Lost Girl
Doug Davis

There is no Freud scholarship without a transference onto Freud.

When thou dost ask me blessing, I'll kneel down,
And ask of thee forgiveness: so we'll live,
And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh
At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues
Talk of court news; and we'll talk with them too,
Who loses and who wins; who's in, who's out;
And take upon's the mystery of things,
As if we were God's spies…
King Lear


Spring, 1999. A decade ago I wrote a paper on Freud's unpublished five year (1895-1900) treatment of a male hysteric, which I constructed as an origin tale of psychoanalysis in transition from positivist-etiological to transferential-narratological discipline. I've been realizing these past months that it's time to attempt a telling of another, more troubling, latent story from Freud's couch: his four year "treatment" of his daughter Anna. I heard one of the (counter)transferentially loaded versions of this therapy -- by analyst/English prof. Patrick Mahoney -- at a conference on Freud in Toronto in 1990 (Mahoney, 1992). I was moved and angered by Mahoney's parable of Anna's transformation on her father's couch from jealous, depressed, masochistic, anorectic, latent-homosexual teenager to the paragon of Freud-guarding 'altruistic surrender' she became in the last years of her father's life. Mahoney points to the richly overdetermined meanings of Anna for Sigmund Freud as Cordelia/Antigone, a hedge against personal mortality and professional defection as Freud’s “metapsychological” papers of the nineteen-teens beget the troubling gender and death theories of the early 20s. In Mahoney’s account Anna is shaped by her father in the image of a goddess, an uncanny virgin who assuages her father’s pain and prepares him for the under-world even as she takes over his legacy in this one -- Antigone to his Oedipus, Cordelia to his Lear. Like Cordelia, she finally has her mad father’s love; and he (as, for 16 years, she ministers to his cancerous mouth), the maternal/pre-oedipal love so long sought. In contrast to the compelling and disturbing story Mahoney told, Elizabeth Young-Bruehl's biography, by far the richest source of information about Anna's life and the basis for Mahoney's treament, seemed to me to pull its punches, to skirt issues of Anna's sexuality as a teen-ager, and her (a)sexuality as an adult. For my purposes here, the key biographical datum is Anna's notes on a dream she had after her father's death, while she was caring for children separated from their parents by the London Blitz. D.M. Thomas's appropriation of the Sigmund-Anna relationship for a chapter of his novel, Eating Pavlova, constructs the erotic fantasies a dying Freud might have had about his daughter's love of him, and his of her. Young-Bruehl, Mahoney, and Thomas spin their three Annas around the same relationship, and somewhere in the middle, I imagine, we might get a glimpse of the lost girl who is all these women, and none.

Anna's fate has seemed to me to complement and fulfill her father's, in the double-tragedy that is the origin tale of psychoanalysis. My own complex relationship to this story became apparent as I compared my reactions to the Young-Bruehl, the Mahoney, and the Thomas tellings of the story of Anna.

Anna was the sixth and last of the children born to Martha and Sigmund Freud. She was born late in 1895, the year of Freud and Breuer published Studies on Hysteria, the year Wilhelm Fliess operated on Emma Eckstein. Her conception seems to have resulted from a failure either of her parents’ contraceptive technique or their resolve to employ it; and she took form along with Freud’s hermeneutic in the summer of the “Irma” dream. Her childish speech is quoted by Freud in The Interpretation of Dreams, where he describes her expressing her longing for strawberries. She admired and envied her two older sisters, Mathilde and Sophie, lacking the former’s feminine home-craft and the latter’s beauty. She seems to have been a serious girl, but she remembered her father's characterization of her as his "Little blackamoor." In early adolescence she developed a severe psychopathology, consisting of sado-masochistic fantasies accompanied by compulsive masturbation, an eating disorder, and depression. Her father treated her with a several points in her adolescence, and initiated regular psychoanalytic sessions in the fall of 918, when she was approaching 23. She and her father reconstructed her fantsies in three phases, from the masturbatory beating fantasies of puberty to the 'nice stories' of her mid-teens and finally the poetry and romantic fiction she composed as a young adult. As both youth and adult, Anna found herself ugly, clumsy, dumm, especially when the adolescent “nice stories,” with their tortured, princely, self-sacrificing youth would intrude on her sublimated analytic work, entice her back to the body’s demands, and she would give in to sado-machochistic fantasy, and to lust. In her own analysis of the beating fantasies, presented as her candidacy paper to the Berlin Psychoanalytic Society in 1922, Anna tells her "nice story" fantasy as follows, referring to herself in the third person as befits a case history:

The material she used in this story was as follows: A medieval knight has been engaged in a long feud with a number of nobles who are in league against him. In the course of a battle a fifteen-year-old noble youth (i.e., the age of the daydreamer) is captured by the knight's henchmen. He is taken to the knight's castle where he is held prisoner for a long time. Finally, he is released.

Instead of spinning out and continuing the tale (as in a novel published in installments), the girl made use of the plot as a sort of outer frame for her daydream. Into this frame she inserted a variety of minor and major episodes, each a completed tale that was entirely independent of the others, and formed exactly like a real novel, containing an introduction, the development of a plot which leads to heightened tension and ultimately to a climax. In this she did not feel bound to workout a logical sequence of events. Depending on her mood she could revert to an earlier or later-occurring phase of the tale, or interpose a new situation between two already completed and contemporaneous scenes-until finally the frame of her stories was in danger of being shattered by the abundance of scenes and situations accommodated within it.

In this daydream, which was the simplest of them all, there were only two figures that were really important; all the others can be disregarded as incidental and subordinate by-players. One of these main figures is the noble youth whom the daydreamer has endowed with all possible good and attractive characteristics; the other one is the knight of the castle who is depicted as sinister and violent. The opposition between the two is further intensified by the addition of several incidents from their past family histories -- so that the whole setting is one of apparently irreconcilable antagonism between one who is strong and mighty and another who is weak and in the power of the former.

A great introductory scene describes their first meeting during which the knight threatens to put the prisoner on the rack to force him to betray his secrets. The youth’s conviction of his helplessness is thereby confirmed and his dread of the knight awakened. These two elements are the basis of all subsequent situations. For example, the knight in fact threatens the youth and makes ready to torture him, but at the last moment the knight desists. He nearly kills the youth through the long imprisonment, but just before it is too late the knight has him nursed back to health. As soon as the prisoner has recovered the knight threatens him again, but faced by the youth's fortitude the knight spares him again. And every time the knight is just about to inflict great harm, he grants the youth one favor after another.
(Freud, A., 1922)

She then works out the psychosexual twists of her story in classic Oedipal fashion:

In the first phase the person who beats also was the father; however, the child who was being beaten was not the fantasying child but other children, brothers or sisters, i.e., rivals for the father's love. In this first phase, therefore, the child claimed all the love for himself and left all the punishment and castigation to the others. With the repression of the oedipal strivings and the dawning sense of guilt, the punishment is subsequently turned back on the child himself. At the same time, however, as a consequence of regression from the genital to the pregenital anal-sadistic organization, the beating situation could still be used as an expression of a love situation.

This was the age 14-15 successor to the "nice stories" of childhood (age 7-9), themselves reactive transformations of the original wishes that the father might beat one's siblings. The resolution of these tendecies in the final phase is a nice story, indeed:

The sublimation of sensual love into tender friendship is of course greatly facilitated by the fact that already in the early stages of the beating fantasy the girl abandoned the difference of the sexes and is invariably represented as a boy.

Thus equipped, Anna Freud entered the profession of psychoanalysis she would inherit from her father. From the self-conscious and self-critical teenager sent off to visit the English relatives, she was able to become the dedicated companion of several women and surrogate mother to other women's children. She remained devoted to her father thoughout his lifetime, and to a strict-constructionist expression of his theories throughout hers.


I read Elizabeth Young-Bruehl's authorized biography of Anna in the aftermath of Mahoney's paper, finding there both the immensely evocative story of Anna's mourning dreams for her father in "On Losing and Being Lost" (Young-Bruehl, 1988, Chapter 7) and the reassuring tale – the 'nice story' – of how Anna gave up her neurosis, and her sexuality, to become Anna/Antigone the sublimated post-Oedipal figure to whom Ernest Jones was to dedicate the paradigmatic Freud biography – "the true daughter of an immortal sire" (Jones, 1953, 1955, 1957: frontispiece). This Anna became caregiver to other peoples' children and intimate companion first to her father and then to Dorothy Burlingham. She became the favored architect of the  late-Freudian structural theory, with its harried ego constructing mechanisms of defence around a “conflict-free” zone captured from id and superego and capable of negotiating access to sublimated pleasures from “reality.” She dreamed, in the war years after her father's death, that he came back to offer the tenderness he had withheld in life. After decades of internecine strife in the psychoanalytic movement, Anna inherited the mantle of her father’s authority, outlasted the other ring-bearers and came to guard the portal to the treasures of the Freud Archive. She was characteristically allowed final approval by Sigmund Freud Copyrights and the Freud Archive on all matters related to her father’s reputation: editing out patient names, family details, and Fliessiana in the correspondence with best-friend Wilhelm in the ‘90s; suppressing Freud’s early courtship correspondence with her mother and his late chastening of follower Ferenczi, putting errant biographers and revisers in their place.


D.M. Thomas's Eating Pavlova (1994), in which a dying, morphine-soaked Freud lives out in dream and fantasy the primary-process possibilities of his encounters with best-friend Wilhelm Fliess, with sister-in-law Minna Bernays, with "Dora" Bauer's parents, and with Anna/Cordelia, completed this counter-transferential lens through which I'm now seeing my old master. Thomas’s account is finally the most compelling, despite its impossibility. In one chapter -- the delusional elaboration of a fantasy stimulated by Freud's discovery of a notebook in which Anna has detailed her fantasy of being married to him -- Freud records that his erotic interest has been re-awakened at 60, when the 43-year-old Anna .

Anna Freud entered psychoanalytic history as the four-month fetus (see Young-Bruehl, 1988, p. 25) in the dream-work behind Freud's "specimen dream" of July, 1895 – one of many explanations for the troubling symptoms of "Irma"/Emma/Mathilde/Martha/Anna, the patient whose reproaches animate the dream, pointing Freud to Fliessian failings he will not address (Freud, 1900, Chapter 2). She was destined to be the grudgingly-appreciated naughty last child, the Blackamoor, shadowing mature Mathilde and lovely Sophie, replicating as a teenager the former's appendicitis and being exiled to recover from both physical and psychological illness at the time of the latter's wedding. Finally  she was destined to be the stand-in for dead Sophie in the period of her father's greatest grief and full confrontation with his own mortality after 1920, comforting him on the death of Sophie’s darling boy and nursing him through the interminable cancer of the jaw.

Freud's world is a structure of triangles: Papa-Anna-Mama, Papa-Mathilde/Sophie-Anna, Sophie-Anna-fiance, Ernest Jones-Anna-Loe Kann, Sigmund-Anna-Frau Lou, Sigmund-Anna-Dorothy. Anna's sado-masochistic, sister-jealous, Mama-pushing, Papa-pulling fantasy library has apparently been lost: the childishly-rendered torments of poor, pretty Sophie-child at the hands of Mama-Papa-Anna; the noble, long-suffering, androgenous youth of the "nice stories," taming the rage of his lordly captor by his submissiveness and resolve; and all the liminal, eliptic material shelved between them. Anna's repertoire seems to have taken form and variety in the years after her appendectomy -- itself a cautionary tale in two chapters whose unwomaned older sister (Mathilde), deceitful Mama, shadowy Papa, invaded Anna must be read between the lines of the flanking volumes, the Beating Fantasies and the Nice Stories.*

As Mahoney notes, Freud segued from the Anna-treatment to Beyond the Pleasure Principle, that strange construction against the grain of a pleasure hermeneutic laid down in The Interpretation of Dreams. Freud’s own death makes itself known with diagnosis of his cancer of the jaw in 1924, even as he is struggling with grief over Sophie's and Heinerle's deaths and rationalizing Anna’s therapy into femininity theory, with its admonition to renounce the clitoris and desire for the love of care, the pleasure in duty.

Finally, Sigmund gets his wish, and Anna hers. He is nursed, cherished through the long goodbye of the 20s and 30s, then allowed to die as Freud, in freedom. Anna gets a long and respected life, cherishing her father’s memory and living the chaste life of the warrior queen, widow/child of Lear and Oedipus. In the happy ending, Lear’s kingdom is returned to him, with Cordelia as caretaker.[1]


Appignanesi, L., & Forrester, J. (1992). Freud's women. New York: Basic Books.

'St. Anna' The holy spinster who in what she herself named 'altruistic surrender', gives herself up to the care of Freud and his legacy. Anna-Cordelia, youngest of three daughters, who in adolescence feels herself 'dumm' and leaden, yet loves most and remains loyal to her father. 'Anna-Antigone', the indomitable daughter, not eyes and sight but mouth and speech to the increasingly silent inventor of the talking cure. Anna, who is 'stärker wie ich', stronger than me as Freud says, and leads her ailing Oedipus out of Nazi Vienna to the safety of Britain.
(Appignanesi & Forrester, 1992, p. 272)

Blass, Rachel B. (1993). Insights into the struggle of creativity: A rereading of Anna Freud's "Beating fantasies and daydreams." Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 48, 67-97.

The presentation of "Beating Fantasies and Daydreams" as her candidacy paper and Anna Freud's opening a dialogue with her father therein may now also be seen as another step in the girl's development in her struggle with creativity. In the written story Anna Freud accepted the conflict over creativity and no longer needed her masochisitic maneuvers, but she could not yet allow herself to be creative. The acceptance of the libidinal origiin of of the creativity that this requires is begun in Anna Freud's presentation. Through the presentation Anna Freud not only tells her father, but she becomes her father. She goes on to enact her conflictual masturbatory wishes. While writing of autism as something developmentally inferior, something to be overcome in favor of social intercourse, Anna Freud, in effect, transforms her analysis with her father into a self-analysis.
(Blass, 1993, pp. 93-94)

Davis, D.A. (1990). Freud's unwritten case. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 7, 185-209.

Freud, A. (1923). Beating fantasies and daydreams. In The writings of Anna Freud, v 1, pp. 137-157. New York: International Universities Press, 1974. (local)

Freud, S. (1900). The interpretation of dreams. Standard Edition, v. 2. (A.A. Brill translation)

Freud, S. (1919) 'A Child is Being Beaten' A Contribution to the Study of the Origin of Sexual Perversions. Standard Edition, v. 17, pp. 175-204. London: Hogarth Press, 1955. (local)

There can be no doubt that the original phantasy in the case of the girl, 'I am being beaten (i.e. I am loved) by my father', represents a feminine attitude, and corresponds to her dominant and manifest sex; according to the theory, therefore, it ought to escape repression, and there would be no need for its becoming unconscious. But as a matter of fact it does become unconscious, and is replaced by a conscious phantasy which disavows the girl's manifest sexual character. The theory is therefore useless as an explanation of beating-phantasies, and is contradicted by the facts. It might be objected that it is precisely in unmanly boys and unwomanly girls that these beating-phantasies appeared and went through these vicissitudes; or that it was a trait of femininity in the boy and of masculinity in the girl which must be made responsible for the production of a passive phantasy in the boy, and its repression in the girl. We should be inclined to agree with this view, but it would not be any the less impossible to defend the supposed relation between manifest sexual character and the choice of what is destined for repression. In the last resort we can only see that both in male and female individuals masculine as well as feminine instinctual impulses are found, and that each can equally well undergo repression and so become unconscious. (Freud, 1919, p. 202)

Freud, S. (1916). A letter to Anna Freud. American Imago 53.3 (1996) 201-204. (Translated and Annotated by Michael Molnar)

Freud Museum, London: Life and work of Anna Freud.

Homer. (-800) The Odyssey. Samuel Butler, Trans. (MIT: The Internet Classics Archive)

Lean, David. (1942). "In Which We Serve": Mrs. Hardy. (IMDB listing)

Mahoney, P. (1992). Freud as family therapist: Reflections. In T. Gelfand & J. Kerr (Eds.) Freud and the history of psychoanalysis.. Hilldale, NJ: The Analytic Press. (streamed audio download)

Freud established himself -- or disestablished himself -- as a family therapist in that unique act of wild analysis when he took his own daughter into an impossible and incestuous treatment.

It was in 1919, when Anna's year-old analysis was fully underway, that Freud wrote "A Child is Being Beaten." The grammatically present progressive in the title, I propose, also reflects Freud's concurrent clinical activity with Anna. He was in the process of beating her. In a homegrown version of the return of the repressed, and in a fatherly professional twist of the seduction theory, Freud was carrying out an iatrogenic seduction and abuse of his daughter. Her beating fantasies were doubled.
(Mahoney, 1992, pp. 307-308)

Newitz, Annalee.(2000) Imagining an orgasm. Salon.com, October 4, 2000.

Réage, Pauline. (1965). Story of O. (trans. S. d'Estrée). New York: Grove Press. (Original work published in 1954). {cf. EC 1.7 (7-20-94)}

Réage, Pauline. (1971). Return to the château. (trans. S. d'Estrée). New York: Grove Press. (Original work published in 1969).

Rostopchine, Sophie, comtesse de Ségur. (1864). Les Malheurs de Sophie. Paris: Hachette.

Shakespeare. The tragedy of King Lear. Act 5, Scene 3

We are not the first
Who, with best meaning, have incurr'd the worst.
For thee, oppressed king, am I cast down;
Myself could else out-frown false fortune's frown.
Shall we not see these daughters and these sisters?

No, no, no, no! Come, let's away to prison:
We two alone will sing like birds i' the cage:
When thou dost ask me blessing, I'll kneel down,
And ask of thee forgiveness: so we'll live,
And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh
At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues
Talk of court news; and we'll talk with them too,
Who loses and who wins; who's in, who's out;
And take upon's the mystery of things,
As if we were God's spies: and we'll wear out,
In a wall'd prison, packs and sects of great ones,
That ebb and flow by the moon.

I was surprised and delighted to learn in November, 1999, that there is an alternate ending to “Lear,” by Nahum Tate, in which Cordelia lives to marry Edgar and care for a rehabilitated Lear.

Sophocles. Antigone.

The maid shows herself passionate child of passionate sire, and knows not how to bend before troubles.

. . .

See me, citizens of my fatherland, setting forth on my last way, looking my last on the sunlight that is for me no more; no, Hades who gives sleep to all leads me living to Acheron's shore; who have had no portion in the chant that brings the bride, nor hath any song been mine for the crowning of bridals; whom the lord of the Dark Lake shall wed.

. . .

And yet I honoured thee, as the wise will deem, rightly. Never, had been a mother of children, or if a husband had been mouldering in death, would I have taken this task upon me in the city's despite. What law, ye ask, is my warrant for that word? The husband lost, another might have been found, and child from another, to replace the first-born: but, father and mother hidden with Hades, no brother's life could ever bloom for me again. … [N]o bridal bed, no bridal song hath been mine, no joy of marriage, no portion in the nurture of children; but thus, forlorn of friends, unhappy one, I go living to the vaults of death.

Sophocles. Oedipus at Colonus.

Stern-visaged queens, since coming to this land
First in your sanctuary I bent the knee,
Frown not on me or Phoebus, who, when erst
He told me all my miseries to come,
Spake of this respite after many years,
Some haven in a far-off land, a rest
Vouchsafed at last by dread divinities.
"There," said he, "shalt thou round thy weary life,
A blessing to the land wherein thou dwell'st,
But to the land that cast thee forth, a curse."
And of my weird he promised signs should come,
Earthquake, or thunderclap, or lightning flash.
And now I recognize as yours the sign
That led my wanderings to this your grove;
Else had I never lighted on you first,
A wineless man on your seat of native rock.
O goddesses, fulfill Apollo's word,
Grant me some consummation of my life,
If haply I appear not all too vile,
A thrall to sorrow worse than any slave.
Hear, gentle daughters of primeval Night,
Hear, namesake of great Pallas; Athens, first
Of cities, pity this dishonored shade,
The ghost of him who once was Oedipus.

Spregnether, M. (1990). The Spectral Mother: Freud, Feminism, and Psychoanalysis. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Spregnether, M. (1990). Reading Freud's Life. American Imago (Spring 1994), 9-54. Reprinted in Freud 2000. Ed. Anthony Elliott. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1998, 139-68.

Thomas, D.M. (1994). Eating Pavlova. New York: Carroll & Graf.

On hotel notepaper in a smart grey Italian folder bearing the title Strictly Private

I have fallen in love with my wife Anna.
The strangest thing about it is that I am sixty, Anna is forty-three; we have been married for twenty-five years and have several children. Also, as a result of various negative factors, we have slept in separate rooms for almost half our married life.
The night when everything began to change started with a routine meeting at a colleague's house. We had a fairly stimulating discussion. I walked home with a sense of satisfaction but also with undercurrents of sadness. Our house, when I arrived, was silent. I climbed the stairs to bed, removing my collar as I did so. There was a light under my eldest son's bedroom door; in his first year at the University, he would be studying, I hoped. Or would he be exploring forbidden literature? There was a light too under my wife's door; she would be reading some romance or detective story; I did not bother to say goodnight. I undressed and got into bed.
I do not have a natural gift for accepting the death of the libido. Anna has never completely lost her attraction in my sight. For a long time I tried to stir a response in her, though by now I had given it up as a useless exercise. Partly I sublimated, partly I clung to memories of our passionate youth. I had a very small artistic talent in my schooldays; in our romantic years she allowed me to resurrect my gift, making some extremely erotic sketches of her. I still cherished them, and used them. I planned to use them that night. I was opening a cabinet when Anna appeared, smiling, clad in a gauzy dressing-robe.
(Thomas, 1994, p. 82)

Young-Bruehl, E. (1988). Anna Freud: A biography. New York: Summit Books.

About Losing and Being Lost
Concerning last night's dream

I dream, as I have often done, that he is here again. All of these recent dreams have the same character: the main role is played not by my longing for him but rather by his longing for me. The main scene in the dreams are always of his tenderness to me, which always takes the form of my own, earlier tenderness. In reality he never showed either [i.e., tenderness in his form or her own] with the exception of one or two times, which always remained in my memory. The reversal can be simply the fulfillment of my wish [for tenderness], but it is probably also something else. In the first dream of this kind he openly said: "I have always longed for you so."

The main feeling in yesterday's dream is that he is wandering about (on top of mountains, hills) while I am doing other things. At the same time, I have an inner restlessness, a feeling that I should stop whatever I am doing and go walking with him. Eventually he calls me to him and demands this himself. I am very relieved and lean myself against him, crying in a way that is very familiar to both of us. Tenderness. My thoughts are troubled: he should not have called me, it is as if a renunciation or a form of progress had been undone because he called. I am puzzled. In the dream the feeling is very strong that he is wandering around alone and "lost." Sympathy and bad conscience. (audio)

Associations: the poem by Albrech Schaeffer, "You strong and dear wayfarer...":

I was with you at each step of the way --
there was no victory I did not also win --
no sorrow I did not suffer beside you,
you strong and you dear wanderer ...

Odysseus -- even if he is unfaithful -- homeless -- a servant in the distant lands.

Odysseus is truly lost, and cannot find his way to his homeland.[2]

Rest of the day: inquiry from Kag [Kagran] whether he [Freud] is returning to Vienna. I answer: never. Wanderer, immigrant, eternal Jew.

The reproach is: he is unfaithful to me on his travels, in spite of my faithfulness; like Odysseus toward Penelope.

The self-reproach which is projected in this reproach: I am unfaithful to him; which shows in the feeling in the dream. Whether it concerns this house, which I want to leave (?) For one with which he is not familiar. "Mumm's seen it." Thought: "How then shall he find me in my dreams?" -- the woman in "On [sic] Which We Serve" who does not leave the house so that her husband on holiday is able to find her, and who dies. Another layer of meaning: "I am surprised that he calls me to him." He never wished that I would die as a result of his death.

(Young-Bruehl, 1988, pp. 286-287)

In a letter to Marie Bonaparte (8/6/1946), following another illness, Anna recounts a travel dream:

I must tell you a dream which I had in my last night in Walberswick. I was very depressed that night and I only slept a very little. But in that short time I dreamt: I was in Palestine and it was all very interesting. I visited all sorts of places and met many people whom I half seemed to know. A woman invited me to eat goose with them. I cried apparently and she asked me whether I was ill. I said "no, but I have been ill." I saw a modern school and looked at the faces of the pupils, who looked very alert, etc. and there was one very disturbing factor throughout the whole dream. I could not understand a word of anybody's language and they could not understand me.
(Young-Bruehl, 1988, pp. 287-288)

The "Losing" folder has another dream about her father in 1947:

I had a further dream about my father, a curious double (one might say halfhearted) one. It was actually into parts, running alongside. In Part I, I was to marry a man, rather indistinct, youngish, a doctor (I was very unwilling). In Part II, my father and mother had got lost in the dark place (in the city, Paris? Vienna?) And I was looking for them with search parties. My mother was found after a while but not my father and I was quite desperate. I urged the people to search more and more, but it seemed quite hopeless.

Half awake, I interpreted to myself "I lost my father through marriage with another man." But that seemed too glib to me to be true. Anyway, I was glad to be awake again.

(Young-Bruehl, 1988, pp. 289)


Anna's 1912 exile to Merano at the age of 16 – Merano, the site of Mathilde's 1905 recuperation from her surgery (and, in 1898, of Mama's vacation-interrupting intestinal troubles, when Anna was two and a half) – put her in an epistolary relationship to Papa that set the stage for years of written conversation, mediated later by Frau Lou Andreas-Salomé and finally by the chastely-loved Dorothy Burlingham. As was his wont, Freud courted his friends and followers through letters, asking that they tune themselves to his shifting interests and acquiesce to his neediness for them as correspondents. Anna stands last in the series Silberstein, Flüss, Fliess, Jung, Anna. Freud’s need here is mortal, and Anna will meet that need in the service of her father’s immortality.

In 1942, during the Blitz, Anna Freud started filling a folder titled "About Losing and Being Lost" with [German] text of dreams and associations pertaining to the death of loved ones. In 1948 she drafted an essay on this title – concerned with children’s reactions to the absence of parents – which she delivered in 1953 but did not publish until 1967 (Young-Bruehl, 1988, pp. 284-286; Freud, A., 1967). Young-Bruehl was allowed to read these notes in preparation of her biography of Anna Freud (Young-Bruehl, 1988, p. 483, Note 47).

What happened to issues of losing, and of being lost, for Anna Freud during those twenty-five years? How does she represent herself in relationship to her dead father in this period, and how are these representations tied to her dreams and to her (renounced) desires?

Already in 1910 Anna had begun reading her father's work, but her serious involvement in psychoanalysis began in 1918, when her father started psychoanalyzing her. (It was not anomalous for a father to analyze his own daughter at this time, before any orthodoxy had been established.)

In 1935 Anna became director of the Vienna Psychoanalytical Training Institute: the following year she published her influential study of the "ways and means by which the ego wards off unpleasure and anxiety", „The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence". In examining ego functions, the book was a move away from the traditional bases of psychoanalytical thought in the drives: it became a founding work of ego psychology and established her reputation as a pioneering theoretician. As a birthday present she dedicated a copy to her father with the inscription: „Writing books as defence against danger from inside and outside."

[1] Alb. The troops by Edmund raised, I have disbanded;

Those that remain are under my command.
What comfort may be brought to cheer your age
And heal your savage wrongs, shall be applied;
For to your majesty we do reign
Your kingdom, save what partyour self conferred
On us in marriage.

Kent. Hear you that, my liege?

Lear. Why I have news that will recall thy youth;
Ha! Didst thou hear’t, or did th’inspiring gods
Whisper to me alone? Old Lear shall be
A king again.

Kent. The prince, that like a god hath power, has said it.

Lear: Cordelia then shall be a queen, mark that: Cordelia shall be a queen; Winds catch the sound and bear it on your rosie wings to heaven.