17. Karl Jaspers
General Psychopathology (1913)
A centenary reappraisal
Inner Circle Seminar No. 198
Sunday 1 December 2013
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
What was Laing's main criticism of Jaspers? Laing had written in The Divided Self that ‘the greatest psychopathologist has been Freud’, but he had also written in ‘Series and Nexus in the Family’ that the concept of ‘psychopathology’ is itself ‘corrupt’; how, then, could any ‘psychopathologist’ be, for Laing, ‘satisfactory’? But Laing explains: ‘When I read Jaspers’ pathographies of Van Gogh, Hölderlin, and Strindberg, I thought that here was a betrayal by a philosopher of the artist and poet. Instead of a compassionate understanding of the all-too-human risks involved in the exploration of reaches of reality that transcend those that a learned pedant will ever wish to know at first hand, Jaspers is no longer with them when they go too far. Later, I have come to the opinion that Jaspers was not even in a position to betray. To betray, one must have some understanding of what one is betraying.’
Was Jaspers psychiatry’s ‘master thinker’? Or was he, as Laing put it, a ‘learned pedant’ who simply did not understand, for example, how a dream can be a life-changing event, and whose ‘grasp of large tracts of the subject [of dreams] is not merely undistinguished, it is inadequate’? Was Jaspers, in Laing’s words, a ‘would-be Faust without Mephistopheles’? This seminar will try to reach a balanced assessment. You are invited to contribute to the discussion.
Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £116, others £145, some bursaries; coffee, tea, biscuits, mineral water included; payable in advance; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra Avenue, London N22 7XE