The Divided Self: An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness

Overview

Dr. Laing's first purpose is to make madness and the process of going mad comprehensible. In this, with case studies of schizophrenic patients, he succeeds brilliantly, but he does more: through a vision of sanity and madness as 'degrees of conjunction and disjunction between two persons where the one is sane by common consent' he offers a rich existential analysis of personal alienation.

The outsider, estranged from himself and society, cannot experience either himself or ...

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The Divided Self: An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness

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Overview

Dr. Laing's first purpose is to make madness and the process of going mad comprehensible. In this, with case studies of schizophrenic patients, he succeeds brilliantly, but he does more: through a vision of sanity and madness as 'degrees of conjunction and disjunction between two persons where the one is sane by common consent' he offers a rich existential analysis of personal alienation.

The outsider, estranged from himself and society, cannot experience either himself or others as 'real'. He invents a false self and with it he confronts both the outside world and his own despair. The disintegration of his real self keeps pace with the growing unreality of his false self until, in the extremes of schizophrenic breakdown, the whole personality disintegrates.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
"Dr. Laing is saying something very important indeed. . . . This is a truly humanist approach."
—Philip toynbee in the Observer

"It is a study that makes all other works I have read on schizophrenia seem fragmentary. . . . The author brings, through his vision and perception, that particular touch of genius which causes one to say Yes, I have always known that, why have I never thought of it before?'"
Journal of Analytical Psychology

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140135374
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/20/1965
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 439,123
  • Product dimensions: 5.17 (w) x 7.82 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author

R.D. Laing, one of the best-known psychiatrists of modern times, was born in Glasgow in 1927 and graduated from Glasgow University as a doctor of medicine. In the 1960's he developed the argument that there may be a benefit in allowing acute mental and emotional turmoil in depth to go on and have its way, and that the outcome of such turmoil could have a positive value. He was the first to put such a stand to the test by establishing, with others, residences where persons could live and be free to let happen what will when the acute psychosis is given free rein, or where, at the very least, they receive no treatment they do not want. This work with the Philadelphia Association since 1964, together with his focus on disturbed and disturbing types of interaction in institutions, groups and families, has been both influential and continually controversial.

R.D. Laing's writings range from books on social theory to verse, as well as numerous articles and reviews in scientific journals and the popular press. His publications are: The Divided Self, Self and Others, Interpersonal Perception (with H. Phillipson and A. Robin Lee), Reason and Violence (introduced by Jean-Paul Sartre), Sanity, Madness and the Family (with A. Esterson), The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise, Knots, The Politics of the Family, The Facts of Life, Do You Love Me?, Conversations with Children, Sonnets, The Voice of Experience and Wisdom, Madness and Folly.

R.D. Laing died in 1989. Anthony Clare, writing in the Guardian, said of him: "His major achievement was that he dragged the isolated and neglected inner world of the severely psychotic individual out of the back ward of the large gloomy mental hospital and on to the front pages of influential newspapers, journals and literary magazines . . . Everyone in contemporary psychiatry owes something to R.D. Laing."

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Table of Contents

The Divided Self Preface to the Original Edition
Preface to the Pelican Edition
Part One
1. The existential-phenomenological foundations for a science of persons
2. The existential-phenomenological foundations for the understanding of psychosis
3. Ontological insecurity

Part Two
4. The embodied and unembodied self
5. The inner self in the schizoid condition
6. The false-self system
7. Self-consciousness
8. The case of Peter

Part Three
9. Psychotic developments
10. The self and the false self in a schizophrenic
11. The ghost of the weed garden: a study of a chronic schizophrenic

References
Index

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2000

    Psychiatry Becoming Philosophy

    The title THE DIVIDED SELF in psychiatric jargon refers to a split personality which has always confused it with multiple personality disorders. But here the self is divided from what the so-called patient perceives as reality. It would be a philosophical problem then except the 'patient' is simply poorly educated and doesn't even know their problem is philosophical instead of some sort of objectified 'disease' which it is not. You can find the same basic approach to experience in Plato, Aristotle, Heidegger, and Sartre. It is Sartre that Laing gets his inspiration from, and he quotes Sartre at the top of chapter 8 to the effect that Sartre no longer believes in psychology at all, but instead resports to biography. This largely explains Laing's approach since, once you have a history of the person, it becomes a matter of explaning the full implications of their conflicts rather than curing a dirty 'diease.'

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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