Anna Freud And Child Psychoanalysis Psychology Essay

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Anna Freud is known as the originator of child psychoanalysis .She grew up in the household of her father Sigmund Freud. Anna Freud began her career under the supervision of her father who was the founder of psychology. Under his wing she became fond of him and grew a love for him and the field of psychoanalysis. In fact, many referred to her as 'her father's daughter' but on the contrary, Anna was more independent but many people did not realize it. She dedicated the major part of her life in following her father's footsteps and she readily picked up from where he left and made the work her own. Due to this, many are the claims that she had no originality in most of her work which is untrue .After her father's death, her career flourished greatly and she published numerous books of her own. In most of these publications, she strictly adhered to the rules set by her dad but she also expanded where he had no opportunity. She is famous for her work with children and the theory of children undergoing analysis. Moreover, she was a teacher and she contributed to the knowledge of ego psychology and maintained the Hampstead Child Therapy Clinic. Anna was always busy and she spent most of her days either investigating new things or perusing through old work. She immediately ventured into new projects after completion of old projects. She laid a strong belief in her father's work and his psychological theories .She believed that his thoughts were concrete and accurate. Her entire life spans around the twentieth century where there was a significant change in the society and the world as whole. She spent most of her life traveling to all places that her teaching carried her and she never ceased defining child psychology (psychoanalysis). Though many people claim that Anne Freud spent her career in her fathers shadow and they actually named her 'the girl behind Freud', this paper seeks to prove that she can justifiably stand on her own in the field of psychology.

Sigmund Freud seemed to be having problems in selecting his successors, whenever he chose a successor, the successor would abandon him just like in the case of Jung and Adler. However by this time, apart from taking her lectures, Anne was also busy assisting her father in his analysis and she was progressing towards making a career as a lay psychoanalyst. Her devotion to her father was portrayed when she became the sole figure left to take care of her father when he was diagnosed with cancer in 1923. At this time, she became her father's symbolic successor (, 2010).

In the years 1924 - 1929 Anna Freud was engaged in taking care of her father's professional career. She became one of the committee members who were her father's closest advisors. In the summer of 1927, Anna Freud kept up her work and during this period, she managed to publish a book entitled Psychoanalysis for Teachers and Parents. This was a collection of her lectures which she conducted in the city of Hort during their working class day care system. In 1929, her family was affected by a series of problems which caused the family and her life into upheaval. These problems included the crush of the stock market which affected the financial stability of many Europeans .It was also at this time when many Jewish Australians became increasingly afraid of Hitler's regime. This caused Berlin Jewish psychoanalysts to flee from Vienna for England. In 1933, Anna Freud was made the vice president of the Vienna society. She was made the vice president because every one hesitated to practice in Vienna. Anna was forced to manage the society without emerging like she was overseeing it. This society also acted as a placement agency for psychoanalysts who had fled. When everyone was fleeing from Vienna, Anna and her father made it their duties to protect the Vienna society's child guidance centre and make it last as long as possible. Anna joined editorial board of American Journal Psychoanalytic Quarterly where she produced a child analysis issue in 1935 which she dedicated to her work in Vienna (, 2010).

Ego psychology

Contrary to Jung and Adler, Anne remained faithful to the basic ideas developed by her father. However, she was mostly interested in the psyche dynamics rather than the psyche structure; she was particular mesmerized by the position of ego in the psyche studies. Her father Freud had spent most of his life studying psychic existence mostly emphasizing on the id and the unconscious side. Anne points out that the ego is the 'sit of observation' from which we generally notice the work of the id and the super ego and the unconscious. Therefore, the ego merits to be studied in its own rightful place. She is best known for her published book; the Ego and Mechanisms of defense. In this book, she gives a predominantly apparent definition of how the defenses work, including some unique concentration to adolescents' use of defenses (Arch Dis Child, 2003).

The focus on the ego led to the rise of an association in psychoanalytic named the ego psychology. This movement represents the majority of the Freudians in today's psychology. Ego psychology is based on Freud's earlier works which is seen as the 'foundation.' However, it also encompasses modern ideas of ego psychology. In this way, Freud's theory can be applied not solely on psychopathology, but also to social and developmental issues. Today, Erick Eriksson serves as the best example of a psychoanalyst.

Child psychology

Anna Freud was not mainly a theoretician, she had profound interest in practical and she devoted most of her energy to the analysis of children together with adolescents and she spent time improving the analysis. This was different from her father's work which entirely focused on adults, though he wrote about development but it was on the adults' perspective (George, 1998).

With the continued analysis of children, it was apparent that Anna's approach was different from her father's. The methods she used in analyzing children differed from those used by her father in examining adults. Her father became pleased with her because she used new approaches in her analysis .The techniques she used differed from the common Little Hans Analysis which was often used by her father. Sigmund Freud stated that "symptoms provide us with directions when we make our diagnosis." This differed from Anne's opinion in which she noted that children's symptoms are dissimilar from adult symptoms. Children's symptoms according to Anna, are related to certain developmental stages, and are usually transitory in subject. As she improved in her practice, Anna found that she had certain issues within herself which she had to tackle in order to progress. She discovered that she had "unreasonable need for praise and admiration." She expected her father to handle and view her differently from other women especially those that they encountered in analysis (Arch Dis Child, 2003).

When administering therapy to the afflicted children, a communication problem is likely to arise between the therapist and patient. Anna Freud observed that the best way to handle this predicament which she refers to as 'transference problem' was to deal with it naturally; that is, being a caring parent and not a playmate or a substitute parent. Though her approach seems authoritarian according to the modern standards of child therapy, it still makes more sense.

An additional problem with analyzing children is that they are not advanced in their symbolic abilities as adults are. For instance, younger children have difficulties in expressing their emotional feeling verbally. This is also true with older children since they are less likely to bury their problems under complex symbols like adults do. Children's problems arise instantaneously and thus there is no time for building up defenses. Their tribulations are close to the outside and tend to be articulated in more direct, less emblematic, behavioral and emotional terms (Arch Dis Child, 2003).

Anne's contribution in the analysis of personality is portrayed in her work at the Hampstead Child Therapy Clinic. She contributed in setting up of this clinic in London. It's from here that she discovered that one of the biggest challenges facing the therapists was the communication barrier. She found out that while adult problems were communicated by using traditional labels, children's problems could not be. Since children's problems are more instantaneous, she framed them in terms of child's movement along developmental stages. In this case, a child is considered healthy if the child is seen to be maintaining tempo with most of his or her age mates in terms of personal cleanliness, consumption behaviors, play manners and interaction with other children. If there is a serious lag in one stage of development in a child's life, the technician needs to assume that the child experienced a problem in that stage of development thus the technician can describe the problem by referring to that particular lag (George, 1998).


Anne Feud played a key role in influencing research in Freudian psychology. Her works included standardization of the records of children who had diagnostic profiles. She also encouraged the pooling of observations from several analysts, and supported the long term studies involving development; that is, from childhood to adolescence. In addition, Anne was at the fore front in the use of natural experiments involving; careful surveys on groups of children suffering from similar disabilities like early traumas, blindness and wartime loss of parents. The main disapproval of Freudian psychology as having no experiential basis is factual only if "empirical basis" is limited to laboratory testing (George, 1998).

Anne had most of her work written in her famous book; the Writing of Anna Freud, which encompasses a collection of all her books and papers. Some of her works contained in this text include; the Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense as well as her documents on analysis of adolescents and children. Anne is a very good writer and most of her writing is not technical. She also uses many interesting case studies as examples.