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The Freud/Tiffany Project (Part II)

Author: Elizabeth Ann Danto


The Book

With a book in mind as we were developing the symposium, the participants were invited to select any relevant topic, of their own choosing and personal interest, but that the material had to be new, original and unpublished. The resulting essays were to tell stories that integrated theory, practice and history. To the core Burlingham collection, we then added over a hundred archival photographs from Thomas Aichhorn in Vienna, the Leo Baeck Institute in New York, the Sigmund Freud Museum in Vienna, the Freud Museum London and other institutional and private collectors. The book was originally due to be published by Karnac Books. It remains in the History of Psychoanalysis Series, but was issued by Routledge in January 2019.

Like children playing in the schoolyard at the Hietzing school, each of the nine stories stands on its own as an autonomous element in the history of psychoanalysis. At the same time, these elements are exquisitely interdependent. For example, whether or not the Hietzing School was, in fact, an exercise in psychoanalytically-informed education remains an open question. As Erik Erikson wrote in the first essay of A Way of Looking at Things: Dorothy was implementing “the best possible school … All the parents were intensely interested in new pedagogic ways and the impact of psychoanalytic understanding on education in the modern world. Anna Freud was discreetly omnipresent. One might assume that such a school would be psychoanalytically oriented. In a sense it was – but never to the casual observer or in any overly intellectual or modish sense [Erikson, E. H. (1930) “Psychoanalysis and the Future of Education” in Schlein, S. ed., (1995) Erik H. Erikson – A Way of Looking at Things. New York: W.W. Norton]." Erikson later revived this question. “In what respect was this a psychoanalytic school?” he asked. “One was aware of some of the children’s near daily appointments. Not infrequently, one was told that this or that child was “having a difficult time,” and some reasons for it were sometimes discussed in staff meetings. But otherwise there was hardly any clinical talk and certainly no individual interpretation. [However] observations made at the school provided themes helpful in psychoanalytic training. Psychoanalytic awareness informed the staff and enriched the school’s work pedagogically. In her inimitable fashion, Dorothy Burlingham would appear and ask the children to freely answer a question in writing such as “What would you like to be if you could choose it? Or “How would you do if you were suddenly alone in the world, without parents?” We felt it was not necessary for the children to respond as psychoanalytically as they did: 12 children described in detail the death of 15 parents, of whom 3 were murdered, 4 died in accidents and 2 in prisons [Erikson, E. H. (1980) “Dorothy Burlingham’s School in Vienna” in Schlein, S. ed., (1995) Erik H. Erikson – A Way of Looking at Things. New York: W.W. Norton].”

Erikson was just one of the remarkable cluster of early 20th century analysts who taught at Hietzing and from there, developed theories of depth and on-going influence. Peter Blos, who unified a psychoanalytic theory of adolescent development, said: “I have no doubt of the legacy I owe August Aichhorn at Hietzing… I gleaned two truths from discussing clinical work with him in Vienna. One, [his views on] treatment of clinic patients led me to work in a low-cost child guidance clinic. Second, the therapist’s efforts to understand the inner workings of the delinquent become sources of insight with which the therapist maintains stability in his own mental life [Blos. P. (1994) An Autobiographical Essay. Unpublished memoir. Peter Blos Papers, unprocessed. Oskar Diethelm Library, DeWitt Wallace Institute for the History of Psychiatry, Weill Cornell Medical College].” Marie Briehl’s life-long interest in human rights came in part from her activist family and in part from her experience living in Austro-fascist Vienna. She taught English at the Hietzing School while training with Anna Freud from 1927 through 1930. Once back in New York, Briehl played a critical role in promoting the capacity of lay analysts to work with children and adolescents. She remembered the school as inspirational. “I was interested in education and my three years of experience [there] taught me that education needed considerable improvement and depth of understanding of child psychology [Briehl, M. (1983) Letter of March 31, 1983 to Peter Heller, folder" Questionnaire, undated” Box 2, Peter Heller Papers, Manuscript Division, U.S. Library of Congress, Washington D.C.].” Esther Menaker and Kurt Eissler were on the teaching roster. August Aichhorn held a number of roles from mentoring the faculty and running student groups to teaching geometry. Aichhorn took over from Peter Blos as director of the school in its last year.

Chronologically, the school spanned the environments of both Red and Black Vienna. Its forcefully modernist program advanced our understanding of the “whole child” on many levels. It paved the way for more Freud/Burlingham initiatives, from the Jackson Nursery in Vienna to the Hampstead War Nurseries and Child Therapy Clinic in London. These settings stimulated remarkable innovations in child and adolescent analysis, education, freedom and self-regulation, adjustment, self and identity. Calling it an illustrated book of memoir and history, we attempted to convey that sense of innovation in the words and images of the teachers and students themselves. 

Here are the stories:
Bob’s Diary, December 1931 by Michael John Burlingham
Here Dorothy’s grandson explores the daily record of an American adolescent – his father - living in Vienna, in school at Hietzing, and in analysis (which he called “lessons”) with Anna Freud.

A School for Trick Cyclists? By Michael Molnar
A historian of photography uses psychoanalytic and critical theory to interpret the concept of “subjectivity” as seen in a series of photographs from the Hietzing school.

The Hietzing Years by Elizabeth Ann Danto
This chronological narrative follows the Hietzing School from 1927 through 1932, from its innovative curriculum to its teachers and students in the context of Viennese social policy.

August Aichhorn and his Hietzing Friends by Thomas Aichhorn
Aichhorn was a great friend of Anna Freud’s and a mentor to Erikson, Blos, Eva Rosenfeld and Dorothy Burlingham. In their letters exchanged largely after the war, these relationships gave Aichhorn support for his family, for psychoanalysis, and for Vienna.

Anna Freud and The Science of Unexpected Findings by Inge-Martine Pretorius
Anna and Dorothy built on their Hietzing and Jackson Krippe projects to pursue their practice-based research agenda with children in London, at the Hampstead War Nurseries.

The Hietzing School as the Birthplace of a Psychoanalytic Theory of Adolescence by Florian Houssier
With the fields of child analysis and psychoanalytic pedagogy now established, it was at Hietzing that research on adolescence emerged as a new study of human development.

The Child in Mind and Body - the Writing of Anna Freud and Dorothy Burlingham in The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child by Nellie L. Thompson and Helene Keable
How Anna Freud’s engagement with psychoanalytic pedagogy and Dorothy Burlingham’s psychoanalytic and advocacy work with blind children and their parents, took on a contemporary direction.

Young Dorothy Burlingham by Paul Werner
How American culture, the Tiffany family and New York itself led Dorothy to Vienna and psychoanalysis, as seen by an art historian.

Step By Step: Vienna between the Wars - an Overview by Alexandra Steiner-Strauss
In just 15 years of dizzying cultural production, Vienna ascended the heights of social democracy and descended just as quickly into a state of fascism.

The Film

Our documentary film Anna Freud and the ‘Conscience of Society’ started as a digital version of the London exhibit but one rendered on a more intimate scale. It premièred in Budapest, at the Hungarian Academy of Science conference marking the centennial of Freud’s celebrated paper, “Lines of Advance in Psychotherapy.” Just two months shy of Armistice in 1918, Freud repositioned psychoanalysis on a new platform of beliefs in achievable progress, secular society, and the social responsibility of psychoanalysis. “The conscience of society will awake,” he said, “and remind it that the poor man has just as much right to assistance for his mind as he now has to life-saving help offered by surgery [Freud, S. (1918/19) “Lines of Advance in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy” in J. Strachey (ed. and trans.) The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (Vol. 17:167), London: The Hogarth Press.].”

Anna Freud was in the audience and, as the film shows, the speech matched her own emerging social conscience. The script is drawn almost entirely from her writings and those of Dorothy Burlingham and their colleagues. The voice-over by Inge Pretorius as Anna Freud is sustained with an original composition by the British composer Sen Lun, inspired by the American composer Matthew Greenbaum. The film was designed and produced by Karolina Urbaniak at her studio in North London.

Hietzing’s values “opened my eyes to a wider world,” said a pupil. “It showed us different ways of thinking; it taught us tolerance and understanding. We met so many different kinds of people. It taught us to ‘see large’ [Baer, Sebastian (Basti) Letter to Peter Heller dated July 9, 1989, folder “Questionnaire undated,” Box 2, Peter Heller Papers, Manuscript Division, U.S. Library of Congress, Washington D.C.].” While Anna Freud saw the world in bolder strokes than conventional wisdom would have it, the context of the film expands beyond her reminiscences, her personal and professional friendships, or even the psychology of her passion for child emancipation: it’s the very historical shift, from the time when Anna was twenty-two, in 1918, to the end of Vienna as she knew it in 1934, and later in London, in the 1940s. To dramatize Anna Freud’s perspective onscreen required a huge number of images - over 400 photographs. Some were first seen in the exhibit; others had been collected for the book; and many more came from scavenging old feuilletons and postcards at the flea market. Alexandra photographed the covers of vintage books, and sometimes she would prowl around Vienna to capture those cultural markers that exert their enduring influence.

 On a macro level, the Hietzing School was, as Marie Briehl said, “A not-to-be forgotten accomplishment of Anna Freud and Dorothy Burlingham [Briehl, M. (1983) Letter of March 31, 1983 to Peter Heller, folder" Questionnaire, undated” Box 2, Peter Heller Papers, Manuscript Division, U.S. Library of Congress, Washington D.C.].” Likewise, the images powerfully dramatize the reciprocal effects of culture, character and psychoanalysis. When Anna Freud and Dorothy Tiffany Burlingham formed the Hietzing School with a focus on the child’s capacity to become a “free and self-reliant human being [Freud, A. (1930) “Four Lectures on Psychoanalysis for Teachers and Parents” in The Writings of Anna Freud, Volume 1. (1974) New York: International Universities Press],” they built a remarkable institutional and conceptual legacy with which we are still working today. As the Freud/Tiffany project evolves, we are beginning to understand that legacy.

Sigmund Freud Museum SFU Belvedere 21er haus stuhleck kunsthalle
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