Friday, 1 January 2016

Laing and Esterson. 4. The Danzigs. 50 years on. Hilary Mantel & Anthony Stadlen conduct Inner Circle Seminar 222 (14 February 2016)

R. D. Laing and Aaron Esterson
Sanity, Madness and the Family (1964)

Aaron Esterson
The Leaves of Spring (1970)

Continuing research on the families
50 years on

Family 4
The Danzigs

Dame Hilary Mantel   Anthony Stadlen
Inner Circle Seminar No. 222
Sunday 14 February 2016
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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 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 todays 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 Estersons for many years, continues to research the living members of the eleven families. Today we shall listen to extracts both from Estersons original recordings of his interviews with the Danzigfamily in the 1960s and from Stadlens recordings of his own interviews with surviving members of the family more than fifty years later.

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 todays seminar.

Venue: Durrants Hotel, 26–32 George Street, Marylebone, London W1H 5BJ
Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £120, others £150, in advance; some bursaries; coffee, tea, biscuits, mineral water 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  or: +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 colleges.

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