Sunday, 1 January 2023

60 years since Laing & Esterson’s ‘Sanity, Madness and the Family’ (April 1964). Why is this book still not understood? Anthony Stadlen and Yaara Sumeruk conduct Inner Circle Seminar 294 (21 April 2024)

R. D. Laing and Aaron Esterson

Sanity, Madness and the Family:

Families of Schizophrenics

(April 1964)

Why is this book still not understood?

Sixtieth anniversary reflections

Opening a third subseries on Laing and Esterson’s eleven families

researched by Anthony Stadlen and explored in film by Yaara Sumeruk

Anthony Stadlen   Yaara Sumeruk 


Inner Circle Seminar No. 294

Sunday 21 April 2024

10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

R. D. Laing

Aaron Esterson

This will be an online seminar, using Zoom.

Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £140, others £175; reductions for combinations of seminars; some bursaries; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra AvenueLondon N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 7809 433250  

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.

60 years since Thomas Szasz’s ‘Law, Liberty, and Society’ (1963). Keith Hoeller and Anthony Stadlen conduct Inner Circle Seminar 291 (28 January 2024)


Thomas Szasz

Law, Liberty, and Psychiatry (1963)

Sixtieth anniversary reflections 

Keith Hoeller and Anthony Stadlen


Inner Circle Seminar No. 291

Sunday 28 January 2024

10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Thomas Szasz
Thomas Szasz
Thomas Szasz

Thomas Szasz

This will be an online seminar, using Zoom.
Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £140, others £175; reductions for combinations of seminars; some bursaries; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra AvenueLondon N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 7809 433250  

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.

Circling Round Reality. Raymond Tallis conducts Inner Circle Seminar 290 (10 December 2023)


Circling Round Reality

Raymond Tallis

conducts by Zoom
his tenth Inner Circle Seminar: No. 290
introduced by Anthony Stadlen
Sunday 10 December 2023
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Raymond Tallis

Raymond Tallis is one of our best-loved invited speakers. Today he conducts his tenth Inner Circle Seminar, eleven years after his first on 2 December 2012.
Professor Tallis has shown in nine profound Inner Circle Seminars that he is one of the world’s leading demystifiers of what he calls the ‘neuroscience delusion’ (‘neuromania’) and the ‘intellectual plague of biologism’ (‘animalism’). His ruthless, good-humoured exposure of reductive natural-scientism continues the tradition of Heidegger and Szasz, for example, but is utterly his own.  The heart of the thinking, which has informed all his more than thirty books and all the seminars he has conducted for us, is in harmony with the underlying philosophy and raison d'être of the Inner Circle Seminars as a whole. Psychotherapists are free to choose to go on pretending to be ‘validated’ by ‘neuroscience’; but their work, such as it is, sometimes radically transforming and helpful, sometimes best passed over in silence, speaks for, or against, itself, as the case may be; and no pseudo-scientific ‘validation’, or ‘invalidation’, can disguise this.
Raymond Tallis is one of the select few who affirms and advocates human language to depict and describe the human world and human relationships.
In his book Logos Professor Tallis exposes the absurdity of the argument that evolutionary biology or neuroscience show that our thinking is merely a function of our bodies-as-objects-for-science and therefore can have no truth-value of its own unless it is in some way itself derived from evolutionary biology or neuroscience, which are taken to be ‘objectively true. But those sciences are themselves human creations, and therefore, by this argument, not ‘objectively true. Professor Tallis remarks that those who use this argument are worthy successors of the Cretan of old who said all Cretans were liars.

Raymond Tallis introduces his seminar today as follows:
Circling Round Reality

In this seminar, Raymond Tallis will examine the idea of reality as it has been explored by philosophers. He will begin by discussing the reasons why philosophers have traditionally believed that reality is hidden from us and that the main sources of knowledge of what there is – our sense experiences – only weave a ‘veil of appearance’ concealing what is there.  He will then critically examine the claim that objective, quantitative, physical science will strip off the veil of appearance. Finally, he will challenge the idea that reality is hidden from us – by mobilising linguistic and existential arguments.

The heart of these seminars is dialogue, and it will of course be possible to argue in depth with Professor Tallis if you disagree with any of his points or positions.  

Raymond Tallis is a philosopher, poet, novelist and cultural critic, and a retired physician and clinical neuroscientist. He ran a large clinical service in Hope Hospital Salford and an academic department in the University of Manchester. His research focussed on epilepsy, stroke, and neurological rehabilitation.
He trained in medicine at Oxford University and at St Thomas’s Hospital in London before going on to become Professor of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Manchester and a consultant physician. He was an editor and major contributor to two key textbooks in the field, The Clinical Neurology of Old Age and Textbook of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, and author of over 200 original scientific articles, mainly in clinical neuroscience, including papers in Nature MedicineBrain, Lancet. In 2000, he was elected Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in recognition of his contribution to medical research. Among many prizes, he was awarded the Lord Cohen Gold Medal for Research into Ageing. He played a key part in developing guidelines for the care of stroke patients in the UK. From 2011-14 he was Chair, Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying (HPAD). He was a member of the Council of Royal College of Physicians between 2016 and 2019. He is a member of the criteria-setting group for the UK Research Excellence Framework 2021 in philosophy.
He has published fiction, poetry, and 30 books on the philosophy of mind, metaphysics, philosophical anthropology, and literary and cultural criticism. Aping Mankind (2010) was reissued in 2016 as a Routledge Classic. Of Time and Lamentation. Reflections on Transience (2017; 2019) a comprehensive inquiry into the nature of time was widely praised. NHS SOS (2012), co-edited with Jacky Davis, examined the destructive impact of Tory policies on the NHS. Logos. An Essay on the Mystery of the Sense-Making Animal was published in Spring 2018. His most recent volume of verse – Sunburst – was published in November 2019.
A series of eight seminars on Humanism given in the philosophy department of Charles University Prague, formed the basis of his book, published in 2020, Seeing Ourselves. Reclaiming Humanity from God and Science. A defence of free will – Freedom. An Impossible Reality – was published in May 2021 and an issue of the philosophy journal Human Affairs was devoted to it. Professor Tallis has based three Inner Circle Seminars on these books.
His current projects include Prague 22. A Book of Tenuous Connections – which is a collection of essays; and De Luce. Reflections on My Time in the Light – a philosophical autobiography.
In 2009, the Economist Intelligent Life Magazine described him as one of the world’s leading polymaths. The critic Stuart Kelly said of him in Scotland on Sunday in 2016 that he is one of the very few contemporary thinkers whom I would unequivocally call a genius. He has four honorary degrees: DLitt (Hull, 1997) and Litt.D. (Manchester, 2001) for contributions to the humanities; and DSc (St George’s Hospital Medical School, 2015; University of East Anglia, 2017) for contributions to research in medicine.

For an account of how Raymond Tallis writes his extraordinary books, see his article ‘My writing day: In my favourite pub, the staff turn down the speaker in my writing corner’, in The Guardian Review of 29 April 2017:
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, whose tenth Inner Circle Seminar this will be, 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.


This will be an online seminar, using Zoom.
Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £140, others £175reductions for combinations of seminars; some bursaries; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra AvenueLondon N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 7809 433250  

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.

‘Is the madman mentally ill?’ (Heidegger, 1953). Did Heidegger anticipate Szasz? Anthony Stadlen conducts Inner Circle Seminar 289 (19 November 2023)


Is the madman mentally ill?

(Heidegger, 1953)

Did Martin Heidegger anticipate Thomas Szasz’s

‘The Myth of Mental Illness’ by seven years?

Anthony Stadlen

conducts by Zoom

Inner Circle Seminar No. 289

Sunday 19 November 2023

10 a.m. to 5 p.m

Anton Webern
3 December 1883 – 15 September 1945
Georg Trakl
3 February 1887 – 3 November 1914
Martin Heidegger
26 September 1889 – 26 May 1976
Thomas Szasz
15 April 1920 – 8 September 2012
at his 90th-birthday seminar
13 June 2010 (Inner Circle Seminar No. 153)
Photograph copyright
Not to be used without permission

On 7 October 1950 the philosopher Martin Heidegger gave a lecture, ‘Die Sprache’ (‘Language’), in Bühlerhöhe (near Baden Baden).
In 1953 Heidegger published an essay, ‘Georg Trakl: Eine Erörterung seines Gedichtes’ (‘Georg Trakl: An Elucidation of his Poetry’), in the journal Merkur (No. 61: pp. 226-258).
In 1959 Heidegger republished his 1950 lecture and 1953 essay as the first two chapters of his book Unterwegs zur Sprache (On the Way to Language), with the titles, respectively, ‘Die Sprache’ (‘Language’) and ‘Die Sprache im Gedicht: Eine Erörterung von Georg Trakls Gedicht’ (‘Language in Poetry: An Elucidation of Georg Trakl’s Poetry’). 
Trakl in his poetry mentions ‘der Wahnsinnige’ (‘the madman’) many times..
Heidegger asks (1953: p. 237; 1959: p. 53):
[...] der Wahnsinnige. Meint dies einen Geisteskranken?  Nein. Wahnsinn bedeutet nicht [...]
‘[...] the madman. Does this mean a mentally ill man? No. Madness does not mean [...]
The translator Peter D. Hertz in On the Way to Language (1982 [1971]: p. 173) translates these words of Heidegger’s thus:
‘[...] the madman. Does the word mean someone who is mentally ill? Madness here does not mean [...]
Readers could not divine from this translation that Heidegger had written:
(1) Nein’ (No) – he did not leave his own question unanswered;
(2) ‘dies’ (‘this’) – he did not write ‘das Wort’ (‘the word’);
(3) ‘Wahnsinn’ (‘Madness’) – he did not write ‘Wahnsinn hier’ (‘Madness here’).
The French translators of this book, Jean Beaufret and Wolfgang Brockmeier, in Acheminement vers la parole (1976: p. 56) translate this passage:
[...] Le FarsenéLe mot désigne-t-il un aliéné? Non. La démence n'ést pas [...]
This is a little more faithful to Heidegger: an unequivocal ‘Non’ (‘No’); and ‘La démence’ (‘madness’), rather than merely ‘La démence ici’ (‘madness here’). But it also insists, without evidence, that Heidegger is discussing the ‘mot’ (‘word’) ‘madman’ or ‘madness’ rather than the madman himself or madness itself.
Do these details matter? Yes, if one wants to know what Heidegger is doing here.
Is he making a very limited statement about a particular ‘madman’ in one or more of Trakl’s poems?
Or is he making a much more general statement: anticipating in 1953 the comprehensive proposition of Thomas Szasz, in his 1960 paper The Myth of Mental Illness and his 1961 book The Myth of Mental Illness, that there is no ‘mental illness’?
This proposition of Szasz’s has the corollary that, in particular, if there be such a phenomenon as ‘madness’, then, whatever ‘madness’ is, it cannot be ‘mental illness’, nor can the ‘madman’, or anybody else, be ‘mentally ill’ – for the simple reason that ‘mental illness’ is a myth.
It seems unlikely that either Hertz in 1971 or Beaufret and Brockmeier in 1976 supposed that Heidegger in 1953 meant something quite so radical. But might they have felt the need to play down even what he did seem to be saying, lest it make Heidegger himself seem a bit mad?
Jacques Derrida wrote a sustained four-part meditation, Geschlecht, on Heidegger’s 1953 Trakl essay. The third part of Derridas essay, Geschlecht III, was posthumously reconstituted and published as recently as 2018. In a lengthy ‘parenthesis’ in Geschlecht III Derrida proposes that Trakls ‘madman’, as imagined by Heidegger, is Heidegger himself.

[To be continued]

Your contribution to the discussion will be warmly welcomed.

This will be an online seminar, using Zoom.

Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £140, others £175reductions for combinations of seminars; some bursaries; payable in advance; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled

Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra AvenueLondon N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 7809 433250

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.

Kierkegaard Fear and Trembling 180th anniversary. The Weaning Scenarios. Daniel Conway and other authorities conduct Inner Circle Seminar 288 (29 October 2023)


Søren Kierkegaard

(1813 – 1855)

Fear and Trembling

published on 16 October 1843

180th anniversary

The four weaning scenarios

Daniel Conway et al.
conduct by Zoom
Inner Circle Seminar No. 288
introduced by Anthony Stadlen
Sunday 29 October 2023
10a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Søren Kierkegaard
and the three books he published on 16 October 1843

Repetition by Constantin Constantius

Fear and Trembling by Johannes de silentio

 Three Upbuilding Discourses by Søren Kierkegaard

Our exceptional constellation of speakers and seminars on the writings of the foundational existential thinker Søren Kierkegaard is helping existential therapists to reach a deeper understanding of his thinking and, therefore, of the foundations of their discipline. This does not mean, of course, that they should expect to agree with everything he or his pseudonyms said, which would in any case be logically impossible, by the very nature of the sometimes contradictory interplay of his and his pseudonyms’ perspectives. 
Some of the world’s greatest Kierkegaard authorities have guided us in eleven seminars through the three extraordinary books, including Fear and Trembling, he (and two of his pseudonyms) published on 16 October 1843 (as well as Philosophical Crumbs, published the following year). We celebrated the 175th anniversary of this incandescence by starting on 14 October 2018, and today we celebrate the 180th anniversary.
We have, in five seminars, three of them guided by Professor John Lippitt and one by Professor Daniel Conwayclosely perused the text of Kierkegaard’s pseudonym Johannes de silentio’s book Fear and Trembling (1843). Five further seminars on the context – the other works published by Kierkegaard and another pseudonym on 16 October 1843 (Three Upbuilding Discourses and Repetition), and divine command theory and the Akedah (the binding of Isaac by Abraham) in Judaism and Islam – have been conducted by Professors George PattisonMarilyn PietyC. Steven EvansYehuda Gellman, and Mariam al Attar, respectively. And Marilyn Piety conducted a seminar on Philosophical Crumbs.

Today Professor Daniel Conway and other authorities will lead our sixth seminar on the text of Fear and Trembling, focussing on the four weaning scenarios in the Stemning (Attunement, or Tuning Up) chapter of the book. In this chapter, the pseudonymous author, Johannes de silentio, imagines four scenarios in which Abraham approaches Mount Moriah with Isaac. In each case the narrator focusses on the relationship between Abraham and Isaac, and follows the scenario with a scenario of a mother weaning her baby, each time in a way corresponding to the imagined relationship between Abraham and Isaac. These weaning scenarios were for many years scarcely discussed in the vast secondary literature on Fear and Trembling, but in recent years a number of Kierkegaard experts have turned their attention to them. Today, Daniel Conway and others who have focussed on the weaning scenarios come together to discuss them.

Why study Kierkegaard? Everyone now seems to be talking about ‘mental health’. But is this the best way of understanding what people are experiencing in today’s undoubted crises? Are these not existential, ethical, spiritual, religious problems? But what does ‘existential’ mean? And do not many existential therapists object to the ‘religious’, whatever that means? But, again, do not some existential therapists find religious experience, their own or others’, of fundamental importance? Should not all existential therapists at least understand what their religious clients, or clients who say they have had some religious experience, are talking about?
Our subseries of nine seminars between 2018 and 2021 devoted to KierkegaardFear and Trembling and his other books published on 16 October 1843 has showed decisively that a significant number of existential therapists do indeed know and value religious experience. In 2023 we continue with two more seminars on Fear and Trembling, but also broaden out into an exploration over the coming years of Kierkegaards authorship as a whole.
Existential therapists, whether or not they are aware of this, are implicitly using the previously already existing, neutral, English word ‘existential’ to convey something of the more restricted, but also more potent and highly charged, meaning of the Danish word existentiel’ as used and, apparently, actually coined by Søren Kierkegaard (5 May 1813 – 11 November 1855). His pseudonym Johannes Climacus introduced it in Concluding Unscientific Postscript to the Philosophical Crumbs (1846): in its subtitle An Existential Contribution and, for instance, in its discussion of ‘existential pathos’. It  is intended to convey thinking with all one’s being, as an ‘existing’ thinker: as opposed to constructing a ‘system’ which, as his pseudonym Anti-Climacus wrote in The Sickness Unto Death (1849), would be like building a house in which one does not live.
Ludwig Feuerbach used the word ‘existence’ in a similar sense, but he wanted to secularise religious thinking, whereas Kierkegaard affirmed authentic religion as not reducible to social ethics (Sædelighed’ in Danish, Sittlichkeit’ in German).
Martin Heidegger translated Kierkegaards ‘existentiel’ into German as existenziell’ but restricted it to what he called the onticfor the ontological he used existenzial’, a word rare in German, though Edmund Husserl had used it in Philosophy as Rigorous Science (1910-11), and Kierkegaard had even on occasion used, probably coined, a Danish word existential’, meaning for him the same as existentiel’, in his private writings. He is alternatively alleged, but without evidence, to have adopted the word(s) after he learned from a conversation with, or about, the Norwegian poet and critic Johann Sebastian Cammermeyer Welhaven that he used the Norwegian existensiell’ in this way.
The poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge had used existential as an English word and meditated on the nature of existence’ in The Friend as early as 1809, before Kierkegaard was born. The philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling influenced ColeridgeKierkegaard, and Heidegger, and was said by Johann Karl Friedrich Rosenkranz to have orally named his own later philosophy as Existenzialphilosophie’; but it is by no means established, although it is possible, that Coleridge's use of existential’ or Kierkegaards use of existentiel' or existential' were themselves directly suggested by, or derived from, Schelling.
None of these usages, of course, should be confused with, or reduced to, the bare existential quantifier (there exists an x such that...) in subsequent logic and mathematics.  
Kierkegaard insisted that, whether pseudonymous (‘with the left hand’) or in his own name (‘with the right hand’), his writing was always religious, though he denounced institutionalised religion (such as Danish 19th-century ‘Christendom’) as a perversion of authentic, existential religion. Much writing by ‘existential’ therapists censors (and implicitly censures) Kierkegaard’s always-religious writing at the outset, claiming to find its ‘relevant’, secular-‘existential’ meaning. Ludwig Binswanger secularises The Sickness Unto Death in this way in his ‘The Case of Ellen West. But this is just what Kierkegaard was attacking as a betrayal.
Nowhere is this more explicit than in Fear and Trembling: A Dialectical Lyric by Johannes de silentio, published in Copenhagen on 16 October 1843, together with two other books, Repetition: An Essay in Experimental Psychology by Constantin Constantinus and Three Upbuilding Discourses by Søren Kierkegaard. Our seminars on this extraordinary event in publishing history, its context, and its implications, started on 14 October 2018, celebrating these three books’ hundred and seventy-fifth anniversary, and will conclude, at least for the time being, on 29 October 2023, the one hundred and eightieth anniversary.
The author of all three books was Kierkegaard, as he acknowledged in ‘A First and Last Declaration’, the further postscript that he, in his own name, added to Concluding Unscientific Postscript.
We began by exploring this astonishing creative incandescence and its aftermath in a subseries of the Inner Circle Seminars, Kierkegaard: 16 October 1843 and beyond’.
Our close reading of Fear and Trembling continues in 2023 with the fifth and sixth seminars on this text, conducted by Professor Daniel Conway and other world authorities.
Other leading international specialists will explore over the next few years the other major works by Kierkegaard and his pseudonyms: Philosophical CrumbsThe Concept of AnxietyConcluding Unscientific Postscript, Works of Love, The Sickness Unto Death.
Professor Marilyn Piety, conducted in 2021 and 2023 memorable seminars on Repetition and Philosophical Crumbs, published by the pseudonyms Constantine Constantius and Johannes Climacus in 1843 and 1844, respectively, which she has also translated.
Fear and Trembling focusses with terrible intensity on the dialectical tension between Abraham’s love and awe for God and his love for his son Isaac. It is a ‘dialectical lyric’ on the Akedah, the account (Genesis, 22:1-19) of Abraham’s ‘binding’ of Isaac in preparation for a sacrifice prevented only by an angel’s last-minute intervention. The meaning of the Akedah has been debated for millennia by Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and (more recently) atheist thinkers. It is chanted from the Torah scroll in synagogues at the New Year, with great textual precision, though everyone is free to propose his or her own interpretation. In Christianity it is held to prefigure the crucifixion of Jesus. The Qur’an does not name Ibrahim’s son in this narrative, and Islamic scholars have debated whether it was Ishmael or Isaac; today it is held to have been Ishmael; animal sacrifices on Eid al-Adha commemorate Ibrahim’s sacrifice of a ram instead of Ishmael. The Akedah has been the basis of many great works of art, music, drama, and poetry.
Other seminars, conducted by world authorities, including George PattisonMarilyn PietyC. Stephen EvansJerome (Yehuda) Gellman and Mariam al-Attar, have focussed in turn on: the problem of Kierkegaard’s pseudonyms; the two other works (Three Upbuilding Discourses and Repetition) published with Fear and Trembling on 16 October 1843; the interpretations of the Akedah in Kierkegaard and the Hasidic masters; and whether or not some form of ‘divine command theory’ is advocated by Kierkegaard, his pseudonyms, or any or all of the Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam. (In a dialogue of Plato’s, Euthyphro is confused when Socrates asks him whether the gods love the good because it is good or whether the good is good because the gods love it. Many philosophers have thought that Socrates’s question presents a severe problem for divine command theory, but recently other philosophers have argued that there are forms of this theory not vulnerable to the problem Socrates raises for Euthyphro.)
Kierkegaard insisted in ‘A First and Last Declaration’:
... if it should occur to anyone to want to quote a particular passage from the books, it is my wish, my prayer, that he will do me the kindness of citing the respective pseudonymous author’s name, not mine.
Johannes de silentioJohannes Climacus, and the other pseudonyms are like characters in a drama written by Kierkegaard. He called it ‘indirect communication’, a dialectic of perspectives which invites the reader to work out his or her own point of view. Much commentary on Fear and Trembling and the other pseudonymous works ignores Kierkegaard’s urgent request to respect their pseudonymous nature. This leads to serious misunderstandings. Even the pseudonymous writers sometimes entertain and expound diametrically opposite views within a single work. The pseudonym is not necessarily committed to either view, and Kierkegaard is not necessarily committed either to a polarity of views as entertained by the pseudonym or to either such view as entertained by the pseudonym or to the pseudonyms non-commitment to such a polarity of views or to either of these.
Evaluations of Kierkegaard vary.
Ludwig Wittgenstein, himself one of the most profound thinkers of the 20th century, said Kierkegaard was
       ‘by far the most profound thinker of the last [19th] century
       ‘too deep for me.
Dr Abraham Myerson, a psychiatrist, in 1945 diagnosed Kierkegaard as
       ‘a psychiatric case
and his writing as
     ‘a schizoid and certainly utterly incomprehensible presentation by a mind which is quite deviate.
Professor Ernesto Spinelli, an existential therapist, in his 2017 essay ‘Kierkegaard’s dangerous folly’ in Existential Analysis, denounced Kierkegaard for allegedly admiring Abraham’s
      ‘self-evident lunacy.
Those who have acknowledged indebtedness to, or have struggled with, Søren Kierkegaard include Henrik Ibsen, August Strindberg, Edvard Munch, Miguel de Unamano, Rainer Maria Rilke, Martin Buber, Theodor Haecker, Ludwig Binswanger, Ferdinand Ebner, Igor Stravinsky, Viktor Emil von Gebsattel, Karl Jaspers, Franz Kafka, Rudolf Bultmann, György Lukács, Niels Bohr, Karl Barth, Paul Tillich, Charles Williams, Franz Rosenzweig, Georg Trakl, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Martin Heidegger, Dietrich von Hildebrand, Emil Brunner, Edith Stein, Herbert Read, Mikhail Bakhtin, Jorge Luis Borges, Viktor Frankl, Jean-Paul Sartre, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Hannah Arendt, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Emmanuel Levinas, Abraham Joshua Heschel, W. H. Auden, Jan Patočka Maurice Blanchot, Simone de Beauvoir, Rollo May, R. S. Thomas, Albert Camus, Thomas Merton, Emil Fackenheim, Iris Murdoch, Thomas Szasz, David Holbrook, Peter Lomas, Alice von Hildebrand, Aaron Esterson, Paul Feyerabend, Gilles Deleuze, Frantz Fanon, John Heaton, R. D. Laing, Martin Luther King, Jr., Jacques Derrida, David Cooper, John Updike, David Lodge, Henrik Stangerup, Roger PooleRobert Stolorow, Alice Holzhey, and many others.
Kierkegaard’s idea of authentic religion differed from everybody else’s. He had contempt for the Danish Church: for ‘Christendom’, as he called it. For him, religion was radically existential, individual. But his vision of the individual was, despite what many have alleged, the antithesis of an encapsulated, isolated, unsocial, worldless, reified ‘self’. Rather, as Anti-Climacus put it in The Sickness Unto Death, the ‘self’ is a ‘relation’ which ‘relates itself to its own self’; it is ‘that in the relation that the relation relates itself to its own self’, while ‘resting in the [divine] power that established it’; and, as Kierkegaard insisted in his own name in Works of Love (1847), this ‘self’ is only truly itself in loving God andinextricably, the otherwhether spouse, child, family member, friend, neighbour, stranger.
One of Heidegger’s most important early courses of lectures was on The Phenomenology of Religious Life (1920-21). Heidegger wrote in Being and Time (1927) that, of all Kierkegaard’s writings, his ‘upbuilding’ (i.e., explicitly religious) works had the most philosophical significance.
Kierkegaard’s work is a fundamental investigation of the existential phenomenology of individual, non-institutionalised, religious experience, as well as the religious implications of all experience, indispensable for unprejudiced understanding of both ‘religious’ and ‘non-religious’ clients.
Professor John Lippitt, who guided our reading of Fear of Trembling in three remarkable seminars, has pointed out in his book Humour and Irony in Kierkegaard’s Thought that Søren Kierkegaard can be very funny. His readers take the risk of being compelled to laugh out loud. As his pseudonym Johannes Climacus wrote in Concluding Unscientific Postscript:
... an existing humourist is the closest approximation to one who is religious ...
These seminars on Kierkegaard’s works have enabled existential therapists, Daseinsanalysts and others, to reflect more deeply on the foundations of their discipline. Invited speakers often attend their colleagues Inner Circle Seminars, in addition to those they themselves conduct.
Professor C. Stephen Evans,  who conducted a superb seminar on Divine Command Theory and Fear and Trembling, described the seminars as
a real intellectual feast.
Professor Marilyn PietyProfessor of Philosophy, Drexel University, Philadephia, USA, who conducted a marvellous seminar on KierkegaardRepetition on 28 February 2021, wrote: 
I can’t thank you enough for inviting me to be a part of the seminar series. It was one of the most enjoyable experiences I have ever had. It was a wonderful group of people and an excellent discussion.

And a seminar participant wrote afterwards:

What a remarkable opportunity to sit with some of the greatest Kierkegaard scholars in the world.

These will be online seminars, using Zoom. All are on Sundays, but the times for some of them will differ (see above) from the usual 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time or British Summer Time, to accommodate invited speakers from distant lands.

Individual Kierkegaard seminars: psychotherapy trainees £140, others £175
25% reduction for six Kierkegaard seminars: 
per seminar, psychotherapy trainees £105, others £131
Some bursaries; payable in advance by bank transfer or PayPal; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled 
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra Avenue, London N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 7809 433250   E-mail:
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.