Living Systems, Evolving Consciousness, and the Emerging Person
A Selection of Papers from the Life Work of Louis Sander
This collection of previously published papers can be viewed as a story of the gradual emergence of an overarching idea through the course of a life’s work. The idea concerns the way emerging knowledge of developmental processes, biological systems, and therapeutic process can be integrated in terms of basic principles that govern the living system as an ongoing creative process – a process in which there is a continuing impetus, both energizing and motivational, that moves the living system toward an enhanced coherence in its engagement with its surround as it achieves an ever-increasing inclusiveness of complexity.
The papers have been selected in a roughly chronological order from a career of early developmental research within the background of psychoanalytic thinking. The biological underpinnings of psychoanalysis can be extended by systems thinking. Our notions of the evolution of consciousness can also be extended from this simple level of a neural machinery essential for adaptation and survival to the capacity for the awareness of one’s own inner state within the flow of one’s engagement with one’s surround. From this enrichment of inner experiencing through evolving self-awareness, the unique organization of the "person" emerges within the developmental process – from expectancies and emotions, to values, meaning, purpose, goals, and "direction". The title of the book has been chosen to capture this sequence. Further evolution of conscious organization will enable the human species to achieve the state of being "together-with" and yet "distinct-from" as the system as a whole, on a wider, more global level, gains increasing coherence as it complexity increases.
Hopefully, the implications of this idea will emerge in the reader’s thinking, as the chapters move from the level of adaptation to recognition.
Table of Contents
Part I: Issues in Early Mother-Child Interaction. Adaptive Relationships in Early Mother-Child Interaction. The Longitudinal Course of Early Mother-Child Interaction: Cross-case Comparison in a Sample of Mother-Child Pairs. Infant and Caretaking Environment: Investigation and Conceptualization of Adaptive Behavior in a System of Increasing Complexity. Part II: Investigation of the Infant and its Caregiving Environment as a Biological System. Investigation of Interactive Regulation in Three Infant-caretaking Systems. The Event-structure of Regulation in the Neonate-caregiver System as a Biological Background for Early Organization of Psychic Structure. Paradox and Resolution: From the Beginning. Recognition Process: Context and Experience of Being Known. Part III: Reflections on Developmental Process: Wholeness, Specificity, and the Organization of Conscious Experiencing. Awareness of Inner Experience: A System Perspective on Self-Regulatory Process in Early Development. Thinking Differently: Principles of Process in Living Systems and the Specificity of Being Known. Development as a Creative Process.
Louis Sander, M.D., received his medical degree at the University of California Medical School, followed by three years in the USAAF Medical Corp (1943-46), then advancing from resident in psychiatry to Professor of Psychiatry and psychoanalyst and Boston University School of Medicine (1947-68), completing his professional career as Senior Scholar and Professor of Psychiatry at University of Colorado Medical School (1979-87). His early developmental research contributions stemmed from data collected in the 25 year Boston Longitudinal Study in Early Development.
"Louis Sander is widely acknowledged as the most profound and seminal thinker among the remarkable innovators at the interface of psychoanalysis and infant development research. As he has gone on to synthesize these knowledge bases with nonlinear dynamic systems theory, he has shaped the new paradigms that have transformed the developmental-clinical landscape. This volume enables the reader to see the evolution and breadth of his stunning work. It will be an essential addition to the library of anyone who wants to understand where the infancy-psychotherapy interface is coming from, and where it will be going."
- Stephen Seligman, D.M.H., Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Infant-Parent Program, UCSF
"It is always a great opportunity to read the collected papers of a master in his field, and to trace the development of his thinking over the course of his career. Sander's papers chronicle his fascinating studies in infant research, studies that form the basis for much contemporary thinking about human development. This book is essential reading for students of development and for clinicians interested in understanding the process of therapeutic change. In addition, the reader of this volume inevitably joins Sander in his compelling search for an integrating principle, for a way of reconciling distinctness with commonality, for a way of relating detail to the whole. Sander's writing offers sound "direction" for my own attempts to make sense of the pluralism of current psychoanalytic theories and a way to integrate my clinical experience with elegant scientific thinking."
- Alexandra Harrison, M.D., Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute
"Louis Sander is one of our foremost theorists of dyadic relationships, and his thinking encompasses the broad sweep of von Bertalanffy’s systems concepts and the delicacy and intricacy of intimate moments of recognition. At the heart of his work lies the dynamic tension between adaptation to the world of others and the more private struggle for self-organization, and his views continue to fuel innovative new avenues of thinking about processes of relationship. This long-overdue volume finally makes accessible the breadth of his thinking and is a much-needed companion to the new neuroscience, offering us a dynamic and systematic, but also deeply biologically grounded, view of the principles underlying our relations with one another. Every serious student of development and psychotherapy will want to be conversant with his work."
- Karlen Lyons-Ruth, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School