R.D. and the Paths of Anti-Psychiatry
In the 1960s and 1970s, the radical and visionary ideas of R.D.Laingand others associated with the anti-psychiatry movement challenged thepsychiatric establishment, claiming that diagnosis was scientificallymeaningless—that it was simply a way of labelling socially undesirablebehaviour. These ideas revolutionized thinking about psychiatricpractice and the meaning of madness. Laing’s work, from
The Divided Self to Knots,
and his therapeutic community at Kingsley Hall, madehim a household name. But after little more than a decade he faded fromprominence as quickly as he had attained it.
R.D.Laing and the Paths of Anti-Psychiatry
provides a thoroughreexamination of Laing’s work from a contemporary perspective.Concentrating on his most productive decade, the author provides areasoned critique of Laing’s theoretical writings and investigates theinfluences on his thinking including phenomenology and existentialismin his earlier work, and American family interaction research and Sartrein his work on interpersonal communication. The book also considersthe experimental Kingsley Hall therapeutic community in parallel withother anti-psychiatry experiments such as the Socialist Patients’Collective in Germany and the restructuring of the entire psychiatricsystem in Italy.Zbigniew Kotowicz also focuses on Laing’s contemporarycommentators, from the political right and left, and from feminism,whose responses were as much a part of the Laing ‘phenomenon’ as hewas himself. Setting Laing’s work in context, he provides a new andmuch needed reassessment of its significance for psychotherapy andpsychiatry today.
trained as a psychotherapist with ThePhiladelphia Association and has worked as a community therapist andin private practice. He is now a freelance writer and is also the author of
Pessoa: Voices of a Nomadic Soul.