Sanity, Madness and the Family (1964)
The Leaves of Spring (1970)
Continuing research on the families
50 years on
Inner Circle Seminar No. 222
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Thus R. D. Laing and Aaron Esterson introduced their revolutionary descriptions of eleven families in Sanity, Madness and the Family: Families of Schizophrenics (1964). But fifty years on, where is the ‘shift’? More than ever, psychotherapists, especially non-medical ones, boast of being ‘clinicians’ working in the field of what they call ‘mental health’.
Dame Hilary Mantel, twice Booker Prize winner, introduces today’s seminar. She says ‘the simple words the people speak’ in this book gave her, at 20, the courage to write.
Aaron Esterson developed the fourth chapter, on ‘Sarah Danzig’ and her family, into a book, The Leaves of Spring: A Study in the Dialectics of Madness (1970) – one of the greatest and most profound of all existential or psychoanalytic case studies. We shall make a start at exploring it in depth today.
Anthony Stadlen, a colleague of Esterson’s for many years, continues to research the living members of the eleven families. Today we shall listen to extracts both from Esterson’s original recordings of his interviews with the ‘
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 today’s seminar.
Venue: Durrants Hotel,