Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Louis Sander Passed Away November 28, 2012

Louis Sander - a member of the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis and the Boston Change Process Study Group - died at home on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at the age of 94.  Below are the comments about Dr. Sander's contributions written by Stephen Seligman for Psychoanalytic Dialogues in 2002:

Louis Sander is one of the most ambitious, comprehensive, and profound psychoanalytic theorists of our time. Yet his work is not widely known outside the world of developmental psychoanalysis. Among these cognoscenti, Sander is revered as an intellectual godfather: He began looking at babies with crystal clarity before any of the original crop of infant observers did, influenced them all, and has retained his status as their intellectual hero. Exploring the theoretical implications of those observations, he proposes an exceptionally bold synthesis that brings systems theories from physics, neuroscience, and general biology to bear on the basic questions of psychic structure and motivation.

Louis Sander's bold and ambitious theoretical synthesis deserves careful attention from psychoanalysts of all persuasions. Sander's cutting-edge approach draws on infant observation research, nonlinear dynamic systems theories, and current biology, physics, and other “hard” sciences. He is rethinking the psychoanalytic approach to psychic structure, motivation, and therapeutic action. In so doing, he updates Freud's project of linking psychoanalysis with scientific paradigms, but without reductionism, epistemological naivete, or an implicit antipsychological attitude.

Sander emphasizes the dynamic relationships between elements in systems. His method draws parallels between the different levels of the functioning of natural systems, starting with the basic “biological” level of cells and organs and moving toward the psychic and interpersonal phenomena that are of greatest interest to psychoanalysts. In this way, he opens a window for a broad and inclusive “relational metapsychology.”

Stephen Seligman (2002). Louis Sander and Contemporary Psychoanalysis. Psychoanal. Dial., 12:1-10.

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