R.D. LAING: 50 years since ‘THE DIVIDED SELF’
Edited by Theodor Itten & Courtenay Young
PCCS Books (2012)
Together with Courtenay Young, Editor of The International Journal of Psychotherapy, I have collected and edited this book. There are twenty four authors who joined in, and we begin our Introduction as follows:
With this book, our authors and we, the editors, commemorate and celebrate in our various ways, the 50 years (or so) since the publication of R.D. Laing’s: The Divided Self, in 1960. He was then 33 years old. He began writing his first book shortly after he entered clinical practice in the Royal Gartnavel Hospital, Glasgow, in 1953, developing his style of relating to patients, listening to them, and conveying his experience by getting his ‘voice’ going. For Laing, the epistemological basis for the science of a person became empirical phenomenology: the ultimate definition was not some erudite theory, but what could actually be seen and heard. In this, he was quite radical and – for him – this was also somewhat transformational.
What was Laing’s basic message just over half a century ago? First of all, it is imperative to listen more carefully to the ‘mad’ communications of all the people that are similar to those who are portrayed in ‘The Divided Self’. Maybe they are not as ‘mad’ as they seem; maybe they are just ‘divided selves’. Whilst simple, this was revolutionary. For centuries, society (we) had excluded, ignored, imprisoned, laughed at, and been afraid of these ‘mad’ people. De facto, their ravings could not therefore be sensible, but Laing just asked us to listen more carefully and take some of their personal ‘stories’ into account: maybe then they would make more sense than heretofore presumed. If you start to ‘be’ with these ordinary people, much like you and me, in a more courteous respectful way, you may find that they might open up to you some of the treasures of their hidden true selves.
As soon as the book is announced by PCCS Books http://www.pccs-books.co.uk/ we will let you know on this site
Theodor Itten, St. Gallen