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  Anna Freud


Anna Freud was born on December 3, 1895. She was to become an internationally renowned psychoanalyst. The daughter of Sigmund Freud and the youngest of his children, Anna Freud started her life professionally as a teacher in Vienna.

She was a pioneer and substantial contributor to the development of the science of child psychoanalysis. Much of her efforts have been devoted to the welfare of children. In 1927 she published the Introduction to the Technique of Child Psychoanalysis.

Her earlier interests were in education and psychoanalysis, which naturally led to the publication in 1929 of her book Introduction to Psychoanalysis for Teachers. Sandor Ferenczi after reading the book wrote: “I read Anna’s book with unmixed joy, it combines all the advantages of her writing style: deliberation, sagacity, moderation, intelligence and humanity. Her maturity is downright admirable”(In a 1930 letter to Sigmund Freud).

In 1936, The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence was published, a ground breaking work and a classic in the field.
She was enormously helpful to her father during the many years of his long and painful illness. She represented him at many places and congresses, when he could no longer attend. In 1934, Freud wrote to his friend Arnold Zweig: “But it can not have remained concealed from you that fate has granted me as a compensation for much that has been denied me the possession of a daughter who, in tragic circumstances would not have fallen short of Antigone”.

Miss Freud left Vienna for London with her family, in 1939, because of the political situation there and the nazi persecution of jews. In London she founded The Hampstead War Nurseries. Shortly after the war she started The Hampstead Child Therapy Course and Clinic, a non-profit institution that in its day was the finest center in the world for research and training in child psychoanalysis. This organization was as well a free or low fee clinic for the psychoanalytical treatment of children.

In 1965, Normality and Pathology in Childhood was published. A prolific writer, her work has been translated to many languages. International Universities Press publishes her collected papers, The Writings of Anna Freud, in eight volumes. They do not contain all her contributions to the literature such as In The Best Interest of the Child, Beyond the Best Interest of the Child etc, written in collaboration with others, that created a revolution in the legal fields.

She received many honors, decorations and honorary degrees. They included Ll.D from Clark University (USA, 1950) and the University of Sheffield (England, 1976), Sc.D from Jefferson Medical College (USA, 1954), the University of Chicago (USA, 1964), Yale University (USA, 1968) and Columbia University (USA, 1978). She received the Dolly Madison Award in 1965 and an MD degree from the University of Vienna in 1975. She was named a Commander of the British Empire in 1967 and received the Grand Decoration of Honor in Gold in 1975.

She died on October 9, 1982 at the age of 86 years. Those of us, who had the privilege of knowing and working with Anna Freud, will never forget her.

Humberto Nagera MD.

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