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Freud, A. (1995). Editorial. J. Child Psychother., 21(3):305-307.

(1995). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 21(3):305-307


Anna Freud

This special issue of the Journal marks the centenary of the birth of Anna Freud, the youngest of Sigmund Freud's six children. Born in Vienna on 3 December 1895, Miss Freud was educated at the Cottage Lyceum where she later taught for five years. Her first paper — on fantasy life in children — was written in 1922, gaining her membership of the Vienna Psychoanalytical Society which she chaired at the time of the Freud family's flight to London in 1938.

As well as stressing the influence of this early concern with education and child development on Anna Freud's future psychoanalytic career, contributions to this issue also point to the importance of her experience of attending, in Vienna, the psychiatric clinic run by Professor Wagner Jauregg and involving Paul Schilder and Heinz Hartmann: this connection between child development and adult disturbance was to remain a life-long fascination.

More difficult, perhaps, thirteen years after Anna Freud's death, is the expression of ambivalence about such a key figure in the psychoanalysis of children. Some of our authors touch on the pain of the ‘Controversial Discussions’; others hint at what her obituary in the Times of 11 October 1982 expressed more clearly: ‘She was generous in her recognition of the contributions of others but she never tolerated fools gladly. Her criticisms could be telling, forceful and, on occasion, annihilating.’ Throughout the papers in this issue, however, appear great admiration for her intellect, appreciation of her gifts as a teacher, her charm and humour, and the influence she had on her ‘qualified students’ as they continued her rigorous approach to theory, research and practice. Above all there emerges Anna Freud's commitment to the ‘best interests of the child’.


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