Anna Freud: Think About the Kids

Anna Freud was born on December 3rd, 1895, in Vienna, Austria, and was the youngest of Sigmund Freud’s six children. Though she felt distant with her siblings and mother, Anna was very close with her father. While she did attend a private school, she claimed to have learned very little in class and that much of her education came from being around her father’s friends and associates.

Following high school, Freud began translating her father’s work into German and working as an elementary school teacher, where she began to take an interest in child therapy. In 1918, Anna contracted tuberculosis and had to leave her teaching position. During this trying time, she began giving her father accounts of her dreams. As he began to analyze her, Anna quickly cemented her interest in her father’s profession and decided to pursue psychoanalysis on her own. Although Anna Freud believed in many of the basic ideas that her father did, she was less interested in the structure of the subconscious and more interested in the ego and the dynamics, or motivations, of one’s psyche. This interest led to the publication of her groundbreaking book, The Ego and Mechanisms of Defense, in 1936.

Anna Freud is perhaps best known for creating the field of child psychoanalysis, which provided great insight into child psychology; she is also recognized for developing different methods to treat children. In 1923, without ever earning a college degree, Freud began her own children’s psychoanalytic practice in Vienna and was named as the chair of the Vienna Psycho-Analytic Society.

In 1938, Anna Freud and her family ed the country and moved to England as a result of the Nazi invasion. In 1941, she founded an institution in London with Dorothy Burlingham and Helen Ross called the Hampstead War Nursery, which served as a foster home and psychoanalytic program for homeless children. Her work with the nursery led to three books: Young Children in Wartime in 1942, and both Infants without Families and War and Children in 1943. In 1945, the nursery closed down and Anna Freud created and served as director of the Hampstead Child Therapy Course and Clinic, a role she maintained until her death. By the time she passed away in 1982, Anna had left a lasting and deep legacy on the eld that was possibly only overshadowed by the monumental impact of her father and a handful of other psychologists.