“I was always looking outside myself for strength and confidence but it comes from within. It is there all the time.” — Anna Freud
Anna Freud is not the most well-known name in the Freud family. Intentional or not, there is a heavy shadow hanging over her story. Sigmund Freud is a well-known man, but he is not well-loved in the queer community. His homophobic and transphobic ideas taint his already largely disproven theories. Worship him or despise him, he is remembered and still discussed in most psychology circles. The same cannot be said for his youngest daughter. One of the founders of child psychology and an open lesbian, Anna Freud was not always in line with her father’s teachings. Despite all of the conflict one would expect between them, one fact is clear: Anna Freud loved her father.
Anna Freud remembered being different from her family, and the more one learns about her childhood the more sense that makes. It is often said that she was her father's favourite child, and this led to resentment from her mother and siblings. An often cited cause for this rift was a moment during a hike where Sigmund fell and hurt himself, and when everyone else got startled and ran away, Anna stayed and comforted him.
It is after this incident that he began inviting her into his workspace, allowing her to organize and even read some of his papers, letting her sit in during meetings with other famous psychologists. Her ability to learn from her father is most likely what sparked her later interest. The issue with this is that Freud made it clear that he had a favourite daughter—to both Anna and the rest of the family.
It was around the same time that Anna began to masturbate; this is something we mention only because it is relevant. The idea of women wanting to pleasure themselves, of wanting pleasure at all, was directly against the ideals of Vienna at the time. It was eventually decided that Anna was to go to a spa to "recover."
It was quickly decided that she had "hysteria," a diagnosis given to most women expressing unpopular traits. Symptoms of hysteria included anxiety, fainting, partial paralysis, irritability, lack of appetite for food, desiring sex too much, not desiring sex enough, “a tendency to cause trouble for others”, nervousness, heaviness in the abdomen, and amnesia.
Her sexuality became a hot topic of discussion that not only had her sent away but also destroyed her remaining relationship with her sister. She was kept at the spa so long that she was unable to be present at her sister's marriage.
This discord came at a rare time of contention between Anna and her father. Though she worked hard to please him and in many ways followed in his footsteps, Sigmund decided she was following too closely. She expressed her desire to attend school and study psychology like her father, and he didn't believe women should go to university. She conceded her point only when he suggested she become a teacher in order to study the effects of certain psychological practices on children.
During this time of conflict with her father, Sigmund reached somewhat of a conflict with himself.
One of Sigmund's beliefs about psychoanalysis was the inherently erotic relationship between patient and practitioner. He publicly denounced the idea of analyzing family members, as he believed it would be incestuous. However, when Anna turned eighteen, Sigmund began analyzing his daughter.