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Freud, A. (1958). "Child Observation and Prediction of Development". Psychoanal. St. Child, 13:117-124.

(1958). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 13:117-124

"Child Observation and Prediction of Development"

Anna Freud


I find myself in a very difficult position, torn between the feeling that this is a meeting in the memory of our late friend Dr. Kris on the one hand, on the other Miss Freud's presentation, which was brought us such a wealth of material that I am sure you will not expect me to do justice to it either in its entirety or even in small parts. All that I will be able to do is to take up one or the other point and make a few remarks on the subject, much of which is not familiar to me, since, as you know, I am not a child analyst. All that I do is direct observations on infants. Obviously, therefore, I will speak more of the direct observation part of Miss Freud's paper and the connections which I may be able to make between such direct observation and the knowledge which I have derived from the analysis of adults.

Miss Freud has selected one of those papers of Dr. Kris which show him in all his richness, in all the different aspects which he could offer us. She enumerated to you the three aspects which are most prominent in his paper, and if I go point by point, starting with the question of spotting symptomatology before it becomes evident, I think that that is something which we are really becoming more and more expert in doing. But, as Miss Freud pointed out, spotting this symptomatology is only a first step, a very important one, of course. To make then the decision what this will bring in the future is another question again. I will not enlarge on the numerous and unbelievably impressive examples which Miss Freud brought. But it is quite evident from them that the question of an interference in such cases is an extremely problematic one. We really do not know whether we are not possibly "nipping a future physicist in the bud"—it is literally that—or saving somebody from a psychosis. The capacity to overcome traumata, which to the adult would appear completely shattering, is unquestionably evident in the child.

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