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The Politics of the Family and Other Essays

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  106 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
In his 1968 CBC Massey Lectures R. D. Laing discusses how and why we value society's notions of family over our own.

Using concepts of schizophrenia, R.D. Laing demonstrates that we tend to invalidate the subjective and experiential and accept the proper societal view of what should occur within the family.

A psychoanalyst and psychiatrist, Laing worked at the Tavistock Inst
Hardcover, 133 pages
Published November 24th 1998 by Routledge (first published 1969)
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Mar 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Sarah by: Emilie
Shelves: 2017
This book is made up primarily of essays adapted from talks Laing had given over the years. (I could almost hear the Scottish lilt!)

Though I suspect much of the content worked better in spoken form, I adore R.D. Laing and appreciate his ideas. It's so frustrating that decades later people are as resistant to these insights as they ever were.

(I look forward to the film starring David Tennant!)
John Brooke
Nov 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: soul-stuff, myths
Reading this short book has revealed to me so many feelings I have spent my whole life puzzling over. Tremendous observations on how families unknowilngly affect/invicect the lives of children from their birth. The family influence impacts on all societies not just our western culture. I have read this book through, and I'm set to read it again this weeked.
Jun 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: on-psychiatry
Read The Divided Self instead if you are new to Laing, read this only if you want to read all of his works.

This was a transcript of a radio broadcast, which is why Laing's genius does not shine so brightly here.

Similar to a few other "idealist" writers like Tim Leary, Carl Jung, David Foster Wallace and Friedrich Nietzsche, he expresses his thoughts in a very abstract, paranoid and polemic way which sometimes trips over itself by getting hung up on recurrences (thinking about thinking abo
Aug 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If you're going to major in psychology, read this book.
Sep 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
There is some wisdom here, and what appears to me to be some technical obfuscation but is probably just the language of logicians. Most remarkable is how familiar and obvious much of it feels, and the astonishing thing is that this was revolutionary at the time. While Laing's approach has been discredited by the medical mainstream his influence remains. Of particular interest to me was the distinction between what is personally experienced and what society agrees / declares has been experienced ...more
Dee Michell
Aug 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
A pity he doesn't consider non-biological families
Lydia St Giles
This collection of short pieces was originally published more than forty years ago but is still relevant today. At a time when public policy treats Cognitive Behavioural Therapy as the preferred method of tackling non-psychotic mental illness, an approach which looks at the individual in the context of a social unit would be welcome.
It is not an easy read, compressing the idea of “family as system” and referring to concepts such as projection and regression. Some sections read like a mathemati
Jul 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
The second classic RD Laing I've actually bothered to read! Pretty unintelligible in first essay, but then really quite bang on the button in my opinion with lots of things. I didn't read this as an attack on the parents of those diagnosed with schizophrenia, rather a critique of the institution of the family as a whole. Interesting stuff, especially to read 50 years on and realise in many ways lots hasn't changed. Of course the man had many faults also.
Fascinating insights, though best taken contextually with this article:
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Ronald David Laing was a Scottish psychiatrist who wrote extensively on mental illness – in particular, the subjective experience of psychosis. Laing's views on the causes and treatment of serious mental dysfunction, greatly influenced by existential philosophy, ran counter to the psychiatric orthodoxy of the day by taking the expressed feelings of the individual patient or client as valid descrip ...more
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