Four Modes of Listening

Yesterday I attended a lecture by Dr. Salmon Akhtar about models of listening in psychoanalysis. The ability to listen skillfully to clients is essential for psychoanalysts as well as for astrologers who do any type of counseling. According to Dr. Akhtar, there are four principal styles of listening which have been elaborated in the psychoanalytic literature since the time of Freud: objective, subjective, empathic and interpersonal listening.

Dr. Salman Akhtar, Psychoanalist

Dr. Salman Akhtar, Psychoanalyst

The lecture was thoroughly fascinating. As it went on, I was impressed with the speaker’s oratory skills. He spoke for over an hour without referring to a single note. He was engaging and entertaining, and captivated the audience with his stage presence, humorous anecdotes and ability to tell a good story.

Being an astrologer, of course I began wondering what his natal chart might look like. I speculated that Dr. Akhtar had such a compelling manner of engaging the audience that he must be a good actor, and Leo immediately came to mind. His manner of speaking, comedic sense of timing, ability to teach and clever use of words suggested Mercury in Leo. He clearly knew how to work an audience, so I wondered if he also had a Leo Sun. On the other hand, his command of an immense number of detailed without referring to a single note suggested a strong Virgo influence.  I concluded that he likely had Sun in either Leo or Virgo, with Mercury in Leo.

When I got home from the lecture, I looked up Dr. Akhtar online to see if I could find his birth data. According to Wikipedia and TBD on Ning, he was born July 31, 1946 in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India, so I cast a chart for this date with the Noon positions of planets (time of birth unknown) and solar sign houses.

Natal chart: Dr. Salman Akhtar, July 31, 1946, Uttar Pradesh, India, Noon (time unknown), Solar sign houses.

Natal chart: Dr. Salman Akhtar, July 31, 1946, Uttar Pradesh, India, Noon (time unknown), Solar sign houses.

The Sun and Mercury were in Leo, as I suspected because of his stage presence and dramatic ability.

I hadn’t anticipated Mercury almost exactly conjunct Pluto but it made perfect sense that a psychoanalyst would have a powerful Pluto influence in his chart since Pluto has to do with matters related to the underworld and the human unconscious. Pluto is also a planet of intense power, and its conjunction with Mercury (thinking, speech) certainly described his impressive manner of conveying his ideas before an audience.

Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, also has a powerful Pluto which is part of a stellium of planets in Taurus in his chart (Pluto, Sun, Uranus and Mercury in Taurus). Venus which rules Taurus conjoins Freud’s natal Pluto from late Aries. Scorpio rules Freud’s Ascendant.

The Virgo influence had been anticipated and is here shown by three personal planets (Moon, Venus, Mars) all in Virgo. He is able to manage an immense amount of detail in his public oratory with grace and ease, and without having to look at a single written note.

His charming manner of speech is reflected in the Leo Mercury being part of a stellium in Leo which sextile Jupiter in Libra, whose ruler Venus (grace, charm) is part of a stellium in Virgo (skill with words and attention to detail).

His love of writing (he has written hundreds of articles and numerous books) and his innovative style of presentation are probably shown by the extremely close trine of Jupiter in Libra to Uranus in Gemini (ruled by Mercury connected with speech, writing and communication). The North Node of the Mood in Gemini suggests a karmic need to pursue effective means of communication with others. Neptune in Libra sextile the Sun/Pluto/Mercury stellium in Leo reflects his love of poetry. Sun trine Neptune is a creative, imaginative aspect which suggests a deep appreciation of spirituality in his life.

The square from Saturn at the end of Cancer to Jupiter in Libra is curious. Saturn rises just before the Sun and is somewhat hidden beneath the Sun’s beams. The Jupiter appears to be related to his love of public speaking, writing and publishing. The square from Saturn in Cancer (a maternal sign) suggests that somehow his motivation for this activity is tied to a maternal need or sense of lack or duty (Saturn) toward the mother. It would be interesting to speak with Dr. Akhtar about the role his mother played in his love of writing and lecturing. Saturn in Cancer could symbolize a dutiful mother, a sense of lack of mothering, or a felt need to act maternally toward others.

All in all, this chart resonates well with the traits displayed by Dr. Akhtar in giving his lecture. Trying to guess what the chart of someone you meet by the traits which they display is a good exercise which confirms the validity of astrology but also shows astrologers that they are not infallible.  If you ever get a chance to hear Dr. Akhtar speak, I can’t recommend it highly enough. (Some of his lectures are available on YouTube, if you are interested.)

Addendum: Here are the generic interpretations of some key points in his chart generated by the program Solar Fire.


Your Sun is in the zodiac sign of Leo indicating that you’re good-hearted, and have a sunny personality which shines in the company of others. In fact you love an audience, basking in the attention which comes with being centre stage. Most of the time you do manage to attract the attention that you so keenly seek, as your enthusiasm and sense of fun has a contagious effect lighting a spark of fun and joy in those around you. Your generous nature also means that you’re willing to share your abundant goodwill with others. You may also find yourself surrounded by children ready to join your playful games, for you’re adept at bringing out the child in everyone..

SUN SEXTILE NEPTUNE  Orb 1°05′ Separating

Opportunities will arise for you to express your intuitive and artistic nature.


You are enthusiastic in your quest for knowledge. You are proud of your learning abilities, and believe in the saying that learning is fun. You may have a tendency to be a know-it-all.


You have a probing mind. You avoid social chit-chat preferring deep and meaningful conversations. You are able to research topics of interest.

JUPITER TRINE URANUS  Orb 0°04′ Separating

You have an enormous ability and energy to achieve your goals. You set out to make changes in society and can do much. You avoid restriction and may live an unconventional life, breaking new ground in ways of living.


This is a quest to learn to see life from other people’s point of view and to become adept in the art of communication. You have a tendency to be restless and scattered. You need to develop focus and the ability to communicate your ideas in a way that helps the many people in your life.

FYI: A Spanish translation of the original post (prior to the addendum and a couple additional comments in the body of the text) can be seen by clicking on this link.

About Anthony Louis

Author of books about astrology and tarot, including TAROT PLAIN AND SIMPLE, HORARY ASTROLOGY, and THE ART OF FORECASTING WITH SOLAR RETURNS.
This entry was posted in Astrology, Psychoanalysis and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Four Modes of Listening

  1. jyoteeka cummings says:

    Really interesting. I am listening to him speak on Utube. He speaks about his relationship with spirituality and his many close experiences with death as a child. (Sun/Pluto) He also speaks about his need to organize, to understand how the order of things are. (3 planets in Virgo). Many other descriptions of his Virgo side in his talk. Thanks for posting.

    • The close connection of Neptune with his natal Sun is also a marker of the importance of spirituality in his life. Certainly a prominent Pluto, as you suggest, indicates the need to deal with issues of human mortality as an important part of one’s experience.

  2. Kelly says:

    Great job! It is fun to try to piece together what we think someone’s chart might be, good exercise. I often do this with actors or other famous people. It can be either quite validating or quite humbling…. But mostly FUN!

  3. Agreed. It’s a good exercise and a great learning experience, which keeps us humble.

  4. Grandtrines says:

    Reblogged this on Grandtrines.

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