Wednesday, 1 January 2014

R. D. Laing remembered by his son. Adrian Laing conducts Inner Circle Seminar 208 (14 December 2014)


R. D. Laing
R. D. Laing
 by his son
Adrian Laing

25 years after R. D. Laing’s death (1989)

50 years after Laing and Esterson’s
Sanity, Madness and the Family (1964)

Adrian Laing
conducts
Inner Circle Seminar No. 208
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
It is twenty-five years since the death of R. D. Laing (7 October 1927 23 August 1989), one of the most remarkable existential psychiatrists and psychoanalysts of the twentieth century. It is also fifty years since the publication of the epochmaking book he wrote with Aaron Esterson, Sanity Madness and the Family (1964), which we are exploring in eleven seminars on the subsequent histories of the eleven women and their families it describes. Today we focus on the life and work of R. D. Laing himself.

His son and biographer, Adrian Laing, will provide an analysis of his fathers personal and professional life by reference to each of R. D. Laings published works from The Divided Self (1960) to Wisdom, Madness and Folly (1985). He will present hitherto unknown material on his father and attempt a reassessment of his contribution, including its complex relationship with the work of David Cooper, Aaron Esterson, and Thomas Szasz.

Adrian Laing is a barrister. He is a former student of Michel Foucault and friend of David Cooper. He is 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’ and satirising such phenomena as the ‘rebirthing’ practised by his father. He is uniquely qualified to facilitate our quest for an understanding and balanced evaluation of his father's life and work.

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 £120, others £150, some bursaries; coffee, tea, biscuits, mineral water included; payable by 14 October 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 207 (16 November 2014)



Frantz Fanon

Existential Pioneers
20. Frantz Fanon
(1925–1961)

Anthony Stadlen
conducts
Inner Circle Seminar No. 207
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 £120, others £150, 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.

Existential Pioneers. 19. Martin Heidegger: ‘The Question Concerning Technology’ (1954). 60 years on. Richard Rojcewicz conducts Inner Circle Seminar 206 (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. 206

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’.

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’.

Professor 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 considered, still unpublished, translation as the basis for our discussion in the seminar. Your contribution will, as always, be welcome.

Incidentally, Heidegger’s philosophy of the decade 1950-60 is as pertinent as Sartre’s to understanding the context of Laing and Estersons  Sanity, Madness and the Family to which we have devoted a 50th-anniversary seminar subseries in 2014. 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’: The Dreadful has already happened’.

Venue: Durrants Hotel, 26–32 George Street, Marylebone, London W1H 5BJ (http://www.durrantshotel.co.uk/)
Payment: Psychotherapy trainees £120, others £150, some bursaries; coffee, tea, biscuits, mineral water included; payable by 19 September 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.

Dame Hilary Mantel introduced Inner Circle Seminar No. 205, the first of eleven seminars on Laing & Esterson, Sanity, Madness & the Family: Families of Schizophrenics. 1. Maya Abbott and the Abbotts, 50 years on. (Durrants Hotel, London, Sunday 6 July 2014.)

Adrian Laing                    Anthony Stadlen                    Hilary Mantel   
Deborah Fosbrook   Adrian Laing   Anthony Stadlen   Hilary Mantel

*Inner Circle Seminar No. 205. Hilary Mantel and Anthony Stadlen conducted: Laing & Esterson, Sanity, Madness and the Family: Families of Schizophrenics. 1. Maya Abbott and the Abbotts, 50 years on. (Durrants Hotel, London, Sunday 6 July 2014.)

Hilary Mantel had just been made a Dame in the Queens Birthday Honours. The date of the seminar, 6 July, was also her own birthday. The message on the cake reads: Happy Birthday Dame Hilary.   


For more information:
http://anthonystadlen.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/laing-esterson-1-abbotts-50-years-on.html

Laing & Esterson: 1. The Abbotts. 50 years on. Hilary Mantel and Anthony Stadlen conduct Inner Circle Seminar 205 (6 July 2014)

R. D. Laing
Aaron Esterson
Laing and Esterson

Sanity, Madness and the Family
(1964)

Continuing research on the families
50 years on


Family 1

The Abbotts

Hilary Mantel
and
Anthony Stadlen
conduct
Inner Circle Seminar No. 205

Sunday 6 July 2014
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Hilary Mantel

We believe that the shift of pont 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 hundredyears 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.’ 


But most psychiatrists and psychotherapists will tell you that Laing and Esterson said: ‘families cause schizophrenia’  the very ‘schizophrenia’ they insisted they disbelieved in. In other words, most psychiatrists and psychotherapists find it difficult to read the plain English that Laing and Esterson wrote. They dont contradict it  they simply manage not to see it. Is this because it would be too threatening to them to see it and to consider it seriously? 

We are honoured that Dame Hilary Mantel, the celebrated novelist, twice winner of the Booker Prize, will speak to us today about how reading Sanity, Madness and the Family when she was not yet twenty-one gave her the courage to write:

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.

Hilary Mantelat least, had no difficulty understanding what Laing and Esterson were talking about:

All the patients profiled in the book are young women. I know their names are pseudonyms, but over the years I've wondered desperately what happened to them, and if there's anyone alive who knows, and whether any of them ever cut free from the choking knotweed of miscommunication and flourished on ground of their own: Ruth, who was thought odd because she wore coloured stockings; Jean, who wanted a baby though her whole family told her she didn't; and Sarah, whose breakdown, according to her family, was caused by too much thinking.

(http://www.theguardian.com/books/2008/sep/06/1)

Anthony Stadlen, through his historical research, is able to answer some of Hilary Mantels questions. He will report his findings, starting today with information from Maya Abbott herself about her life during the more than half a century since the family discussions arranged by Esterson in 1959 and reported in the book of 1964.

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 approach the so-called  problem of schizophrenia, and the heart of what happens in families, through reading part of Chapter 1, on Maya Abbott and her family, aloud as a drama, and discussing it in the light of Anthony Stadlen’s historical research. Hilary Mantel will help us see, as she saw as a young woman of twenty, that what Laing and Esterson recorded and wrote about is the very stuff of life. There is no psychology’ or metapsychology’ deeper than this, or behind’ itAs Esterson said, these are the deepest secrets. But they are open to all. All is there, in a sense, on the surface, in what people say to one another.


Adrian Laing, son of R. D. Laing, will also participate in the seminar. He wrote, in his biography of his father (second edition, 2006):


‘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.’


Your contribution to the seminar will also 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.

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.

Sarah Wise’s brilliant third book, Inconvenient People: Lunacy, Liberty and the Mad-Doctors in Victorian England  (2012), shortlisted for the 2014 Wellcome Book Prize, is, according to Anthony Daniels, as interesting a work of social history as you are ever likely to read’; and her book received many other stunning reviews. In it, she reports her 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.

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 by Eugen 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?’ But was Laing adapting Batesons thesis for a romantic ideology?

Sarah Wise will be an ideal guide to these events and to such questions, 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: ‘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’.

A Dangerous Liaison: De Beauvoir and Sartre. 1. Inner Circle Seminar 203 (18 May 2014)



Jean-Paul Sartre        Simone de Beauvoir
A Dangerous Liaison:
Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre
1

The first of two seminars

Anthony Stadlen
conducts
Inner Circle Seminar No. 203
Sunday 18 May 2014
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Carole Seymour-Jones
This is the first of two seminars on Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de BeauvoirCarole Seymour-Jones, author of the acclaimed book A Dangerous Liaison: Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre (2008), will herself conduct the second seminar in the autumn. 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 FeuerbachKierkegaard and, of course, Sartre himself insisted, thinking that does not purport to be detached but springs from the human existence’, the being-in-the-world, of the thinker. Unless our concern is to maintain an idealised personality cult in bad faith, it matters how those who claim to be existential 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, we shall discuss Carole Seymour-Jones’s devastating research findings on the way in which Jean-Paul Sartre and his necessary’ partner, his fellow philosopher Simone de Beauvoir, actually conducted their ‘contingent’ personal and political relationships. We shall thus prepare the ground for Carole Seymour-Jones’s own seminar in the autumn. 

Carole Seymour-Jones is a qualified (though non-practising) existential psychotherapist. Her other books include 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. She is 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: ‘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.

‘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.