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The name R. D. Laing continues to be widely recognized by those in the psychotherapy community in the United States and Europe. Laing’s books are a testament to his breadth of interests, including the understanding of madness, alternatives to conventional psychiatric treatment, existential philosophy and therapy, family systems, cybernetics, mysticism, and poetry. He is most remembered for his devastating critique of psychiatric practices, his controversial rejection of the concept of ‘mental illness,’ and his groundbreaking center for people in acute mental distress at Kingsley Hall, London. Most of the books that have been published about Laing have been written by people who did not know him personally and were unfamiliar with Laing the man and teacher. The Legacy of R. D. Laing: An appraisal of his contemporary relevance is composed by thinkers and practitioners who knew Laing intimately, some of whom worked with Laing. This collection of papers brings a perspective and balance to Laing’s controversial ideas, some of which were never addressed in his books. There has never been a collection of papers that address so thoroughly the question of who Laing was and why he became the most famous psychiatrist in the world. As M. Guy Thompson’s collection illustrates, there are now a number of alternatives to psychiatry throughout the world, and much of this can be credited to Laing’s influence. The Legacy of R. D. Laing will ensure the reader has a keen grasp of who Laing was, what it was like to be his patient or his friend, and why his thinking was far ahead of its time, even in the radical era of the 1970s. It is timely to appraise the nature of his contribution and bring Laing back into contemporary conversations about the nature of sanity and madness, and more humane approaches to helping those in profound mental distress. This book offers an in-depth insight into the work of R.D. Laing. It will be a must read for psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, family therapists, psychiatrists and academics alike. M. Guy Thompson, PhD is a Personal and Supervising Analyst at the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California and Chairman of Free Association, Inc., a non-profit organization devoted to the dissemination of Laing’s ideas, in San Francisco. Dr. Thompson received his psychoanalytic training from R. D. Laing and associates at the Philadelphia Association and is the author of numerous books and journal articles on psychoanalysis, phenomenology, and schizophrenia. He currently lives in San Rafael, California.
What does it mean to practice therapy in an existential way? What are the different existential approaches? What are their strengths and limitations? Focusing on practical, face-to-face work with clients, the book introduces students to six existential therapies, highlighting areas of commonality and difference, and discusses key figures and their contributions, including Yalom, van Deurzen, Spinelli, Frankl and Laing. It outlines the critical perspectives and key debates, and presents implications for practice, reflection and further reading. Fully updated to reflect current issues, this book now includes: · Sections presenting research evidence for each approach · An extended case study running through the book, demonstrating how different therapies might approach the same case · Chapter overviews, questions for reflection, and additional case studies of actual existential practice.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the radical and visionary ideas of R. D. Laing revolutionized thinking about psychiatric practice and the meaning of madness. His work, from The Divided Self to Knots, and his therapeutic community at Kingsley Hall, made him a household name. But after little more than a decade he faded from prominence as quickly as he had attained it. R.D.Laing and the Paths of Anti-Psychiatry re-examines Laing's work in the context of the anti-psychiatry movement. Concentrating on his most productive decade, the author provides a reasoned critique of Laing's theoretical writings, investigates the influences on his thinking such as phenomenology, existentialism and American family interaction research, and considers the experimental Kingsley Hall therapeutic community in comparison with anti-psychiatry experiments in Germany and Italy. The book provides a much needed reassessment and re-evaluation of Laing's work and its significance for psychotherapy and psychiatry today.
Psychology, the study of mind and behaviour, has developed as a unique discipline in its brief history. Whether as it currently takes place, or how it has been conducted over the past 140 years or so since it became recognized as a separate field of study, there has been constant debate on its identity as a science. Psychology in Historical Context: Theories and Debates examines this debate by tracing the emergence of Psychology from parent disciplines, such as philosophy and physiology, and analyzes key topics such as: the nature of science, itself a much misunderstood human activity often equated with natural science; the nature of the scientific method, and the relationship between data gathering and generalization; the nature of certainty and objectivity, and their relevance to understanding the kind of scientific discipline Psychology is today. This engaging overview, written by renowned author Richard Gross, is an accessible account of the main conceptual themes and historical developments. Covering the core fields of individual differences, cognitive, social, and developmental psychology, as well as evolutionary and biopsychology, it will enable readers to understand how key ideas and theories have had impacts across a range of topics. This is the only concise textbook to give students a thorough grounding in the major conceptual ideas within the field, as well as the key figures whose ideas have helped to shape it.
In Kierkegaard's Romantic Legacy, Anoop Gupta develops an original theory of the self based on Kierkegaard's writings. Gupta proceeds by historical exegesis and considers several important ways of thinking about self outside of the natural sciences. His study moves theories of the self from theology toward sociology, from a God-relationship to a social one, and illustrates how a loss in theological underpinnings partly contributes to the rise in the popularity of cultural relativism. By drawing on Kierkegaard's writings, Gupta develops a metaphysical account of the self that provides an alternative to the idea that there is no such thing as human nature.
Psychosis Under Discussion: How We Talk About Madness examines the ways in which psychosis is discussed by considering the relationship between language and the perception of mental disorder. A wide range of perspectives is discussed – including historical terms, personal accounts, psychiatric terminology, psychoanalysis and later theoretical analyses, advocacy, anti-psychiatry, slang and humour, and media coverage – and each way of discussing psychosis is revealing. For example, psychiatric terminology and related research, in its efforts to understand and clarify can seem distancing, dispassionate, and too sure of its ground, whereas the language of advocacy, while being supportive and sensitive, can also seem euphemistic and evasive. In the discourse of mental disorder, both the content of views and the manner in which they are expressed are influential, making it important to take into account both. Psychosis Under Discussion puts these and other important issues under the microscope. International in range, the book’s analysis draws on psychiatry, psychology, philosophy, linguistics and history. Written in Michael Farrell’s well-known clear and direct style, the book is essential reading for all those interested in understanding mental disorder and the role of language.
A stunning exploration of the relation between desire and psychopathology, The Death of Desire is a unique synthesis of the work of Laing, Freud, Nietzsche, and Heidegger that renders their often difficult concepts brilliantly accessible to and usable by psychotherapists of all persuasions. In bridging a critical gap between phenomenology and psychoanalysis, M. Guy Thompson, one of the leading existential psychoanalysts of our time, firmly re-situates the unconscious – what Freud called "the lost continent of repressed desires" – in phenomenology. In so doing, he provides us with the richest, most compelling phenomenological treatment of the unconscious to date and also makes Freud’s theory of the unconscious newly comprehensible. In this revised and updated second edition to the original published in 1985, M. Guy Thompson takes us inside his soul-searching seven-year apprenticeship with radical psychiatrist R. D. Laing and his cohorts as it unfolded in counterculture London of the 1970s. This rite de passage culminates with a four-year sojourn inside one of Laing’s post-Kingsley Hall asylums, where Laing’s unorthodox conception of treatment dispenses with conventional boundaries between "doctor" and "patient." In this unprecedented exploration, Thompson reveals the secret to Laing’s astonishing alternative to the conventional psychiatric and psychoanalytic treatment schemes. Movingly written and deeply personal, Thompson shows why the very concept of "mental illness" is a misnomer and why sanity and madness should be understood instead as inherently puzzling stratagems that we devise in order to protect ourselves from intolerable mental anguish. The Death of Desire offers a provocative and challenging reappraisal of depth psychotherapy from an existential perspective that will be of interest to psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, philosophers, social scientists, and students of the human condition.

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