Women's Intellectual Contributions to the Study of Mind and Society

Students, as part of an advanced seminar, examined and wrote about the lives of these women, their intellectual contributions, and the unique impact and special problems that being female had on their careers.

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Anna Freud


Anna Freud , the founder of child psychoanalysis, began her career under father's wing. She grew up in the household of Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychology. Under his wing she grew a deep attachment and a love for him and the field of psychoanalysis. Many would say that she was "her father's daughter," however she was more independent than many would give her credit for. Most of her life was dedicated to her father and his work, where he left off she picked up and made it her own. Many would go so far as to say that she had no originality of her own. This is untrue. After her father's death her career flourished. She published several books of her own, strictly adhering the rules her father had set, but going expanding where he did not have the opportunity. She is most noted for her work with children and the concept of children undergoing analysis. In addition, she was a school teacher, added to the knowledge of ego psychology and maintained The Hampstead Child Therapy Clinic. There isn't a day that she was not busy delving into something new or revising something that was old. After she finished one project she was off into another one almost immediately. All the time she was dedicated to her father's psychology and never strayed from the belief that his thoughts were concrete and accurate. Her life spans most of the twentieth century, where she saw the world and society change. She went wherever her teachings took her and never stopped defining child psychoanalysis. Some may say she was always in her father's shadow and was "the girl behind Freud", however, as this paper will show, she can justifiably stand on her own.


Sigmund and Martha Freud lived in Vienna with their children: Mathilde, Jean Martin, Oliver, Ernst and Sophie. Sigmund Freud was in the midst of creating, what would become, the field of psychology and thus, psychoanalysis. In his thirty-eighth year he was suffering from undiagnosed disease, and had noted the "death of his sex life." His good friend, Wilhelm Fliess, whom he wrote to about his various theories on hysteria, came to Vienna to perform nasal surgery on Freud's patient, Emma Eckstein. The operation went wrong. Fliess immediately left for Berlin and left Freud to take care of the damage. Apparently Fliess left gauze in her nasal passage and once removed caused severe hemorrhages (Young-Bruehl, 1994). This serious damage stunted any practice that Freud tried to have. Freud still talked to Fliess and consulted him with his own problems. Fliess gave him cocaine to cure his sinus infection. Thus this caused an addiction to cocaine. In addition, Freud began work on his "self analysis" and dream interpretations. He discovered the unconscious 4 months before his last daughter, Anna's birth. He stated, "saying anything now would be like sending a six month old embryo of a girl to a ball." His wife was 34 years old and was having a difficult time with the pregnancy. However, on December 3, 1895, Anna Freud was born. Freud wrote to Fliess after her birth. In the letter he stated, "If it had been a son I should have sent you the news by telegram, but as it is a little girl...you get the news later" (1994). Regardless of this attitude, her father thought of her as a blessing...immediately after her birth his practice doubled.

From the beginning Anna did not form a close bond with her mother. Her mother decided she didn't want to breast feed, like she had with the others. She went on vacation for several months after Anna's birth. However, the nanny Josefine Cihlarz, took care of the three youngest children. Later Anna referred to Josefine as "the most genuine of my childhood" (Freud, 1991). Anna's brother recalls in his memoirs when they were younger that they would ask Josefine if there were a fire whom would she save first. Her immediate response was "Anna." There were several stories of the children attending functions and screaming when Josefine was not there.

Anna didn't get along with her brothers and sisters very well. She felt she was boring and not "part of them". In addition, she felt especially close to her father. She recalled that "all of my family went off in a boat and left me at home, either because the boat was too full or I was 'too little.' This time I did not complain and my father, who was watching the scene, praised me and comforted me. That made me so happy that nothing else mattered." Her father also shared the same affection for Anna. In The Interpretation of Dreams book he wrote that Annerl had a masculine appetite and aggression, and is beautified with naughtiness (Young-Bruehl, 1994). As she got older, he was proud of her intellectual interest and dissatisfaction with feminine activities. Despite trying to assimilate herself into her mother and sisters' web of activities such as men, knitting and beautiful clothing, Anna could not catch on to it. She stated that "I wanted beautiful clothing and a number of children but I considered myself to be too shabby and inconspicuous" (Dyer, 1983) She constantly tried to live up to her sister Sophie's beautiful image, but fell short in every area. The family referred to them as the "beauty and the brains."


She began school in 1901 at age six at a private elementary school. Since her father was made a professor, his clientele increased and the family had a higher income. As a student she was very bored and restless and whined about attending school. This gave her the nickname "Black Devil." In her later years in school, she would divert her restlessness by reading and writing incessantly. Anna said that she didn't learn much of anything from school. She was mainly taught by her father's guests to their home. This is where she picked up several languages such as Hebrew, German, English, French and Italian.

In 1908 Anna had an appendectomy. This was a source of great stress for her since no one told her of her operation until she was admitted into the hospital and left. It took her several months to recuperate. After her surgery the family split up. Mathilde was married and lived in Vienna. Martin returned from the war and lived in Vienna where he studied law. Ernst and Oliver both studied in Munich and Berlin, and Sophie was still at home. During this time, while her family was apart from 1909-1912, she was first introduced into her father's world of psychoanalysis. She was fourteen. She wrote him a letter stating that "I have read some of your books, but you should not be horrified by that, for I am already grown up and so it is no surprise that I am interested" (Young-Bruehl, 1994). After this she and her father went for a walk and passed several beautiful homes in Vienna. Her father told her "You see those lovely houses with their lovely facades? Things are not necessarily so lovely behind the facades. And so it is with human beings too" (1994). After this statement, she was allowed to sit on a little library ladder in the corner of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society meetings. In 1909 her father was asked by Dr. G. Stanley Hall to give a brief course on psychoanalytic theory at Clark University in Massachusetts. He was to receive an honorary degree along with Carl Jung, Sandor Ferenczi, Ernest Jones, and Abraham Brill. Anna could not attend because she was too young. Her disappointment towards her father was intense. She was somewhat consoled, however, by her father's disdain for America and felt that she didn't miss much.


In 1912 Anna graduated from school in the early summer. She was seventeen. However, this presented her with the question of what she was going to become. At this time her sister Sophie announced her marriage to Max Halberstadt, a man she had known only a short time. For the winter Anna was sent to Sicily and Italy to improve her health, take time off to contemplate her future and to broaden her horizons. She stayed with her grandmother. In addition, through correspondence with her father, it is mentioned that she was suffering from an illness that they only refer to as "it." Her father offers suggestions, via his letters, but it is speculated that Anna was suffering from depression. She might have even been anorexic since she had lost several pounds. During this time she saw little of her family, but still wrote almost everyday to her father. In one of these letters Sigmund Freud informs Anna that she will not be attending her sister Sophie's wedding. Since the two sisters never quite got along, Anna took this event to heart. Her father informed her of their decision through a letter stating : "The ceremony can be performed quite well without you, for that matter also without guests, parties, etc. which you don't care for anyhow. Your plans for school can easily wait till you have learned to take your duties less seriously. They won't run away from you. It can only do you good to be a little happy-go-lucky and enjoy having such lovely sun in the middle of the winter." However, this only subdued Anna for a little bit. She was still unhappy about being outcast from her sister's wedding. Her father came and visited her for Easter. After he left he still felt that she was upset and wrote her a consoling letter. The letter suggested she might be jealous of Max Halberstadt, her brother-in-law, for his ability to win so quickly Sophie's love, from which Anna had always felt excluded. In psychoanalytic terms he implied that the wedding brought about her "negative Oedipal." This occurs when a girl experiences a rival over their mother or sister's love. This suggestion did not sit well with Anna. She wrote, "I cannot think that his presence in Vienna and all that has any connection with how I feel and I truly do not know why I am sometimes quite well and sometimes not, and I would like very much to know, so that I can do something to help myself. I could not write more to you since I do not know more myself, but I certainly do not keep any secrets from you." During this time Sigmund Freud was depressed. The only time Anna Freud recalls him being depressed was when he realized all of his children had left him.

In June of 1914 Anna Freud passed an exam to become an apprentice in elementary school teaching. After passing this exam, she went to England and was chaperoned by Leo Kann, her father's patient. Upon her arrival at the train station she was greeted by Ernest Jones. He was the gentleman whom her father had advised Leo Kann to separate from. He arrived with a bouquet of flowers for Anna. At the time she was eighteen and he was thirty-five. Through the entire vacation he tried to court Anna. However, she was suspicious of his motives. Sigmund Freud was informed of Jones' attempts and sent letter after letter to Anna warning her. In one letter he writes "I know from the most reliable sources that Doctor Jones has serious intentions of wooing you. It is the first time in your young life, and I have no thought of granting you the freedom of choice your two sisters enjoyed. For it has so happened that you have lived more intimately with us than they, and I would like to believe that you would find it more difficult to make such a decision for life without our-in this case my-consent." Anna Freud agreed with her father and averted all of Jones' advances. In the meantime, her father was becoming quite enamored with Loe Kann whom he described as "a jewel." He had to struggle keeping his psychoanalytic neutrality. To some amusement, at the same time, Anna Freud wrote of fantasizing about Loe (Young-Bruehl, 1994).

In the meantime, Anna Freud's eagerness as an apprentice made her father very happy. In November of 1914 he said that Anna was "industrious and delightful." Furthermore, "She is developing into a charmer, by the way, more delightful than any other of the children." In the summer of 1915 she successfully passed her teacher's examination. As she was no longer an apprentice, she starting translating her father's works into German. When they were in separate locations during vacations, Anna would write to her father asking clarifications of psychoanalytic terms. This is where she got directly involved with her father's work (Dyer, 1983). In addition, she would send her father accounts of her dreams, and he would analyze them for her. She worked at the Cottage Lyceum with third graders, fourth graders and fifth graders. The administrator said that Anna had a "gift for teaching." They asked her to sign a four-year contract starting in the fall of 1918. She accepted the position. However, in January of 1917, she developed tuberculosis. This caused her to have to take 3 weeks off of school. It also left her susceptible to various diseases in the future that would affect her teaching career.

In the summer of 1918 she tried a form of teaching called "project teaching." This brought her to Hungary to teach in the summer for one month. Then her students from Vienna came to Hungary to learn everything they could from experience. This proved to be a success, and was continued for several years after she left the school. During her time in Hungary she started a project of her own. She could not attend her father's first International Psychoanalytic Conference so she stayed long enough to meet everyone associated with it. Her father held the belief that every practitioner should go through a self-analysis before entering the field. After meeting all of her father's colleagues, she decided to start analysis with her father in October. However, in December of 1920, the family became ill with a serious case of influenza that took the life of Sophie, Anna's older sister. Anna had to permanently give up her teaching position because of the influenza (Peters, 1985). This gave her the opportunity to delve into her analysis. She was able to spend time in a warmer climate south of Vienna where she did much better. In the same year she began to court her brother Martin's friend, Hans Lampl. He was six years older than Anna and a medical doctor who was trying to follow Anna's father. Sigmund Freud took a liking to him and paid for much of his schooling and vacations. However, once Hans expressed an interest for Anna, Sigmund's attitude changed. Although he didn't outwardly show his dislike, Anna became more aware of it. In 1920 Sigmund, Anna and Hans attended the Hague Congress. Shortly after this, Sigmund expressed his disdain for Hans, giving no particular reason. Anna later wrote to her father in 1921, "I am often together with Lampl in a friendly relationship, but I also have daily opportunities to confirm our judgment of him from last year and to rejoice that we judged correctly."

In the duration of 1920 she began to volunteer at the Baumgarten Home that cared for Jewish children that were orphaned or made homeless by the war. Here she met Siegfried Bernfeld and Willi Hoffer who ran the Home. Bernfeld, Hoffer and Anna would gather and discuss their experiences with children. Anna asked August Aichhorn to join them since he had a vast background with children. Namely, he ran a juvenile delinquent institution in northwestern Vienna. Within this group, Anna became aware of a different type of people that she hadn't encountered at the elite schools where she had previously taught. However, she was branching to all social strata, as her father had articulated at the Budapest Conference months before.


After her analysis was completed by her father in 1918-1922, Freud gave more attention and insight into the Pre Oedipal Stages. As her father never kept any records or "progress notes", it can only be speculated that Anna's own personal problems propelled her father into this area. It was at this time he put more emphasis on a mother's role in a daughter's life versus the father's role as being the sole motivator for behavior. In April of 1922 Anna wanted to become a member of the International Psychoanalytic Congress that was to be held in Berlin in September. She contacted her close friend and President of the Congress, Max Eitigon. In order to become a member of the Congress, she would have to prepare a lecture from her analysis of a patient. However, since Anna did not have any patients, it is believed she analyzed herself for the presentation. This largely consisted of fantasies of a daughter for her father. Regardless, she was accepted as a member into the Congress. At this time Anna was traveling all over Berlin to set up a practice. Her father expressed a deep sorrow for this. He stated, "I too very much miss my daughter Anna. She set off for Berlin on March the second. I have long felt sorry for her still being at home with us old folks...but on the other hand, if she really were to go away, I should feel myself as deprived as I do now, and as I should do if I had to give up smoking! As long as we are all together, one doesn't realize it clearly, or at least we do not. And therefore in view of all these insoluble conflicts it is good that life comes to an end sometime or other" (Dyer, 1983).

In April of 1923 Anna's dreams of Berlin were put on hold. Her father had the first of a long series of operations on his jaw to remove cancer. Anna felt she had to stay with him because, not only had he been borrowing money from friends, but also he was now ill. She wrote, "I would not leave him now under any circumstances." A friend of the family, Dr. Deutsch, performed the surgery. He decided against telling them that the tumors removed were malignant. So during the time of taking care of her father, Anna started seeing patients, both adults and children. She translated her father's work and helped him articulate his current works. At this time two women that Freud took under his wing were contributing enormous amounts to the discussions of female sexuality. Anna herself did not write much on female issues within psychoanalysis because she felt she identified with male case studies.

In the fall of 1925, Anna met two women that would become very important figures in her life. The first of these women was Dorothy T. Burlingham, a psychoanalyst, who was a mother of one of Anna's patients. After Anna Freud agreed to work with her son, Bob, Dorothy moved from America to Vienna. She brought her children - Mary, Katrina and Michael. She was married, but her husband suffered from a mental illness that she felt was affecting her children. Anna became deeply attached to this family and to Dorothy. By the end of the year all of the Burlingham children were under Anna's care. This presented a problem for Anna since she was vicariously trying to be a mother to these children. She stated that "I think sometimes that I want, not only to make them healthy, but also, at the same time, to have them, or at least have something of them, for myself. Towards the mother of the children it is not very different with me (Young-Bruehl, 1994). Curiously enough, though, I am very much ashamed of all these things, especially in front of Papa, and therefore, I tell him nothing about it. This is only a small illustration, but actually I have this dependency, this wanting to have something, even leaving my profession aside, in every nook and cranny of my life." The Burlinghams moved to the apartment above the Freud's a few months after this was written, and Burlingham underwent an analysis with Sigmund Freud. Sigmund wrote later, "Our symbiosis with an American family, whose children my daughter is bringing up analytically with a firm hand, is growing continually stronger" (Dyer, 1983). Although it is not certain the nature of the relationship between Dorothy and Anna, it is known that their relationship lasted for both of their lifetimes and became an integral part of who they were and what they would become. In Anna Freud: A Biography, Elizabeth Young-Bruehl states that "Anna Freud did find her way to having her own desires rather than displacing them onto others and living vicariously; after her fashion, she had a rich and full family life, though she did not, in the 1920's or afterward, have a sexual relationship with Dorothy Burlingham or with anyone else. She remained a 'vestal' - to use the apt word Marie Bonaparte later chose to signal both Anna Freud's virginity and her role as the chief keeper of her father's person and his science, psychoanalysis. The second influential individual in Anna's life was a patient's mother as well. This was Eva Rosenfeld. Anna described her as "You are me and I am you and everything of mine that you could use you should take, because it is rightfully yours. " However, later on these relations became strained due to Anna's dependence and reliance on Dorothy. As Anna made her way into her father's field and became more recognized, he saw her in terms other than a daughter and more as a colleague. "She is truly independent of me; at the most I serve as a catalyst. You will enjoy reading her most recent writings. Of course there are certain worries; she takes things too seriously. What will she do when she has lost me? Will she lead a life of ascetic austerity?"


In 1924 - 1929 Anna Freud spent most of her time taking over her father's professional career. In 1924, she became a member of the Committee of her father's closest advisors. In 1925, she was on the executive board of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Institute and started work as a training analyst. In addition, she also took over all the aspects of production of the Verlag, which is a psychoanalytic publication similar to a journal that her father created. She also fought her father's battles concerning Otto Rank. Otto Rank decided to come out against Freudian beliefs with The Trauma of Birth. This crushed Freud and infuriated Anna Freud. However, Sigmund kept a positive attitude and couldn't understand Anna's hatred. With this and the death of Karl Abraham in Christmas of 1925, the organization of original founders of psychoanalysis was dwindling. All the events brought Anna to the rationalization that she could no longer deny her father's influence on the blossoming of her career and to be grateful for his impact and the opportunities she was given. She states, "that the Committee wants not only to tolerate me as an accessory but to accept me into its ranks as a member. Naturally I know that on my own merits I have no right at all to this, but I am no longer like I used to be, when I would see to it very carefully that everything I received was earned and thus justified. Sometimes, the most beautiful thing is precisely the one that comes unexpectedly and unearned, hence, something given truly as a present. Most beautiful, moreover, if it is for Papa's sake. The both of us were pleased together about it, he no less than I" (Young-Bruehl, 1994)

By the end of 1925, Helen Deutsch founded the Vienna Psychoanalytic Institute. Anna was the secretary. However , there were a lot of problems. Anna ended up being mediator of the group, and her goal was to "be better than the other girls" who were fighting and arguing. She even went so far with this ideology that she would not even permit herself the small depressions that sometimes accompanied her menstrual periods: "I know that it is so regularly with some women, but it shouldn't be so with me" (1994). At this time she began getting heavily involved with Child Psychoanalysis. This was a new area of psychoanalysis that her father had laid the foundation for with his 1909 case study of "Little Hans." In addition to her father's work, she was very interested in the impact that the recent World War had on children who were affected (i.e.- parents died, abandoned or separated). She met with other leaders of this new field, and discussed issues dealing with child psychoanalysis. Anna herself did not publish any critical statements on the subject matter until the publication of her first book in 1927 entitled Introduction to the Technique of Child Analysis. It was a collection of all her lectures, and a direct attack at Melanie Klein's theories. The debate lasted for several years and split many people's thinking of the subject. At the core of this argument that oftentimes escalated into more issues was the idea of the ego and superego and it's formation. Melanie Klein believed that the superego developed at an early age into an unchangeable structure and intrapsychic conflict with this superego is the inceptor of the infantile neuroses. Although it does develop during Oedipal stage, however, it has nothing to do with the parent's influence. Whereas , Anna stuck with her father's idea that the superego was formed from the dissolution of the Oedipus Complex which parent's are for the most part the sole influence. This debate continued for years. After she had a chance to expand her own practice, she faced a trial run of her first lectures. She taught a course at the Vienna Training Institute that was put together by the Vienna Psychoanalytic Institute. In 1927 Anna Freud, Eva Rosenfeld and Dorothy Burlingham organized a school for local children. Within this school Freud and her colleagues (most famous being Erik Erikson) taught alternate teaching methods (i.e. - project method) and took careful cataloged notes of the material. This was the basis for the later, Hampsted War Nursery research.


As Anna began analyzing more and more children, it became apparent that her analysis of children differed from her father's analysis of adults. This very much pleased him. She used different techniques with the children and refuted her father's Little Hans analysis. Her father stated that "symptoms give us our bearings when we make our diagnosis." But children's symptoms, Anna noted, are not the same as those of adults. They are related to particular developmental stages, and they are often transitory in subject. At the time her practice was growing, she was starting to notice things within herself that she needed to work on if she were to be an effective counselor. She had an "unreasonable need for praise and admiration." She wanted her father to view her differently then the women he often encountered in analysis (Dyer, 1983).

As her father was recovering from surgery and getting better, Anna decided to stray away from the house for the first time in years. In the summer of 1927 she and Dorothy took a vacation to the northern Italian lake district. She was even so bold as to extend her vacation by 2 weeks. Her father responded favorably to this. As a result, this pushed her into purchasing, with Dorothy, a country cottage in the Semmering. Each of these women became more and more dependent on one another. However, Dorothy felt that she was more indebted to Anna and her father for "saving her." As their relationship continued to get closer so did the gossip that their relationship was more than friendship and bordered a lesbian affair. Anna repeatedly denied these speculations and continued to until her death. She kept up her work during this time period and published another book. This was entitled Psychoanalysis for Teachers and Parents. It was a collection of her lectures to the city of Hort on their working-class day care system. In 1929 a series of problems caused her family and much of her life into upheaval. In 1929 the Stock Market Crash affected the financial stability of Europeans. This included her family. The Verlag barely stayed afloat as a result. The Austrian government and it's leader, Dollfuss, pledged independence from Germany. There was to be no Nazi interference in their workings. However the Nazi's replied with an attack on the Chancellery on July 25, 1931. In the course of this attack Dollfuss was shot. At this event many Jewish Austrians became increasingly worried at Hitler's regime.

The first wave of Berlin Jewish psychoanalysts fled Vienna for England. After this Anna Freud was made the "second vice president" of the Vienna Society in 1933. In actuality she was the leader because of everyone's hesitation of practicing within Vienna. She had to run the Society without appearing she was overseeing it. It also became a placement agency for psychoanalysts who had fled. As everyone was escaping Vienna, Anna and her father's plans were to keep the Vienna Society's child guidance center going as long as possible and keep things normal. Anna was, however, worried about the idea that her father might be subject to indignities such as a house search, etc. She joined the editorial board of American Journal Psychoanalytic Quarterly and produced for it in 1935 a Child Analysis issue dedicated to her work in Vienna.

From 1934-1936 she spent most of her spare time writing On Defense Mechanisms (Freud, 1936). This is where her child psychoanalysis progressed to adolescence. The book had three purposes. The first was to generally review the technical and theoretical developments that had taught analysts how to give equal consideration clinically to the id, ego and superego. Secondly, to review the mechanisms her father had isolated and described and elaborate on them and summarize them. Lastly, to incorporate her experience thus far with defense mechanisms. She finished the book in time to present to her father on his eightieth birthday, of which he was extremely pleased. In return her gave her a copy of his book Moses and Monotheism.

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