Thus, in Sanity, Madness and the Family: Families of Schizophrenics (1964), R. D. Laing and Aaron Esterson introduced their revolutionary descriptions of eleven families of ‘schizophrenics’. But fifty years on, there has been no shift: the ‘clinical viewpoint’ still reigns supreme. Psychiatrists and psychotherapists (even ‘existential’ ones) tend to be more ‘clinical’ than ever.
Laing and Esterson wrote: ‘Nobody can deny us the right to disbelieve in schizophrenia.’ But most psychiatrists and psychotherapists falsely allege that Laing and Esterson said: ‘Families cause schizophrenia’.
Dame Hilary Mantel wrote that ‘the simple words the people speak’ in Laing and Esterson’s book gave her, at 20, the courage to write her own books. Her introductions to the seminars in this series have enthralled participants.
Anthony Stadlen continues to interview the eleven families in the twenty-first century.