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Meers, D.R. (1975). The Writings of Anna Freud. Volume III. Infants without Families. Reports on the Hampstead Nurseries. 1939-1945: By Anna Freud in collaboration with Dorothy Burlingham. New York: International Universities Press, Inc., 1973. 681 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 44:274-275.
   

(1975). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 44:274-275

The Writings of Anna Freud. Volume III. Infants without Families. Reports on the Hampstead Nurseries. 1939-1945: By Anna Freud in collaboration with Dorothy Burlingham. New York: International Universities Press, Inc., 1973. 681 pp.

Review by:
Dale R. Meers

This volume is elemental, profound—and mistitled. Both the title and the publisher's description of its contents are misleading in their failure to convey its significance to psychoanalysis. While most of the volume was written between 1941 and 1945, with no intent to publish, the account provides an ongoing description of child development that is unparalleled in the literature. A less modest author might properly have titled these reports The Empirical Origins of Psychoanalytic Child Developmental Research. Developmental data and theoretical observations are interwoven with a richness that is impaired only by the distracting fascination of the historical chronicle. Indeed, the scientific merits of the data and findings tend to lose their significance when set in the context of the understated drama of childhood and war.

These reports remain, after thirty years, lucid, insightful, theoretically fascinating, and relevant—perhaps of even more interest to theoreticians of today who are looking for empirical evidence pertinent to current controversies over narcissistic disorders. Editing, it should be added, was limited to deletion of occasional repetitions of housekeeping details (which in themselves provide a remarkable account of creative survival).

The title of this volume closely approximates the authors' 1944 Infants without Families: The Case for and against Residential Nurseries. The 1944 publication is reprinted as Part II of this volume, and the substance of that earlier publication is only enhanced by the fullness of the data that precedes it. Analysts familiar with the earlier work will recall the powerful clinical arguments against substitute parental care for the very young. Its rereading has particular saliency in our socially tumultuous time when well-intentioned governments in the U.S., England, Australia, and elsewhere give continuing and serious consideration to massive child-care programs that would extend even into the earliest years of childhood.

There

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