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J Lacan
J Lacan

Well Known Figures in Psychoanalysis

Psychoanalysis Ireland


Well Known Figures in Psychoanalysis

Anna Freud (1895 - 1982)

Anna Freud, the youngest of Sigmundís and Martha Freudís six children, was born into a new century of cultural and social change, on 3rd Dec 1896. Her desire not to be overshadowed by her sister Sophie, her motherís favourite, laid the foundation for her tenacious and purposeful character. She has been described as ĎFreudís daughterí and the family referred to these two sisters as the ďbeauty and the brainsĒ. Anna was the only one to follow in her fatherís footsteps and become the guardian of the Freudian heritage. She was educated as a teacher at the Cottage Lyceum in Vienna and, like her pioneering father, was not afraid to chart new territory and have the courage of her own convictions.

Annaís whole life was devoted to treating and learning from children in the clinic. Through her own deep attachment and loyalty to her father she absorbed his teachings and developed her own interest in the dynamics of the psyche and, in particular, the role of the ego. She viewed the ego as the Ďseat of observationí from which to view the work of the id, superego and the unconscious itself. Anna began to read Freudís work in 1910 and started her own analysis with her father in 1918. By 1925 she was teaching on the technique of child psychoanalysis in Vienna. Soon after she co-founded a nursery in Vienna with her friend Dorothy Burlingham, who was also a psychoanalyst and by 1927 had published her first book, Introduction to the technique of Child Analysis.
Also in 1927, Anna was elected secretary of the International Psychoanalytic Association and held this position till 1934. She is probably best known for her book, The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence (1937), in which she gives a lucid description of the defences, notably in adolescence. Her research on the ego laid the foundation for what is known today as ego psychology.
The rise of Nazism in Austria forced Anna and her parents to flee to London in 1938 and as Freudís life drew to a close she became his public representative and took on his work. After the outbreak of the Second World War she organized the Hampstead War Nurseries, also with Dorothy Burlingham. In 1945, this enterprise was succeeded by the Hampstead Child Therapy Clinic in London and is now known as the Anna Freud Centre, which specializes in child analysis. Anna Freudís work like that of her contemporary Melanie Klein was based , not on the earlier Freudian ideas about child development, which derive largely from the analysis of adults, but on the direct observation of the behaviour of young children. However, their different theoretical approaches led to parallel training courses being established. Her significant contribution to child psychology and psychiatry was acknowledged by her election to an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and by the award of honorary degrees from Harvard, Yale and Vienna universities.

Selected Works:
The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence (1937)
Further Reading:
Introduction to the Technique of Child Analysis (1927)
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