Thursday, 1 January 2015

Laing & Esterson. 3. The Churches. 50 years on. Hilary Mantel, Adrian Laing & Anthony Stadlen conduct Inner Circle Seminar 220 (6 December 2015)


R. D. Laing
Aaron Esterson

Laing and Esterson
Sanity, Madness and the Family
(1964)

Continuing research on the families
50 years on

Family 3
The Churches

Hilary+Mantel+at+seminar+2+by+Karin+Weisensel.jpg (640×480)
Adrian Laing       Anthony Stadlen       Hilary Mantel
Inner Circle Seminar No. 205 (
6 July 2014)
Maya Abbott and the Abbotts

Dame Hilary Mantel    Adrian Laing
Anthony Stadlen
conduct
Inner Circle Seminar No. 220
Sunday 6 December 2015
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
We believe that the shift of point 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 hundred years 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. There seems no prouder boast from psychotherapists, even existential ones, than that they are clinicians. Are Laing and Esterson ‘discredited’, as is claimed? Have they been proved wrong? Or are they not yet understood?

Laing and Esterson wrote: ‘No one can deny us the right to disbelieve in the fact of schizophrenia.’ Their fundamental question was:

Are the experience and behaviour that psychatrists take as symptoms and signs of schizophrenia more socially intelligible than has come to be supposed?

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? Or did Laing and Esterson just not make things clear enough?

Dame Hilary Mantel, author of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, which both won the Man Booker prize, again introduces the seminar. She has written movingly about how reading Sanity, Madness and the Family when she was twenty gave her the courage to write. In her introduction to the first seminar in this series, on Maya Abbott and her family, she insisted that the interactions Laing and Esterson recorded, what she called the simple words the people speak, are the very stuff of life. As Esterson put it, these are the deepest secrets but open to all willing to see and hear.

Mantel described in 2008 how the book gave her the courage to become a writer:

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.

She also wrote:

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 is able, from his historical research on all eleven of the families, to answer some of Hilary Mantels questions. In this seminar he will report his findings on Claire Church and her family during the more than fifty years since the family discussions conducted by Esterson in 1959 and reported in the book of 1964. Stadlen will draw on his conversations with Claire Church  herself over the last fifteen years, and play recordings of his discussions with her shortly before she died aged 92 a few months ago.

Laing and Esterson wrote:

Surely, if we are wrong, it would be easy to show that we are, by studying a few families and revealing that schizophrenics really are talking a lot of nonsense after all.

Stadlen’s research contributes to answering not only Hilary Mantel’s question but also this challenge from Laing and Esterson, by studying the development over the next half-century of the very same families that they studied. You are invited to collaborate in evaluating their findings and his in todays seminar.

R. D Laings son and biographer Adrian Laing wrote (R. D. Laing: A Life, 2nd 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.’

Adrian Laing will himself play a crucial part in todays seminar. In the seminar on Maya Abbott’ he asked whether, despite Laing and Estersons explanation that they disbelieved in schizophrenia, they were, nevertheless, having things both ways, by somehow suggesting that families somehow do cause it. He will comment at significant moments during the day on whether his important question is being answered. You are, of course, also invited to give your view.

Venue: Durrants Hotel, 2632 George Street, London W1H 5BJ
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  +44 (0) 7089 433 250
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. 6. Seminar of 23 and 26 November 1965. Inner Circle Seminar 219 (22 November 2015)


Martin Heidegger
at home in Freiburg
Heideggers Zollikon Seminars

A 50th-anniversary revaluation


6. Seminar of 23 and 26 November 1965


‘Whence comes the insight that ... the Sein of the Da is ecstatic ...?
Martin Heidegger and Medard Boss
on the Feldweg south of Messkirch

Anthony Stadlen
conducts
Inner Circle Seminar No. 219
Sunday 22 November 2015
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Between 1959 and 1969 the German philosopher Martin Heidegger conducted seminars for psychiatrists in the Swiss psychiatrist Medard Bosss house in Zollikon near Zürich. Fifty years later almost to the day, we focus on his seminar of 23 and 26 November 1965, the last of his five seminars that year.

Heidegger says his psychiatrist listeners will have noticed that he doesnt want to make philosophers of them; but, rather, only to help them attend to what unavoidably (unumgänglichconcerns the human being yet is not immediately accessible (zugänglichto him or her. He says: The practice of this attentiveness demands both from you and from me a particular methodological attitude about which we have not spoken until now, because I wanted first to try practising this matter with you in order in due course to speak with you explicitly about the method.

He begins by addressing the criticisms by seminar participants that Daseinsanalysis is anti-scientific, anti-objective and anti-conceptual. He asks what Freud means by analysis. He alleges that Freud nowhere in his writings explains why he chose the word analysis’. He also alleges that Freud intends his analysis’ to provide a reductive causal explanation. We shall see in our own seminar that the first of these two allegations of Heidegger’s is simply false and that the second is itself crudely reductive. We shall also see that the authorised American translation further confuses Heideggers already flawed argument.

Heidegger is then diverted by a participants (possibly prearranged?) question into a lengthy attack on Binswangerpsychiatric Daseinsanalysis’, which, he says (with considerable justification), misunderstands and distorts Heideggers thinking, by redundantly supplementingHeideggers (ontological) carewith Binswanger’s (ontic) love. Heidegger elucidates his own use in Being and Time of the terms Daseinsanalytics and DaseinsanalysisHe gives an interesting account of how Aristotles assertion, ‘Being is said in many ways’, was the lightning-flash that sparked the question Heidegger explored in Being and TimeWhat then is the unity of these manifold meanings of Being? What does Being mean, anyway? This led to the next question: How is Being related to time? And so to the discussion of ‘Da-sein’, human existence, and the insight that ... the Sein of the Da is ecstatic’.

This complex discussion occupies the first of the two evenings of the seminar. On the second evening, Heidegger returns to the criticisms that Daseinsanalysis is anti-scientific, anti-objective and anti-conceptual. He shows that they cannot be addressed without a searching investigation of the meaning of 'science'object and 'concept. Anxiety and fear are not objects. Rigorous science is not necessarily exact science. Exactness is only one form of rigour. To try to calculate the incalculable is unscientific, unobjective, misplaced.

You are cordially invited to participate in our attempt to go over the ground of what is (despite its errors mentioned above) Heideggers carefully reasoned exposition and argument, and to reflect on its practical relevance for our everyday practice as psychotherapists.

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

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 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. 21. Paul Tillich. Inner Circle Seminar 218 (25 October 2015)

tillich-2-sized.jpg (241×261)
Paul Tillich
Existential Pioneers
21. Paul Tillich
(1886–1965)
Existential theologian of the ‘God above God’

Anthony Stadlen

conducts Inner Circle Seminar No. 218
Sunday 25 October 2015
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Paul Tillich (20 August 188622 October 1965) was a leading twentieth-century existential Christian theologian. In Systematic Theology  (1951, 1957, 1963) he wrote: ‘God does not exist. He is being-itself beyond essence and existence. Therefore to argue that God exists is to deny him.’ He insists that God is the ‘God above God’: not a god called ‘God’, not a being among beings.

Tillich found what he called ‘Godin non-Christian religions and in ‘secular’ art, in ways often lacking in ‘Christianity’. As a German, he courageously opposed the Nazis’ persecution of the Jews, and had himself to escape to the United States. In The Shaking of the Foundations (1949), he movingly invoked Isaiah and other Hebrew prophets. But he wrote, in The Courage to Be (1952), after the extermination of millions of Jews during the second world war, that ‘Stoicism is the only real alternative to Christianity in the Western world’; did he thus exemplify a standard Christian-theological blankness on Judaism? And is his existential elaboration of what he calls ‘the Christ’ an essential part of his theology, or is it a dispensable supplement to his thinking of the ‘God above God’?

Tillich’s son, who later himself became a psychotherapist, questioned his theologian father’s hypocrisy over his sexual affairs, but Tillich said he had never spoken on adultery. And Tillich’s student, the existential analyst Rollo May, said Tillich ‘did enjoy good pornography’. May called The Courage to Be ‘the most existential book written in America’. R. D. Laing ended his last book, Wisdom, Madness and Folly (1985), with an allusion to Tillich’s power to disturb.

Do Tillich’s extraordinary writings make sense even to ‘atheist’ thinkers, and to ‘atheist’ psychotherapists in particular? Is the ‘God’ he does not believe in the ‘God’ they do not believe in? However they respectively conceive of the object of their disbelief, can or does Tillich’s ‘God above God’, ‘being-itself’, have any resonance or significance for ‘atheist’ psychotherapists, or do they dismiss it as an evasive verbal formula? The answer to this must surely have implications for their work with ‘religious’ clients, and for the work of ‘religious’ therapists with ‘atheist’ clients.

You are warmly invited to help evaluate the work of this complex and controversial, radical existential thinker, and especially its implications for psychotherapy.

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

Anthony Stadlen and Inner Circle Seminars meet Zollikon Seminars (9th Forum of International Federation of Daseinsanalysis, Athens, 26 September 2015)

athensuniversity.jpg (475×364)
University of Athens
Central Building
Anthony Stadlen
and
Inner Circle Seminars
meet
Heidegger's Zollikon Seminars

Alice Holzhey   Anthony Stadlen   Dimitris Yfantis
conducted the concluding seminar 
at the 9th Forum of the 
International Federation of Daseinsanalysis
University of Athens
26 September 2015
13.00 to 14.30


From Thanasis Georgas and Maria Korre, President and Co-president, 9th Forum of International Federation of Daseinsanalysis, Athens, 2015, to Anthony Stadlen (4 July 2015):

This is to invite you for the IFDA’S Forum in Athens (24,25,26/9/2015).
As you know, even from a distance, we follow with great interest all this work you are doing in the “Inner Circle Seminars”. We greatly appreciate your offer to the reflection and research for an existential-phenomenological "therapy" which is not “…corrupted and confused by the ideology of scientism”. As you say in your last announcement for the “Inner Circle Seminar” on Sunday 19 July 2015, “…then our "therapy" remains technological tinkering and our righteousness is as filthy rags”.

We, the Greek organizing committee, wonder if it would be possible to transfer something of the spirit and atmosphere of the “Inner Circle Seminars” at the IFDA’s Forum in Athens. Perhaps we could organize a presentation of your work regarding the Zollikon Seminars. If not all of the work you have done, at least a part of this (for example, Seminars of 6 and 8 July 1965 "Is the body and its bodying ... something somatic or something psychic or neither of the two?". The duration of the presentation could be (at about) 1.5 hours or more.

Take into account that by September, the “Zollikon Seminars” will be published in Greek (from the German). It is an effort that has very much supported by the Greek Society.

Maybe, if you accept this invitation, you could have as your discussion partner Dr. Dimitris Yfantis (who is the translator of the Zollikon Seminars in Greek). Dr. Yfantis is a philosopher who lives in Cologne (Köln) in Germany and is one of the best translators of Martin Heidegger in Greek (he has also translated Hegel).

Heidegger's Zollikon Seminars. A 50th-anniversary revaluation. 5. Seminar of 6 and 8 July 1965. Inner Circle Seminar 217 (19 July 2015)


Martin Heidegger
at home in Freiburg
Heidegger's Zollikon Seminars

A 50th-anniversary revaluation


5. Seminar of 6 and 8 July 1965


‘Is the body and its bodying ... something somatic or something psychic or neither of the two?
Martin Heidegger and Medard Boss
on the Feldweg south of Messkirch

Anthony Stadlen
conducts
Inner Circle Seminar No. 217
Sunday 19 July 2015
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.



Between 1959 and 1969 the German philosopher Martin Heidegger conducted seminars for psychiatrists in the Swiss psychiatrist Medard Bosss house in Zollikon near Zürich. Fifty years later almost to the day, we focus on his seminar of 6 and 8 July 1965, the fourth of his five that year.

He begins with a whole sack full of questions arising from the previous seminar  sixteen of them  which Boss has given him on his arrival. He continues to bewilder his psychiatrist listeners by invoking a way of bodily thinking that precedes any split into soma and psyche.

He asks how such a clever’ and reasonable’ person as Descartes could come up with such a strange’ theory, in which the human being exists at first only for him- or herself alone without a relation to things. (This is yet another of Heideggers pregnant observations made nonsense of by the authorised American translation, which mistranslates the last phrase as alone by himself in relationship to things. One of the purposes of these Inner Circle Seminars on the Zollikon Seminars is to correct some of these bizarre and confusing mistranslations for existential therapists and others who do not know German.)

He invokes a more primordial meaning of count and measure. He points out that, although the theory of relativity refers to the position of the observer, natural science cannot understand or even ask what this means. He invites the astonished participants to experience bodily the simple act of measuring the diameter of a table.

This is an extraordinarily rich seminar, in which Heidegger covers a great deal of ground, fundamental to what we try to do as psychotherapists. We shall seek to recapture some of the spirit of this great seminar by trying to re-think some of the questions he asks. We shall, for example, ourselves meditatively reenact the measuring of a table while trying to maintain awareness of the body and its bodying.

Heidegger says there is a need for doctors who think. Professor Wilhelm von Herrmann praises Boss as just such a thinking doctor. But we shall ask whether, in his focus on doctors, Heidegger is himself colluding unreflectingly with Bosss vision of Daseinsanalysis as a medical enterprise.

Most of us – even if we call ourselves existential therapists and phenomenologists – have been corrupted and confused by the ideology of scientism. In this seminar we shall strive, through dialogue, to do justice to Heideggers clarifying vision. If we cannot, then our therapy’ remains technological tinkering and our righteousness is as filthy rags.

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

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 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.

Tensed Time and Free Will. Raymond Tallis conducts Inner Circle Seminar 216 (28 June 2015)


Tensed Time and Free Will
                
Raymond-Tallis-008.jpg (460×276)
Raymond Tallis

Raymond Tallis
conducts
Inner Circle Seminar No. 216
introduced by
Anthony Stadlen
Sunday 28 June 2015
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Raymond Tallis gave the memorable Inner Circle Seminar No. 184 on 2 December 2012 in which he showed how biologism aspires to turn the ‘humanities’ into ‘animalities’. Today, he will continue to show the absurdity of reductionism. He will demonstrate the falsity of the purported use of neuroscience to disprove free will.

In the spirit of Samuel Johnson, Martin Heidegger and John Horton Conway, it may be asked why philosophers, psychotherapists or anybody at all should be trying to prove free will. Is not the onus on those who deny it to explain their reasons? However, those who are wavering, tempted by the seduction of neuroscientism dressed as neuroscience, perhaps sensing its wrongness but unsure how to resist, will surely gain heart from the clarity and rigour of Raymond Talliss elucidation.

He will present his argument in two parts during the first hour or so of the seminar. We shall then discuss it in depth and detail. 

Raymond Tallis summarises his argument as follows:

1. Determinism and Neurodeterminism: The Case Against Free Will

The traditional case for determinism is based on the assumption that humans are ultimately material objects – specifically their brains - wired into a causally closed universe. This metaphysical argument against free will has recently been supplemented by interpretations of experimental findings in neuroscience, notably those associated with Benjamin Libet and John Dylan-Hayes. Attempts to escape determinism and neurodeterminism by appeal to chaos theory, quantum indeterminacy, and the notion that humans break the laws of nature in virtue of being uncaused causes will be criticised.

2. Tensed Time and Human Freedom

The second part of the seminar will undermine the case for determinism first by critiquing the fundamental assumption that humans are their brains and human consciousness identical with neural activity. The discussion will begin with intentionality and its failure to fit into a world that seems to be causally closed. This will ground a critique of the notion of causation as an inherent property of the material world and will help us to understand how voluntary actions are possible in a world of material events (that include actions). The co-evolution of first-person being, selfhood, agency, and freedom will be examined. All of these will be connected with the temporal depth – made explicit in tensed time  that is unique to human consciousness. Freedom will be shown to be neither impossible nor an illusion.

Raymond Tallis BM BCh MA FRCP LittD (Hon Causa) DLitt (Hon Causa) F Med Sci FRSA was Professor of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Manchester and a consultant physician in Health Care of the Elderly in Salford until 2006. He also advised the government on health care of older people and in particular on the development of stroke services. He has published 200 research articles in the neurology of old age (epilepsy and stroke) and neurological rehabilitation, and original articles in NatureMedicineLancet and other leading journals. In 2000 he was elected Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. He received the Dhole Eddlestone Prize; the Founders Medal of the British Geriatrics Society; the Lord Cohen Gold Medal for Research into Ageing. He is Chair of Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying.

He has published a novel, short stories, three volumes of poetry, and 23 books on the philosophy of mind, philosophical anthropology, literary theory, the nature of art, and cultural criticism. These offer a critique of current predominant intellectual trends and an alternative understanding of human consciousness, the nature of language and of what it is to be a human being. For this he has been awarded two honorary degrees: DLitt (Hon Causa) University of Hull, 1997; and LittD (Hon Causa) University of Manchester 2002. 
In 2008 he was appointed Honorary Visiting Professor in the Department of English at the University of Liverpool. He writes op-eds for The Times and has a column in Philosophy Now. He is a regular at the leading literary and science festivals. He is a frequent broadcaster, with recent appearances on Start the WeekNightwavesInside the Ethics Committee and The Moral Maze. Among his recent books are Aping Mankind. Neuromania, Darwinitis and the Misrepresentation of Humanity (2011) and Reflections of a Metaphysical Flaneur and Other Essays (2013). 

In 2009, the Economist Intelligent Life Magazine listed him as one of the world’s 20 leading polymaths.


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 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.

Magna Carta and compulsory psychiatry. For the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. (15 June 1215 – 15 June 2015)

Sarah-Rees-Yew-3.jpg (730×410)
This more-than-2000-years-old Ankerwycke yew
in the beautiful meadows by the Thames at Runnymede
witnessed the sealing of Magna Carta on 15 June 1215
Magna Carta and compulsory psychiatry
For the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta
15 June 1215 – 15 June 2015

Anthony Stadlen


On 15 June 2015, King John met his barons in the meadow at Runnymede on the Thames where his Great Seal was affixed to Magna Carta, the document universally acclaimed as the foundation of British justice and freedom. Over subsequent centuries, certain practices and institutions, hitherto accepted as part of the natural or divine order, came to be seen as violations of the principles of which Magna Carta was the fount and symbol. One such practice was slavery.

I propose that another such practice which violates the principles deriving from Magna Carta is compulsory clinical psychiatry.

The Swiss psychiatrist Ludwig Binswanger, who is renowned as the founder or father of psychiatric existential analysis’, was, as Director of the Bellevue sanatorium’ at Kreuzlingen, an eminent psychiatric gaoler of the embarrassing relatives of the great and good, including such patients’ as Nijinsky, Aby Warburg, and Princess Alice, our present Queens mother-in-law. Binswanger claimed that his nineteenth-century precursor, the psychiatrist Wilhelm Griesinger, had written ‘the Magna Carta of clinical psychiatry’. This is an impertinent abuse of the name and prestige of Magna Carta in an attempt to legitimise practices alien to its spirit. Neither Griesinger nor Binswanger mentioned that the clinical psychiatry’ they practised routinely included psychiatric incarceration and compulsory treatment .

Thomas Szasz in 1963 denounced such practices as crimes against humanity and called for them to be legally abolished, just as slavery had been.

Aaron Esterson in 1972 wrote that, at the very least, even in the absence of outright abolition, whenever a psychiatrist orders that a designated patient’ be incarcerated or compulsorily treated’, a video-recording of the psychiatrists examination of the so-called patient’ should be evaluated by a panel of ordinary men and women, peers of the patient’, like the jury in a criminal trial. 

Esterson wrote that such a panel of lay persons should be guided by the principle that what they are examining is not the fact of mental illness but an attribution of mental illness to one person by one or more other persons, including the psychiatrist. Esterson proposed that the person alleged to be mentally ill’ should have, as an absolute minimum, the following rights: 

(1) the right to know exactly what he or she has done that the other persons, including the psychiatrist, regard as evidence of mental illness;
(2) the right to question or refute the psychiatrist;
(3) the right not to have his or her attempt to question or refute the psychiatrist taken as itself evidence of mental illness .  

Szasz and Esterson were both appealing to principles of accusatorial justice painfully developed through centuries of struggle starting with Magna Carta. These principles are utterly different from the primitive, persecutory, inquisitorial, police-state procedures of clinical psychiatry.

In our subseries of Inner Circle Seminars, Locked Up: ‘Patients and their Gaolers, we have seen, in every case, how people of moral integrity, creativity and originality have been incarcerated and tortured by being forcibly treated’ on the basis of arbitrary and unscrutinised psychiatric ‘diagnoses’ and decisions.

We shall continue to run the series Locked Up: ‘Patients and their Gaolers as a subseries of the Inner Circle Seminars as long as these seminars continue and as long as there exists a psychiatry which is expected and required to have arrogant disregard for the great principle enshrined in Chapter 39 of Magna Carta:

No free man is to be arrested, or imprisoned, or disseised, or outlawed, or exiled, or in any way destroyed, nor will we go against him, nor will we send against him, save by the lawful judgement of his peers or by the law of the land.

The law has had to acknowledge more and more people, including women and slaves, as free, responsible citizens. Compulsory clinical psychiatry persists in seeing and treating those it designates as ‘patients as unfree, irresponsible non-citizens.