Anna Freud – An Heir to Psychoanalysis Heredity and Environment Anna Freud, daughter of famed psychologist Sigmund Freud and his wife, Martha Freud, was born in Vienna on December 3, 1865 as the youngest of six children. Anna was born the same year her father revealed the meaning of dreams, which became the foundation for his version of psychoanalysis (Sicherman,1990). Named after one of her father’s favorite patients, Anna’s birth made her a twin with Freud’s unveiling of psychoanalysis. As if predestined, Anna was the only one of Freud’s children to pursue psychoanalysis.
Anna spent much of her young life competing with psychology for her father’s attention. Freud spent most of Anna’s childhood years completely engrossed in his work on Interpretation of Dreams (Fine, 1985). Anna did not form a strong bond with her mother, and easily identified with her father. Soon after Ann’s birth her mother decided not to breastfeed Anna as she had her other children, and went on a vacation (Young-Bruehl, 1994).
Perhaps this is the reason for the estranged relationship that formed between Anna and her mother.
According to Freud’s psychosexual stages, during the oral stage the infant finds comfort and bonds through suckling (Kowalski & Westen, 2005). Missing the opportunity to bond during this developmental stage in her life, may have contributed to her disassociation with her mother and clinging to her often preoccupied father. Family Issues/Social Support Freud’s studies reveal that during the phallic stage that children often identify with their same-sex parent and begin to pattern his or her behavior to mimic that of the parent (Kowalski & Westen, 2005).
Because Anna did not bond with her mother, but her nanny instead, her identification and attachment were toward her father. This bond shows up later in Anna’s life, as she never had a romantic relationship with a male, and is suspected to have had a homosexual relationship with long-time female companion and fellow psychoanalyst, Dorothy Burlingham (Fine, 1985). According to Reuben Fine in Anna Freud (1895-1982), “Anna became his alter ego. There can be no doubt that such a close tie served to fixate her on her father, so that she never married and never had children of her own. (1985) In addition to Anna’s strong attachment to her father, Anna’s family life was greatly affected by the Nazi’s invasion of Austria. Anna lost four of her aunts to the Holocaust in Auschwitz. Anna was also briefly detained by the Gestapo, but eventually released and allowed to follow her father to England (Fine, 1985). According to Psychology, 4e, as a defense mechanism some individuals use reaction formation to deal with negative experiences, emotions, and thoughts (Kowalski & Westen, 2005).
Perhaps, Anna used the obvious fear and anger that comes with persecution and exile, as an opportunity to help other oppressed and displaced families and children. This became Anna’s lifelong work and many of her lectures and publications center on therapy methods for children separated from family due to war, and post traumatic therapy for children. Research/Theory Influences To say that Anna Freud was influenced by her father’s psychoanalytical theories would be an understatement. Freud psychoanalyzed Anna in her teenage and early adult years (Young-Bruehl, 2008).
Records were not kept on what Freud discovered about his protege, but inferences have been made that the observations of Anna are included in Freud’s work. She faithfully adhered to and advanced her father’s work in childhood and adult research. Some scholars would argue that Anna added little to progress of psychoanalysis because she simply took on the persona of her father and picked up the reigns after he died. Similarity in focus does not negate the independent contributions made by Anna a part from her father’s work, especially because Freud did not exclusively dedicate his study to the analysis of children.
Although they did not agree on the methods for analyzing children, the feud between Anna Freud and Melanie Klein sparked a thirst within Anna to further her research and continue to gain the respect of not only her father, but also fellow psychoanalyst as well (Fine, 1985). Contribution to Psychology In 1922, Anna submitted to the Vienna Psychoanalytical Society her paper, “Beating Fantasies and Daydreams,” and was accepted to the society and recognized as a psychoanalyst (Midgley, 2007). Anna Freud is accredited with ormulating a systematic approach to analyzing children, similar to the research methods used in adult therapy. Given her background as a teacher, Anna worked with elementary and nursery teachers lecturing on how to apply her analytical theories. Her published lecture, “An Introduction to the technique of Child Analysis,” served as a catalysis legitimizing the psychoanalysis of children (Young-Bruehl, 2008). Up until this point, adult studies were the only research projects receiving major attention and considered viable in the psychological community.
Referencing her father’s previous studies of the ego and the id, Anna published in 1936 The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense, which brought Anna Freud back into the psychoanalysis of adults. This work is still considered one of the key works on the topic of ego and psycho-studies. Anna’s child therapy and nurseries were flourishing when war broke out in Austria in 1939, and she and her family were forced to flee. Shortly after settling in London, Anna establishes the Hampstead War Nurseries, where she assists refugee children and their families (Midgley, 2007).
According to Fine, the Hampstead War Nurseries and the services they provided “became her best-known professional achievement. ” (1985) Conclusion Anna Freud contributed much of what is still practiced today in psychoanalysis and psychology today. Groomed as her father’s only loyal protege, she developed a systematic process in which to study and help children through psychoanalysis. Anna’s childhood reads like that of a psycho study with her seeming obsession with her father and his work, and her predestined inclination to continue his work after his death.
Anna spent her life adoring, following and caring for her father, his work and children all with the same fervor. According to Elisabeth Young-Bruehl, when asked about her life and the possibility of a memoir, Anna replied, “I don’t think I’d be a good subject for biography, not enough ‘action’! You would say all there is to say in a few sentences – she spent her life with children! ” (2008) References Fine, R. (1985). Anna Freud (1895-1982). American Psychologist, Vol 40(2), Feb,1985, 30-232. Midgley, N. (2007). Anna Freud: The Hampstead war Nurseries and the role of the direct observation of children for psychoanalysis. International Journal of Psycho- analysis , 939-959. Robin M. Kowalski, D. W. (2005). Psychology, 4e. Hoboken, NJ : John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Sicherman, M. (1990). Anna Freud: A Biography. Clinical Social Work Journal Vol. 18, No. 2,Summer 1990, 193-195. Young-Bruehl, E. (2008). Anna Freud: A Biography, 2nd Edition. New Haven CT: Yale University Press.
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Lifestyle Development of Anna Freud. (2018, Feb 22). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/lifestyle-development-of-anna-freud/