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R.D. Laing: Contemporary Perspectives

Published Date: 7th August 2015

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Raschid, Salman


Salman Raschid’s unique volume aims to re-establish R. D. Laing’s position, and reputation, as the major critic of orthodox, medically-based, psychiatry. Laing’s complex personality enabled powerful figures in the British psychiatric establishment to malign him when he was at the height of his fame, largely because Laing’s ideas, and public posture, posed a formidable threat to their medical authority. As critic as Peter Sedgwick had observed, Laing’s work was capable of considerable further development. He related mainstream psychiatry’s indebtedness to Laing to the fact that no rival approach possessed any dynamic or momentum of comparable power. Additionally Laing’s theories of schizophrenia had been powerfully aided “by the distinguished cultural and philosophical apparatus in which they reposed”. Subsequent events have proved Sedgwick right, and this book is a record of continuing developments (in theory and practice) of the main corpus of Laing’s work, and an adumbration of likely future developments. The disciplines involved cover, or implicate, such distinct areas of intellectual inquiry as psychiatry (including neurobiology), psychotherapy, philosophy and anthropology. Contributors include Luc Ciompi, Loren Mosher and Louis Sass The ongoing work inspired by Laing, represents a potent challenge to exclusively medically based psychiatry – fashionably described as ‘biological psychiatry’. This book aims to re-establish Laing’s work as a continuing source of inspiration for the development of a truly humanistic psychiatry and psychology, whilst providing the basis of a radical and profound critique, of conventional psychiatry, concluding that R. D. Laing’s is one of the major contributors to the theory and practice of psychiatry, worthy of being ranked alongside such other extraordinary pioneers as Emil Kraepelin, Henry Maudsley, Adolf Meyer and Harry Stack Sullivan.


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