Sunday, 1 January 2017

Laing & Esterson. 8. The Heads. 50 years on. Hilary Mantel and Anthony Stadlen conduct Inner Circle Seminar 236 (18 June 2017)

Laing and Esterson
Sanity, Madness and the Family
50 Years On
Family 8: The Heads

Dame Hilary Mantel   Anthony Stadlen
Inner Circle Seminar No. 236
Sunday 18 June 2017
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Hilary Mantel
R. D. Laing
Aaron Esterson

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, in the eighth of eleven seminars, we shall explore Chapter 8, on Jean Head’ 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 Jean and her family: Jean herself, her husband, her father, her brother, her sister-in-law, and her foster-brother. Your contribution to the dialogue 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
For further information on seminars, visit:

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.

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