Wednesday, 1 January 2014

R. D. Laing remembered by his son. Adrian Laing conducts Inner Circle Seminar 209 (14 December 2014)


R. D. Laing
R. D. Laing
remembered by his son
Adrian Laing
 25 years after R. D. Laing’s death
50 years after Laing and Esterson’s
Sanity, Madness and the Family

Adrian Laing
conducts
Inner Circle Seminar No. 209
introduced by
Anthony Stadlen
Sunday 14 December 2014
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
R. D. Laing



R. D. Laing

R. D. Laing



Adrian Laing
Throughout 2014 we have explored Laing and Esterson’s Sanity Madness and the Family (1964) and its social and philosophical context fifty years ago. By 1966 the collaboration between R. D. Laing and  Aaron Esterson was virtually at an end (though they wrote a fine preface to the second edition of 1970). Esterson saw Laing as neglecting their serious collaborative project to engage in a frivolous, destructive messianic quest. According to Laing’s son Adrian: ‘He loved sitting up on a stage, with disciples at his feet, being adored but never challenged. He loved being treated as a guru – too much for his own good.’ To this day there are former colleagues of Laing who suppose that his repeated insulting, drunken and violent behaviour to them and their friends was the subtle intervention of a master psychologist and spiritual guide, therapeutically and esoterically designed to correct their idealisation of him. Nevertheless, before Laing embarked on this egocentric travesty of a spiritual journey, his brilliant writing and Esterson’s original, revolutionary research made their book of 1964 a masterpiece. Adrian Laing is a former student of Michel Foucault and friend of David Cooper; he is a barrister and author of the highly praised R. D. Laing: A Biography (1994) [second edition: R. D. Laing: A Life (2006)] and the novel Rehab Blues (2012), written as ‘laughter therapy’, which satirises therapies’ such as the ‘rebirthing’ practised by his father. He is uniquely qualified to facilitate our quest for a balanced assessment of his father.
Please note that this is a subscription seminar, requiring early payment (see below).

Venue: Durrants Hotel, 26–32 George Street, Marylebone, London W1H 5BJ (http://www.durrantshotel.co.uk/)

Subscription: Psychotherapy trainees £116, others £145, some bursaries; coffee, tea, biscuits, mineral water and liquorice allsorts included; payable by 14 June 2014; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra Avenue, London N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857 E-mail: stadlen@aol.com
For further information on seminars, visit: http://anthonystadlen.blogspot.com/
The Inner Circle Seminars were founded by Anthony Stadlen in 1996 as an ethical, existential, phenomenological search for truth in psychotherapy. They have been kindly described by Thomas Szasz as ‘Institute for Advanced Studies in the Moral Foundations of Human Decency and Helpfulness’. But they are independent of all institutes, schools and colleges.

Existential Pioneers. 20. Frantz Fanon. Inner Circle Seminar 208 (16 November 2014)



Frantz Fanon

Existential Pioneers
20. Frantz Fanon
(1925–1961)

Anthony Stadlen
conducts
Inner Circle Seminar No. 208
Sunday 16 November 2014
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Frantz Fanon (20 July 1925 6 December 1961) was a Martinique-born, French-trained psychiatrist who worked in colonial Algeria. His writings (all in French) have inspired many independence movements. His Black Skin, White Masks (1952) was influenced by existential phenomenology and psychoanalysis. Jean-Paul Sartre, whose Critique of Dialectical Reason (1960) was a major influence on Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth (1961), enthusiastically endorsed in his preface to that book Fanon’s thesis of the ‘cleansing’ power of revolutionary violence, which Fanon stated thus:

Violence alone, violence committed by the people, violence organised and educated by its leaders, makes it possible for the masses to understand social truths and gives the key to them. Without that struggle, without that knowledge of the practice of action, there’s nothing but a fancy-dress parade and the blare of the trumpets. There’s nothing but a minimum of readaptation, a few reforms at the top, a flag waving: and down there at the bottom an undivided mass, still living in the middle ages, endlessly marking time.

As Sartre put it:

The rebel’s weapon is the proof of his humanity. For in the first days of the revolt you must kill: to shoot down a European is to kill two birds with one stone, to destroy an oppressor and the man he oppresses at the same time: there remain a dead man, and a free man... 

Hannah Arendt criticised this thesis in On Violence (1970). David Macey, in his biography of Fanon (2001), writes:

He certainly had a talent for hate and he did advocate and justify a violence that I can no longer justify. And yet, his first readers sensed in his work a great generosity.

There is, indeed, far more to Fanon than the advocacy of violence. To give just one example: his classic account of the police torturer who consults him as a psychotherapist to help him continue torturing but without feeling guilt is essential reading for psychotherapists of any school in any society.

Fanon, at the end of his first book, wrote:

I am not a prisoner of history. I should not seek there for the meaning of my destiny.
I should constantly remind myself that the real leap consists in introducing invention into existence.
...
The body of history does not determine a single one of my actions.
...
Was my freedom not given to me then in order to build the world of the You [Toi]?
...
My final prayer:
O my body, make of me always a man who questions!

R. D. Laing identified Fanon as one of a select few (Artaud, Merleau-Ponty, Fanon, Marcuse, Grass’) with whom ‘truly contemporary experience and thought begins’. In today’s seminar we shall study Fanon as a great, if problematic, existential pioneer. We shall draw on his two books mentioned above, on his Studies in a Dying Colonialism (1959) and For the African Revolution (1964), and on Macey’s fine biography. Your contribution will, as always, be welcome.
Venue:   Durrants Hotel, 26–32 George Street, Marylebone, London W1H 5BJ (http://www.durrantshotel.co.uk/)
Cost:    Psychotherapy trainees £116, others £145, some bursaries; coffee, tea, biscuits, mineral water and liquorice allsorts included; payable in advance; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra Avenue, London N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857     E-mail: stadlen@aol.com
For further information on seminars, visit: http://anthonystadlen.blogspot.com/

The Inner Circle Seminars were founded by Anthony Stadlen in 1996 as an ethical, existential, phenomenological search for truth in psychotherapy. They have been kindly described by Thomas Szasz as ‘Institute for Advanced Studies in the Moral Foundations of Human Decency and Helpfulness’. But they are independent of all institutes, schools and colleges.

Existential Pioneers. 19. Martin Heidegger: ‘The Question Concerning Technology’ (1954). 60 years on. Richard Rojcewicz conducts Inner Circle Seminar 207 (19 October 2014)


Martin Heidegger
Existential Pioneers
19. Martin Heidegger
‘Die Frage nach der Technik’ (1954)
[‘The Question Concerning Technology’]
An Elucidation 60 Years On

Richard Rojcewicz
conducts
Inner Circle Seminar No. 207

introduced by
Richard Rojcewicz
Anthony Stadlen
Sunday 19 October 2014

10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Martin Heidegger’s essay ‘Die Frage nach der Technik’ [‘The Question Concerning Technology’] (1954) is one of his most important postwar contributions. Like  his essay ‘The Thing’, it develops the thinking of his 1947 four-part presentation to the Bremen Club, ‘Insight into that which is’. R. D. Laing, in his 1964 lecture ‘Violence and Love’ at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, shortly before the publication of Sanity, Madness and the Family, cited – as crucial to the understanding of the spiritual fragmentation and devastation he encountered as a psychiatrist – Heidegger’s sentence from ‘The Thing’: in Laing’s translation, ‘The Dreadful has already happenened’. Thus Heidegger’s philosophy of the decade 1950-60 is at least as pertinent as Sartre’s to understanding the context of Sanity, Madness and the Family which has been our concern in these Inner Circle Seminars of 2014.

Professor Richard Rojcewicz is one of the world’s great phenomenologists. He teaches philosophy at Point Park University, Pittsburgh. He was formerly Executive Director of the Simon Silverman Phenomenology Center, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh. He has translated major works of Husserl and Merleau-Ponty, and has superbly translated or co-translated many of Heidegger’s writings unpublished during his lifetime: the lecture courses Phenomenological Interpretations of Aristotle: Initiation into Phenomenological Research, Platos Sophist, Basic Concepts of Ancient Philosophy, Basic Concepts of Philosophy: Problems’ of Logic’, and Parmenides; and the ‘ponderings’ of the 1930s, Contributions to Philosophy (Of the Event) and The Event.

Rojcewicz’s book The Gods and Technology: A Reading of Heidegger (2006) stands out as a high point in the abundant secondary literature on Heideggers ‘The Question Concerning Technology’ and indeed on Heideggers writings in general. Even Rojcewicz’s discussion of the subtle ambiguity of the ‘nach’, inadequately translated as ‘concerning’, in Heideggers title ‘Die Frage nach der Technik’, is revelatory. And Rojcewicz objects that the usual translation of ‘Ge-stell’ as ‘enframing’ is ‘correct but not true...it misses the essential and is not horrible enough’. Rojcewicz writes: ‘I have come away from reading the secondary literature with the conviction that Heideggers writings on technology largely remain terra incognita. It is is not so much that [these] books are in error, although I do indeed not agree with any of them completely. It is more a matter of their unwillingness to engage Heideggers work on a fundamental level. While they all have something to say, not one of them, in my view, exhibits the close reading Heidegger deserves and repays.’

Professor Rojcewicz is providing his own, meticulous and deeply thought, still unpublished, translation as the basis for our discussion in the seminar. Your contribution will, as always, be welcome.

Please note that this is a subscription seminar, requiring early payment (see below).
Venue: Durrants Hotel, 26–32 George Street, Marylebone, London W1H 5BJ (http://www.durrantshotel.co.uk/)
Subscription: Psychotherapy trainees £116, others £145, some bursaries; coffee, tea, biscuits, mineral water and liquorice allsorts included; payable by 19 April 2014; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra Avenue, London N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857 E-mail: stadlen@aol.com
For further information on seminars, visit: http://anthonystadlen.blogspot.com/
The Inner Circle Seminars were founded by Anthony Stadlen in 1996 as an ethical, existential, phenomenological search for truth in psychotherapy. They have been kindly described by Thomas Szasz as ‘Institute for Advanced Studies in the Moral Foundations of Human Decency and Helpfulness’. But they are independent of all institutes, schools and colleges.

Laing & Esterson: 2. The Blairs. 50 years on. Inner Circle Seminar 206 (28 September 2014)

R. D. Laing
Aaron Esterson
Laing and Esterson
Sanity, Madness and the Family (1964)
50 Years On
Family 2: The Blairs
Anthony Stadlen
conducts
Inner Circle Seminar No. 206
Sunday 28 September 2014
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

We believe that the shift of point of view that these descriptions both embody and demand has an historical significance no less radical than the shift from a demonological to a clinical viewpoint three hundred years ago.

Thus, in 1964, R. D. Laing and Aaron Esterson introduced their revolutionary descriptions of eleven families of ‘schizophrenics’ in their epochmaking book Sanity, Madness and the Family: Families of Schizophrenics. But fifty years on, the ‘clinical viewpoint’ still rules supreme. Are Laing and Esterson ‘discredited’, as is claimed? Have they been proved wrong? Or are they not yet understood?

Most psychiatrists and psychotherapists say Laing and Esterson said families cause ‘schizophrenia’. In reality, Laing and Esterson wrote: ‘No one can deny us the right to disbelieve in the fact of schizophrenia.’ What is the social intelligibility of the fact that most psychiatrists and psychotherapists are capable of such compulsive hallucinatory misreading without insight into its modality as fantasy?

This is the second of a new subseries of eleven Inner Circle Seminars on the eleven families studied in the book. We shall try to answer some of the above questions through reading Chapter 2, on Lucie Blair’ and her family, aloud as a drama, and discussing it in the light of Anthony Stadlen’s historical research. Your contribution will be welcome.

‘The highly respected Anthony Stadlen, who has practised as an existential-phenomenological psychotherapist in London for over thirty years, continues to this day to hold well-attended and regular seminars in London on a wide variety of existential-psychotherapy-related topics, including dedicated all-day sessions focusing on the individual families featured in the ground-breaking work Sanity, Madness and the Family, first published over forty years ago.’
Adrian Laing, son of R. D. Laing (R. D. Laing: A Life, 2nd edition, 2006)

Venue: Durrants Hotel, 26–32 George Street, Marylebone, London W1H 5BJ (http://www.durrantshotel.co.uk/)
Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £116, others £145, some bursaries; coffee, tea, biscuits, mineral water and liquorice allsorts included; payable in advance; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra Avenue, London N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857 E-mail: stadlen@aol.com
For further information on seminars, visit: http://anthonystadlen.blogspot.com/
The Inner Circle Seminars were founded by Anthony Stadlen in 1996 as an ethical, existential, phenomenological search for truth in psychotherapy. They have been kindly described by Thomas Szasz as ‘Institute for Advanced Studies in the Moral Foundations of Human Decency and Helpfulness’. But they are independent of all institutes, schools and colleges.

Laing & Esterson: 1. The Abbotts. 50 years on. Inner Circle Seminar 205 (6 July 2014)

R. D. Laing
Aaron Esterson
Laing and Esterson
Sanity, Madness and the Family (1964)
50 Years On
Family 1: The Abbotts
Anthony Stadlen
conducts
Inner Circle Seminar No. 205
Sunday 6 July 2014
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

We believe that the shift of point of view that these descriptions both embody and demand has an historical significance no less radical than the shift from a demonological to a clinical viewpoint three hundred years ago.

Thus, in 1964, R. D. Laing and Aaron Esterson introduced their revolutionary descriptions of eleven families of ‘schizophrenics’ in their epochmaking book Sanity, Madness and the Family: Families of Schizophrenics. But fifty years on, the ‘clinical viewpoint’ still rules supreme. Are Laing and Esterson ‘discredited’, as is claimed? Have they been proved wrong? Or are they not yet understood?

Most psychiatrists and psychotherapists say Laing and Esterson said families cause ‘schizophrenia’. In reality, Laing and Esterson wrote: ‘No one can deny us the right to disbelieve in the fact of schizophrenia.’ What is the social intelligibility of the fact that most psychiatrists and psychotherapists are capable of such compulsive hallucinatory misreading without insight into its modality as fantasy?

This is the first of a new subseries of eleven Inner Circle Seminars on the eleven families studied in the book. We shall try to answer some of the above questions through reading Chapter 1, on Maya Abbott’ and her family, aloud as a drama, and discussing it in the light of Anthony Stadlen’s historical research. Your contribution will be welcome.

‘The highly respected Anthony Stadlen, who has practised as an existential-phenomenological psychotherapist in London for over thirty years, continues to this day to hold well-attended and regular seminars in London on a wide variety of existential-psychotherapy-related topics, including dedicated all-day sessions focusing on the individual families featured in the ground-breaking work Sanity, Madness and the Family, first published over forty years ago.’

Adrian Laing, son of R. D. Laing (R. D. Laing: A Life, 2nd edition, 2006)

Venue: Durrants Hotel, 26–32 George Street, Marylebone, London W1H 5BJ (http://www.durrantshotel.co.uk/)
Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £116, others £145, some bursaries; coffee, tea, biscuits, mineral water and liquorice allsorts included; payable in advance; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra Avenue, London N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857 E-mail: stadlen@aol.com
For further information on seminars, visit: http://anthonystadlen.blogspot.com/
The Inner Circle Seminars were founded by Anthony Stadlen in 1996 as an ethical, existential, phenomenological search for truth in psychotherapy. They have been kindly described by Thomas Szasz as ‘Institute for Advanced Studies in the Moral Foundations of Human Decency and Helpfulness’. But they are independent of all institutes, schools and colleges.

Locked Up: ‘Patients’ and their Gaolers. 12. John Perceval. Sarah Wise conducts Inner Circle Seminar 204 (22 June 2014)



Sarah Wise

Locked Up: ‘Patients’ and their Gaolers
12. John Perceval
(1803–1876)

Sarah Wise
conducts
Inner Circle Seminar No. 204
introduced by
Anthony Stadlen
Sunday 22 June 2014
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

John Perceval (14 February 1803 – 28 February 1876) was a son of Spencer Perceval, who became British prime minister in 1809 and was assassinated in 1812. John Perceval published an autobiographical book in two volumes, A narrative of the treatment experienced by a Gentleman during a state of mental derangement designed to explain the causes and nature of insanity, and to expose the injudicious conduct pursued towards many unfortunate sufferers under that calamity (1838, 1840).

Gregory Bateson edited, introduced and republished John Perceval’s book as Perceval’s Narrative: A Patient’s Account of his Psychosis (1961). In his introduction, Bateson described what Perceval called his ‘mental derangement’ as ‘schizophrenia’, although this supposed ‘illness’ was only invented or discovered by Bleuler in the twentieth century. However, Bateson was himself the pioneer of the revolutionary 1956 ‘double bind’ theory of ‘schizophrenia’ as an interpersonal situation rather than as a ‘disease’. He gave a profound analysis of Perceval’s ‘psychotic’ experience as a ‘voyage of discovery’ with ‘as definite a course as an initiation ceremony – a death and rebirth – into which the novice may have been precipitated by his family life or by adventitious circumstances’.

R. D. Laing, in The Politics of Experience (1967), stated that he was ‘in substantial agreement’ with Bateson’s introduction to Perceval's Narrative. Laing described an experience such as Perceval’s as a ‘voyage into inner space and time’. He wrote: ‘We can no longer assume that such a voyage is an illness that has to be treated.... Can we not see that this voyage is not what we need to be cured of, but that it is itself a natural way of healing our own appalling state of alienation called normality?

Sarah Wise is author of The Italian Boy: A Tale of Murder and Body Snatching in 1830s London (2004) and The Blackest Streets: The Life and Death of a Victorian Slum (2008). In her brilliant book Inconvenient People: Lunacy, Liberty and the Mad-Doctors in Victorian England  (2012), she reports her further historical research on the circumstances of John Perceval’s incarceration and horrifyingly brutal ‘treatment’ in expensive lunatic asylums from 1831 to 1834, and his subsequent release and campaign as ‘attorney general of all Her Majesty’s madmen’ for the Alleged Lunatics’ Friend Society.

Sarah Wise will be an ideal guide to these events, and will help us disentangle the social intelligibility of how John Perceval came to be locked up and ‘treated’ by those purporting to help him, in a way that he, with great understatement and dignity, called ‘injudicious’. Your contribution to the seminar discussion will be welcome.
Venue: Durrants Hotel, 26–32 George Street, Marylebone, London W1H 5BJ (http://www.durrantshotel.co.uk/)
Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £116, others £145, some bursaries; coffee, tea, biscuits, mineral water and liquorice allsorts included; payable in advance; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra Avenue, London N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857 E-mail: stadlen@aol.com
For further information on seminars, visit: http://anthonystadlen.blogspot.com/

The Inner Circle Seminars were founded by Anthony Stadlen in 1996 as an ethical, existential, phenomenological search for truth in psychotherapy. They have been kindly described by Thomas Szasz as ‘Institute for Advanced Studies in the Moral Foundations of Human Decency and Helpfulness’.

De Beauvoir and Sartre. Carole Seymour-Jones conducts Inner Circle Seminar 203 (18 May 2014)



Jean-Paul Sartre        Simone de Beauvoir
A Dangerous Liaison:
Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre  

Carole Seymour-Jones
conducts
Inner Circle Seminar No. 203
introduced by
Anthony Stadlen
Sunday 18 May 2014
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Carole Seymour-Jones
To explain the context of Laing and Esterson’s Sanity, Madness and the Family (1964), we have explored Sartre’s philosophy of dialectical reason. But existential thinking means, as Kierkegaard put it, thinking in existence’. It cannot be dissociated from the existing thinker. Unless our concern is to maintain an idealised personality cult in bad faith, it matters how thinkers live their lives. In previous seminars we have discussed Heidegger’s politics; and in December Adrian Laing will take a hard look at the life and work of his father, R. D. Laing. Today, Carole Seymour-Jones will report her devastating research findings on the way in which Jean-Paul Sartre and his necessary’ partner, his fellow philosopher Simone de Beauvoir, actually conducted their ‘contingentpersonal and political relationships.

Carole Seymour-Jones is a qualified existential psychotherapist. She is the acclaimed author of A Dangerous Liaison: Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre (2008), and of Painted Shadow: The Life of Vivienne Eliot, first wife of T.S. Eliot (2001), on which she based her enthralling 19 February 2012 Inner Circle Seminar on Vivienne Eliot; also co-editor of Another Sky: Voices of Conscience from Around the World (2007), by imprisoned and tortured writers; and chair of the Writers in Prison Committee of English PEN.

Venue: Durrants Hotel, 26–32 George Street, Marylebone, London W1H 5BJ (www.durrantshotel.co.uk)

Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £116, others £145, some bursaries; coffee, tea, biscuits, mineral water and liquorice allsorts included; payable in advance; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled

Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra Avenue, London N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857 E-mail: stadlen@aol.com

For further information on seminars, visit: http://anthonystadlen.blogspot.com/

The Inner Circle Seminars were founded by Anthony Stadlen in 1996 as an ethical, existential, phenomenological search for truth in psychotherapy. They have been kindly described by Thomas Szasz as ‘Institute for Advanced Studies in the Moral Foundations of Human Decency and Helpfulness’. But they are independent of all institutes, schools and colleges.

‘Sanity’, ‘Madness’ and Shakespeare. Inner Circle Seminar 202 (27 April 2014)


William Shakespeare
‘Sanity’, ‘Madness’ and Shakespeare
For the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth
(23 April 1564)
and the 50th anniversary of the publication of
R. D. Laing and Aaron Esterson’s
Sanity, Madness and the Family
(April 1964)


R. D. Laing
 
Anthony Stadlen
conducts Inner Circle Seminar No. 202
Sunday 27 April 2014
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

We believe that the shift of point of view that these descriptions both embody and demand has an historical significance no less radical than the shift from a demonological to a clinical viewpoint three hundred years ago.
Aaron Esterson
Thus, in 1964, R. D. Laing and Aaron Esterson introduced their revolutionary descriptions of eleven families of ‘schizophrenics’. But fifty years on, the ‘clinical viewpoint’ still rules supreme. Are Laing and Esterson ‘discredited’, as is claimed? Have they been proved wrong? Or are they not yet understood?
William Shakespeare throws light on this. He rejected both the demonological and the clinical viewpoints more than four hundred years ago.
For the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth (23 April 1564) and the 400th of his death (23 April 1616), we shall link seminars on Shakespeare’s existential, social-phenomenological studies of ‘madness’ in Hamlet, Lear, and other plays with a new series of seminars on each of Laing and Esterson’s eleven family dramas (we held a first series of eleven seminars ten years ago). Today we begin with a general comparison of these two bodies of work, each unsurpassed in its field.

Hilary Mantel, the celebrated contemporary writer, has movingly described how reading Sanity, Madness and the Family when she was twenty-one gave her the courage to write (http://www.theguardian.com/books/2008/sep/06/1):

Some of us need a little push, before we recognise we have the right to pick up a pen. In my case it came from a book by the psychiatrists R. D. Laing and Aaron Esterson, Sanity, Madness and the Family... The people in it seemed close enough to touch... Each interview is a novel or play in miniature. So many of these family conversations seemed familiar to me: their swerves and evasions, their doubleness... For most of my life I had been told that I didn't know how the world worked. That afternoon I decided I did know, after all. In the course of my twenty-one years I'd noticed quite a lot. If I wanted to be a writer, I didn't have to worry about inventing material, I'd already got it. The next stage was just to find some words.

Adrian Laing, biographer of his father R. D. Laing, will conduct an Inner Circle Seminar on his father on 14 December. He writes (R. D. Laing: A Life, 2nd edition, 2006, p. xxiv):

The highly respected Anthony Stadlen, who has practised as an existential-phenomenological psychotherapist in London for over thirty years, continues to this day to hold well-attended and regular seminars in London on a wide variety of existential-psychotherapy-related topics, including dedicated all-day sessions focusing on the individual families featured in the ground-breaking work Sanity, Madness and the Family, first published over forty years ago.
 
Venue: ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra Avenue, London N22 7XE

Cost:    Psychotherapy trainees £116, others £145, some bursaries; coffee, tea, biscuits, mineral water and liquorice allsorts included; payable in advance; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra Avenue, London N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857     E-mail: stadlen@aol.com 
For further information on seminars, visit: http://anthonystadlen.blogspot.com/

The Inner Circle Seminars were founded by Anthony Stadlen in 1996 as an ethical, existential, phenomenological search for truth in psychotherapy. They have been kindly described by Thomas Szasz as ‘Institute for Advanced Studies in the Moral Foundations of Human Decency and Helpfulness’. But they are independent of all institutes, schools and colleges.

Laing & Cooper: Reason and Violence (1964). Inner Circle Seminar 201 (16 March 2014)



Jean-Paul Sartre
R. D. Laing   David Cooper
Reason and Violence (1964)
A Decade of Sartre’s Philosophy, 19501960
Genet, Method, Dialectical Reason
50 Years On
Jean Genet

Anthony Stadlen
conducts
Inner Circle Seminar No. 201
Sunday 16 March 2014
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Reason and Violence: A Decade of Sartre’s Philosophy, 1950-1960, by R. D. Laing and David Cooper, with a Foreward by Jean-Paul Sartre, was published in March 1964, 50 years ago this month. The book condensed three of Sartre’s most important works to about a tenth of their considerable length as an aid to Anglophone readers. Questions of Method (1960) and Critique of Dialectical Reason (1960) set out to demystify and ‘depass’ the human sciences psychoanalysis, existential analysis, sociology, anthropology, historiography in a wider dialectical synthesis, tracing apparent ‘process’, such as ‘mental mechanism’ or ‘class struggle’, to ‘praxis’, the free intentional individual activity of men and women. Saint Genet, Comedian and Martyr (1952) was Sartre’s monumental attempt to understand the life of one man, Jean Genet orphan, homosexual, thief, prisoner, novelist,  playwright –, in terms of what Sartre maintained was Genet’s ‘fundamental project’, his creative response to his childhood situation.

Reason and Violence is much more than a mere summary of these three texts of Sartre’s. Sartre in his Foreward praised the human approach of Laing’s earlier works and his ‘perfect understanding of the Critique of Dialectical Reason’. Laing’s prĂ©cis of the Critique is, indeed, in some respects more accurate than the official translation published some years later. But, more than this, Laing and Cooper’s clarification of the relevance of these three works to psychoanalysis, psychotherapy and family analysis makes Reason and Violence an important work in its own right. It provides an existential-phenomenological foundation for psychoanalysis, as well as for the methodology of Laing and Esterson’s Sanity, Madness and the Family: Families of Schizophrenics (1964), published a month after Reason and Violence, which applied Sartre’s principles to family analysis and  ‘schizophrenia’.

At the same time, there is an ambiguity in the title of Laing and Cooper’s book. Laing defined ‘violence’ as the opposite of ‘love’, and the title implies it is also the opposite of ‘reason’, but Sartre, Laing and Cooper went on to advocate a cult of ‘healing’ violence by the ‘wretched of the earth’. This is alien to Marx’s thinking, for example, as Hannah Arendt observed in On Violence (1969), and as we shall see in a seminar on Frantz Fanon on 16 November 2014. We shall touch on this today, and your contribution to the discussion will be welcome.

Venue:  ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra AvenueLondon N22 7XE
Cost:    Psychotherapy trainees £116, others £145, some bursaries; coffee, tea, biscuits, mineral water included; payable in advance; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra Avenue, London N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857     E-mail: stadlen@aol.com  
For further information on seminars, visit: http://anthonystadlen.blogspot.com/

The Inner Circle Seminars were founded by Anthony Stadlen in 1996 as an ethical, existential, phenomenological search for truth in psychotherapy. They have been kindly described by Thomas Szasz as ‘Institute for Advanced Studies in the Moral Foundations of Human Decency and Helpfulness’. But they are independent of all institutes, schools and colleges.