Joseph J. Sandler

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Joseph J. Sandler (10 January 1927 – 6 October 1998) was a British psychoanalyst within the Anna Freud Grouping – now the Contemporary Freudians – of the British Psychoanalytical Society; and is perhaps best known for what has been called his 'silent revolution' in re-aligning the concepts of the object relations school within the framework of ego psychology.[1]

Life[edit]

Born and educated in South Africa, including a medical degree, Sandler moved to London following fears around his anti-apartheid stance, where he completed his PhD in psychology at University College, London in 1950, before further training in medicine and psychoanalysis. He became a training analyst in 1955.[2]

Sandler was editor of the International Journal of Psycho-Analysis from 1969 to 1978; and was elected President of the International Psychoanalytical Association in 1989.

Theoretical openness[edit]

Sandler took an open, pragmatic approach to psychoanalytic theorising – something particularly important in the wake of the Controversial discussions which had left a three-way split inside the British Society. He took the view that 'we have a body of ideas, rather than a consistent whole, that constitutes psychoanalytic theory', and called for 'a greater degree of tolerance of concepts...created by people who have a different psychoanalytic background'[3] – something that was of great importance in his rapprochement between Kleinian ideas and ego psychology.

Safety[edit]

Sandler emphasised early in his work (1959) the importance of the feeling of safety, which he linked to early experiences of primary narcissism'[4] He noted however that the search for safety could act as a resistance in psychotherapy;[5] but also highlighted the role of a sense of trust in forging the therapeutic alliance.[6]

Role responsiveness and actualisation[edit]

Sandler introduced the term actualisation into psychoanalysis from literary studies, to cover the process whereby past object-relationships are brought to life within the analytic setting.[7] Through what he termed the free-floating (if controlled and moderated) 'role responsiveness' of the therapist, the latter was able to bring into being the unconscious fantasy of the patient and so expose it to light – becoming in the process someone a little different with each patient.[8]

Sandler himself saw the process of actualisation as adumbrated in the 7th chapter of Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams;[9] and similar concepts can be found in ego psychology, which speaks of the 'evocation' of a proxy[10] and among post-Jungians with their talk of a 'complementary' countertransference.[11] Sandler's concept also connects with the ideas of acting out and acting in within the analytic session,[12] though Otto Kernberg emphasises specifically how Sandler differentiated actualisation from acting out.[13]

Sandler specifies several different types of actualisation, including delusive actualisation and symbolic actualisation.[14]

The concept of role responsiveness has subsequently been taken up more widely in British psychoanalysis,[15] as well as by intersubjective analysts, who see at least one aspect of countertransference as the therapist's reaction to the role the patient wishes to force upon them.[16]

Example[edit]

A clear example of actualisation described shortly before Sandler's introduction of the term tells how, in an analytic encounter with a young man, one psychoanalyst – David Cooper – had "felt the progressive extrusion of his internalized mother into me, not as a theoretical construct but in actual experience".[17]

On psychotherapy[edit]

Sandler considered that psychotherapy could in homely terms be thought of as a process of 'making friends' with unacceptable parts of oneself.[18] His willingness to look beyond dogmatic theorising and to take on board the normal as well as the abnormal in psychotherapeutic assessment[19] helped facilitate the bridging role he played within the often fragmented world of postmodern psychotherapies.[20]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Otto F. Kernberg, 'The Influence of Joseph Sandler's Work on Contemporary Psychoanalysis'
  2. ^ Riccardo Steiner, 'Sandler, Joseph (1927–1998)'
  3. ^ Quoted in Patrick Casement, Further Learning from the Patient (1990) p. 184
  4. ^ R. J Perelberg, Psychoanalytic Understanding of Violence and Suicide (1999) p. 28
  5. ^ C. Dare et al, The Patient and the Analyst (2011) p. 117
  6. ^ C. E. Newhill et al, Client Violence in Social Work Practice (2003) p. 8
  7. ^ J. Sandler, 'Actualization and object relationships', Journal of Philadelphia Association for Psychoanalysis 4 (1977): 59–70
  8. ^ Patrick Casement, Further Learning from the Patient (1990) p. 118-9
  9. ^ Peter Fonagy et al., Psychoanalysis on the Move (1999) p. 9
  10. ^ Patrick Casement, On Learning from the Patient (London 1985) p. 100
  11. ^ Mario Jacoby, The Analytic Encounter (1984) p. 41
  12. ^ Patrick Casement, Further Learning from the Patient (1990) p. 166
  13. ^ Otto F. Kernberg, 'The Influence of Joseph Sandler's Work on Contemporary Psychoanalysis'
  14. ^ J. And A.-M. Sandler, Internal Objects Revisited (1998) p. 42
  15. ^ Patrick Casement, Further Learning from the Patient (1990) p. 8 and p. 165-6
  16. ^ Tamara Latawiec, When the Professional is Personal (2008) p. 21
  17. ^ David Cooper, The Death of the Family (Penguin 1974) p. 114
  18. ^ Robert M. Young, 'The Ubiquity of Psychotic Anxieties'
  19. ^ Patrick Casement, Further Learning from the Patient (1990) p. 184
  20. ^ P. Fonagy et al, Psychoanalysis on the Move: the work of Joseph Sandler (1999) p. 44-7

Further reading[edit]

  • J. J. Sandler, 'Countertransference and role-responsiveness' Int. Review of Psycho-Analysis (1976) 3: 43–7
  • J. Sandler, From Safety to Superego (1988)
  • J. Sandler ed, Projection, Identification and Projective Identification (London 1987)

External links[edit]