The Facts of Life

The Facts of Life

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Psychiatrist, prophet, philosopher and poet, R.D. Laing was one of the most stimulating thinkers of the 20th century. His books "The Divided Self" and "Self and Others" revolutionized the common understanding of such concepts as madness, family life and society. This book brings together personal reflections, a scientific lecture, haunting overheard conversations, disturbing accounts of callous conventional psychiatry and poignant scenes from Laing's childhood. The author looks at sex, our personalities and some of our psychological problems tracing these back to birth and the cutting of the cord, even to life in the womb. The implications challenge many of our most cherished assumptions about more

Product details

  • Paperback | 144 pages
  • 128 x 198 x 9mm | 109g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • New edition
  • 0140158227
  • 9780140158229

Review Text

Structurally, at least, this is rather more the Laing of Knots or The Politics of Experience - the cryptic poet of the tangles and paradoxes of existence - than the earlier, earnest analyst-philosopher of The Divided Self and Self and Others. The book is constructed of bits of journals, bits of lectures, memories, meditations - some impenetrably abstract and logically involuted, some embarrassingly speculative and poetic - among which one may wander at will. But in content it is new, evidence that Laing has moved on, deeper into himself, deeper into the mystery of life. It is a meditation without answers, philosophical, personal and biological, on the question, "Who am I?" Perhaps the most striking part of it is the personal. Laing is no longer talking only about patients or people in trouble, but about himself. His own quite astonishingly bleak and repressed early history is told with a bald plainness that suggests both sadness and harsh humor. He moves from the conundrum conventionally called "the facts of life" - our origin in sexual reproduction - into more bizarre territory: the possibility (documented by incidents in therapy) that we remember, are haunted by, and reenact our conception, implantation, fetal life and birth, the loss of the cord and placenta that were part of us. He relates odd things that have happened to his mind, and odd encounters with others, that hint at the vast mysteries lying iceberg-like beyond consciousness. The whole is informed by an implicit compassion that turns explicit in an attack on "heartless" science unaware of its own unconscious sadistic motives. Despite its flights and obscurities, this is a real contribution to the literature of wonder - rich, disorderly, suggestive, inconclusive, and humane. (Kirkus Reviews)show more