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Freud, A. (1929). On the Theory of Analysis of Children. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 10:29-38.

(1929). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 10:29-38

On the Theory of Analysis of Children

Anna Freud

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Three papers on the subject of analysing children are being read before you at this Congress—instead of only one, which has hitherto been the order of the day—and this alone illustrates the importance that the subject has acquired in the eyes of the International Association during the last few years. I think that the reason for this accession of interest in child-analysis lies in the three-fold contribution it can make to our psycho-analytical knowledge. It gives us welcome confirmations of those conceptions of the mental life of children which, in the course of years, have been deduced by psycho-analytical theory from the analyses of adults. Secondly, as Mrs. Klein's paper has just demonstrated, the direct observation thus employed leads us to fresh conclusions and supplementary conceptions, and, finally, it serves as a point of transition to a field of applied analysis which, as many hold, will in the future be one of the most important. I refer to pedagogy.

Thus, strong in the sense of its threefold usefulness, child-analysis ventures to claim liberty and independence in various directions. It demands a new technique. This is willingly conceded: even the most conservative person realizes without difficulty that a difference in the object with which one is dealing demands different methods of approach. Thus Melanie Klein has evolved the play-technique for the analysis of little children, and, later, I myself put forward suggestions for the analysis of children in the latency period. But certain advocates of child-analysis (myself amongst them) go further still. They begin to ponder the question whether the processes in child-analysis are always wholly identical, from the theoretical standpoint, with those in the analysis of adults, and whether the aims and objects of the two forms of treatment are exactly the same. The people who follow this line of thought hold that those who analyse children should possess not only the correct analytical training and mental attitude but something further: something which is called for by the idiosyncrasies of childhood, namely, the training and the mental attitude of the pedagogue.

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