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Anna Freud (1895 -- 1982) | NCP-LA

Name: Anna Freud (1895 -- 1982)

Historical Note:

Anna Freud was an Austrian-British psychoanalyst. She was born in Vienna, the sixth and youngest child of Sigmund Freud and Martha Bernays. She followed the path of her father and contributed  to the field of psychoanalysis.

After experiencing multiple episodes of illness Anna Freud resigned her teaching post in 1920.  This enabled  her to pursue further her growing interest in her father 's work and writings.

In 1922 she presented her paper "Beating Fantasies and Daydreams" to the Vienna Psychoanalytical  Society and became a member of the society. In 1923, she began her own psychoanalytical practice with children and by 1925 until 1934, she was  the Secretary of the International Psychoanalytical Association while she continued child analysis and contributed  to seminars and conferences on the subject. In 1935, she became director of the Vienna Psychoanalytical Training Institute  and the following year she published  her influential study of the "ways and means by which the ego wards of depression, displeasure and anxiety",The Ego and Mechanisms of Defense.It became a founding work of ego psychology and established Freud's reputation as a pioneering theoretician.

At the time in London, the field of child analysis was largely the domain of Anna and Melanie Klein, Anna's theoretical and clinical rival. Anna's arrival in London resulted in splitting the British psychoanalytic community into three schools: Freudian, Kleinian and Independent. The Kleinian approach differed from the Freudian in several methodological and theoretical technique around infancy and object relationships. For example, the Freudian approach did not believe that children experienced superego and their therapist should be part of their transference and significant figures. In contrast, Klein believed that children had superego and needed to be treated  the same  techniques as adults. These differences had initially  threatened the discipline of Anna's Freudian techniques of child analysis in England, but by the end of the Second World War, the conflict was resolved through parallel acceptance for both schools.

In 1973 Anna Freud was elected as a President of International Association of Psychoanalysts.

Arguably, however, it was in Anna Freud's London years 'that she wrote  her most distinguished  psychoanalytic papers -- including "About Losing and Being Lost" which everyone should read regardless of their interest in psychoanalysis. Her description therein of 'simultaneous urges to remain loyal to the dead and to turn to the new ties with the living' may perhaps reflect her own mourning process after her father's recent death.

Nevertheless, her basic loyalty to her father's work remained unimpaired and it might indeed be said that 'she devoted her life to protecting her father's legacy... In her theoretical work there would be little criticism of him and she would make what is still  the finest  contribution to the psychoanalytic understanding of passivity', or what she termed 'altruistic surrender... excessive concern and anxiety for the lives of his love objects'.

From the Anna Freud's letter, "If you want to be a real psychanalyst you have  to have a great love  of the truth, scientific truth as well as personal truth and you have to place this appreciation of truth higher than any discomfort  at meeting unpleasant facts, whether they belong to the world outside or to your won inner person.

Further, I think that a psychoanalyst should have... interests... beyond the limits of the medical field... in fact that belong to sociology, religion, literature and history,... otherwise his outlook on... his patient will remain too narrow. This point contains... the necessary preparations beyond the requirements made on candidates of psychoanalysis in the institutes. You ought to be a great  reader and become acquainted with the literature of many countries and cultures. In the great literary figures you will find people who know at least as much of human nature as the psychiatrists and psychologists try to do.

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