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The Core Curriculum

Photo of Sigmund Freud and Anna Freud, 1913.

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Freud had six children, but the only one to become a psychoanalyst was his youngest, Anna, with whom he was particularly close. Anna Freud became, during the last period of Freud’s life, and then after his death, an important psychoanalytic theoretician, as well as a representative and emissary of psychoanalysis to the world. Anna Freud’s psychoanalytic work was primarily with children. But her book The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense explained the fundamental ways in which a person’s conscious “I” (or ego) defends itself against the desire and aggression it refuses to recognize—for example, through projecting them onto other people, through obsessively controlling them, or through repressing them. This book became a primary text in the development of ego psychology, the type of psychoanalysis that became dominant immediately after Freud’s death. Ego psychology particularly emphasizes the role that the ego’s defense against desire and aggression plays in mental pathology, and minimizes the role played by the formation of unconscious fantasies; additionally, it stresses the therapeutic aim of helping the patient’s ego recognize and master unconscious desire and aggression. 


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