The Divided Self: An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness by R. D. Laing (1927-1989) may still be considered a landmark writing today. It is expected that students in Psychotherapy and Counselling will read Laing, starting with the Divided Self and perhaps follow with his Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise. The reason is simple, it is a crucial book where Laing explores madness and the way we usually perceive this condition. The author’s revolutionary thinking, one of the best-known psychiatrists of modern times, allows therapist and psychiatrists to view mental illness in a completely new light, opening treatments with to a new found creativity and certainly more humanity.
Laing’s account and understanding of the clinic is fascinating in itself. Using case studies of patients he had worked with, R. D. Laing argued that psychosis is not a medical condition, but an outcome of the ‘divided self’, or the tension between the two personas within us: one our authentic, private identity, and the other the false, ‘sane’ self that we present to the world. In this account the author was certainly near to the psychoanalytical theories of the time.
Laing was cerainly a man not afraid of exploring different avenues to therapy, prefering to use a phenomenological approach, even experimenting with psychedelic drugs at time, working against a psychiatric establishment solidified by a medical tradition which at, this time in its hstory was badly in need of change.
If The Divided Self could perhaps be regarded as a form of introduction into the study of mental illness, it should not be taken any the less seriously.
- R. D. Laing’s has contributed to some understanding towards my qualitative research using a phenomenological research method, found here
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- Publisher: Penguin (1703)
- ASIN: B0161T6EOE