Laing, Adrian R D Laing: A Biography

ISBN 13: 9780006388296

R D Laing: A Biography

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9780006388296: R D Laing: A Biography

Adrian Laing’s biography of his father R. D. Laing – one of the best-known and most influential psychiatrists of modern times – is the only account to be written by a close relative. It presents a balanced and objective portrait of this troubled genius.

R. D. Laing was the best-known and most influential psychiatrist of modern times. In this remarkable biography, the only one to be written by a close relative, Laing’s son tells the story of his father’s life and examines the foundations of his pioneering and unorthodox work on madness and the family. He tells the full story of Laing’s lifetime of pioneering work on madness and the family and his intense interaction with disturbed patients, his foundation of the therapeutic residential community Kingsely Hall, where he became famous for his experiments with LSD, and his treatment of Mary Barnes. In the 1970s Laing studied Zen Buddhism, published poetry, recorded an LP and ran rebirthing workshops in Europe, Britain and the United States which made him into a guru of radical chic. The book also looks at Laing’s failed family life and, on the professional side, his voluntary disassociation from the medical establishment itself.

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From the Back Cover:

R.D. Laing was the best known and most influential psychiatrist of modern times. In this remarkable biography, the only one to be written by a close relative, Laing’s son tells the story of his father’s life and examines the foundations of his pioneering and unorthodox work on madness and the family.

R.D. Laing became famous in the mid sixties when he cofounded the therapeutic residential community Kingsley Hall and began his experiments with LSD. In the 1970s, Laing studied Zen Buddhism, published poetry, recorded an LP and ran rebirthing workshops across the world – activities which made him into a guru of radical chic. Yet despite his acknowledged empathy with the disturbed, Laing failed to address his own family problems and on the professional side, his practices ultimately led to voluntary disassociation from the medical establishment itself. Adrian Laing’s biography is a brutally honest, sensitive and revelatory portrait of his father’s life as well as a balanced, objective portrait of a troubled genius.

“R.D. Laing approached the family and its complicated psychological dances with emotional intensity and ice-cold detachment. Those same qualities are admirably displayed by his own son whose account of Laing the father as well as the thinker grippingly exposes and illuminates the most remarkable and controversial figure of post war psychiatry.”
ANTHONY CLARE

“It takes courage to dig out the case notes if the subject is your own father – real courage if his name is R.D. Laing. Perhaps Adrian Laing found the experience cathartic for what emerges from his biography is pure Greek tragedy.”
CHRISTIAN TYLER, 'Financial Times'

“His son’s biography is a straightforward and honest account of his life, which is sometimes painful to read, but which succeeds in giving us the flavour of the man.”
A.M. DANIELS, 'Times Literary Supplement'

“This book made me think of Goethe’s comment ‘Beware of what you wish for in youth, because you will get it in middle age.’ What I also found was that it brought me a real understanding of a man who was sensitive, decent and – like so many Scots – too clever for his own good.”
COLIN WILSON, 'Literary Review'

About the Author:

Adrian Laing, the second son of R.D. Laing’s six sons, was born in Harlow, Essex, in 1958. Educated at Hillhead High School in Glasgow and Exeter University, he subsequently studied under Michel Foucault at the College de France, Paris. Now a practising lawyer, Laing lives in London with his wife and four children. He is the co-author of three legal textbooks and writes regularly on issues relating to media law. R. D. Laing is his first biography.

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