The Politics of Experience & The Bird of Paradise from R. D. Laing is a little book (only 160 pages) which is no less important to own and read in all seriousness. In it R. D. Laing explores the influencethe the society at large (what in Lacanian terms we would name the Other) imposes on the subject, in particular the experience of alienation and its subsequent result in the subject’s loss of potential. For him the notion of normality could not be more problematic in itself, and not cerainly not something one should somehow encounter by default.
In this enterprise Laing adopts a phenomelogical approach to the clinic, a research method which one may argue was quite in vogue at the time of his writings. Around that same time there also was a number of questions being raised with regards to psychiatry in general, and Laing was an important actor in trying to shake what could almost be seen as an old and conservative establishment.
Laing is important to read and reflect on for his injection of humanity in the work of psychotherapy. His views on psychosis were rather revolutionary at the time, but should still be considered today. Surely it is not difficult to understand that respect and a minimum of empathy can go a long way in helping patients.
The book by R. D. Laing is not a technical book constructed around a complex theory of the mind. Both his accounts are like mini treatises encouraging to treat simply patients as human beings to begin with. Psychoanalysis have of course made some big steps since then, and Laing’s clinial practice was reflecting the new found freedom that the western society of the 60’s and 70’s was going through at the time; still, he certainly remains an author and writer to contend with.
- R. D. Laing’s Politics of Experience & The Bird of Paradise has contributed to some understanding towards my qualitative research using a phenomenological research method, found here
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- Paperback: 160 pages
- Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (26 April 1990)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0140134867
- ISBN-13: 978-0140134865