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. 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)

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 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-one, 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’ (see the stunning reviews below*). 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’.


*Reviews of Sarah Wises Inconvenient People (shortlisted for the 2014 Wellcome Book Prize)

‘Wise is a terrific researcher and storyteller. She has woven a series of case stories into a fascinating history of insanity in the 19th century.’

Kate Summerscale, Guardian Books of the Year

‘... an illuminating look at an area of social history that inspired Wilkie Collins, among others.’

Sebastian Faulks, Daily Telegraph Books of the Year

‘I thrilled to Sarah Wise’s Inconvenient People, an enthralling study of those who fell foul of Victorian mad-doctors and greedy relatives.’

Philip Hoare, Sunday Telegraph Books of the Year

‘Ms Wise delves deeply into her unsettling subject, finding bizarre humour in it as well as tragedy. A specialist in the sociology of Victorian low life, she extracts richly detailed material from the archives and animates it with great narrative flair. These skills won well-deserved praise for her two previous books: The Italian Boy, about a case of murder and grave robbery in the 1830s; and The Blackest Streets, about life in a London slum called the Old Nichol. This gripping study of the Victorian madhouse continues the investigation, and sends some shivers up the reader’s spine along the way.’

Charles Nicholl, Wall Street Journal

‘The great gift of Sarah Wise’s excellent is to blow apart the myth that the most likely victim of the lunacy laws was a married woman. If much of Inconvenient People reads like a mood book through which Wilkie Collins might have flipped if stuck for inspiration, there are moments of high farce too. Wise is flexible enough in her narrative register to make it all right to find this very funny indeed.’

Kathryn Hughes, The Guardian

Deeply researched and gripping ... The book owes its enormous power to Sarah Wise’s patience. She has sifted through hundreds of case histories ... It makes for harrowing reading, but much of it is also hilarious.

A N Wilson, Mail on Sunday

‘Who would have thought that an epic exploration of the misdiagnosis of madness by Victorian doctors would be so action-packed and entertaining? After her enthralling explorations of the down-at-heel 19th century in The Italian Boy and The Blackest StreetsWise has moved on to dark doings among the middle and upper orders ... This marvellous book should be read by anyone intrigued by Victorian society or our wavering definitions of sanity.’

Christopher Hirst, The Independent

‘Wise has a wonderful series of gothic tales to tell ... She is the first to draw them together into a broader portrait of the fraught relations between Victorian mad-doctors and at least some of their patients. Moreover, she has worked diligently in the archives to uncover fresh details that make the curious characters that populate her pages come to life. Hers may be popular history, but it rests on a good deal of original and careful research.’

Andrew Scull, Times Literary Supplement

‘After these cheerful late cases comes a devastating epilogue ... you put this quite superlative book down, shaken.’

Edward Pearce, The Independent

‘Sarah Wise is an excellent writer, and those who pick up this book will not lightly put it down. Her ten chapters read like short novels, and she has the true social historian’s ability to make her period come alive. She selects and compresses the salient details beautifully; one often feels as if one is actually present at the scenes she describes. There can be no higher praise ... Inconvenient People is as interesting a work of social history as you are ever likely to read.’

Anthony Daniels, The Spectator

‘Wise has given us a fascinating book that teems with rich archival research. The pictorial sources are an added boon and make for a wonderfully illustrated addition to the history of the 19th century.’ 

Lisa Appignanesi, Daily Telegraph

‘... fascinating ... Sarah Wise has used her subject like an axe, to split open the Victorian fa├žade and examine everything wriggling behind. It has enough tragedy, comedy, farce and horror to fill a dozen fat novels, and enough bizarre characters to people them.

Suzi Feay, Financial Times

‘Trenchant and disturbing.’

Professor John Carey, Sunday Times

‘... a well written, carefully researched account of 19th-century Englands struggles to define, determine the causes of and treat mental illness ... Inconvenient People is more than a history of psychiatry in the Victorian Age. It contains important lessons for those who seek to understand where we have been and where we are going in the effort to balance personal autonomy with society’s obligations to help those who cannot help themselves.’

Ronald Schouten, professor of psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Washington Independent Review of Books

‘... [an] extraordinary psychosocial history ... Wise keenly points out that “this ‘progress’ had gone hand in hand with what, to many, seemed to be the pathologising of perfectly ordinary human weirdness ... How safe was anyone when the experts had such divergent views of insanity?” Wise’s meticulously researched study adds a fresh perspective to current scholarship on insanity and offers a chilling reminder of the stubborn unchangeability of many aspects of the lunacy issue.’

Publishers Weekly (USA)

‘There is so much to interest and entertain in this book, which is enhanced by over eighty informative illustrations.’

Gillian Tindall, Literary Review

‘What works particularly well about Wise’s project is her ability to take a substantial body of research and turn it into a piece that is truly fitting for the subject ... Inconvenient People succeeds in striking a fine balance between narrative elegance and scholarly rigour. Wise is scrupulous in her composition, piecing together personal accounts and historical records, creating vignettes of unfounded lunacy, leaving the reader with striking and memorable images that contradict commonly held notions of madness.’

Kalika Sands, The Oxonian Review, University of Oxford graduate journal

‘Fascinating and chilling, Inconvenient People reads like a series of Victorian novels in brief – only all the tales are true. Each chapter is like a complex costume drama, involving plots, firearms, escapes, pursuits, confrontations, angry crowds, abandonment, terror and despair. Sarah Wise has uncovered some real horror stories ... Nobody interested in mental health should miss this book.

Bel Mooney, Daily Mail

‘The ultimate horrific genealogical discovery is of the mad ancestor locked in the attic ... In this wonderfully engaging book, Sarah Wise puts us right: men were more likely than women to be incarcerated maliciously by family members ... As well as being a good read, this book is helpful on the procedures for the declaration of lunacy.’

Jad Adams, Who Do You Think You Are?

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.