Anna Freud

(1895- 1982)

Compiled by Amanda Owen (May, 2001)

Anna Freud

Time Line

Anna Freud was born the youngest of six children to Martha and Sigmund Freud December 3, 1895 in Vienna Austria. She was said to be "a lively child with a reputation for mischief" (1). For years she had followed in the footsteps of her year older sister Sophie and it was a relief to her when she had gotten married. She had attended the Cottage Lyceum in Vienna for schooling, which she finished in 1912. However her interest in her fathers work began in 1910 when he began to psychoanalyze her. Her real "involvement in psychoanalysis began in 1918"(1). "In 1912, She had not yet decided upon a career" (3) and taught in the elementary school for a short period of time. In 1914 "she traveled alone to England to improve her English and while she was there the war had broken out and she had become and alien enemy in her home country" (3). It seems that Anna Freud was closer with her father than she was her mother. She attended the International Psychoanalytic Congress at The Hague in 1920 with her father In 1922,she presented her paper "Beating Fantasies and Daydreams" to the Vienna Psychoanalytical Society and soon became a member. A year later she had "formed her own psychoanalytic practice and taught seminars at the Vienna Psychoanalytic Training Institute" (1). During the year of 1923 Sigmund Freud had developed cancer and his daughter became his nurse and means of care. While giving care to her father she made important moves in her career until they had to leave in 1938 due to Nazi invasion in which they fled to England. In between, major advancements occurred. In "1927 she became the General Secretary of the International Psychoanalytic Association during at which time she acted as her father's public representative until 1934 (3). Soon following this she became the director of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Training Institute and published many studies while there. In 1937, the year before they fled the country, Anna Dorothy Burlingham came upon. They were able to combine their charity with their own work through Edith Jackson, who "funded a nursery school for the children of the poor in Vienna"(1). 1938 came quickly however and she and her father were the only two left of the Freud family to flee from the Nazi's alive to England. Sigmund Freud had died in 1939. Anna Freud was not all interested in just theory. Her main interest manifests itself in child psychology where she devoted her energy to "the analysis of children and adolescents and to improving analysis"(1998). Her first experimentation with children came about in 1937 when she worked with Dorothy Burlingham at a nursery in Vienna for the poor. There were to major components that they observed while there. The first is that they experimented with the children’s feeding pattern. "They allowed the children to choose their own food"(3). The second came through giving children the "freedom to organize their own play"(1998). This, in turn, taught the children to "move freely and independently, eat independently, to speak, and express their preferences"(3). Unfortunately the school was soon closed due to Nazi invasion. Upon settling in London, Anna Freud took a job at the Hampstead Nursery until 1945. Two years later she and her counterpart Kate Friedlaender began the founding of Child Therapy Courses and a children's clinic which was added to the Hampstead Nursery. From the 1950's till her death, "Anna Freud traveled to the United States to lecture and visit friends"(1). Likewise at this time she began to write books and papers about her theory. One well-known book she wrote in 1965 Normality and Pathology in Childhood "summarized her work at the Hampstead clinic as well as other places"(3). received until her death many doctorates and honoraries. On October 9, 1982 Anna Freud died. As a tribute to her, the "Hampstead Clinic renamed itself the Anna Freud Center for her being a passionate and inspirational teacher"(1). Then in 1986, "her home for forty years was transformed into the Freud Museum"(1).

Anna Freud's Major Influences

Anna Freud was particularly close with her father and her first experience in psychoanalysis was when Sigmund Freud analyzed her as a child in 1910. While Carl Jung and Alfred Adler were to be his successors, they did not agree with his theories. She however, remained faithful to the basic ideas her father developed. She took more interest in the dynamics of the psyche rather than the structure and was particularly fascinated in the ego. She had stated that the ego is the seat of observation from which the work of the id and the superego and the unconscious. Likewise, she made contributions in understanding how the ego functions in averting painful ideas, impulses, and feeling (2). She wrote a book called The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense, which encompassed a description of how the defenses work including some special attention to adolescents' use of these defenses (1998). Her principle defense mechanism described was repression, an unconscious process that develops as the young children learns that some impulses if acted upon could prove dangerous to himself (2). She also included in these mechanisms, projection, aggressive impulses, and identification with an aggressor. With this book became a movement of ego psychology. This takes Freud's earlier work as a crucial foundation and extends it to the ordinary day to day world of the ego thus enabling it to be applied to social and developmental issues as well as psychopathology (Boercee, 1998).

Most of her contributions to her studies came at the Hampstead Child Therapy Clinic. Anna Freud set up the Hampstead War Nursery which provided care for over 80 children. She aimed in helping these children to form attachments through providing them with continuity of relationships with helpers while encouraging visits from their mother frequently (1). Also, her view of play was conceived as a child's adaptation of reality but not necessarily as a revelation of unconscious conflicts. In this, she would work closely with the parents and believed that analysis should have an educational influence on the child (2).

In 1947, she set up the Hampstead Child Therapy Courses with children’s clinic added five years later. At the clinic the sessions provided practical and theoretical insights into the work (3). Also she evolved a technique of using developmental lines charting normal growth and diagnostic profiles that enabled the analyst to separate and identify the case specific factors that deviated from or conformed to normal development (3). This also contributed to her research in Freudian psychology. With this she encouraged the pooling observations from multiple analysts and encouraged long term studies of development from early childhood to adolescence (Boercee1998). Her work at the clinic is summarized in Normality and Pathology in Childhood, published in 1965.

Time Line of Anna Freud's Life

1895- born December 3 in Vienna Austria
1912- Finished schooling at Cottage Lyceum, Vienna
1920- attended the International Psychoanalytic Congress at The Hague
1922- presented paper Beating Fantasies and Daydreams to Vienna Psychoanalytic Society and became a member
1922-1935 Introduction to Psychoanalysis
1925- Taught seminar at Vienna Psychoanalytic Institute on technique of Child Analysis
1927- Introduction to the Technique of Child Analysis
1927-1934- General secretary of the International Psychoanalytic Association
1935- Director of Vienna Psychoanalytic Training Institute
1936- The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense
1939-1945-Infants without Families
1945-1956- Indications for Child Analysis and other papers
1947- Establishment of Hampstead Child Therapy Courses and children's clinic
1950 to death- traveled back and forth to US to give lectures
1950- Honorary doctorate from Clark University
1956-1965 Research at the Hampstead Child Therapy Clinic
1965- Normality and Pathology in Childhood
1967- Received C.B.E. from Queen Elizabeth II
1967- Problems of Psychoanalytic Training, Diagnosis and the Technique of Therapy
1968- Publication of collected works
1970- Psychoanalytic Theory of Normal Development
1972- Received honorary medical doctorate from Vienna University
1973- Received honorary president of International Psychoanalytic Association
1982- Died October 9th
1983- Hampstead Clinic becomes Anna Freud Center as tribute to her memory
1986- Home of 40 years changed into the Freud Museum


Boercee, C. Geroge M.D. (1998). Anna Freud.
URL 1 1999
URL 2 1999
URL 3 1997
URL 4 1999

[History Home Page] [Psychology Department Home Page]