The Legacy of R. D. Laing
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The Legacy of R. D. Laing : An appraisal of his contemporary relevance

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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.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 180 pages
  • 154 x 232 x 14mm | 280g
  • Taylor & Francis Ltd
  • ROUTLEDGE
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 1138850152
  • 9781138850156
  • 1,032,320

Review quote

M. Guy Thompson has impressively compiled the most authoritative, accessible, and personally revealing book on R.D. Laing ever written, and by contributors who knew him best-his students, trainee's, colleagues, and friends. No other book exists that covers the broad range of Laing's legacy including his philosophy, unconventional treatment practices, politics, appeal to popular culture, and his provocative behaviour (including intimate details of his life replete with all the juicy gossip) that shine light on his enigmatic personality. A wonderful piece of scholarship! - Jon Mills, Psy.D., Ph.D., ABPP, philosopher, psychoanalyst, and psychologist; author of Underworlds: Philosophies of the Unconscious from Psychoanalysis to Metaphysics This is an important book! The time has come for a re-evaluation of legacy of Laing, whose work has been largely neglected by contemporary psychoanalysts and even the existential therapists who owe him so much. Edited by Laing's student and close associate, M. Guy Thompson, the book is comprised of contributors who knew Laing intimately and who provide a feel for what he was like as a person, as well as a therapist and thinker. Well-written and lively, this book is a compelling tour de force that demonstrates why Laing is so relevant for the challenges that confront us in the 21st century. - Betty Cannon, Ph.D., author of Sartre and Psychoanalysis, president of the Boulder Psychotherapy Institute, and founder of Applied Existential Psychotherapy (AEP) The Legacy of R.D. Laing makes you yearn for a time when radical ideas about madness were seen as exciting possibilities to be explored. The book also provide a foil for assessing the "brain-disease" constructs of madness that drive modern psychiatry. Today's conceptions seem particularly impoverished and lacking in all poetry. - Robert Whitaker M. Guy Thompson has impressively compiled the most authoritative, accessible, and personally revealing book on R.D. Laing ever written, and by contributors who knew him best-his students, trainee's, colleagues, and friends. No other book exists that covers the broad range of Laing's legacy including his philosophy, unconventional treatment practices, politics, appeal to popular culture, and his provocative behaviour (including intimate details of his life replete with all the juicy gossip) that shine light on his enigmatic personality. A wonderful piece of scholarship! - Jon Mills, Psy.D., Ph.D., ABPP, philosopher, psychoanalyst, and psychologist; author of Underworlds: Philosophies of the Unconscious from Psychoanalysis to Metaphysics This is an important book! The time has come for a re-evaluation of legacy of Laing, whose work has been largely neglected by contemporary psychoanalysts and even the existential therapists who owe him so much. Edited by Laing's student and close associate, M. Guy Thompson, the book is comprised of contributors who knew Laing intimately and who provide a feel for what he was like as a person, as well as a therapist and thinker. Well-written and lively, this book is a compelling tour de force that demonstrates why Laing is so relevant for the challenges that confront us in the 21st century. - Betty Cannon, Ph.D., author of Sartre and Psychoanalysis, president of the Boulder Psychotherapy Institute, and founder of Applied Existential Psychotherapy (AEP) R.D. Laing in the 21st Century makes you yearn for a time when radical ideas about madness were seen as exciting possibilities to be explored. The conference proceedings also provide a foil for assessing the "brain-disease" constructs of madness that drive modern psychiatry. Today's conceptions seem particularly impoverished and lacking in all poetry. - Robert Whitaker, Author of Anatomy of an Epidemic This wonderful book, bringing together essays written mainly by people who knew Laing and his teachings personally, uniquely illuminates the life and contributions of one of the true giants of our field. - George E. Atwood. Ph.D. Since his death in 1989, R. D. Laing's trenchant contributions to the understanding of human distress have, if anything grown, in their relevance and indispensability. Laing didn't simply treat his patients, he cared for and with them in ways imbued with deep interpersonal understanding. The Legacy of R.D. Laing collects a number of pivotal essays written by authors and practitioners who knew, worked with and were inspired by Laing. For anyone who has ever been bewitched, bothered or bewildered by Laing, or who is curious to discover what all the fuss is about, this is the book to read. - Professor Ernesto Spinelli, ES Associates, London UK. The value of this collection comes from its many important reflections on Laing's active, idiosyncratic, and occasionally bizarre approach to therapy, and its connection to his revolutionary praxis in the realm of psychiatry... This collection of essays is quite an achievement; an important rejuvenation of Laing's thought, in many cases accomplished by those who knew the man personally. One gets the impression that few others would have been up to the task... In truly Laingian spirit, this volume successfully de-mystifies many eleemnts of "Ronnie's" thought, by putting the reader into an occasionally uncomfortably intimate relationship with many of the most important elements of his writings and practices... [It] is important that reflections on human relationships, and the effect of certain social orders upon them, do not drop out of the conversation. This book is well worth reading for anybody, clinician or academic alike, who agrees. - Alex Miller Tate, Marx and Philosophy Societyshow more

About Michael Guy Thompson

M. Guy Thompson, PhD is a Personal and Supervising Analyst at the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California and Adjunct Professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies, 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.show more

Table of contents

Introduction, M. Guy Thompson, PhD. Who Was R. D. Laing?, Peter Mezan, PhD. Laing and The Myth of Mental Illness Redux, M. Guy Thompson, PhD. Laing's THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE and the Emerging Science of Consciousness, Fritjof Capra, PhD. On R. D. Laing's Style, Sorcery, Alienation, John M. Heaton, MD. Non-Modern Selves, Andrew Pickering, PhD. Laing's THE DIVIDED SELF and THE POLITICS OF EXPERIENCE: Then and Now, Douglas Kirsner, PhD. R. D. Laing: Pre-Mature Postmodern Psychoanalyst, Martin A. Schulman, PhD. Awakening to Love: R. D. Laing's Phenomenological Therapy, Steven Gans, R. D. Laing's Existential-Humanistic Practice: What Was He Actually Doing? Kirk Schneider. Psychotherapeutic Compassion in the Tradition of R. D. Laing, Theodor Itten. A Note on Living in One of R. D. Laing's Post-Kingsley Hall Households: Portland Road, M. Guy Thompson, PhD. Human, All Too Human: The Life and Work of R. D. Laing Interview, Douglas Kirsner, PhD.show more

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