Many great women contributed to psychology and the history of psychology. These women were pioneers, theorists, and counselors. Each of these women contributed in many different ways. Although many women who made significant contributions to the history of psychology between the years 1850 and 1950; of these women one woman demands attention over all the others.
That woman’s name is Anna Freud. In researching Anna Freud one must consider describing her background, theoretical perspective, and contributions to the field of psychology. Background Anna Freud was born on December 3, 1895 and was the youngest daughter of Sigmund and Martha Freud. Anna had five siblings, but she was the liveliest and most mischievous of the bunch. Anna grew up in the shadow of her old sister Sophie who was two and a half years older than Anna (A Centre of Learning – A Centre of Practice, 1993).
Anna was especially close to her father, but was distant and had a strained relationship with her mother and siblings. Anna began her education at the Cottage Lyceum in Vienna in 1912, Anna attended private school but she stated that she did not think that she learned a great deal from this school. Most of Anna’s education came from her father’s friends and colleagues. When she graduated high school in 1914 (Rowell, 1998); Anna became an elementary school teacher and translated some of her father’s works into Germany; which increased her interest in child psychology and psychoanalysis.
Anna never earned a higher degree, but she became a full member of the Vienna Psychoanalytical Society in 1922 and she began a children’s psychoanalytic practice in 1923 (Rowell, 1998). In 1938 the Freud family escaped Austria and settled in London with the help of Ernest Jones and Princess Marie Bonaparte. Anna aided in the care of her cancer stricken father until his death in 1939 (Rowell, 1998); and in 1941 Anna formed the Hampstead Nursery with Dorothy Burlington to serve as a home and a psychoanalytic program for homeless children (Wagner, 2009).
Anna was not only Sigmund Freud’s youngest child; she was his constant companion, colleague and nurse. Unlike her five siblings, Anna decided to follow in the example of her father. After Anna graduated high school and worked for a short time as a teacher, she decided to translate her father’s works which spiked her interest in his psychoanalysis theory. Anna Freud became the “pioneer in the development of child psychoanalysis. The focus of her theoretical work was how the ego functions in averting anxiety and painful ideas, impulses, and feelings” (Rowell, 1998).
After fleeing from Austria to London and the death of her father, Anna began the Hampstead Nurseries. Anna Freud and Dorothy Burlingham observed babies and young children who resided in the nurseries. They described the how each child acted and analyzed why each child behaved in the manners in which they behaved. Anna and Dorothy believed that providing emotional interaction, natural drive and artificial families to institutionalized children would not prevent or stop the behaviors. Anna and Dorothy summarized their findings in their book “Infants Without Families” (The Adoption History Project, 2007).
Anna Freud created the field of child psychology, she laid the foundation for the future understanding of child psychology, and she also developed techniques to treat children. Anna found that symptoms in children differed from the symptoms exhibited by adults and the differences were related to the developmental stages. She explained those differences of the ego’s defense mechanisms in a book that she wrote called “The Ego and the Mechanism of Defense” (Wagner, 2009) Contributions to Psychology Ego Psychology: Anna was faithful to her father’s ideas, but she was interested I the dynamics of the psyche and she was intrigued with the ego.
Although Anna shared some of her father’s beliefs about the ego, Anna’s beliefs and her father’s beliefs differed. Anna’s father spent most of his time studying the id and the unconscious mind, Anna thought that the ego deserved to be observed more. Anna is best known for her book “The Ego and the Mechanism of Defense”. In this book she gives a description of how ego defenses work, and she pays special attention to how adolescents use these defenses. Child Psychology: Anna’s passion was psychology, but her passion also lied with helping children in need, whether that help was with shelter or therapy.
When Anna opened the nurseries, she wanted to offer safe foster homes for children who needed a place to live and learn. These nurseries not only gave shelter to children, but they were also schools. Parents often sent their children to these nurseries because the children were schooled (A Centre of Learning – A Centre of Practice, 1993). Anna was not only a theoretician, she also devoted a great deal of energy to analyzing children and adolescents and ways to improve her analysis (The Adoption History Project, 2007). Anna emphasized the relationship between the child and the therapist.
She believed that the therapist should never try to take the place of the parents. She also believed that the therapist should not pretend to be a child rather than an authority figure. She believed that the best way to handle children was by doing what came naturally, which meant being a caring adult instead of a playmate or replacement parent (The Adoption History Project, 2007). Anna’s contribution to child psychology was most visible in her work at the Homestead Child Therapy Clinic. She observed where the problem areas were between the therapist and the children.
The largest area of difficulty was communication. Adult symptoms could be labeled by traditional means, and children’s problems could not (The Adoption History Project, 2007). Research: Another contribution Anna made to psychology is research. Anna supported the pooling of observations from multiple analysts, long-term studies of development between early childhood through adolescence. She was one of the first in the field to use natural experiments. Her natural experiments included the careful analyses of groups of children who showed signs of similar symptoms or disabilities.
Anna’s contributions were all contained within seven-volume collection of books and papers called “The Writings of Anna Freud” (The Adoption History Project, 2007). In conclusion, many great women contributed to the history of psychology which psychology to become the great science that it is today. Many of those women go unmentioned when studying psychology, but their contributions are still there. Anna Freud was one of the many great women who contributed to the history of psychology. When researching Ms. Freud, one should consider her background.
When she was born, where she went to school, family history (such as: parents, siblings, friends, friends of the family) what may have led her to choose the field of psychology, and any other pertinent information in her background? One should also consider her theoretical perspective and how that perspective was formed. As stated throughout this paper, Anna Freud’s theoretical perspective was guided by the perspective of her father, Sigmund Freud. When considering Anna’s theoretical perspectives, one should also consider how her perspectives were different from that of her fathers.
Finally, one should consider Anna Freud’s contributions. When considering Anna Freud’s contributions, one should consider how she contributed to ego psychology. One should consider the differences between Ms. Freud’s beliefs and her father’s beliefs. One should also consider Anna Freud’s contributions to child psychology. While considering child psychology, one should think about how Ms. Freud contributed to the study of child psychology. One should also consider her contributions to teaching therapist how to deal with treating children.
The final thing to consider when research Ms. Freud’s contributions is research. When considering research, one should look at how she research, what she researched, and where to find the research now. After one has research a remarkable individual such as Ms. Anna Freud, one finds that she has contributed a great deal to the study of psychology and psychology as a science. Ms. Freud was an excellent psychologist, therapist, scientist, teacher, and theorist.
- A Centre of Learning – A Centre of Practice. (1993). The Anna Freud Centre. Retrieved June 3, 2009, from http://www. annafreudcentre. org/anna_freud. htm
- Rowell, M. H. (1998). The Freud Page. Geocites. Retrieved June 3, 2009, from http://www. geocities. com/~mhrowell/anna_freud. html
- The Adoption History Project. (2007). Anna Freud (1895-1982). Retrieved July 5, 2009, from http://www. uoregon. edu/~adoption/people/AnnaFreud. htm
- Wagner, K. V. (2009). Anna Freud Biography (1895-1982). About. com. Retrieved July 3, 2009, from http://psychology. about. com/od/profilesofmajorthinkers/p/bio_annafreud. htm