28 July 2018

Anne-Marie Sandler (1925-2018)

It is with deep sorrow that we as EPF Executive have to announce the passing of our highly respected former President Anne-Marie Sandler.

Anne-Marie Sandler died July 25th, 2018.

Anne-Marie Sandler was President of the EPF from 1983 to 1987.

She was also training analyst in adult, adolescent and child analysis and a Distinguished fellow at the British Psychoanalytical Society, Honorary Member of the German Psychoanalytical Society (DPG), Director of the Anna Freud Centre from 1993-1996, President of the British Psychoanalytical Society from 1990 to 1993 and Vice-President of the International Psychoanalytical Association from 1993 to 1997. In 1998 she was awarded the prestigious Sigourney Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Psychoanalysis, in 2015 she received the EPF Award for a Distinguished Contribution to Psychoanalysis.

Anne-Marie Sandler had been linked to and engaged in the EPF since its very first beginning. Even if she had stated in an interview 2015, that she experienced the start of the EPF “…somehow ‘second hand’, through the engagement of my husband Joe….” (Josef Sandler), she accompanied the very first European Conference in Geneva in June 1970 with great interest and enthusiasm. This first Conference had been a symposium on child analysis. She intensified her commitment in a second Conference in Aix-en-Provence 1976, after her husband Josef Sandler had become EPF President in 1975. Cooperating with him, she participated in developing the new organizational structures of the EPF, and in 1983 she took over the presidency of the EPF from Daniel Widlöcher in Jerusalem. She stayed in charge of the EPF until 1987. In the years following her presidency, she remained very active in the EPF. Due to her outstanding capacity for building bridges between different psychoanalytical societies and psychoanalysts, she supported and contributed essentially to the continuous growth of the EPF until today.

Her integrative capabilities and European orientation rooted in her early experiences and encounters with different European cultures and languages. She was born in December 1925 in Geneva, Switzerland, and she grew up in a francophone environment with a German nanny. Both parents had a Jewish-German background, but Anne-Marie Sandler´s relation to German culture and language had been cut off abruptly as the Nazis came to power in Germany. Between 1950 und 1954 she trained as a child analyst at the Hampstead Clinic, London, and between 1965 and 1968 as a psychoanalyst at the British Psychoanalytical Society. In the beginning of the new millennium, it was her readiness for reconciliation as Chair of a Joint Steering Committee of the IPA, which helped the German Psychoanalytical Society (DPG) to become reintegrated in the IPA and the EPF. This step also facilitated the rapprochement between the two German societies, German Psychoanalytical Association (DPV) and German Psychoanalytical Society (DPG).

Anne-Marie Sandler´s death represents a big loss not only for the people who learned from her but also for the whole psychoanalytical community. She is not with us anymore, but she will stay in our minds and thoughts as a most stimulating model. She leaves us with a large number of publications and besides her outstanding achievements in psychoanalysis, we commemorate her as a person of deep humanity and tolerance. She expressed these characteristics also in her following statement: “Thanks to the EPF I gained a greater awareness of the fact that other people work differently and it doesn´t disturb me anymore. Others are not bad or stupid, they are thinking differently and probably their environment is different – The EPF helped me a lot into realizing this fact. “[1]

But we all know that this attitude was reciprocal: the EPF also learned from Anne-Marie Sandler to open up and to acknowledge differences for the sake of mutual exchange and communication.

Anne-Marie Sandler´s open mind and her personal work will remain in our memory and they convey a great message: Psychoanalysis and life are not fixed in books but are a way of thinking, of listening and finally of being!


We commemorate Anne-Marie Sandler with deep gratitude.


Jorge Canestri, President

Heribert Blass, Vice President

Eva Schmid-Gloor, Vice President

Martina Burdet Dombald, General Secretary

Katy Bogliatto, Treasurer

Charlotta Björklind, General Editor

Further information about the person and the life of Anne-Marie Sandler can be found on the website of the Institute of the British Psychoanalytical Society. Please click here if you would like to open this page !

(Obituary published on 28th of July, 2018)

[1]Anne-Marie Sandler and the EPF, An interview with Eva Schmid-Gloor, 29 August 2015, in: Frisch, S. Bleger, L. Burkert, U. Janssen, A.M., Schmid-Gloor, E., Ylander, F. (Eds.): 50 Years of the European Psychoanalytical Federation, Psychosozial-Verlag, 49-53

Go back