Monday, 1 January 2018

Kierkegaard. Fear and Trembling. 2. Anthony Stadlen conducts Inner Circle Seminar 248 (20 January 2019)

Søren Kierkegaard
Fear and Trembling
Dialectical Lyric by Johannes de silentio (1843)
2. Tuning up

Anthony Stadlen

conducts
Inner Circle Seminar No. 248
20 January 2019
                
Søren Kierkegaard   
Abraham and Isaac
Rembrandt























Søren Kierkegaard (5 May 1813 – 11 November 1855) was the thinker who introduced the word existential’ to convey the project of thinking with the whole of one’s being, as an existing thinker, rather than constructing a theory or system’ which he said was like a house in which one does not live.

Kierkegaard’s pseudonymously published short book Fear and Trembling (1843) is a searching analysis of the Akedah, the Biblical account of Abraham’s binding of Isaac (Genesis, 22:1-19), fundamental for all three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Fear and Trembling is a fundamental document for existential thinking, to which Heidegger, Jaspers, and Sartre acknowledged their indebtedness. The meaning of the Akedah has been debated and disputed for thousands of years by Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and atheist thinkers. The meaning of Kierkegaards (pseudonyms) interplay of interpretations in Fear and Trembling has also been the contentious subject of a continuing comprehensive conversation by generations of theological, philosophical, and psychological scholars for one hundred and seventy-five years.

Ludwig Wittgenstein, himself generally regarded as one of the most profound thinkers of the 20th century, held that Kierkegaard was by far the most profound thinker of the 19th century. However, Ernesto Spinelli, widely regarded as a leading existential therapist, has recently denounced Abraham’s self-evident lunacy and Kierkegaard’s dangerous folly. This is in line with traditional clinical-psychiatric thinking, for example the psychiatrist Abraham Myerson’s 1945 diagnosis that Kierkegaard was a psychiatric case’, whose writing was a schizoid and certainly utterly incomprehensible presentation by a mind which is quite deviate’.

Are these important demystifying insights into a pretentious and over-rated writer? Or is the noble existential tradition here degenerating into abject capitulation to uncomprehending psychiatric reductionism?

In eight seminars, you are invited to explore in depth the rich variety of interpretations of both the Akedah and Fear and Trembling, and perhaps arrive at your own. 

Venue: Durrants Hotel, 26–32 George Street, Marylebone, London W1H 5BJ
Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £132, others £165, some bursaries; coffee, tea, Durrants rock, mineral water included; payable in advance; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra AvenueLondon 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 universities.

Heidegger’s Zollikon Seminars. Psychoanalytic Theory of ‘Projection’. Anthony Stadlen conducts Inner Circle Seminar 247 (9 December 2018)

Heidegger’s Zollikon Seminars
(1959-1969)
A 50th-anniversary revaluation
11. Heidegger and Boss discuss Freud (4)
(Taormina, April 1963)

‘If ... it were really a question of a projection here,

then ... I myself would suddenly be a good man.’

Anthony Stadlen
conducts
Inner Circle Seminar No. 247
9 December 2018

Martin Heidegger
at home, Freiburg
Martin Heidegger  Medard Boss
Feldweg, Messkirch, 1963

      

















We are exploring the background discussions between the philosopher Martin Heidegger and the psychiatrist Medard Boss to Heidegger’s 1959-1969 seminars in Boss’s Zollikon home as reported in the book Zollikon Seminars. We have seen that, in their April 1963 conversations in TaorminaSicily, Heidegger confirms Freud’s discoveries of transference, repression, etc. – but as ecstatic-intentional world-relationship’, not as natural scientistic metapsychology’. You are cordially invited to join our discussion of Heidegger’s fundamental restatement of Freud’s concept of projection’ as just such an ecstatic-intentional world-relationship’.

Venue: ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra Avenue, London N22 7XE
Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £132, others £165, some bursaries; coffee, tea, biscuits, berries, nuts, mineral water included; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra Avenue, London N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857  +44 (0) 7809 433 250
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 universities.

Kierkegaard. Fear and Trembling. 1. Anthony Stadlen conducts Inner Circle Seminar 245 (14 October 2018)

Søren Kierkegaard
Fear and Trembling
Dialectical Lyric by Johannes de silentio (1843)
1. Preliminary overview and Preface

Anthony Stadlen

conducts
Inner Circle Seminar No. 245
14 October 2018
                
Søren Kierkegaard   
Abraham and Isaac
Rembrandt























Søren Kierkegaard (5 May 1813 – 11 November 1855) was the thinker who introduced the word existential’ to convey the project of thinking with the whole of one’s being, as an existing thinker, rather than constructing a theory or system’ which he said was like a house in which one does not live.

Kierkegaard’s pseudonymously published short book Fear and Trembling (1843) is a searching analysis of the Akedah, the Biblical account of Abraham’s binding of Isaac (Genesis, 22:1-19), fundamental for all three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Fear and Trembling is a fundamental document for existential thinking, to which Heidegger, Jaspers, and Sartre acknowledged their indebtedness. The meaning of the Akedah has been debated and disputed for thousands of years by Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and atheist thinkers. The meaning of Kierkegaards (pseudonyms) interplay of interpretations in Fear and Trembling has also been the contentious subject of a continuing comprehensive conversation by generations of theological, philosophical, and psychological scholars for one hundred and seventy-five years.

Ludwig Wittgenstein, himself generally regarded as one of the most profound thinkers of the 20th century, held that Kierkegaard was by far the most profound thinker of the 19th century. However, Ernesto Spinelli, widely regarded as a leading existential therapist, has recently denounced Abraham’s self-evident lunacy and Kierkegaard’s dangerous folly. This is in line with traditional clinical-psychiatric thinking, for example the psychiatrist Abraham Myerson’s 1945 diagnosis that Kierkegaard was a psychiatric case’, whose writing was a schizoid and certainly utterly incomprehensible presentation by a mind which is quite deviate’.

Are these important demystifying insights into a pretentious and over-rated writer? Or is the noble existential tradition here degenerating into abject capitulation to uncomprehending psychiatric reductionism?

In eight seminars, you are invited to explore in depth the rich variety of interpretations of both the Akedah and Fear and Trembling, and perhaps arrive at your own. 

Venue: Durrants Hotel, 26–32 George Street, Marylebone, London W1H 5BJ
Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £132, others £165, some bursaries; coffee, tea, Durrants rock, 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 universities.

Being-in-the-World: My Body and I. Raymond Tallis conducts Inner Circle Seminar 244 (15 July 2018)

Being-in-the-World
My Body and I

Raymond Tallis
conducts Inner Circle Seminar No. 244
introduced by Anthony Stadlen
Sunday 15 July 2018
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Raymond Tallis

Raymond Tallis is one of our best-loved invited speakers. Today he conducts his fifth Inner Circle Seminar (his first was on 2 December 2012).

He has shown in four profound Inner Circle Seminars that he is one of the world’s leading demystifiers of what he calls the ‘neuroscience delusion’ (‘neuromania’) and the ‘intellectual plague of biologism’ (‘animalism’). His ruthless, good-humoured exposure of reductive natural-scientism continues the tradition of Heidegger and  Szasz, but is utterly his own. Psychotherapists are free to choose to go on making fools of themselves by pretending to be ‘validated’ by ‘neuroscience’; but their work, such as it is, speaks for itself, and no pseudo-scientific ‘validation’ can disguise this.
Raymond Tallis 

Raymond Tallis writes about todays seminar:

That we are organisms cannot be denied: we are generated by processes common to other living creatures and die of similar causes. Between our biological beginning and our biological end, however, we live lives that are distant from the organic processes that sustain them. The seminar will explore our nature as embodied beings-in-the-world, inseparable from, and yet not identical with, our bodies, and the tension between the I am of the person and the it is of the organism.’

For an account of how Raymond Tallis writes his extraordinary books, see his article ‘My writing day: In my favourite pub, the staff turn down the speaker in my writing corner’, in The Guardian Review of 29 April 2017:
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/apr/29/my-writing-day-raymond-tallis

Raymond Tallis was a Professor of Geriatric Medicine and consultant physician in Health Care of the Elderly. He has published two hundred research articles in the neurology of old age and neurological rehabilitation, as well as a novel, short stories, three volumes of poetry, and thirty books on philosophy of mind, philosophical anthropology, literary theory, the nature of art, and cultural criticism. He has received many awards and honorary degrees. In 2009, the Economist listed him as one of the world’s twenty leading polymaths.

Nicholas Fearn wrote in The Independent:

When Kirsty Young was asked to name her favourite guest on Desert Island Discs, the rock star Paul Weller was beaten into second place, for her own luxury item would be the writer Raymond Tallis.

Raymond Tallis, whose fifth Inner Circle Seminar this will be, kindly confirms that our seminar structure, in which dialogue is of the essence, enables him to communicate and reflect on his ideas. He wrote, after his first Inner Circle Seminar, The Intellectual Plague of Biologism, on 2 December 2012:

The seminar was for me an incredible experience. I have never previously had the opportunity to discuss the topics we covered in such depth with a group of people who came at it from such different angles but in a way that I found illuminating. I learned a lot. It was a tremendous privilege.

Venue: Durrants Hotel, 26–32 George Street, Marylebone, London W1H 5BJ
Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £132, others £165, some bursaries; coffee, tea, Durrants rock, 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 universities.

Locked Up: ‘Patients’ and their Gaolers 15. Janet Frame (1924–2004). Susannah Wilson conducts Inner Circle Seminar 243 (17 June 2018)

Locked Up: ‘Patients’ and their Gaolers
15. Janet Frame
(1924–2004)

Susannah Wilson

conducts
Inner Circle Seminar No. 243
introduced by
Anthony Stadlen
Sunday 17 June 2018
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
                  
Janet Frame
Susannah Wilson
Janet Frame (28 August 1924 29 January 2004) was a leading, active and prolific, New Zealand writer of fiction and poetry. Her extraordinary 1980s three-volume autobiography, To the Is-land, An Angel at my Table and The Envoy from Mirror City, describes in painful detail several periods of psychiatric treatment from her early twenties onwards. After attempting suicide, she was incarcerated for eight years in New Zealand hospitals, diagnosed with ‘schizophrenia’ and ‘treated’ frequently with electric shock and insulin therapy. In 1951 a scheduled lobotomy was cancelled when her doctors realised she had won a prestigious award. She describes positively her time at the London Maudsley hospital, where she was pronounced not ‘schizophrenic’; but she evokes the helplessness and impotence of voluntary asylum patients, and the dependency at the heart of the doctor-patient power relationship.

Susannah Wilson, Associate Professor in French Studies at the University of Warwick, former British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow and recipient of a British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award, has already conducted enthralling seminars on Camille Claudel and Hersilie Rouy in our Locked Up series.

Venue:   Durrants Hotel, 26–32 George Street, Marylebone, London W1H 5BJ
Cost:    Psychotherapy trainees £132, others £165, some bursaries; coffee, tea, mineral water, Durrants Rock 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 universities.

Laing & Esterson. 10. The Kings. 50 years on. Hilary Mantel and Anthony Stadlen conduct Inner Circle Seminar 242 (13 May 2018)

Laing and Esterson
Sanity, Madness and the Family
50 Years On
Family 10: The Kings

Dame Hilary Mantel   Anthony Stadlen
conduct
Inner Circle Seminar No. 242
Sunday 13 May 2018
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Hilary Mantel
Aaron Esterson
R. D. Laing


This utterly straightforward book is still not understood today, especially by ‘professionals’. But Hilary Mantel, who gained courage to become a novelist through reading it when she was nearly twenty-one, understood it. She urged readers: ‘Just read the simple words the people speak.’ In this seminar you will have a unique opportunity actually to hear and discuss with Hilary Mantel herself ‘the simple words the people speak’, from the tape-recordings that Esterson made of his conversations with Hazel King’ and the King family in the early 1960s and that Anthony Stadlen made of his  conversations with ‘Hazel and other surviving members of the family half a century later.

In her first Reith lecture Hilary Mantel discusses the relation between the historical novelist and the historian.


She brings to our seminars the unique genius of an historical novelist who sees far more profoundly than the rest of us the implications of the known historical facts but does not present invention as history. Each of our seminars begins with her wonderful reflections on what is given in the text of the book. She has no privileged access to the case. She learns what I have discovered as an historian only as do the other seminar participants, when I play recordings of my interviews with the surviving members of the family half a century later and explore Estersons original library of tape-recordings on which the book is based.

Nine of the original eleven women diagnosed schizophrenic are now dead; but Mantel recalls Auden:

... the crack in the teacup opens
A lane to the land of the dead.

She could have also have quoted Eliot:

And what the dead had no speech for, when living,
They can tell you, being dead: the communication
Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.

In this tenth of the eleven families, however, while her father and mother are dead, Hazel herself and a significant number of her relatives who know her are still alive and agreed to be interviewed.

Why is this nowadays rarely read or even referenced book of 1964 so important? It is, after all, absent from almost all discussions either of the family or of schizophreniaThe extremely rare discussions of it patronise it, as if they had long passed beyond it; but without having begun to understand it, let alone catch up with it.

And yet it is so simple.

It is true that R. D. Laing and Aaron Estersons research, reported in this masterpiece of 1964 and continued by Esterson in his profound The Leaves of Spring: A Study in the Dialectics of Madness (1970), was a concrete embodiment of the complex theoretical work of their most advanced and radical contemporaries of the 1960s: Jean-Paul SartreCritique of Dialectical Reason and The Question of MethodThomas SzaszThe Myth of Mental Illness; and Martin Heidegger and Medard BossZollikon Seminars.

Sartre highly esteemed Laing and Esterson’s work on families. Szasz had enormous respect for Esterson; he thought this book was on a higher level than Laing’s other books; he also thought Stadlens research following up the eleven families important. Heidegger would surely have loved the book, though it is unlikely he knew it; it embodies that straightforward openness and humanity he tried to convey in his Zollikon seminars, though he might well have asked: Why drag in Sartre? Professor Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann of FreiburgHeidegger’s personal assistant whom he entrusted with editing posthumously his 102-volume Collected Works, and his wife Frau Dr. Veronika von Herrmann, particularly admire Laing and Esterson’s work. But almost all Daseinsanalysts, existential therapists, psychoanalysts, psychotherapists  and of course psychiatrists – ignore it.

But the book is essentially simple. What did Laing and Esterson say that was so simple: too simple for ‘professionals’ to understand?

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 they introduced their great phenomenological descriptions of eleven families of ‘schizophrenics’. But, more than fifty years on, the ‘clinical viewpoint’ still reigns supreme. ‘Existential’, ‘Lacanian’, ‘Laingian’, ‘humanist’, ‘person-centred’ therapists and a galaxy of similarly impressively titled psychoanalysts and psychotherapists love to call themselves ‘clinicians’.

The great and the good, including younger members of our royal family, seek ‘parity’ for ‘physical’ and ‘mental health’. This is well-intentioned but confusing. Indeed ‘it is good to talk’ – but not in this mystifying, pseudo-scientific language. 

Have Laing and Esterson been proved wrong? They wrote:

Nobody can deny us the right to disbelieve in schizophrenia.’

Why, then, do most psychiatrists and psychotherapists claim Laing and Esterson said ‘families cause schizophrenia’? They can not have understood, if they have ever remembered, if they have ever read, the first sentences of the second edition (1970) of the book:

There have been many studies of mental illness and the family. This book is not of them, at least in our opinion.’

Hilary Mantel wrote that ‘the simple words the people speak’ in Laing and Esterson’s book gave her, when twenty years old, the courage to write her own books, which have been internationally acclaimed. Her introductions to the seminars in this series have enthralled participants with their sensitive understanding of, and deeply perceptive insight into, each family in turn.

As she has written:

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 EstersonSanity, 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.

Laing and Esterson wrote:

Surely, if we are wrong, it would be easy to show that we are, by studying a few families and revealing that schizophrenics really are talking a lot of nonsense after all.

Anthony Stadlen accepted this challenge by studying the very same eleven families they had studied: listening to Esterson’s original tape recordings and interviewing living family members fifty years on. Today, by listening to Estersons 1960s recordings of Hazel King’ and her family and to Stadlens recordings of his 21st-century interviews with living family members including Hazel’ herself (one of only two still living of the original eleven so-called ‘schizophrenics), you can collaborate in evaluating whether Hazel’ was ‘really talking a lot of nonsense after all’.

This is the only chapter of the eleven that Stadlens research shows to be seriously inaccurate. It is also the only one where a family member asked whether Laing and Esterson had published their research; her recorded views on the chapter will be played.

Your contribution to the dialogue will be warmly welcomed.

Venue: Durrants Hotel, 26–32 George Street, Marylebone, London W1H 5BJ
Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £132, others £165, some bursaries; coffee, tea, mineral water, Durrants rock included; payable in advance; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra AvenueLondon N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857  +44 (0) 7809 433 250
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 universities.