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Fonagy, P. (2001). Joseph Sandler (1927-1998). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 82(4):815-817.

(2001). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 82(4):815-817

Joseph Sandler (1927-1998)

Peter Fonagy

On 6 October 1998, Joseph Sandler died peacefully at home, surrounded by his family, after a brief and courageous fight with cancer. He had been an outstanding psychoanalytic figure for several decades. An excellent and dedicated clinician, an original theoretician who wrote with great clarity and a pioneering conceptual researcher, he was also a gifted teacher and an inspirational leader. Softly spoken and naturally shy, in a professional life spanning fifty years, Joe Sandler contributed to the quiet revolution that psychoanalysis underwent after the war. His systematic explorations of psychoanalytic concepts led to a reformulation of the somewhat cumbersome conceptual framework of classical psychoanalysis. He translated old psychoanalytic ideas, rooted in nineteenth-century biology, into the twentieth-century language of human relationships. Joe Sandler was also a loving and generous friend to many throughout the world.

He died at the age of 71 and even when failing physically, he was still full of intellectual energy; he gave a major talk at a symposium in honour of Hanna Segal just two and a half weeks before he died.

Joe Sandler was born in Cape Town in 1927, the only child of a modest family. His parents' marriage was not a happy one and his relationship with his father was fraught. Through necessity his mother worked but when at home she focused all her emotional energy on her son, convinced from the start that, unlike his father, he would amount to something special.

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