Anne-Marie Sandler obituary: Remarkable St John’s Wood psychoanalyst who ‘treated everyone the same’

PUBLISHED: 16:29 07 September 2018 | UPDATED: 16:29 07 September 2018

Anne-Marie Sandler. Picture: Catherine Sandler

Anne-Marie Sandler. Picture: Catherine Sandler


Leading psychoanalyst Anne-Marie Sandler, who died in July at 92, was more than just a towering figure in her field.

Anne-Marie Sandler as a young woman when she worked with Anna Freud. Picture: Catherine SandlerAnne-Marie Sandler as a young woman when she worked with Anna Freud. Picture: Catherine Sandler

She served as president of the British Psychoanalytical Society (BPS) and the European Psychoanalytic Federation, and was also instrumental in rescuing the Anna Freud Centre in Hampstead from crisis.

Her achievements came after an inauspicious welcome to London life, though.

After leaving Switzerland to train at the Hampstead Clinic (as the Anna Freud Centre was then known), she moved into a flat in Paddington with a Hungarian friend.

Unfortunately, this flat happened to be right in the middle of the red light district, and Anne-Marie wrote of studying in bed in order to “make the most of our little flat”.

Anne-Marie Sandler. Picture: Catherine SandlerAnne-Marie Sandler. Picture: Catherine Sandler

However, as her stay in London became more permanent, Anne-Marie moved first into a flat on Avenue Road, and then to St John’s Wood, where she spent most of her life.

Hampstead became her place of work, too, when she was invited to work on a groundbreaking study of blind children.

Anne-Marie married Joseph Sandler, another leading analyst with whom she frequently collaborated. Joseph died in 1998.

Analysts sometimes have a reputation for severeness, but not Anne-Marie. Her daughter Catherine told the Ham&High: “It was really moving to hear just how many people responded to news of her death.

She talked to everyone and treated everyone the same.”

Anne-Marie took over as President of the Anna Freud Centre in 1993. The centre was recovering after the premature death of her predecessor George Moran. Catherine said: “The Anna Freud Centre was in a sort of crisis. After a life as a psychoanalyst she became a manager and she did a really incredible job because people warmed to her immediately. There was something very sincere and genuine about her.”

Meanwhile, the president-elect of the BPS Rosine Jozef Perelberg said: “Anne-Marie had a unique capacity to establish bridges between people and traditions.”

Born in Geneva on December 15 1925, Anne-Marie died on July 25, 2018.

She is survived by three children – Trudy, Catherine and Paul – seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

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