Thursday, December 3, 2015

Anna with Gestapo

Anna Freud, a key figure in the development of psychoanalytic child psychology, was born 120 years ago today. It seems unlikely that she never kept a diary, but her papers remain under the control of the Freud archive and, to date, there has been no published evidence of any journals or diaries. Her famous father wasn’t much of a diary keeper either, but, in the latter years of his life, he kept a ‘chronicle’ consisting of no more than a single phrase for most days. This has been published in a large book - as The Diary of Sigmund Freud - with half-page explanations for every phrase! According to the editors, Anna’s name ‘absolutely dominates’ the record - with entries such as ‘Anna with Gestapo’.

Anna Freud was born in Vienna on 3 December 1895 to Sigmund Freud and Martha Bernays, the youngest of six children. She is said to have been competitive with her siblings, and to have been naughty, learning more at home than at school. From 1915, she worked as a teacher in her old school, the Cottage Lyceum, remaining there until 1920. She left, apparently, due to illness. By this time, she was already undergoing analysis by her father.

Having had the chance to observe children on a daily basis while teaching, Anna Freud was drawn to child psychology, and began her own psychoanalytical practice. From 1927 until 1934, she was General Secretary of the International Psychoanalytical Association, originally started by her father, where she presented papers outlining her approach to child psychoanalysis. Having taught at the Vienna Psychoanalytical Training Institute for some years, she became its director in 1935. The following year, she published The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence, a founding work of ego psychology, establishing her reputation as a pioneering theoretician.

In 1938, the Freuds fled from Austria in response to Nazi harassment of Jews - indeed Anna had been arrested by the Gestapo. They immigrated to London, to a house in Maresfield Gardens, Hampstead, (not a 100 metres, in fact, from where I spent my early childhood in the 1950s). Sigmund Freud died a year later, but Anna continued to live in the same house 
(now a museumfor the rest of her life. Anna’s teaching in London led to a conflict between her and Melanie Klein - who had evolved her own theory and technique for child analysis - which threatened to split the British Psychoanalytical Society. A series of war-time ‘Controversial Discussions’ ended with the formation of parallel training courses for the two groups.

During the war, Anna set up the Hampstead War Nursery to provide foster care for over 80 children of single-parent families. Together with her lifelong friend Dorothy Burlingham, she published studies of children under stress in Young Children in War-Time and Infants without Families. By 1947, Freud and Kate Friedlaender had established the Hampstead Child Therapy Courses, training English and US child therapists, and a children’s clinic was added a few years later. From the 1950s, Freud travelled regularly to the US to lecture and teach. At Yale Law School, for example, she taught seminars on crime and the family, leading to publication of Beyond the Best Interests of the Child (1973) with Joseph Goldstein and Albert Solnit.

The publication of her collected works was begun in 1968, but the last of the eight volumes did not appear until 1983, a year after her death. The International Journal of Psycho-Analysis put out a memorial issue, and the clinic was renamed the Anna Freud Centre. Further information is available from The Freud Museum, Wikipedia, the BBC, Psychology’s Feminist Voices or The Philosophers’ Mail.

If Anna Freud kept a diary at any point in her life, there’s been no sign of it being published or being used for biographical purposes. The only diaries kept by Anna held in the Freud Museum archives are appointment diaries. The so-called Freud Archive, held by the US Library of Congress, has a significant number of documents which remain sealed for years to come - see an article by Joseph L. Sax in RBM. But, whether any of these are Anna’s or not is hard to tell. A review of the fictional Hysterical: Anna Freud’s Story by Rebecca Coffey states, ‘Anna’s papers and diaries remain under the control of the Freud Archives’.

In the absence of any diaries left by Anna, I turned to her father. But he wasn’t much of a diary writer either. Ilse Grubrich-Simitis, in her book Back to Freud's Texts: Making Silent Documents Speak (Yale University Press, 1996, see Googlebooks) refers to his ‘diary like personal jottings’ and specifies: ‘the slim “Geheim-Chronik” [secret chronicle] kept jointly with his fiancée from 1883 to 1886; the “Resiejournal” [travel diary], also comprising only a few pages, on the beginning of the voyage to America in 1909 with Ferenczi and Jung; the entries in “Prochaskas Familien-Kalender”; the “Kürzeste Chronik”.’

This latter, the “Kürzeste Chronik” or “Shortest Chronicle”, was published in English by the Hogarth Press in 1992 as The Diary of Sigmund Freud 1929-1939: A Record of the Final Decade (translated and annotated by Michael Molnar). The book is large and thick, and lavishly illustrated with many black and white photographs, but the actual diary entries by Freud are so short - a few words - that they are even included verbatim within the index (as well as at least three times elsewhere)! The bulk of the book, however, is taken up with extensive annotations of each diary entry - explanations, embellishments and analysis of Freud’s daily life.

Molnar explains in his introduction that, in 1986, the papers stored all over the house were assigned to an archive, and how, at that point, Freud’s diary was handed over to him. He goes on to say: ‘It is worth noting how frequently various names are mentioned in the diary. Not surprisingly, it is Anna’s name which absolutely dominates the record, for it was during these years of sickness that she became Freud’s constant companion, his faithful “Anna-Antigone”.’ Here are some, but not all, of Sigmund Freud’s laconic diary entries mentioning his daughter.

3 December 1929
‘Anna’s birthday 34 yrs’

17 December 1929
‘Anna to Essen - cut stones bought’

21 December 1929
‘Anna back’

26 March 1930
‘Anna to Bpest. Elkuss +’

27 March 1930
‘Anna back - Eitington from Paris’

15 April 1930
‘Anna & Dorothy to Paris’

17 April 1930
‘Anna & Dorothy back’

14 September 1930
‘Anna at Mother’s burial’

22 February 1932
‘Anna and I have infectious cold’

3 December 1933
‘Anna 38 yr’

23 January 1935
‘Anna’s lecture’

11 June 1937
‘Anna’s accident’

22 March 1938
‘Anna with Gestapo’

20 May 1939
‘Anna to Amsterdam’

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I am finding the 'Shortest Chronicle' and Molnar's annotated 'Diary of Sigmund Freud...' of very great value. Freud maintained his analytic practice much longer than the 'chronicle' had anticipated, kept up a massive correspondence, and of course wrote a great deal and met with many, family, followers, and others. I think the brevity of the 'chronicle' entries is a good model for many of us to follow, for it is a manageable format, even if one does manage to maintain a diary or journal of some greater length. For students who daily read, are lectured to, and discuss in formal and leisure settings throughout a semester, could benefit at the time of mid-term, final examinations, or other juncture if they had brief notes, no matter how many to consult. This would reduce the amount of stressful 'cramming' that for too many marks the end of higher education. Molnar not only annotates but also discusses the reasoning he felt lies behind Freud's effort. It is a very thorough and thoughtful job.