Inspirational Women Wednesday, Anna Freud

Anna Freud

“Sometimes the most beautiful thing is precisely the one that comes unexpectedly and unearned, hence something given truly as a present.” -Anna Freud

“How wonderful it is that nobody needs to wait even a single moment before starting to improve the world.” -Anna Freud

“I was always looking outside myself for strength and confidence, but it comes from within. It is there all the time.” -Anna Freud

Anna Freud and Family

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Inspirational Women, Anna Freud

Anna Freud was born on December 3, 1895, in Vienna, Austria. Last name sound familiar? Anna Freud was the sixth and youngest child of Sigmund Freud and Martha Bernays. However, Anna Freud did more than just live in the shadow of her well-known father. She became one of the world’s foremost psychoanalysts, even being recognized as the founder of child psychoanalysis. Anna Freud expanded on her father’s work, identifying many different types of defense mechanisms “that the ego uses to protect itself from anxiety.” Many of these defense mechanisms, like denial, repression, and suppression, are still used frequently in everyday language.

Anna Freud is best known for:

  • Founder of child psychoanalysis
  • Defense mechanisms
  • Contributions to ego psychology

From early on, Anna was extremely close to her father, but the same can not be said about her mother. Anna wasn’t close with her mom and was rumored to have tense relationships with her five siblings. She attended a private school but was quoted as saying she learned very little at school, most of her education came from the teaching of her father, his friends, and his associates. After high school, Anna Freud worked as an elementary school teacher. During this time, she started translating some of her father’s works into German, which lit her passion for child psychology and psychoanalysis.

In 1920, Anna resigned from teaching due to many bouts of different illnesses, which freed up time for her to further foster her interest in her father’s work. In 1922 she presented her paper “Beating Fantasies and Daydreams” to the Vienna Psychoanalytical Society and became a member of the society. In 1923, she began her own psychoanalytical practice with children.  By 1925, she had already worked her way up to teaching at Vienna Psychoanalytic Training Institute on the technique of child analysis.

Sigmund and Anna.jpg

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From 1925 to 1934, Anna Freud she was the Secretary of the International Psychoanalytical Association while she continued child analysis.  Dorothy Burlingham, the heiress to the Tiffany luxury jewelry retailer, arrived in Vienna from New York with her four children and entered analysis with Freud himself. Anna and Dorothy entered into an intimate relationship, that Anna “categorically denied.” However, they were together until the day she died.

In 1938, when Nazi Germany occupied Austria, Anna was taken into the  Gestapo headquarters in Vienna for questioning. They questioned her on the activities of the International Psychoanalytical Association. Anna and her brother, Martin, had gotten large amounts of  Veronal, with the intention of committing suicide if faced with torture or internment, which their father did not know about. However, she made it through the interrogation, returned home, and talked her father into fleeing Vienna. The family established their new home in London.

In 1941, Anna and Dorothy created the Hampstead War Nursery for children whose lives had been disrupted by the war. The nursery served as a psychoanalytic program and home for homeless children. From the 1950s until the end of her life Freud traveled regularly to the United States to lecture and teach. She taught seminars on crime and the family at Yale Law School, which led to collaboration with Joseph Goldstein and Albert J. Solnit on children’s needs and the law, which they published in three volumes:

  1. Beyond the Best Interests of the Child (1973)
  2. Before the Best Interests of the Child (1979)
  3. In the Best Interests of the Child (1986)

On October 9, 1982, Anna Freud died in London. She was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium, and placed on a shelf at the crematorium, along with her life partner Dorothy Burlingham and several other members of the Freud family. Her wishes were answered in 1986 when her London home redone creating the Freud Museum, dedicated to the memory of her father.

See you next week for another #InspirationalWomenWednesday. ❤


Institute of Psychoanalysis 

Very Well Mind

Anna Freud Wikipedia

Anna Freud

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“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” -Isaiah 40:31



  1. Bravo! I have read an accounting of the Freud family and it is no wonder she had a tense relationship with her mother if she was close to her dad. Martha was always jealous of the time he spent with other people. #KCACOLS

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