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Baker, R. (1993). The Harvard Lectures: By Anna Freud, Edited and annotated by Joseph Sandler. London: Institute of Psycho-Analysis and Karnac Books. 1992. Pp. 142.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 74:647-649.

(1993). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 74:647-649

The Harvard Lectures: By Anna Freud, Edited and annotated by Joseph Sandler. London: Institute of Psycho-Analysis and Karnac Books. 1992. Pp. 142.

Review by:
Ronald Baker

In 1952, Anna Freud travelled to Harvard University, where she gave a series of lectures to the Department of Social Relations of Radcliffe College. Her audience consisted mainly of a group of about 200 undergraduates and her course was on the psychoanalytic theory of child development, including her views on the upbringing of children. She did not read these lectures and it is thought that she did not refer to notes. Indeed, all the indications are that they were probably not intended for publication.

So, how did this slim volume come about? Clearly, it is not just another opportunity, or excuse, to release some unpublished work, albeit that of a most distinguished psychoanalyst. Far from it. This is Anna Freud as she was recorded on tape, with all the spontaneity and finesse of a confident and unselfconscious expert. Fortunately, these recordings have been lovingly preserved and transcribed and they have only been 'lightly' edited and annotated.

The reader cannot but feel that he is part of an audience with whom he is taken on a singular journey. The emphasis is on a known landscape, there is nothing new in what is explored. For the psychoanalyst cognisant with the rudiments of theory, the regions traversed are familiar. But, as Anna Freud gently warns her audience at the outset, '[this] does not mean always that the facts are easy and not complex'. The terrain of classical psychoanalysis, and especially child development, is comprehensively mapped out in language which, in essence, is simple and direct.

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