Tuesday 1 January 2013

Existential Pioneers. 15. Aaron Esterson: Unpublished Writings. Inner Circle Seminar 195 (29 September 2013)

Aaron Esterson

Existential Pioneers

15. Aaron Esterson
Unpublished Writings
A seminar for the 90th anniversary of his birth

Anthony Stadlen
Inner Circle Seminar No. 195
Sunday 29 September 2013
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Aaron Esterson (25 September 192315 April 1999) was one of the world’s greatest existential analysts. He reported his pioneering research interviews with families of ‘schizophrenic’ women in his books Sanity, Madness and the Family: Families of Schizophrenics (1964, with R. D. Laing) and The Leaves of Spring: A Study in the Dialectics of Madness (1970). Since nearly all readers bring to these books unexamined scientistic, medicalistic presuppositions, they almost invariably misread them as claiming that family interactions contribute to the ‘aetiology’ of the supposed ‘illness’, ‘schizophrenia’. Laing and Esterson’s explicit insistence that they disbelieve in ‘schizophrenia’ is ignored.

Today we shall read Estersons writings without such presumptions. We shall draw not only on his published books, but also on some of his remarkable unpublished writings. We shall read an unpublished case study of a family by Esterson, and see the 1972 BBC television film directed by Roger Graef on Esterson’s work with another family, The Space Between Words: FamilyThese will give some idea of the highly original work practised by Esterson (and a few colleagues whom he rigorously trained), amounting to a new profession, radically different from traditional, coercive psychiatry and the confused psychotherapy that is its handmaiden.

Aaron Esterson regarded his work as complementary to that of his friend and colleague Thomas Szasz. (But he thought his erstwhile colleagues R. D. Laing and David Cooper had frivolously betrayed, by romanticising, the serious work of making ‘schizophrenia’ socially intelligible and developing a new professional practice.) Esterson also made an important contribution to Anthony Stadlen’s historical research on the paradigm case studies of Freud and others, and on the psychological techniques by which the Nazis mystified their victims in the Holocaust. We shall discuss all this in the seminar, and your contribution will be warmly welcomed.

Venue: Durrants Hotel, 26–32 George Street, Marylebone, London W1H 5BJ (http://www.durrantshotel.co.uk/)

Cost: Students £116, others £145, some bursaries; mineral water, coffee, tea, biscuits, liquorice allsorts included; 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.

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