Anna Freud's book deals with a most neglected aspect of psychoanalysis--normality. Its chief concern is with the ordinary problems of upbringing which face all parents and the usual phenomena encountered by every clinician. Yet, though primarily practical and clinical in its approach, it also makes a major theoretical contribution to psychology.
The author begins with an account of the development of analytic child psychology, its techniques and its sources in child and adult analysis and direct observation of the child. She then describes the course of normal development, how it can be hindered or eased, what are the unavoidable stresses and strains and how variations of normality occur. She outlines a scheme for assessing normality and for gauging and classifying pathological phenomena in terms of the obstruction of normal progress rather than the severity of symptoms. Stress is laid on the problem of predicting the outcome of infantile factors for adult pathology in the face of the child's continual development. Finally, child analysis is considered both as a therapeutic method and as a means for the advance of knowledge.
Anna Freud was outstanding for the close and systematic organization of her material and for the readability, clarity and economy of her writing. As might be expected from one of the most eminent psychoanalysts of her day, her book is a work of major importance.