In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Anna Freud

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Biographies
  • Primary Sources
  • Psychoanalysis with Children
  • The Application of Psychoanalysis to Education
  • The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense
  • The Hampstead War Nurseries
  • The Freud-Klein Controversies
  • Psychoanalytic Research
  • The Analytic Treatment of Adults
  • Child Psychology and Developmental Psychopathology
  • Adolescence
  • Assessment and Diagnosis of Childhood Disorders
  • Psychoanalysis and Pediatrics
  • Children and the Law

Childhood Studies Anna Freud
Nick Midgley
  • LAST REVIEWED: 10 June 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 May 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791231-0139


Anna Freud (b. 1895–d. 1982) was a child analyst and the youngest daughter of Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis. Along with Melanie Klein, Anna Freud is recognized as one of the pioneers of child analysis, but her work also had a profound influence in a number of areas related to children’s welfare, including education, pediatrics, family law, and residential care. Throughout her life Anna Freud played a leading role in the psychoanalytic movement, and was involved with a number of organizations dedicated to the well-being of children, most especially the Hampstead Child-Therapy Clinic (now the Anna Freud Centre) in London. She also made a significant theoretical contribution to our understanding of normal development and developmental psychopathology, and was one of the founders of “Ego Psychology,” a school of psychoanalysis that was especially influential in the United States between the 1950s and 1970s. Despite her wide-ranging contribution, Anna Freud’s work is relatively neglected today, although many of her ideas have permeated into the general culture and have had a significant impact on our understanding of childhood and the design of children’s services.

General Overviews

There is not a great choice of general introductions to Anna Freud’s work, although Dyer 1983, Edgcumbe 2000, and Midgley 2012 all provide book-length introductions in English, and Yorke 1997 offers a concise introduction to her work in French. Wallerstein 1984 captures something of the paradox around Anna Freud’s reputation as a psychoanalyst, considered as both an original thinker and a conservative figure. Coles 1992 offers a more personal account of Anna Freud, based on a series of discussions that give the reader a sense of Anna Freud’s way of thinking and speaking in the latter part of her life. Geissmann and Geissmann 1998 focuses primarily on Anna Freud’s contribution to child analysis and education, but is included here because it introduces her work in the context of the broader history of child psychoanalysis. Malberg and Raphael-Leff 2012 is a collection of fairly short chapters, summarizing Anna Freud’s main ideas but also linking them to more contemporary developments in the “Anna Freudian tradition.”

  • Coles, Robert. Anna Freud: The Dream of Psychoanalysis. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1992.

    Based on a wide-ranging series of interviews with Anna Freud in the 1970s, this book gives the reader a sense of the quality of Anna Freud’s thinking, avoiding jargon or complex theoretical terms, and is especially good on Anna Freud’s opinions about the importance of education and the role of teachers.

  • Dyer, Raymond. Her Father’s Daughter: The Work of Anna Freud. New York: Jason Aronson, 1983.

    A good overview of Anna Freud’s work, organized chronologically and covering key biographical facts as well as a summary of her main ideas. The book emphasizes Anna Freud’s key role in preserving the legacy of Freudian psychoanalysis.

  • Edgcumbe, Rose. Anna Freud: A View of Development, Disturbance and Therapeutic Technique. London: Routledge, 2000.

    The author worked closely with Anna Freud at the Hampstead Child-Therapy Clinic, and this book provides a close-up account of Anna Freud’s psychoanalytic thinking, including a detailed account of her ideas about assessment and diagnosis of childhood disorders.

  • Geissmann, Claudine, and Pierre Geissmann. “Anna Freud, the Daughter: Psychoanalytical Education and Observation.” In A History of Child Psychoanalysis. By Claudine Geissmann and Pierre Geissmann, 77–108. London: Routledge, 1998.

    Although it is not the most comprehensive overview of Anna Freud’s work, this chapter is part of the only book-length study of the history of child psychoanalysis, and places Anna Freud’s work in the context of other key figures in the development of this field.

  • Malberg, Norka T., and Joan Raphael-Leff, eds. The Anna Freud Tradition: Lines of Development—Evolution of Theory and Practice over Decades. London: Karnac, 2012.

    An excellent collection of thirty-seven chapters that summarizes some of Anna Freud’s key contributions and shows how they have influenced subsequent developments including clinical work and wider applications. The book includes chapters on Anna Freud’s approach to observation and her thinking about developmental issues for children of different ages.

  • Midgley, Nick. Reading Anna Freud. London: Routledge, 2012.

    This book offers a brief biographical introduction and a series of chapters summarizing Anna Freud’s key ideas about child analysis, ego psychology, developmental psychology, and the application of Anna Freud’s psychoanalytic thinking to other disciplines, including pediatrics, family law, and nursing.

  • Wallerstein, Robert S. “Anna Freud: Radical Innovator and Staunch Conservative.” Psychoanalytic Study of the Child 39 (1984): 65–80.

    Reviews Anna Freud’s broader role in relation to the development of psychoanalysis, discussing her paradoxical role both as “protector” of classical psychoanalysis and as a radical innovator in a number of areas, including child analysis.

  • Yorke, Clifford. Anna Freud. Translated by Marie-Claire Durieux. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1997.

    The best French-language introduction to the work of Anna Freud.

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