Wednesday, 1 January 2014

R. D. Laing remembered by his son. Adrian Laing conducts Inner Circle Seminar 209 (14 December 2014)


R. D. Laing
R. D. Laing
 by his son
Adrian Laing

25 years after R. D. Laing’s death (1989)

50 years after Laing and Esterson’s
Sanity, Madness and the Family (1964)

Adrian Laing
conducts
Inner Circle Seminar No. 209
introduced by
Anthony Stadlen
Sunday 14 December 2014
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
R. D. Laing



R. D. Laing

R. D. Laing



Adrian Laing
It is twenty-five years since the death of R. D. Laing (7 October 192723 August 1989), one of the most remarkable existential psychiatrists and psychoanalysts of the twentieth century. It is also fifty years since the publication of the epochmaking book he wrote with Aaron Esterson, Sanity Madness and the Family (1964), which we are exploring in eleven seminars on the subsequent histories of the eleven women and their families it describes. Today we focus on the life and work of R. D. Laing himself.
His son and biographer, Adrian Laing, will provide an analysis of his fathers personal and professional life by reference to each of R. D. Laings published works from The Divided Self (1960) to Wisdom, Madness and Folly (1985). He will present hitherto unknown material on his father and attempt a reassessment of his contribution, including its complex relationship with the work of David Cooper, Aaron Esterson, and Thomas Szasz.
Adrian Laing is a barrister. He is a former student of Michel Foucault and friend of David Cooper. He is author of the highly praised R. D. Laing: A Biography (1994) [second edition: R. D. Laing: A Life (2006)] and the novel Rehab Blues (2012), written as ‘laughter therapy’ and satirising such phenomena as the ‘rebirthing’ practised by his father. He is uniquely qualified to facilitate our quest for an understanding and balanced evaluation of his father’s life and work.

Venue: Durrants Hotel, 26–32 George Street, Marylebone, London W1H 5BJ (http://www.durrantshotel.co.uk/)

Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £120, others £150, some bursaries; coffee, tea, biscuits, mineral water included; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled

Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra Avenue, London N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857  E-mail: stadlen@aol.com

For further information on seminars, visit: http://anthonystadlen.blogspot.com

The Inner Circle Seminars were founded by Anthony Stadlen in 1996 as an ethical, existential, phenomenological search for truth in psychotherapy. They have been kindly described by Thomas Szasz as ‘Institute for Advanced Studies in the Moral Foundations of Human Decency and Helpfulness’. But they are independent of all institutes, schools and colleges.

Heidegger’s Zollikon Seminars. A 50th-anniversary revaluation. 1. Seminars of 1959 and 1964. Inner Circle Seminar 208 (30 November 2014)

Martin Heidegger and Medard Boss
on the Feldweg south of Messkirch, 1963

Heidegger’s Zollikon Seminars
A 50th-anniversary revaluation
1. Seminars of 1959 and 1964
‘How does Dr R. relate to this table here?’

Anthony Stadlen
conducts
Inner Circle Seminar No. 208
Sunday 30 November 2014
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

                                                                              

Anthony Stadlen writes:


Between 1959 and 1969 the German philosopher Martin Heidegger conducted seminars for psychiatrists in the home of the Swiss psychiatrist Medard Boss’s house in Zollikon near Zürich. (The first seminar was in the Bürghölzli mental hospital in Zürich.)

Martin Heidegger
at home in Freiburg
Boss, with Heidegger’s collaboration and consent, published a book containing reports of the seminars, and of his own conversations and correspondence with Heidegger (Heidegger, M., 1994 [1987], Zollikoner Seminare: Protokolle – Zwiegespräche – Briefe, herausgegeben von M. Boss, second edition, Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann).

Fourteen years later an authorised American translation was published (Heidegger, M., 2001 [1994], Zollikon Seminars: Protocols – Conversations – Letters, edited by M. Boss, Evanston IL: Northwestern University Press).

I showed in detail (Existential Analysis, 14.2, July 2003) that this American translation is not trustworthy. While some passages are reasonably translated, others give a highly distorted picture of what Heidegger is saying.

A simple but telling example: Heidegger says the title of a congress of psychologists is ‘reichlich komisch’. Even if you know no German you might guess this means ‘richly comic’, and it does; but these rather humourless translators render it as ‘rather humorous’, thereby misrepresenting Heidegger’s biting humour and justified contempt as bland praise.

These Inner Circle Seminars on the Zollikon seminars will go some way to remedy this.

In this first seminar on Sunday 30 November 2014 we shall look at the four reported seminars of 1959 and 1964. In the seminar of 1959 in the lecture theatre at the Bürghölzli, Heidegger produced his only recorded ‘drawing’ of ‘Da-sein’, on the blackboard, and his written elucidation of it; we shall study them both. Also, the seminar of 6 and 9 July 1965 in Boss’s house is remarkable as the only seminar where the awkward and fascinating dialogue between Heidegger and the baffled participating psychiatrists was reported in full verbatim – by Dr Erna Hoch, a person of great honesty and integrity. Our first seminar will thus take us to the heart of Heidegger’s amazing seminars.

1965 was Heidegger’s most active year in relation to the Zollikon seminars. He made no fewer than five visits. In 2015, we shall devote one seminar to each of his five seminars of 1965, on their 50th anniversaries almost to the day. These five seminars of ours will thus have the same structure and time-scale as his: two three-hour sessions (with coffee and tea breaks) separated in our case by a lunch break and in his by a day or two.

The seventh seminar, on 6 March 2016, will examine the seminar of 1 and 3 1966.

Subsequent seminars, to be announced in due course, will explore the important Boss-Heidegger conversations and correspondence reported in the book.

Whatever bad things Heidegger did in his long life, his Zollikon seminars were an act of decency and piety – even if he and Boss were naive in thinking that clinical psychiatrists, of all people, were likely to be receptive to his radical questioning of the foundations of psychotherapy. The seminars can be a force for great good in psychotherapy if we are prepared to take them slowly and seriously, and open ourselves to their profound simplicity. They are revolutionary in their return to beginnings, saying ‘the same thing in the same way’ – which, as Heidegger points out, Socrates said was the hardest of all.

You should bring a copy of the American translation if you attend any of the seminars, and if you know a little German it would be helpful to bring a copy of the original. I will provide photocopies if you are not able to bring a copy. But I will provide my own corrected translations of numerous passages. In many instances, these reveal an astonishingly different meaning from that proposed by the American translation.

These seminars will, in such cases, give English speakers for the first time an idea of what Heidegger is really saying.

You can attend any or all of these seminars. Each is self-contained, but it would be advantageous to attend all seven (and you also pay a reduced fee for the seven: students £700, others £875).

1. 30 November 2014
(Inner Circle Seminar No. 208)
Heidegger’s Zollikon Seminars of 1959-1964
‘How does Dr R. relate to this table here?’
(Inner Circle Seminar No. 210)
Heidegger’s Zollikon Seminars of 18 and 21 January 1965
‘Can we disregard the human being altogether?’
(Inner Circle  Seminar No. 213)
Heidegger’s Zollikon Seminars of 10 and 12 March 1965
‘In making-present the Zürich main railway station, we are directed not to a picture of it, not to a representation ...’
(Inner Circle  Seminar No. 216)
Heidegger’s Zollikon Seminars of 11 and 14 May 1965
‘We now make a leap to the body-problem.’
(Inner Circle Seminar No. 219)
Heidegger’s Zollikon Seminars of 6 and 8 July 1965
‘Is the body and its bodying ... something somatic or something psychic or neither of the two?’
(Inner Circle Seminar No. 224)
Heidegger’s Zollikon Seminars of 23 and 26 November 1965
‘Whence comes the insight that ... the Sein of the Da is ecstatic ... ?’

7. 6 March 2016
(Inner Circle Seminar No. 228)
Heidegger’s Zollikon Seminars of 1 and 3 March 1966
‘Unburdening and burdening are possible only through the human being’s ecstatic being-outstretched.’

Venue: ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra AvenueLondon N22 7XE

Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £120 per seminar or £700 the subseries of seven, others £150 or £875 the subseries of seven); 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 AvenueLondon N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857     E-mail: stadlen@aol.com

For further information on seminars, visit: http://anthonystadlen.blogspot.com/

The Inner Circle Seminars were founded by Anthony Stadlen in 1996 as an ethical, existential, phenomenological search for truth in psychotherapy. They have been kindly described by Thomas Szasz as ‘Institute for Advanced Studies in the Moral Foundations of Human Decency and Helpfulness’. But they are independent of all institutes, schools and colleges.

Existential Pioneers. 20. Frantz Fanon. Inner Circle Seminar 207 (16 November 2014)



Frantz Fanon

Existential Pioneers
20. Frantz Fanon
(1925–1961)

Anthony Stadlen
conducts
Inner Circle Seminar No. 207
Sunday 16 November 2014
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Frantz Fanon (20 July 1925 6 December 1961) was a Martinique-born, French-trained psychiatrist who worked in colonial Algeria. His writings (all in French) have inspired many independence movements. His Black Skin, White Masks (1952) was influenced by existential phenomenology and psychoanalysis. Jean-Paul Sartre, whose Critique of Dialectical Reason (1960) was a major influence on Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth (1961), enthusiastically endorsed in his preface to that book Fanon’s thesis of the ‘cleansing’ power of revolutionary violence, which Fanon stated thus:

Violence alone, violence committed by the people, violence organised and educated by its leaders, makes it possible for the masses to understand social truths and gives the key to them. Without that struggle, without that knowledge of the practice of action, there’s nothing but a fancy-dress parade and the blare of the trumpets. There’s nothing but a minimum of readaptation, a few reforms at the top, a flag waving: and down there at the bottom an undivided mass, still living in the middle ages, endlessly marking time.

As Sartre put it:

The rebel’s weapon is the proof of his humanity. For in the first days of the revolt you must kill: to shoot down a European is to kill two birds with one stone, to destroy an oppressor and the man he oppresses at the same time: there remain a dead man, and a free man... 

Hannah Arendt criticised this thesis in On Violence (1970). David Macey, in his biography of Fanon (2001), writes:

He certainly had a talent for hate and he did advocate and justify a violence that I can no longer justify. And yet, his first readers sensed in his work a great generosity.

There is, indeed, far more to Fanon than the advocacy of violence. To give just one example: his classic account of the police torturer who consults him as a psychotherapist to help him continue torturing but without feeling guilt is essential reading for psychotherapists of any school in any society.

Fanon, at the end of his first book, wrote:

I am not a prisoner of history. I should not seek there for the meaning of my destiny.
I should constantly remind myself that the real leap consists in introducing invention into existence.
...
The body of history does not determine a single one of my actions.
...
Was my freedom not given to me then in order to build the world of the You [Toi]?
...
My final prayer:
O my body, make of me always a man who questions!

R. D. Laing identified Fanon as one of a select few (Artaud, Merleau-Ponty, Fanon, Marcuse, Grass’) with whom ‘truly contemporary experience and thought begins’. In today’s seminar we shall study Fanon as a great, if problematic, existential pioneer. We shall draw on his two books mentioned above, on his Studies in a Dying Colonialism (1959) and For the African Revolution (1964), and on Macey’s fine biography. Your contribution will, as always, be welcome.
Venue:   Durrants Hotel, 26–32 George Street, Marylebone, London W1H 5BJ (http://www.durrantshotel.co.uk/)
Cost:    Psychotherapy trainees £120, others £150, 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
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857     E-mail: stadlen@aol.com
For further information on seminars, visit: http://anthonystadlen.blogspot.com/

The Inner Circle Seminars were founded by Anthony Stadlen in 1996 as an ethical, existential, phenomenological search for truth in psychotherapy. They have been kindly described by Thomas Szasz as ‘Institute for Advanced Studies in the Moral Foundations of Human Decency and Helpfulness’. But they are independent of all institutes, schools and colleges.

Existential Pioneers. 19. Martin Heidegger: ‘The Question Concerning Technology’ (1954). 60 years on. Richard Rojcewicz conducts Inner Circle Seminar 206 (19 October 2014)


Martin Heidegger
Existential Pioneers
19. Martin Heidegger
‘Die Frage nach der Technik’ (1954)
[‘The Question Concerning Technology’]
An Elucidation 60 Years On

Richard Rojcewicz
conducts
Inner Circle Seminar No. 206

Richard Rojcewicz
introduced by
Anthony Stadlen
Sunday 19 October 2014
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Martin Heidegger’s essay ‘Die Frage nach der Technik’ [‘The Question Concerning Technology’] (1954) is one of his most important postwar contributions. Like  his essay ‘The Thing’, it develops the thinking of his 1947 four-part presentation to the Bremen Club, ‘Insight into that which is’.

Professor Richard Rojcewicz is one of the world’s great phenomenologists. He teaches philosophy at Point Park University, Pittsburgh. He was formerly Executive Director of the Simon Silverman Phenomenology Center, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh. He has translated major works of Husserl and Merleau-Ponty, and has superbly translated or co-translated many of Heidegger’s writings unpublished during his lifetime: the lecture courses Phenomenological Interpretations of Aristotle: Initiation into Phenomenological Research, Platos Sophist, Basic Concepts of Ancient Philosophy, Basic Concepts of Philosophy: Problems’ of Logic’, and Parmenides; and the ‘ponderings’ of the 1930s, Contributions to Philosophy (Of the Event) and The Event.

Rojcewicz’s book The Gods and Technology: A Reading of Heidegger (2006) stands out as a high point in the abundant secondary literature on Heideggers ‘The Question Concerning Technology’ and indeed on Heideggers writings in general. It is based on Rojcewiczs profoundly illuminating new translation of Heideggers text, which we shall study in the seminar. Even Rojcewicz’s discussion of the subtle ambiguity of the ‘nach’, inadequately translated as ‘concerning’, in Heideggers title ‘Die Frage nach der Technik’, is revelatory. Rojcewicz also points out, for example, that translating both Gegenstand’ and Objekt’ as object, as the published translation does, makes nonsense of the radical distinction Heidegger draws between what these terms connote. And Rojcewicz objects that the published translation of ‘Ge-stell’ as ‘enframing’ is ‘correct but not true...it misses the essential and is not horrible enough’.

Professor Rojcewicz writes: ‘I have come away from reading the secondary literature with the conviction that Heideggers writings on technology largely remain terra incognita. It is is not so much that [these] books are in error, although I do indeed not agree with any of them completely. It is more a matter of their unwillingness to engage Heideggers work on a fundamental level. While they all have something to say, not one of them, in my view, exhibits the close reading Heidegger deserves and repays.

Professor Rojcewicz is providing his own, meticulous and deeply considered, still unpublished, translation as the basis for our discussion in the seminar. Your contribution will, as always, be welcome.

Incidentally, Heidegger’s philosophy of the decade 1950-60 is as pertinent as Sartre’s to understanding the context of Laing and Estersons Sanity, Madness and the Family to which we have devoted the first seminar of a 50th-anniversary subseries in 2014. R. D. Laing, in his 1964 lecture ‘Violence and Love’ at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, shortly before the publication of Sanity, Madness and the Family, cited – as crucial to the understanding of the spiritual fragmentation and devastation he encountered as a psychiatrist – Heidegger’s sentence from ‘The Thing’: The Dreadful has already happened’.

Venue: Durrants Hotel, 26–32 George Street, Marylebone, London W1H 5BJ (http://www.durrantshotel.co.uk/)
Payment: Psychotherapy trainees £120, others £150, some bursaries; coffee, tea, biscuits, mineral water included; payable by 19 September 2014; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra Avenue, London N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857 E-mail: stadlen@aol.com
For further information on seminars, visit: http://anthonystadlen.blogspot.com/
The Inner Circle Seminars were founded by Anthony Stadlen in 1996 as an ethical, existential, phenomenological search for truth in psychotherapy. They have been kindly described by Thomas Szasz as ‘Institute for Advanced Studies in the Moral Foundations of Human Decency and Helpfulness’. But they are independent of all institutes, schools and colleges.

Dame Hilary Mantel introduced Inner Circle Seminar No. 205, the first of eleven seminars on Laing & Esterson, Sanity, Madness & the Family: Families of Schizophrenics. 1. Maya Abbott and the Abbotts, 50 years on. (Durrants Hotel, London, Sunday 6 July 2014.)

Adrian Laing                    Anthony Stadlen                    Hilary Mantel   
Deborah Fosbrook   Adrian Laing   Anthony Stadlen   Hilary Mantel

*Inner Circle Seminar No. 205. Hilary Mantel and Anthony Stadlen conducted: Laing & Esterson, Sanity, Madness and the Family: Families of Schizophrenics. 1. Maya Abbott and the Abbotts, 50 years on. (Durrants Hotel, London, Sunday 6 July 2014.)

Hilary Mantel had just been made a Dame in the Queens Birthday Honours. The date of the seminar, 6 July, was also her own birthday. The message on the cake reads: Happy Birthday Dame Hilary.   


For more information:
http://anthonystadlen.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/laing-esterson-1-abbotts-50-years-on.html

Laing & Esterson: 1. The Abbotts. 50 years on. Hilary Mantel and Anthony Stadlen conduct Inner Circle Seminar 205 (6 July 2014)

R. D. Laing
Aaron Esterson
Laing and Esterson

Sanity, Madness and the Family
(1964)

Continuing research on the families
50 years on


Family 1

The Abbotts

Hilary Mantel
and
Anthony Stadlen
conduct
Inner Circle Seminar No. 205

Sunday 6 July 2014
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Hilary Mantel

We believe that the shift of pont of view that these descriptions both embody and demand has an historical significance no less radical than the shift from a demonological to a clinical viewpoint three hundredyears ago.

Thus, in 1964, R. D. Laing and Aaron Esterson introduced their revolutionary descriptions of eleven families of ‘schizophrenics’ in their epochmaking book Sanity, Madness and the Family: Families of Schizophrenics. But fifty years on, the ‘clinical viewpoint’ still rules supreme. Are Laing and Esterson ‘discredited’, as is claimed? Have they been proved wrong? Or are they not yet understood?

Most psychiatrists and psychotherapists say Laing and Esterson said families cause ‘schizophrenia’. In reality, Laing and Esterson wrote: ‘No one can deny us the right to disbelieve in the fact of schizophrenia.’ 


But most psychiatrists and psychotherapists will tell you that Laing and Esterson said: ‘families cause schizophrenia’  the very ‘schizophrenia’ they insisted they disbelieved in. In other words, most psychiatrists and psychotherapists find it difficult to read the plain English that Laing and Esterson wrote. They dont contradict it  they simply manage not to see it. Is this because it would be too threatening to them to see it and to consider it seriously? 

We are honoured that Dame Hilary Mantel, the celebrated novelist, twice winner of the Booker Prize, will speak to us today about how reading Sanity, Madness and the Family when she was not yet twenty-one gave her the courage to write:

Some of us need a little push, before we recognise we have the right to pick up a pen. In my case it came from a book by the psychiatrists R. D. Laing and Aaron Esterson, Sanity, Madness and the Family... The people in it seemed close enough to touch... Each interview is a novel or play in miniature. So many of these family conversations seemed familiar to me: their swerves and evasions, their doubleness... For most of my life I had been told that I didn't know how the world worked. That afternoon I decided I did know, after all. In the course of my twenty-one years I'd noticed quite a lot. If I wanted to be a writer, I didn't have to worry about inventing material, I'd already got it. The next stage was just to find some words.

Hilary Mantelat least, had no difficulty understanding what Laing and Esterson were talking about:

All the patients profiled in the book are young women. I know their names are pseudonyms, but over the years I've wondered desperately what happened to them, and if there's anyone alive who knows, and whether any of them ever cut free from the choking knotweed of miscommunication and flourished on ground of their own: Ruth, who was thought odd because she wore coloured stockings; Jean, who wanted a baby though her whole family told her she didn't; and Sarah, whose breakdown, according to her family, was caused by too much thinking.

(http://www.theguardian.com/books/2008/sep/06/1)

Anthony Stadlen, through his historical research, is able to answer some of Hilary Mantels questions. He will report his findings, starting today with information from Maya Abbott herself about her life during the more than half a century since the family discussions arranged by Esterson in 1959 and reported in the book of 1964.

This is the first of a new subseries of eleven Inner Circle Seminars on the eleven families studied in the book. We shall try to approach the so-called  problem of schizophrenia, and the heart of what happens in families, through reading part of Chapter 1, on Maya Abbott and her family, aloud as a drama, and discussing it in the light of Anthony Stadlen’s historical research. Hilary Mantel will help us see, as she saw as a young woman of twenty, that what Laing and Esterson recorded and wrote about is the very stuff of life. There is no psychology’ or metapsychology’ deeper than this, or behind’ itAs Esterson said, these are the deepest secrets. But they are open to all. All is there, in a sense, on the surface, in what people say to one another.


Adrian Laing, son of R. D. Laing, will also participate in the seminar. He wrote, in his biography of his father (second edition, 2006):


‘The highly respected Anthony Stadlen, who has practised as an existential-phenomenological psychotherapist in London for over thirty years, continues to this day to hold well-attended and regular seminars in London on a wide variety of existential-psychotherapy-related topics, including dedicated all-day sessions focusing on the individual families featured in the ground-breaking work Sanity, Madness and the Family, first published over forty years ago.’


Your contribution to the seminar will also be welcome.


Venue: Durrants Hotel, 26–32 George Street, Marylebone, London W1H 5BJ (http://www.durrantshotel.co.uk/)

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
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857 E-mail: stadlen@aol.com
For further information on seminars, visit: http://anthonystadlen.blogspot.com/
The Inner Circle Seminars were founded by Anthony Stadlen in 1996 as an ethical, existential, phenomenological search for truth in psychotherapy. They have been kindly described by Thomas Szasz as ‘Institute for Advanced Studies in the Moral Foundations of Human Decency and Helpfulness’. But they are independent of all institutes, schools and colleges.