Portrait of the Psychiatrist as a Young Man: The Early Writing and Work of R.D. Laing, 1927-1960.

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Oxford University Press, Aug 25, 2011 - Medical - 350 pages
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RD Laing remains one of the most famous psychiatrists of the last 50 years. In the 1960s he enjoyed enormous popularity and received much publicity for his controversial views challenging the psychiatric orthodoxy. He championed the rights of the patient, and challenged the often inhumane methods of treating the mentally ill. Based on a wealth of previously unexamined archives relating to his private papers and clinical notes, Portrait of the Psychiatrist as a Young Man sheds new light on RD Laing, and in particular his early formative years - a crucial but largely overlooked period in his life. The first half of the book considers Laing's intellectual journey through the world of ideas and his development as a psychiatric theorist. An analysis of his notebooks and personal library reveals Laing's engagement not only with psychiatric theory, but also with a wide range of other disciplines, such as philosophy, literature, and religion. This part of the book considers how this shaped Laing's writing about madness and his evolution as a clinician. The second half draws on a rich and completely unexplored collection of Laing's clinical notes, which detail his encounters with patients in his early years as a psychiatrist, firstly in the British Army, subsequently in the psychiatric hospitals of Glasgow, and finally in the Tavistock Clinic in London. These notes reveal what Laing was actually doing in clinical practice, and how theory interacted with therapy. The majority of patients who were to appear in Laing's first two books, The Divided Self and The Self and Others have been identified from these records, and this volume provides a fascinating account of how the published case histories compare to the original notes. There is a considerable mythology surrounding Laing, partly created by himself and partly by subsequent commentators. By a careful examination of primary sources, Allan Beveridge, both a psychiatrist and an historian, examines the many mythological narratives about Laing and provide a critical but not unsympathetic account of this colourful and contradictory thinker, who addressed questions about the nature of madness which are still being asked today. This book will be of interest to mental health workers and social historians alike as well as anybody interested in the philosophy of psychiatry.
  

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Contents

Laing and practice
183
References
320
Secondary sources
322

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About the author (2011)


Dr Allan Beveridge is a Consultant Psychiatrist at the Queen Margaret Hospital in Dunfermline. He lectures at the Department of Psychiatry of Edinburgh University and also at Queen Margaret College on the history of psychiatry, and on art and mental illness. He is an assistant editor of the British Journal of Psychiatry, where he edits the "Psychiatry in Pictures" series and is one of the Book Review Editors. He is an assistant editor of History of Psychiatry, where he is also one of the Book Review Editors. He has over 60 publications, including 8 book chapters, on such subjects as the history of psychiatry, ethics, and the relation of the arts to mental illness. He has written about Robert Burns, Robert Fergusson, James Boswell, Dostoyevsky, Kafka, Edvard Munch, Iain Crichton Smith and Charles Altamont Doyle. In 2006 he was awarded a Wellcome clinical leave research grant to study the early writings and private papers of R.D. Laing.

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