Freud, Anna


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Anna Freud was born in Vienna in 1895, the youngest of Sigmund and Martha Freud's six children. She was the only member of the family to follow in her father's footsteps and the whole of her working life was devoted to psychoanalysis. As a young woman she became his secretary, companion and pupil and in 1922 she began to practice as a psychoanalyst and became an active member of the International Psychoanalytical Association. By 1925 she had become Secretary of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Training Institute and in the late 1920s her working life was divided between working with children and supervising the training of would-be analysts. She taught the child analysis seminar and an applied analysis course in Psychoanalytic Pedagogy which was also attended by Viennese schoolteachers and social workers. By the mid 1930s Anna combined the roles of secretary, nurse and aide to her father who was by then in his early 80s and in failing health. She was also regarded by many as the obvious successor as the leader of the psychoanalytic movement on the strength of her writing and her clinical practice. She remained broadly faithful to her father's ideas, however she became more interested in the dynamics of the psyche than in its structure. Specifically, she developed Sigmund Freud's notion of the ego, in particular the part it plays in the defence mechanisms. A significant point in her thinking on this subject was the publication of The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence in 1937. The 'ego psychology' movement which grew out of this work was significant in that it encouraged the applications of Freudian theory beyond psychopathology and into the territories of developmental and social psychology. Anna and her parents fled from Vienna to London in 1938 to escape Nazi persecution and after the dea th of her father in the following year she continued her work with children in need of psychological help. With a fellow psychoanalyst, Dorothy Burlingham, she established the Hampstead War Nursery to meet the needs of children whose lives had been disrupted by the war. The nursery, which provided foster care for over eighty children, was run according to psychoanalytic principles. Unlike the typical residential nurseries of that era the Hampstead nursery encouraged the parents to play as full a part as possible in the lives of their children. In 1952 Anna Freud and her psychoanalytic colleagues established the Hampstead Child Therapy Clinic, using financial contributions from many supporters, particularly in the US. It quickly established a good reputation in London and further afield for its services for neurotic and disturbed children, with a particular interest in children who were blind; by 1955 there were 60 children in analysis at the Clinic. The Clinic continued to be the leading centre for psychoanalytic work with children in the UK and the training ground for many psychoanalytically oriented child psychologists. The present day Anna Freud Centre is a clinical, educational and research institution specialising in the psychological treatment of children and young people. Anna Freud died in 1982. In 1986 her Hampstead home opened as the Freud Museum.