clinic & Other Papers.
  • Freud, A. (1965) Normality & Pathology in Childhood: Assessments of Development.

Biographies

  • Peters, U. H. (1985) Anna Freud: A Life Dedicated to Children. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London.
  • Young-Bruehl, E. (1988) Anna Freud: A Biography. Summit Books, New York.

Anna Freud Biography and Contributions to Psychology

Anna Freud Biography and Contributions to Psychology

By Iqra Noor, published June 07, 2020

Who Was Anna Freud?
  • Known For: Founder of child psychoanalysis and also contributed to ego and adolescent psychology.
  • Born: December 3, 1895 in Vienna, Austria.
  • Died: October 9, 1982 in London, England.
  • Parents: Sigmund Freud and Martha Bernays.
  • Contributions: Anna Freud became a major force in British psychology, specializing in the application of psychoanalysis to children. Among her best known works are The Ego and the Mechanism of defense (1936). She established the Hampstead Child Therapy Course and Clinic (1952, now known as the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families). She promoted parent guidance and school consultation as important functions ofthe child therapist.

Because of her lifetime work with children and insight on child psychology through theoretical and practice perspectives, Anna Freud is known as the founder of child psychoanalysis and also contributed to ego and adolescent psychology.

In her own words, she didn’t think “I’d be a good subject for biography, “not enough ‘action’! You would say all there is to say in a few sentences – she spent her life with children!”

Even in such a simple summary of her life, she greatly expanded psychoanalytical thought. Her contribution to ego psychology consisted of describing various mechanisms of defense, including repression (the principal human defense mechanism), projection, and regression.

Her clinic experience and publications offered an insight into children’s developmental stages, providing us with psychological techniques to treat children and to understand the existing differences between a child and an adult.

Early Life

Anna Freud was the Austrian-British founder of child psychoanalysis. She was the sixth and the youngest of Martha and Sigmund Freud’s children (Sigmund Freud Museum). Similar to her father Sigmund Freud, she contributed to the field of psychoanalysis but with a particular focus on children, revolutionizing the ways children are treated in many fields.

Anna Freud was the Austrian-British founder of child psychoanalysis. She was the sixth and the youngest of Martha and Sigmund Freud’s children (Sigmund Freud Museum). Similar to her father Sigmund Freud, she contributed to the field of psychoanalysis but with a particular focus on children, revolutionizing the ways children are treated in many fields.

Throughout her work, she combined theoretical and practical perspectives into describing and refining child psychoanalysis.

Though Anna did not have a meaningful relationship with her mother and was jealous of her elder sister’s beauty, Anna was a lively child according to her father as shown in his letter to a friend in 1899 that “Anna has become downright beautiful through naughtiness” (Sigmund Freud Museum).

Anna Freud finished her education at Cottage Lyceum in Vienna in 1912 while uncertain of her career. Therefore, she moved to England after two years to improve her English, but her time there was cut short due to World War I, resulting in her return to Vienna where she began to teach at her alma mater in 1917 (Sigmund Freud Museum).

Her further studies consisted of learning from her father’s psychoanalysis work and practical experiences. She became a child psychoanalyst without a medical degree.

Career: Timeline of Contributions

1922:

Anna Freud presented her first paper “Beating Fantasies and Daydreams” and became a member of the Vienna Psychoanalytical Society (Sandler, 2015).

In her paper, she explained that “’Daydreaming, which consciously may be designed to suppress masturbation, is mainly unconsciously an elaboration of the original masturbatory fantasies” (Fenichel, 1945, p. 232)

1923-1925:

She established her psychoanalytic practice with children and became an instructor at the Vienna Psychoanalytic Training Institute.

During this time, Anna also began to nurse her father as he became a patient of cancer (Sigmund Freud Museum).

1925-1934:

Anna became the Secretary of International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA) and continued her child analyses while lecturing on the subject, organizing conferences and nursing her father, as well as publicly representing him on various occasions, including award ceremonies (Sandler, 2015).

Anna’s work at the Training Institute resulted in her first book Introduction to the Techniques of Child Analysis, which consisted of lectures for teachers, parents, and others who came into contact with children.

Later, she was invited to present this publication in London where she discovered her approach to be widely different from that of Melanie Klein’s.

Through a series of “controversial discussions,” their conflicting theories resulted in the formation of different schools of thought: Anna’s theories of child development and Melanie’s theory of object relations (based on the mother-infant relationship) (Taylor, 2009, p. 78).

1935-1936:

Anna becomes the director of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Training Institute in 1935.

The following year, she expands the psychoanalytic thought in ego and defenses with her publication of Das Ich and die Abwehrmechanismen (the Ego and the Mechanisms of Defenses, 1937), which became the founding work of ego psychology and still remains a standard text today (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2019).

In this book, she described various mechanisms of defense and how ego unconsciously protect an individual from unpleasant feelings arising from both within and outside.

1937-1938:

With the upheavals in Austrian political and economic situations in the 1930s, Anna integrated philanthropy into her psychoanalytic work.

She supervised Jackson Nursery (funded by Edith Jackson, an American child psychoanalyst) in Vienna for economically deprived children.

She supervised Jackson Nursery (funded by Edith Jackson, an American child psychoanalyst) in Vienna for economically deprived children.

In this nursery, Anna and her friend Dorothy Burlingham continued their work by observing child behavior and experimenting with their feeding patterns.

In 1938, the nursery closed due to the arrival of Nazis in Austria, and Ernest Jones (former IPA President) helped in fleeing the Freud family to London (Sigmund Freud Museum).

1939:

Within a few months of the war, Sigmund Freud passed away. By this time, Anna had established her child psychoanalytic practice in London.

1941:

Anna, with her friend Dorothy Burlingham, established the Hampstead War Nurseries to provide foster care to children during the war.

Due to these nurseries, she was able to observe the impact of separation from families on children’s normal development. Written detailed observations of children’s daily behavior in the nurseries became pivotal practical perspectives for Anna and Dorothy in their work and helped refine the child’s normal and pathological development.

Later, they recounted these observations in two publications: Young Children in War-Time (1942), War and Children (1943), and Infants Without Families (1944) (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2019).

1947-1980:

With Kate Friedlaender (a female psychoanalyst), Anna established Hampstead Child Therapy Courses and later founded a children’s clinic.

At this clinic, Anna and her staff gained insight into children’s development through weekly case studies by tracking theoretical normal growth “from dependency to self-reliance” and using diagnostic profiles to identify abnormal and normal factors in child development (Sigmund Freud Museum).

Anna began working and analyzing children from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds and was committed to sharing her analytical work with those who work with children, such as parents, teachers, pediatricians.

She also traveled to the United States and explored the application of psychoanalytical ideas on family and crime at Yale Law school. This participation resulted in two publications: Before the Best Interests of the Child (1973) with Joseph Goldstein and Beyond the Best Interests of the Child (1973) with Joseph Goldstein and Albert Solnit (Sandler, 2015).

Anna published Normality and Pathology in Childhood (1965) which explained all stages of child development from infancy to adolescence and used her personal observation at children’s clinics and other child and adult analyses as evidence.

Anna Freud began to receive honorary doctorates from various universities, including Harvard University and Vienna University. In 1973, she became the Honorary President of the International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA) until her death in 1982 (“Anna Freud”, 2009).

1982:

On October 9, 1982, Freud passed away in London. After her death, Hampstead Clinic was renamed to Anna Freud Center as a tribute and her home in London became the Freud Museum (Sigmund Freud Museum).

She has been recognized by many in her life, but she always dedicated the awards to the field of psychoanalysis rather than herself.

Critical Evaluation

Anna Freud established the field of child psychoanalysis and she work contributedgreatly to the theory of child psychology. She developed different techniques to treat children, and noticed that children’s symptoms different from those of adults and were often related to developmental stages.

Anna Freud provided clear explanations of the ego’s defense mechanisms in her book The Ego and the mechanisms of Defense (1936), including displacement, sublimation and Regression.

How did Freud Disagree with Klein?

Anna Freud Melanie Klein Implemented storytelling in therapeutic settings. As child expresses himself, the therapist assist in interpreting and understanding feelings. Klein felt that young children could bear the full weight of her analytical interpretations and so she did not hold back or sugar-coat them (see her famous case study Narrative of a Child Analysis, 1961). Used play as a means to build a positive relationship between the child and therapist, thus allowing the therapist better access to a child’s inner thoughts and emotions. Klein believed play provided insight into a child’s unconscious, and used it as an analytic tool. Focused on simple (less symbolic) interpretations of children’s play. She helpedchildren to consciously understand why their thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Emphasizing the role of free association through play, and as the vehicle to making interpretations directly to evenvery young children’s unconscious. Anna emphasized the ego more in child analysis than when treating adults. Klein focused on pre-Oedipal development. Many of the noted problems in young children are related more to short-term experiences than long-term experiences. Present behavior is caused by the past (e.g. childhood).

About the Author

Iqra Noor is a member of the Class of 2023 at Harvard University. She is on a premedical track studying Neuroscience and Linguistics with a minor in Global Health and Health Policy. On campus, Iqra is involved with cultural, advocacy, and tutoring organizations.

How to reference this article:

Noor, I. (2020, June 07). Anna Freud biography and contributions to psychology. Simply Psychology. www.simplypsychology.org/anna-freud.html

References

“Anna Freud”. (February 27, 2009). Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/freud-anna

“Anna Freud”. (February 27, 2009). Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/freud-anna

Fenichel, O. (1945). The Psychoanalytic Theory of Neurosis. New York: W. W. Norton.

Klein, M. (1961). Narrative of a child analysis: The conduct of the psychoanalysis of children as seen in the treatment of a ten year old boy (No. 55). Random House.

Reuters. (October 10, 1982). Anna Freud, Psychoanalyst, Dies in London at 86. New York Times Archive. https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/bday/1203.html

Sandler, A. M. (2015). Anna Freud. Institute of Psychoanalysis: British Psychoanalytical Society. https://psychoanalysis.org.uk/our-authors-and-theorists/anna-freud

Sigmund Freud Museum. (n.d.). Anna Freud: 1895-1982. Sigmund Freud Museum Vienna. https://www.freud-museum.at/online/freud/themen/anna1-e.htm

Taylor, E. (2009). The Mystery of Personality: A History of Psychodynamic Theories. New York: Springer.

Taylor, E. (2009). The Mystery of Personality: A History of Psychodynamic Theories. New York: Springer.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (December 02, 2019). Anna Freud. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Anna-Freud .

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (December 02, 2019). Anna Freud. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Anna-Freud .

Key Publications

Freud, A., & Clark, L. P. (1928). Introduction to the technic of child analysis (No. 48). Nervous and Mental Disease.

Freud, A. (1936). The Ego and the Mechanisms off Defense. International Universities Press, Inc.

Freud, A., & Burlingham, D. T. (1947). Infants Without Families: Reports on the Hampstead Nurseries, 1939-1945. International Universities Press.

Freud, A. (1954). The widening scope of indications for psychoanalysis discussion. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 2(4), 607-620.

Freud, Anna. (1966). Normality and Pathology in Childhood: Assessments of Development. International Universities Press, Inc.

Freud, A. (1971). Problems of Psychoanalytic Training, Diagnosis, and the Technique of Therapy, 1966-1970 (Vol. 7). International Universities Press, Inc.

Freud, A. (1982). Psychoanalytic psychology of normal development, 1970-1980 (No. 112). Vintage.

How to reference this article:

Noor, I. (2020, June 07). Anna Freud biography and contributions to psychology. Simply Psychology. www.simplypsychology.org/anna-freud.html

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