Normality and Pathology in Childhood: Assessments of Development

Author(s) : Anna Freud

Normality and Pathology in Childhood: Assessments of Development

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Anna Freud's book deals with a most neglected aspect of psychoanalysis - normality. Its chief concern is with the ordinary problems of upbringing which face all parents and the usual phenomena encountered by every clinician. Yet, though primarily practical and clinical in its approach, it also makes a major theoretical contribution to psychology.

The author begins with an account of the development of analytic child psychology, its techniques and its sources in child and adult analysis and direct observation of the child. She then describes the course of normal development, how it can be hindered or eased, what are the unavoidable stresses and strains and how variations of normality occur. She outlines a scheme for assessing normality and for gauging and classifying pathological phenomena in terms of the obstruction of normal progress rather than the severity of symptoms. Stress is laid on the problem of predicting the outcome of infantile factors for adult pathology in the face of the child's continual development. Finally, child analysis is considered both as a therapeutic method and as a means for the advance of knowledge.

Anna Freud was outstanding for the close and systematic organization of her material and for the readability, clarity and economy of her writing. As might be expected from one of the most eminent psychoanalysts of her day, her book is a work of major importance.

Reviews and Endorsements

'The most lucid and penetrating presentation so far of what psychoanalysis has taught us on the psychology of the human child.'
- International Journal of Psycho-Analysis

About the Author(s)

Anna Freud, the youngest of Sigmund Freud's six children, and the only one to make her career in psychoanalysis, was born in Vienna on 3 December 1895. Starting her professional life as a schoolteacher, she became a member of the Vienna Psycho-Analytical Society in 1922. She maintained a lifelong interest in education, and her extensive contributions in this field were matched by those in all aspects of family law, pediatrics, as well as psychoanalytic psychology, normal and abnormal. Her work in Vienna was brought to an end by the Nazi occupation and she found sanctuary in London with her parents in 1938. Her father died in the following year, but Anna Freud maintained the tradition he began in her work as a member of the British Psycho-Analytical Society and as the founder of the Hampstead Child Therapy Clinic - now the Anna Freud Centre. Her services to psychoanalysis were recognized by the award of the CBE in 1967 and by a large number of honorary doctorates on both sides of the Atlantic, including as a gesture of reparation, an honorary MD from the University of Vienna. She died on 9 October 1982.

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