Anna Freud

An Austrian psychoanalyst and pioneer in the field of child psychoanalysis; she was the daughter of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud.

A seminal figure in the field of child psychoanalysis and development, Anna Freud was born in Vienna, Austria, the daughter of Sigmund Freud (1856–1939). She was educated at private schools in Vienna, and at age 19 began two years of study to become a teacher. As the youngest of six children, she became her father's lifelong traveling companion and student. When Freud was 23 years old, she underwent psychoanalysis, with her father as analyst. Despite the fact that psychoanalysis at that time was less formal than it has become, it was still unusual for a child to become the patient, or analysand, of their parent.

Anna Freud's particular interest was in child development. Influenced by her father's psychoanalytic theories, she believed that children experience a series of stages of normal psychological development. She also felt strongly that, in order to work with children, psychoanalysts need a thorough understanding of these stages. This deep understanding was, she believed, best acquired through direct observation of children. With Dorothy Burlingham (1891–1979), Freud founded a nursery school for poor children in Vienna and became an international leader in treating children's mental illnesses. Freud turned her attention to the study of the ego, especially in adolescence, publishing The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense (1936) in honor of her father's 80th birthday.

See also Child development ; Child psychology ; Freud, Sigmund; Psychoanalysis .

Psychologist Dr. Anna Freud, the youngest daughter of Dr. Sigmund Freud.

Psychologist Dr. Anna Freud, the youngest daughter of Dr. Sigmund Freud.
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Freud, Sigmund, Ingeborg Meyer-Palmedo, Nick Somers, and Anna Freud. Correspondence: 1904-1938. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2014.

Malberg, Norka T., and Joan Raphael-Leff. The Anna Freud Tradition. London, UK: Karnac, 2012.

Stewart-Steinberg, Suzanne. Impious Fidelity: Anna Freud, Psychoanalysis, Politics. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press, 2012.


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Freud Museum. “Anna Freud.” (accessed February 25, 2015).

National Institutes of Health. “The psychoanalytic legacy of Anna Freud.” (accessed February 25, 2015).