DECEMBER 3: Anna Freud (1895-1982)


Anna Freud, the daughter of
legendary psychologist Sigmund Freud, was born on this day in 1895. Today, Anna
is most well remembered for being a pioneer of psychoanalytical child
psychology and for living a happy lesbian life despite her own father’s claims
that lesbianism was a psychological death sentence.

A young Anna Freud photographed in 1912 (x).

Anna Freud was born on December 3,
1895 in Vienna, Austria-Hungary. She was the sixth and youngest daughter born
to Sigmund Freud and his wife Martha. She later claimed to have grown up in a
comfortable bourgeois household despite not having much of a relationship with
her mother and being raised by a nanny named Josephine in her place. Anna was
closer to her father than any of her other sisters and claimed to have learned
more from growing up around Sigmund and his friends than from attending
traditional school.

In 1914, Anna began a career as an
elementary school teacher. Although she loved the work and was profusely
praised by her superiors, she was forced to leave the position in 1920 after
multiple bouts of illness. In the following years, she came under analysis by
her father and began to foray into psychoanalytical studies herself. Anna soon
became a member of the Vienna Psychoanalytical Society and began teaching child
analysis at the Vienna Psychoanalytic Training Institute. By 1935, she had
become the director of the institute and had published her magnum opus, The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence,
which is now seen as the backbone of ego psychology.

Anna’s partner for over 50 years
was Dorothy Burlingham, the heiress to the Tiffany jewelry
fortune. The two first met in 1925 when Dorothy traveled from New York to Vienna to
have her four children psychoanalyzed by Anna’s father. Although Anna denied the sexual nature
of her relationship with Dorothy during the beginning of their relationship, it
is undeniable that the two had a partnership. The two moved in together in 1929
and Anna would act as stepparent to Dorothy’s children for the rest of her

After fleeing Vienna at the outbreak of World War II, Anna, Dorothy, and
their children found a new home in England. During and after the war, Anna worked for The Hampstead
War Nursery for children war victims and then later The Bulldogs Bank Home for
children who had survived concentration camps. She eventually passed away on October 9,
1982 in London. Her ashes are laid to rest next to those of her lifelong
partner, Dorothy.