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Neubauer, P.B. (1983). Anna Freud's Legacy. Psychoanal Q., 52:507-513.

(1983). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 52:507-513

Anna Freud's Legacy

Peter B. Neubauer, M.D.

Anna Freud was the leader of psychoanalysis for such a long time that a memorial essay could never encompass the tremendous range of her contributions or adequately portray her profound influence on the development of psychoanalysis. She often spoke about "a fourfold aim: to learn, to treat, to teach and to apply psychoanalytic knowledge …" (1975, p. ix). It would be difficult to say in which of these areas she showed more interest or more talent. And one must add another area of achievement, one which emerged early in her psychoanalytic career, namely, to organize psychoanalytic activities and to administer psychoanalytic programs.

Anna Freud fulfilled a dual role with exquisite care. She was the guardian of the psychoanalytic tradition of her father's legacy, and she pressed relentlessly toward new frontiers; she was conservative and at the same time innovative. This capacity to integrate the new with the known and to apply what she had observed about the developmental process of children, the step-by-step advances, this same approach to psychoanalytic science made her contribution less visible than the contributions of those who separated themselves from the main body of psychoanalysis by creating their own schools.

Early in life she was given leadership. She became a psychoanalyst when she was only twenty-seven years old and one of the few lay analysts. As she was a teacher, it was natural that she should become one of the first child analysts. In the 1920's there was a new psychoanalytic spirit which extended psychoanalytic treatment to new categories of disorders and new age groups.

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