Selma Fraiberg

Selma Fraiberg’s insightful work in infant psychology led to new ways to treat at-risk and “failure to thrive” infants and culminated in her classic book on parenting, The Magic Years. Fraiberg earned a degree in social work from Wayne State University in 1945 and published The Magic Years based on both her research as a social worker and her experiences as the stay-at-home mother of an adopted baby girl. The book won the Book of the Year Award from the Child Study Association of America in 1959 for its engaging prose and its vivid illumination of early childhood development. In 1965 Fraiberg began teaching psychoanalysis at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and created the Child Development Project to serve at-risk families and train clinicians. It was here that she wrote Insights from the Blind, about the developmental challenges and emotional difficulties blind babies must overcome. She then used this research to develop treatment models for at-risk children who also suffered developmental delays and attachment disorders. In 1979 she moved to San Francisco to create and direct an infant-parent program at San Francisco General Hospital, and in 1981 she received the Dolly Madison Award for her revolutionary work in the field of infant psychology.


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Date of Birth

Detroit, MI
United States

Date of Death

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Selma Fraiberg ." (Viewed on January 27, 2020) <>.


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