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Nagera, H. (1965). Anna Freud: Normality and Pathology in Childhood. Assessments of Development. International Universities Press, Inc., New York, 1965. Pp. XII and 273.. J. Child Psychother., 1(3):47-48.

(1965). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 1(3):47-48

Book Reviews

Anna Freud: Normality and Pathology in Childhood. Assessments of Development. International Universities Press, Inc., New York, 1965. Pp. XII and 273.

Review by:
H. Nagera

Anna Freud's new book represents an important landmark in psycho-analysis and of course quite especially in child psycho-analysis. It gives, in the reviewer's view, a new perspective to present-day diagnostic thinking which is derived from the field of developmental psycho-analytic psychology in all its aspects. In the words of the author the book is largely “based on clinical impressions gained in the various departments of the Hampstead Child-Therapy Clinic”. To do justice to the contents of the book in a brief review is hardly possible owing to the author's well known gift to present original and complex theoretical propositions in a clear and simple yet highly condensed manner.

Anna Freud has long been concerned with the insufficiency of diagnostic categories for the disturbances of childhood, which are initially designed for adult disturbances, even though they may be applied in adapted form. In this book she has done far more than to point to and illustrate these insufficiencies and the reasons for them. She has in fact taken many decisive steps in the direction of a more appropriate and comprehensive approach to the assessment of the personality and the disturbances of the child while suggesting at the same time a more rational diagnostic grouping of normal and abnormal phenomena.

Her approach to the assessment of the child's personality is a multiple one and is in terms of normal as well as pathological manifestations. Essentially it consists of a metapsychological assessment of the different aspects or agencies of the personality separately and in the complex processes of interaction. All phenomena are thus considered from the dynamic, economic, structural, genetic and adaptive points of view. Attention is paid throughout the book to normality and to normal development as an ongoing process in childhood. This represents an important complement to the more traditional approach which is largely based on the assessment of psychopathological aspects as such. The author clearly shows that all assessment of pathology in children must be made against the background of an ideal of normal forward movement.

An important contribution in this respect is made with the concept of “developmental lines”. These lines trace the normal developmental steps grouped in specific areas, e.g. from the infant's absolute immaturity and emotional dependence to the adult's self-reliance and mature object-relations.

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