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The Anna Freud Tradition

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This volume honours Anna Freud's work and legacy by providing a detailed summary of the Psychoanalytic Developmental Tradition and illustrations of its contributions to the field of Child Psychotherapy and beyond. Through the use of clinical, historical, anecdotal and outreach narratives, this book seeks to acknowledge how regardless of the evolution of child psychoanalytic theory and practice, and recent changes at the Anna Freud Centre in terms of a broad scope of trainings and interventions, the underlying psychoanalytic principles set by its founder continue to inform the work of clinicians and scholars, both within and outside this school of thought.

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PART I: ANNA FREUD: HER WORK AND LEGACY

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Mary Target

It is an honour to write this brief introduction to such a welcome and timely book. I am highly aware of how much the Centre has changed, in some important ways almost out of recognition. This is especially true in relation to child psychotherapy and child psychoanalysis, and to a lesser extent in relation to the kinds of research and training which are carried on now, and their integration or otherwise with clinical activity.

Strong cohesion had, in the days of the Hampstead Child Therapy Course and Clinic, been created by an overriding commitment to psychoanalytic theory and treatment, by unquestioned loyalty to Miss Freud as the Centre’s leader and founder, and by nearly all professional staff participating right across the Clinic’s domains of treatment, research, and training, so that all staff knew each other and worked together continually. And, very importantly, by the presence of the Centre’s young patients and their families, together with their therapists, the Centre’s own symbolic “children”: every cohort of trainees labouring away full-time for four to five years, with nearly all the training on site, Maresfield Gardens, a home for this international group of committed young people.

 

PART II: CLINICAL WORK AND APPLICATIONS OF ANNA FREUD’S DEVELOPMENTAL TRADITION

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Frances Thomson Salo

The range of psychodynamic interventions in infancy has changed enormously since Anna Freud’s day but I think she would have been interested in the explosion of knowledge about infants and pleased about therapeutic developments.

With new research technology, knowledge about the capacities of babies is increasingly augmented by studies in neonatal temperament and attachment, and from neuroscience. A different kind of knowledge is gained from psychoanalytic infant observation which offers a fine-grained way of coming to know the baby in his or her family over one or two years.

All these provide evidence for our intuitive understanding that in the baby’s developing sense of self from birth, active agency, differentiation and recognition of self and other, and a capacity for empathy, are important.

The world of the baby is interactive from the start. Newborns actively process information and can imitate their parents’ facial gestures even in the first hour. Imitation has been described as a two-way bridge that bears psychological traffic from birth and helps the differentiation of self and other (Meltzoff, 2005). Babies want above all to be enthusiastically enjoyed by their parents, to matter to them, to be in their mind. They can show their pleasure by smiling in the first week. A mirroring system for matching expressive states between people is active in the brain probably from birth and provides a neurobiological basis for empathy and intersubjectiv-ity, the capacity to understand the feelings of other people and share subjective experiences. From the second month onwards babies are capable of complex relational feelings. When they feel that they have successfully captured another person’s attention and approval, they have a sense of pride; they can feel shame if they cannot entrance their parents or feel misunderstood or disliked.

 

PART III: SPECIALIZED WORK IN THE ANNA FREUDIAN TRADITION: PAST, CURRENT, AND FUTURE

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Minna Daum and Linda Mayes

Among the questions that perplex and burden clinicians is how to interrupt a cycle of chronic stress and adversity so that children are not destined to repeat their parents’ tragedies. Anna Freud’s developmental theory grew out of her work with children and families beset with the most horrible of adversities and chronic stress. Children orphaned or separated from their parents during the Blitz came into her care and gave her first-hand experience with the often devastating impact of abrupt parental loss, while her experience with highly traumatized families who came to the Hampstead Clinic informed her understanding of the often stubbornly persistent trauma-related behaviours in both adults and children and their expression in children’s emerging character structure and personality. As evidenced by her creative collaborations with Albert Solnit and Joseph Goldstein at Yale, she became deeply concerned about child protection in the face of unstable, chaotic families and unpredictable or abusive parental care (e.g., Goldstein, et al., 1984, 1986).

 

PART IV: PERSONAL AND THEORETICAL REFLECTIONS FROM CLINICIANS TRAINED AT THE ANNA FREUD CENTRE

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Jack Novick and Kerry Kelly Novick

We first met Anna Freud in 1965, when she was nearly seventy years old. At an age when most people are ready to retire, she was entering her most productive period, as a theoretician, clinician, researcher, and teacher. We knew her as students and then as staff and faculty members at the Hampstead Clinic, for twelve years.

Anna Freud’s clinical genius had at root the simple imperative to know how children think, feel, and see the world. This demands what has now come to be called “empathic attune-ment”, but Anna Freud did not see this as a special technical stance, requiring a different theory. Rather it was a central postulate of psychoanalysis with its assumption of the reality of intrapsychic life.

Every account of Anna Freud describes her awesome capacity for concise, clear, dynamic formulations of complex material in accessible language. All day, every day, at Hampstead she attended meetings in which clinical material was presented. Miss Freud was flexible in her analytic technique. Around the inflexible core of always being the child’s analyst, many things were comfortably possible. She emphasized that analysis is a relationship between two people which encompasses both transference and reality. It was Anna Freud who pioneered the extension of analysis beyond the group of adult neurotic patients, and it was she who continued to apply analytic ideas to many other areas, from law to paediatrics.

 

APPENDIX: Biographical cameos

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Marion Burgner (1930–1996), née Chasek, was born into a Russian Jewish immigrant family and grew up in east London. She won scholarships to grammar school and then to the University of London, obtaining an honours degree in English from Birkbeck College and later also qualified in psychology. She trained at the Hampstead Child Therapy Course and later qualified as an adult psychoanalyst, becoming a training analyst at the British Psychoanalytical Society in 1984. In addition to clinical practice she worked for various organizations including the Hampstead Clinic and the Child Guidance Training Centre. She worked with an early HIV/AIDS research group at the Tavistock and Portman Clinics, and taught for many years at University College Hospital. She also was involved in research participating in the Young Adult Research Programme led by Anne-Marie Sandler at the Anna Freud Centre (members of which were Julia Fabricius, Dr Luigi Caparotta, Rose Edgcumbe, Hansi Kennedy, Rosemary Davies, Dr Rosine Perelberg, Dr Duncan McLean, Anne Harrison, Dr Anne Zachary, Professor Maria Tallandini, Dr Sally Weintrobe, and Dr Brian Martindale). Over the years, Marion was a member of numerous other study groups including the Clinical Concept Research Group (chaired by Humberto Nagera), the Profile Research Group, a study group she co-chaired with Audrey Gavshon, and the Hampstead Index Committee chaired by Joseph Sandler. She applied her intellectual rigour to integrating Anna Freud’s developmental perspective with newer ideas emerging from the Hampstead Clinic (e.g., teasing out aspects of the representational world, such as “object constancy” in terms of relationship, as Peter Fonagy noted in her obituary), and reconciling classical theory with findings from her wide clinical experience with severely disturbed children, adolescents, and young adults. Her prescient contributions included several papers written with Rose Edgcumbe, reconceptualizing different phases of development (1972a, 1972b, 1975) while emphasizing early object relationships. In a paper which became a classic in its own right, they elaborated on Anna Freud’s concept of the “phallic-narcissistic phase”, delineating early pre-Oedipal narcissistic construction of body self-representations from Oedipal acquisition of sexual identity in the context of an intimate threesome. Exploring phallic development in both girls and boys, they saw penis envy and exhibitionism as a complicated compromise formation involving aspects of gender identity, pathological object relations, defences, narcissism, and self-esteem. A later paper (1980), written with Hansi Kennedy, focused on the early family origins of sadomasochistic behaviour in children, linking sadism not to the anal phase but to a phallic-Oedipal configuration and search for gratification through omnipotence, control, domination and denigration of the object, safeguarding the integrity of the self-representation. She also wrote on the effects of paternal absence (a repeated theme in the clinical papers of this volume) based on discussions in a group co-chaired with Audrey Gavshon, including Carla Elliott, Susan Vas Dias, and Irene Wineman. In later years, based on research at the Brent Consultation Centre, she published a paper on adolescent breakdown, suggesting that major psychiatric problems indicate a failure in negotiating psychic separateness from internal primary objects. [Compiled from Anne-Marie Sandler, Bulletin of the British Psychoanalytical Society, 32(11): 19; Fonagy, P. (1997). Marion Burgner. Psychoanaytic Psycho-therapy, 11: 173–176.]

 

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