Most focus on major contributions to psychology are on the men; however many women have also made major contributions to psychology between the years 1850 and 1950. Anna Freud is one of these women. This paper will describe her background, theoretical perspective, and contributions to the field of psychology.
Background of Anna Freud Anna Freud was born on December 3, 1895 in Vienna, Austria. She was the youngest of six children. Her parents were Sigmund and Martha Freud. From Anna’s early beginnings she did not form a tight bond with her mother. Anna’s mother went on vacation for several months after she gave birth to Anna. Their nanny, Josefine Cihlarz was the person who took care of Anna and the other young children. Anna did not get along with her siblings as she believed she was boring and not part of them. She did feel close to her father. As Anna grew she tried to involve herself in her mother and sister’s activities such as men, knitting, and beautiful clothing, but she was not interested in those things. Anna did not seem to have a high self-esteem as she considered herself too shabby and inconspicuous ("Women's Intellectual Contributions To The Study Of Mind And Society", n.d.). Anna finished her schooling 1912. She was very bored and restless as a student, and she thought she had learned very little from attending school and more from her father and his guests at home. She was not so sure of what she wanted to do after graduating. She spent time abroad in Italy. In 1914 she became an apprentice in elementary teaching and went to England and passed her teacher’s examination. Anna started her interest in her father’s work at this time. She began translating her father’s work into German. She would often write to her father for clarification of psychoanalytic terms. During her teaching at the Cottage Lyceum, her father began to psychoanalyze her, which was a common practice in those days. This paved the way for Anna into psychoanalysis. Anna was forced to give up teaching because of influenza. She was now able to spend more time on her analysis. In 1920 Anna volunteered at the Baumgarten Home that cared for Jewish children that were orphaned or homeless because of the war inconspicuous ("Women's Intellectual Contributions To The Study Of Mind And Society", n.d.). Anna presented the results of her father’s psychoanalysis to the Vienna Psychoanalytical Society and in 1923 began her own psychoanalytic practice with children (Smirle, 2012).
In 1925 Anna Freud became an instructor at the Vienna Psychoanalytic Training Institute, and she had begun her involvement with child psychoanalysis ("Women's Intellectual Contributions To The Study Of Mind And Society", n.d.). In 1935 Anna published her best known work called The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense. Her book described repression as the principle defense mechanism. According to Anna Freud, repression is an unconscious process that develops as the young children learn some impulses if acted upon could prove dangerous to oneself. She argued that the ego was the key in the resolution of conflict and tension. By focusing on ego functions, Anna could distinguish her work from her father's as she moved away from the traditional thinking. This established Anna as a pioneer and theorist in her own right (Smirle, 2012). Anna included in her book how the defenses work with special attention to adolescents' use of these defenses. Her book started the movement of ego psychology (Owen, 2001).
When World War II started, Anna Freud established The Hampstead War Nursery for children who did not have a home or parents because of the war. While working at the nursery Anna was able to document the impact of stress and separation on the children (Smirle, 2012). Anna Freud worked with more than 100 children and applied her knowledge of child development to