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Nahum, J.P. (2019). Louis Sander: Remembrances and Reflections on His Contributions. Psychoanal. Inq., 39(1):3-14.

(2019). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 39(1):3-14

Original Articles

Louis Sander: Remembrances and Reflections on His Contributions

Jeremy P. Nahum, M.D.

A part of good science is to see what everyone else can see but think what no one else ever said. [Amos Tversky, cited in Lewis, 2017, p. 230]


Louis Sander first became known to me in the mid-seventies, when he and I participated in a workshop at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society, chaired by Evelyn Schwaber, on narcissism and the self. I had recently completed what was a standard psychoanalytic education at the time, with Kohut’s work just beginning to emerge in the consciousness of the psychoanalytic community. Although I was fully engaged in clinical work, my experience was one of cognitive dissonance in analytic discussions, where the richness of the clinical experience butted up against an impoverished, mechanical theory, with no available means of conceptualizing process outside of the rigid constraints of the classical position. The (implicit) theory guiding my action did not fit with the theory handed down. I was left with tension and uncertainty about how to think about what I was doing in the consulting room. At first I did not grasp that Sander was talking about issues central to psychoanalytic practice or theory, that his work was eye-opening for both the clinician and the psychoanalytic theorist. I did not appreciate the significance of his very different language, a language rooted in biology of living systems thinking.

As a way of thinking about what the therapist is doing, perhaps we could say a nonconscious theory is operating and organizing action.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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