Friday, 1 January 2016

Laing & Esterson. 6. The Fields. 50 years on. Hilary Mantel and Anthony Stadlen conduct Inner Circle Seminar 230 (20 November 2016)

Laing and Esterson
Sanity, Madness and the Family
50 Years On
Family 6: The Fields

Dame Hilary Mantel   Anthony Stadlen
conduct
Inner Circle Seminar No. 230
Sunday 20 November 2016
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
R. D. Laing
Aaron Esterson
Hilary Mantel

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 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, the ‘clinical viewpoint’ still reigns supreme. Have Laing and Esterson been proved wrong? They wrote: ‘Nobody can deny us the right to disbelieve in schizophrenia.’ Why, then, do most psychiatrists and psychotherapists claim Laing and Esterson said ‘families cause schizophrenia’?

Hilary Mantel wrote that the simple words the people speak’ in Laing and Estersons book gave her, at 20, the courage to write her own astonishing 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. Today, we explore Chapter 6, on ‘June Field’ and her family, with the help of Esterson’s original tape recordings on which the book is based; of photographs; and of Stadlen’s reports and recordings of his discussions with June’s husband, sister, and friend. Your contribution will be warmly  welcomed.

Venue: Durrants Hotel, 26–32 George Street, Marylebone, 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 AvenueLondon N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857  +44 (0) 7809 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 universities.

Heidegger's Zollikon Seminars: A 50th-anniversary revaluation. 8. Heidegger and Boss discuss Freud. Inner Circle Seminar 229 (30 October 2016)

Martin Heidegger
at home in Freiburg
Martin Heidegger and Medard Boss
on the Feldweg south of Messkirch
Heidegger’s Zollikon Seminars
(1959-1969)
A 50th-anniversary revaluation
8. Heidegger and Boss discuss Freud
(Taormina, April 1963)
‘... instead of a psychical mechanics or dynamics ... an ecstatic-intentional world-relationship’

Anthony Stadlen
conducts
Inner Circle Seminar No. 229
Sunday 30 October 2016
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In the seven first seminars in this subseries we recapitulated in depth, fifty years on, the philosopher Martin Heidegger’s 1959-1969 seminars in the psychiatrist Medard Boss’s Zollikon home. Our quest resumes today, as we start to explore Heidegger’s discussions with Boss (reported in the book Zollilon Seminars), which were the ground from which the seminars sprang. In today’s seminar we see how, in their extraordinary conversations of April 1963 on holiday in Taormina, Sicily, Heidegger confirms Freud’s discoveries of transference, repression, etc. – but as ecstatic-intentional world-relationship’, not as natural-scientistic metapsychology’. This calls for a radical reform not only of today’s psychoanalysis’ but also of today’s existential therapy’. The split between them cannot be healed by a simple-minded eclectic placing side-by-side of these well-meaning but alienated disciplines’. Only a fundamental rethinking can redeem and unify their practice and theory.

As we explore Heidegger s conversations with Boss in this and subsequent seminars, we shall see Heideggers relentless concern to purge the human sciences of calculative thinking’. This will require our looking also at his identification of such ‘machination with World Jewry in his Black Books, and at the influence of Christian thinkers such as Paul and Luther on his own thinking.

Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £120, others £150, some bursaries; coffee, tea, biscuits, berries, nuts, 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 or: +44 (0) 7809 433 250
E-mail: stadlen@aol.com 
For further information on seminars,
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 universities.

Existential Pioneers. 22. Shōma Morita. Peg LeVine conducts Inner Circle Seminar 228 (11 September 2016)


Existential Pioneers
22. Shōma Morita
(18741938)
His original method of psychotherapy
and his theory of peripheral consciousness
Shōma Morita
(Image gifted to LeVine from Sato)
Peg LeVine   Takahisa Kora   Akihisa Kondo

Peg LeVine






Peg LeVine
conducts
Inner Circle Seminar
No. 228
introduced by
Anthony Stadlen
Sunday 11 September 2016
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Shōma Morita (18741938) was a Japanese existential therapist of striking originality, whose thinking and practice, although nearly a hundred years old, are of immediate contemporary relevance to twenty-first century Western existential and other psychotherapists concerned with their clients’ (not to mention their own) radical alienation both from their own possible range of modalities of experience and from the natural world.

Peg LeVine, who will conduct the seminar, will show how Moritas questioning of psychotherapy’, as opposed to ‘therapy’, as well as his deploring of compulsory hospitalisation and his rescue of ‘patients’ from psychiatric incarceration, anticipated Thomas Szasz’s revolutionary questioning of The Myth of Mental Illness (1961) as well as Szasz’s lifelong opposition to compulsory psychiatry.

We shall see how Morita anticipated Heidegger’s redefining of the phenomenology of what Freud called ‘repression’ as (in Heidegger’s words) an ‘ecstatic-intentional world-relationship to things, living beings and fellow humans’ (rather than an ‘intrapsychic dynamics’). We shall also see how Morita, half a century before Levinas, saw justice as central to therapy. But we shall not try to reduce East to West or West to East. Rather, we shall try to discern what is truly distinctive in what Morita has to teach us, in the light of an understanding of what he has in common with the very rare best in Western thinking.

Morita, a contemporary of Freud and Jung, was impressed by psychoanalysts’ studies of their patients’ developmental histories; but he developed a theory of consciousness which challenged the postulate of a personal or collective ‘unconscious’. He was also interested in Otto Binswanger’s work but found it ‘manneristic, too theoretical, relatively impractical, and ineffective’. The independent psychoanalyst Karen Horney, in turn, studied Morita’s psychotherapy in Japan in the 1950s.

Peg LeVine is a Clinical Psychologist and Medical Anthropologist; Research Affiliate (Shoah Foundation) at the Center for Genocide Studies, University of Southern California; and Associate Professor Adjunct at the School of Global and Population Health, University of Melbourne.

In today’s seminar she will show how classic Morita Therapy advances eco-consciousness and justice in psychotherapy. She will argue that, since cognitive science took hold in the 1970s, complex consciousness theories have lost footing in psychology and medical science; and she will aim to reinstate ‘consciousness’ as the dynamic core of Morita therapy. She will show that he advanced a phenomenal connexion between existentialism, Zen, Nature and the therapeutic role of serendipity; and that his views enhance Freud’s 1919 essay ‘The Uncanny’.

Peg LeVine writes:

‘The presence or absence of a theory of consciousness sways how, what, and where we practise and conduct research, as well as case formulation and health promotion. Morita is our forerunner of Ecopsychology and pioneer in consciousness studies. Pointedly, he equalised the strength between human-to-human attachment and human-to-Nature bonds by penetrating our anthropomorphic borders.’

You are invited to participate in this dialogical seminar; your contribution will be warmly welcomed.

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  +44 (0) 7809 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 universities.

Meditations on Time. Raymond Tallis conducts Inner Circle Seminar 227 (10 July 2016)

Raymond Tallis
Meditations on Time

Raymond Tallis
conducts Inner Circle Seminar No. 227
introduced by Anthony Stadlen
Sunday 10 July 2016
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

When Professor Tallis was the castaway on Desert Island Discs on 25 March 2007, he chose for his one permitted desert-island book (in addition to the Bible and Shakespeare) Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time, which, as he pointed out, has been called the greatest philosophical work of the twentieth century.

Raymond Tallis himself has written a remarkable book, A Conversation with Martin Heidegger (2002), followed by a magnum opus of three volumes: The Hand (2003), I Am (2004), and The Knowing Animal (2005) – philosophical inquiries into, respectively, human being, first-person being, and knowledge and truth. In, especially, the second and third volumes of this trilogy, Tallis challenged what he saw as Heidegger’s failure adequately to address the problem of embodiment, and also began a discussion of time, taking Heidegger’s thinking into account. He further developed his thinking on time in his formidable Inner Circle Seminar for us last June, Tensed Time and Free Will, and he has written a 444,000-word book, soon to be published, Of Time and Lamentation: Reflections on Transience.

Today, he invites us to continue engaging in conjoint Meditations on Time. Existential therapists, steeped in Heidegger, surely have something special from our everyday practice and thinking to bring to this dialogue, in which Professor Tallis will focus on many thinkers’ reflections on time. The seminars are open to beginners as well as advanced practitioners, and to people from all disciplines or none. Your contribution, if you are moved to make one, will be warmly welcomed; but you are equally welcome to remain silent.

To prompt the discussion, Raymond Tallis will give a series of short (15-20 minute) talks during the day on five topics, which he summarises as follows:

The Study of Time
Is there a metaphysics of time? Does physics offer the last word on time? Killing time: from lived time to ‘little t’.

Static and Dynamic Time
Is there such a thing as the passage of time? Now as a moving spotlight and as a growing point. Is time a dimension? Spatialisation of time: static time.

Time Travel
What is time travel? The troubled journey of the time traveller. The difficulty of arrival. The necessary impotence of the time traveller.

Some Thoughts on Lived Time
Reflections on Now, on the reality of the past, and on whether the future is open or closed. The nature of tensed time. Human freedom and tensed time. Events as tense tourists.

The Idea of Eternity
Different conceptions of eternity: everlastingness; timelessness; the intersection between time and eternity.

Raymond Tallis was a Professor of Geriatric Medicine and consultant physician in Health Care of the Elderly. He has published 200 research articles in the neurology of old age and neurological rehabilitation, as well as a novel, short stories, three volumes of poetry, and 23 books on philosophy of mind, philosophical anthropology, literary theory, the nature of art, and cultural criticism. He has received many awards and honorary degrees. In 2009, the Economist listed him as one of the world’s 20 leading polymaths.

Nicholas Fearn wrote in The Independent:

When Kirsty Young was asked to name her favourite guest on Desert Island Discs, the rock star Paul Weller was beaten into second place, for her own luxury item would be the writer Raymond Tallis.

Raymond Tallis has given two of our best loved and best remembered Inner Circle Seminars. He kindly confirms that our seminar structure, in which dialogue is of the essence, enables him to communicate and reflect on his ideas. He wrote, after his first Inner Circle Seminar, The Intellectual Plague of Biologism, on 2 December 2012:

The seminar was for me an incredible experience. I have never previously had the opportunity to discuss the topics we covered in such depth with a group of people who came at it from such different angles but in a way that I found illuminating. I learned a lot. It was a tremendous privilege.


Venue: Durrants Hotel, 26–32 George Street, Marylebone, 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) 7809 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 universities.

Laing & Esterson. 5. The Edens. 50 years on. Hilary Mantel and Anthony Stadlen conduct Inner Circle Seminar 226 (26 June 2016)



R. D. Laing
Hilary Mantel
Aaron Esterson




            
         
Laing and Esterson
Sanity, Madness and the Family
50 Years On
Family 5: The Edens

Dame Hilary Mantel
Anthony Stadlen
conduct
Inner Circle Seminar No. 226
Sunday 26 June 2016
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Hilary Mantel

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 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 Estersons 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.

Ruby Edenis one of only two still living of the eleven so-called schizophrenics. Today, we explore the history of Ruby Eden’ and her family in the light of Stadlens discussions with Ruby and her family.

Venue: Durrants Hotel, 26–32 George Street, Marylebone, 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) 7809 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 universities.

Descartes and Dualism. Katherine Morris conducts Inner Circle Seminar 225 (22 May 2016)

René Descartes
(31 March 1596 – 11 February 1650)
Katherine Morris























Descartes’s Dualism:
Was Descartes a ‘Cartesian Dualist’?
Implications for Psychotherapy

Katherine Morris
conducts
Inner Circle Seminar No. 225
introduced by
Anthony Stadlen
Sunday 22 May 2016
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Is there a single psychotherapist today who would want to be known as ‘Cartesian’? ‘Cartesian’ is what others are. Nobody believes in labels, but labelling oneself ‘non-’ or ‘post-Cartesian’ has become an indispensable way to signal one’s virtue.

How many who use these terms have read Descartes? What do these terms really mean? And does it matter, anyway? Isn’t this a matter of dry, pedantic detail?

Surely, all we need to know, as compassionate ‘clinicians’, is that Descartes said mind and body were distinct while Merleau-Ponty, for example, said they were intertwined? Or that Descartes started a myth that mind and body were like ‘a ghost in a machine’, which Gilbert Ryle challenged? Isn’t that enough for busy practising psychotherapists whose heart is in the right place and who relate in a ‘holistic’ way to their clients?

Unfortunately, no; it is not enough. Neither of these well-known ‘facts’ about Descartes is true. He did say that mind (or soul) ‘is really distinct from the body’; however, he insisted that it is not ‘as a pilot in a ship’ but, rather, ‘intimately joined and united with the body in order to have feelings and appetites like ours, and so constitute a real man’.

The very term ‘clinician’, which psychotherapists love to call themselves, begs all the questions their ‘non-Cartesianism’ is supposed to answer. They say Szasz was a ‘Cartesian dualist’ because he didnt believe in ‘mental illness’. That would seem to presuppose that Descartes, too, didn’t believe in ‘mental illness’.

But he did. He wrote in Discourse on Method that in science and medicine we could become ‘masters and possessors of nature’ (a phrase that horrified Heidegger). In particular, he wrote, ‘the mind is so dependent upon the humours and the condition of the organs of the body that ... we might rid ourselves of an infinity of maladies of body as well as of mind ... if we had sufficient understanding of the causes and of all the remedies which nature has provided’. Does this not, at first glance, appear to contradict Descartes’s fundamental assertion that ‘mind’ and ‘body’ are distinct substances?

Again, although there are disagreements between the great existential and phenomenological philosophers and psychotherapists (Husserl, Heidegger, Binswanger, Boss, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Szasz, Laing, Esterson), and they routinely accuse each other of Cartesian dualism, they would all agree with Husserls account (in The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenologyof the dehumanisation resulting from splitting the world into two worlds’: nature, studied by natural sciences (such as physics), and the psychic world, studied by human sciences’ (such as psychology), but improperly applying the methods proper to natural science to both. This splitting and this dehumanisation are real, and do indeed constitute a crisis, as Husserl says; but why does he claim they stem from Cartesian dualism?.   

It seems certain that those who casually label others ‘Cartesian dualists’ have not even noticed, far less reconciled, this and other apparent contradictions. It is only possible to use this language intelligently, and have some hope of reconciling the contradictions, if one has some idea of what Descartes’s dualism really was. Was it what most psychotherapists think of as ‘Cartesian dualism’?

Was Descartes a ‘Cartesian dualist’?

Katherine J. Morris, Fellow in Philosophy at Mansfield College, Oxford University, does not think so. She is an expert not only on Descartes, but also on Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, and Wittgenstein. She and her late colleague Gordon Baker, in their pathbreaking book, Descartes' Dualism (1996), identified four main doctrines which Anglo-American philosophers, confidently but ignorantly, attribute to Descartes as ‘Cartesian dualism’. Today, 20 years on, she will explain in detail what Descartes actually said, and will extend her argument by showing that, as I have sketched above, existential and phenomenological philosophers and therapists attribute to Descartes yet another doctrine which they term ‘Cartesian dualism’ but which was not his.

To transcend the dualism that does reign in our time requires, first of all, that we understand it. This means distinguishing it, if necessary, both from what is today carelessly called ‘Cartesian dualism’ and from Descartes’s actual dualism. Katherine Morris will be our reliable guide. No question will be too simple to ask her. Often the most apparently naive questions lead to what is deepest.  In this seminar, as in all Inner Circle Seminars, the essence is dialogue. Your contribution to this debate will be welcome.

Venue: ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra Avenue, London 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  +44 (0) 7809 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 universities.

Shakespeare, Freud, and Seduction. Inner Circle Seminar 224 (17 April 2016)

William Shakespeare
Sigmund Freud
Shakespeare, Freud, and Seduction

For the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death
(23 April 1616)
and the 120th anniversary of Freud’s double announcement
of the ‘seduction theory’ and of ‘psychoanalysis’
to the Society for Psychiatry and Neurology in Vienna
(21 April 1896)
and the 20th anniversary of the first Inner Circle Seminar
held on the 100th anniversary of Freud’s lecture
(21 April 1996)
                                                                                              
Anthony Stadlen
conducts Inner Circle Seminar No. 224
Sunday 17 April 2016
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Twenty years ago, Anthony Stadlen gave a seminar which examined Freud’s ‘seduction theory’, on the hundredth anniversary of the lecture in which he announced it. Here is the announcement of that seminar, which became the first Inner Circle Seminar:

------------------------------------------------------------

‘THE STONES SPEAK!

FREUDS SEDUCTION THEORY
AND THE BIRTH OF PSYCHOANALYSIS

21 APRIL 1896 – 21 APRIL 1996

ANTHONY STADLEN
CONDUCTS
AN ALL-DAY SEMINAR
ON THE 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF FREUD’S DOUBLE ANNOUNCEMENT
OF THE ‘SEDUCTION THEORY’ AND OF ‘PSYCHOANALYSIS’
TO THE SOCIETY FOR PSYCHIATRY AND NEUROLOGY IN VIENNA

Sunday 21 April 1996
Morning 10-1  Afternoon 2-5

Freud in his lecture of 21 April 1896 announced a new method: ‘psychoanalysis’. He claimed it revealed ‘repressed’ memories of childhood sexual abuse in 100% of adult ‘hysterics’. This was his ‘seduction theory’.

Anthony Stadlen has for nearly two decades conducted historical research on Freud’s case-histories. He will present some of his unpublished research findings and invite the seminar to discuss what light they throw on Freud’s seduction theory and subsequent retraction. He will invite participants to join him in examining false reasoning both in Freud and in the later literature on the seduction theory. He will propose for discussion an existential seduction theory renewing Freud’s vision a hundred years later.

‘The authority on Freud’s original “seduction” theory, its genesis and its ultimate fate, is surely Anthony Stadlen of the Freud Museum in London.’
John Kerr (1993) A Most Dangerous Method   

------------------------------------------------------------

In this 1996 seminar, we investigated just what Freud’s theory had been, and what exactly were his grounds for subsequently retracting it. A number of internationally known Freud scholars, psychoanalysts, and existential therapists participated; and there was lively dispute about these complex and difficult matters. I argued that the so-called ‘seduction theory’ was rudimentarily interpersonal, while his ‘Oedipal’ retraction of it was ‘intrapsychic’; but both were quasi-medical, natural-scientistic. In the afternoon I tried to lay foundations for an existential seduction theory, starting with analysis of the serpent’s seduction of Eve in the Bible.

In todays seminar, twenty years on, we note that the ‘seduction theory’ has reached the Biblical age of one hundred and twenty. Today, we shall continue to examine the historical circumstances of Freuds announcement and retraction of the theory, and their relevance for our practice today. We shall also renew our existential quest, by reexamining the Biblical story of Eve and the serpent; but also, for the four-hundredth anniversary of Shakespeares death, by exploring Iago’s serpent-like insinuation to Othello that Desdemona was unfaithful. 

We shall link these ‘bewitchments of intelligence by means of language’ (Wittgenstein) with the mystifications we have been studying in Laing and Esterson’s investigations of families of ‘schizophrenics’.

The question we shall struggle with in the seminar is: What is seduction? If each person is free, what does it mean for one person to seduce (lead astray, tempt) another? In the primal seduction recorded in the Bible, that of Eve by the serpent, we see the linguistic techniques the serpent uses to mystify and confuse Eve; but God does not accept her defence that the serpent beguiled her, or Adams that she offered him the fruit. They are not children, but responsible adults. Was Shakespeares Othello responsible for letting Iago seduce him into seeing Desdemona as unfaithful? Were the women labelled schizophrenic in Laing and Estersons Sanity, Madness and the Family responsible for allowing their families to mystify and invalidate them?

We shall reconsider these archetypal seduction scenes, as well as Freuds 1896 accounts of what he later called seduction of children by adults, though in his original so-called (by us, not him) seduction theory papers of 1896 he called assaultsattacksabuse. He later approvingly quoted his colleague and pupil Abraham as saying that children seek their own traumatisation. This set the scene for the psychoanalytic blaming and invalidating the victim that continued throughout most of the twentieth century.

But many psychotherapists, even existential ones, in trying to sympathise with the abused child, do not understand any better the real responsibility of the child, and so patronise both child and adult. Of course, there is no question of suggesting that the child is responsible for the adults crime. But the child is, at least sometimes, tempted, seduced, into an ethical self-mystification in order to save the image of the abusing adult as loving, truthful, and good. The recognition and recovery of shame and guilt, a child-appropriate shame and guilt, at having betrayed oneself by thus acting on ones own experience, even as a child, is crucial. It is vitally important that the therapist should understand and not invalidate this. The childs self-destructive and self-invalidating act is captured in Mallarmés wonderful line (from Prose pour des Esseintes) that so impressed Laing: Lenfant abdique son extase (The child abdicates her ecstasy). Abdication is an action, and the child can only achieve rebirth from this existential suicide by acknowledging it as such, maybe decades later as an adult. This, at any rate, is the thesis I shall propose for discussion. The heart of the Inner Circle Seminars is dialogue and debate, greatly valued by regular participants. Your contribution will be warmly welcomed.

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  +44 (0) 7809 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.