Anna Freud and ‘The Conscience of Society’ (Italian subtitles)- curated by Elizabeth Ann Danto

Curatorial Introduction by Elizabeth Ann Danto, PhD

(Italian subtitles)

Anna Freud’s Hietzing School in Vienna plays an important yet unsung role in the intersecting histories of psychoanalysis and education, of Americans looking to Vienna for psychoanalytic training in the 1920s, and of the remarkably broad impact of its teachers from the 1930s onward. Today, many regard Hietzing as the birthplace of a uni?ed psychoanalytic theory of adolescence while its staff roster reads like the register of the 20th century’s major psychoanalytic theorists. Anna Freud’s own role marks a pivotal point in this history. She brought to Hietzing the empowering reforms in early childhood education crafted by her interwar colleagues August Aichhorn and Siegfried Bernfeld, while supporting the next generation of theorists, most prominently the Hietzing teachers Peter Blos and Erik Erikson. Her articulation of children’s rights in both “Beyond…” and, with her life companion Dorothy Tiffany Burlingham, “Before” the best interests of the child, originated in the emancipatory ethos of post-World War 1 Vienna. Even today, in family and child welfare law from the United Nations to local court houses, Anna Freud’s deeply child-focused principles help ensure the psychological well-being of young people. The film shows how her innovations in psychoanalytic pedagogy and child analysis advanced our ideas of the modern child as a “free and self-reliant human being.” Infused with the energy of interwar social democracy, the research and practice she carried from Vienna to London, and even to the United States in the 1970s, were inherently community-based.

The new documentary film Anna Freud and the ‘Conscience of Society’ started as a digital version of the 2017 Freud Museum London exhibit but one rendered on a more intimate scale. The script is drawn almost entirely from the writings of Anna Freud and Dorothy Tiffany Burlingham; 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. Made from over 400 images held in European and American collections, the film was designed and produced by Karolina Urbaniak at her studio in North London. Funded by the Austrian Cultural Forum Budapest and made on a very modest budget, it premièred in Budapest in September 2018, at the Hungary Academy of Science’s conference marking the centennial of Freud’s celebrated paper on, well, the ‘Conscience of Society.’

Anna Freud and the ‘Conscience of Society’ is free for anyone who wishes to use the film for training or educational purposes. It is available in English or with German or Portuguese sub-titles. For a copy, please send your request to

The Carter-Jenkins Center would like to thank Elizabeth Ann Danto, PhD for the pleasure of hosting this short film.

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