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Cohen, J. (2002). Psychoanalysis and the Education of Children. J. Appl. Psychoanal. Stud., 4(3):271-274.

(2002). Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 4(3):271-274

Editorial Introduction: Guest Editorial

Psychoanalysis and the Education of Children

Jonathan Cohen, Ph.D.

From the first hours of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud and his “Wednesday night” colleagues wondered how they could apply analytic ideas to the education of children: among them their own! These meetings opened an evolving dialogue about the application of psychoanalytically-informed thinking and work to the education of young children. Freud came to consider such an application as “perhaps the most important activity of psychoanalysis” (Freud, 1933, pg. 146).

Hermine Hug-Hellmuth—the grandmother of child analysis—was the first in a series of child analysts to detail how the psychological life of the child colors and shapes the process of learning. She was also the first to recognize and describe how mental health professionals can and need to work collaboratively with parents and teachers to promote learning and development in and outside of the classroom (Hug-Hellmuth, 1914). This kind of collaborative practice provides the essential platform for helpful diagnostic interventions and treatment, as well as the promotion of psychosocial and academic strengths, which provides the foundation for primary prevention. Anna Freud, building in part, on Hug-Hellmuth's work, created a framework for educators and child analysts to learn and teach together. From her early study group meetings with Siegfried Bernfeld, Willi Hoffer, and August Aichorn in the 1920's, Anna Freud sought to systematically study and discover how analytic understanding might illuminate the developmental experience of children and promote psychosocial capacities in and outside of the classroom. Miss Freud's appreciation and focus on normal children and the power of clinician-teacher-parent partnerships emerged from the first six years of her professional life when she was a teacher of young children.


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