Academic journal article International Journal of Psychoanalysis

Anne-Marie Sandler (1925–2018)

Academic journal article International Journal of Psychoanalysis

Anne-Marie Sandler (1925–2018)

Article excerpt

Those who knew Anne-Marie Sandler (1925-2018) will remember her character as well as her considerable achievements. She had a generosity of spirit, bore leadership roles with grace, was not self-promoting, and readily gave of her time, attention and support. She was a patient listener who took the time to understand a colleague's clinical problem, point of view or political situation. She seemed to have inexhaustible energy and the time to take on any crisis or challenge.

Anne-Marie was a Training Analyst in adult, adolescent and child analysis and a Distinguished Fellow at the British Psychoanalytical Society (BPS). In 1998 she received the most prestigious award in psychoanalysis, the Mary Sigourney Award for "Outstanding Achievement in Psychoanalysis," and in 2015 she received the European Psychoanalytical Federation (EPF) Award for "Distinguished Contributions to Psychoanalysis."

In her early twenties Anne-Marie first exercised her interest in child development and different cultures as a research assistant to Piaget in her native Switzerland. This included working for UNESCO on a study of children's developing notion of homeland and foreignness. Her paper published in 1975 reflects on Piaget's work and its meaning for psychoanalysis.

Between 1950 and 1954 she trained as a child analyst at the Hampstead Child Psychotherapy Course and Clinic in London, and between 1965 and 1968 as a psychoanalyst at the British Psychoanalytical Society.

Anne-Marie was in demand throughout her life to lead groups and organisations. She served as President of the EPF from 1983 to 1987 (she took over the presidency from Daniel Widlöcher in Jerusalem). The EPF was created as a forum for the mutual scientific exchange of Europe's psychoanalysts. During her presidency of the EPF, her aim of improving dialogue between the various European member societies was greatly facilitated by her fluency in German, French and English. She not only presented papers (i.e. Sandler 1987) and discussions in panels, and chaired large meetings, but also often acted as translator of the discussions.

Anne-Marie also created new opportunities to examine the way different psychoanalytical cultures viewed the status of Training Analysis (A Report on the Discussion, 1987). The concept of transmission of psychoanalysis was the focus of the two pre-congresses she organised at the EPF for Training Analysts. Here, she read the paper "Analysts Teaching, Apprenticeship and Transmission" and invited Victor Smirnoff from the Association Psychanalytique de France (APF) to present his paper on the same topic, providing a different point of view. In her closing remarks Anne-Marie expressed her satisfaction that the meeting finished with more questions than they had in mind at the beginning, but "with the wish to pursue our investigations."

Anne-Marie was elected President of the BPS from 1990 to 1993. One of her main interests was to improve clinical and theoretical exchanges between the three groups in the BPS (which became Contemporary Freudian, Independent and Kleinian, after the well-known Controversial Discussions of the 1940s) and to open a dialogue with the French psychoanalytical culture, which we refer to later.

She was appointed Director of the Anna Freud Centre from 1993 to 1996 and was also Trustee of the Centre from 1996 to 2013. While she was Director, Anne-Marie was responsible for and led the Centre's partnership with the Psychoanalysis Unit at University College London. Through Anne-Marie's vision, drive and leadership, a master's programme at UCL, which she initiated in 1993, grew into the nine postgraduate programmes that exist today.

Born in Geneva, Switzerland, in December 1925, Anne-Marie grew up in a francophone environment with a German nanny. Both parents had a Jewish-German background, but Anne-Marie's relation to German culture and language had been cut off as the Nazis came to power in Germany. However, after being elected as one of the International Psychoanalytical Association's (IPA) three Vice-Presidents for Europe (from 1993 to 1997), she played an active role in opening a dialogue with German psychoanalysts. …

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