The crucible of experience : R.D. Laing and the crisis of psychotherapy /
Daniel Burston.
Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 2000.
viii, 168 p.
0674002172 (alk. paper)
More Details
Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 2000.
0674002172 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Daniel Burston is Associate Professor of Psychology at Duquesne University.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2000-06-15:
In his latest work, Burston (psychology, Duquesne Univ.) again tackles maverick psychotherapist R.D. Laing, seeking to restoreDor at least polishDhis legacy as he did in The Wing of Madness (LJ 8/96). Whereas that work was primarily a biography, this fairly short effort focuses more on Laing's work and its philosophical and ideological underpinnings. To this end, Burston includes a short biographical sketch, then offers a lengthy discussion of Laing's ideas in the context of mid-20th-century psychoanalytic and intellectual thought. He devotes chapters to Laing's ideological relationship to phenomenology and existentialism and to two of Laing's most controversial ideas: schizophrenia as an extreme response to a dysfunctional family situation and the problematic nature of defining "normalcy." While Burston is clearly a fan, his approach is evenhanded, acknowledging both the many innovations and the contradictions of Laing's work. This serious attempt to position Laing in the canon of great 20th-century psychoanalytic minds is recommended for large public and academic libraries.DDavid Valencia, King Cty. Lib. Syst., Federal Way, Washington (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review Quotes
At last a book on R. D. Laing that concerns itself principally with his contributions to psychotherapeutic theory and practice. Daniel Burston's elegant analysis of Laing's interpretations of, and allegiance to, existential phenomenology is both balanced and provocative. As a reminder of why Laing continues to matter to contemporary psychotherapy, this text is indispensable.
Daniel Burston is a formidably equipped, scrupulous scholar, and one of the best contemporary writers on psychology. This book, like his admirable biography of R. D. Laing, is learned and stimulating as a work of scholarship, and will interest both philosophers and psychiatrists. More broadly, its arguments offer a welcome--and controversial--challenge to the currently dominant biological, antipsychological psychiatry.
Daniel Burston is one of the most thoughtful and perceptive scholars writing today about the history of psychoanalysis. He uses his broad, multi-disciplinary knowledge to provide keen insights into the discipline and its major figures, thus making this book a valuable contribution to the contemporary intellectual and cultural history of the behavioral sciences.
Daniel Burston subjects R. D. Laing's theories and treatments of madness to an evaluation that is scholarly, dispassionate and scrupulously attentive to the facts while at the same time providing a thought-provoking and subtle account of one of the most complicated and talented of European psychiatrists. Laing's role as philosopher as well as psychotherapist is more thoroughly explored and assessed in this book than in the many books and essays that have already appeared devoted to the whole Laingian experience. It is an invaluable work for anyone eager to understand one of the most influential figures of the twentieth century.
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Library Journal, June 2000
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Bowker Data Service Summary
R.D. Laing challenged prevailing models of madness and the nature and limits of psychiatric authority. In this brief and lucid book, Daniel Burston distils the essence of Laing's vision, which was religious, philosophical and psychological.
Main Description
One of the great rebels of psychiatry, R. D. Laing challenged prevailing models of madness and the nature and limits of psychiatric authority. In this brief and lucid book, Laing's widely praised biographer distills the essence of Laing's vision, which was religious and philosophical as well as psychological. The Crucible of Experience reveals Laing's philosophical debts to existentialism and phenomenology in his theories of madness and sanity, family theory and family therapy. Daniel Burston offers the first detailed account of Laing's practice as a therapist and of his relationships--often contentious--with his friends and sometime disciples. Burston carefully differentiates between Laing and "Laingians," who were often clearer, more confident, and more simplistic than their teacher. While he examines Laing's theories of madness, Burston focuses most provocatively on Laing's views of sanity and normality and on his recognition, toward the end of his life, of the essential place of holiness in human experience. In a powerful last chapter, Burston shows that Laing foresaw the present commercialization of medicine and asked pointed questions about what the meaning of sanity and the future of psychotherapy in such a world could be. In this, as in other matters, Laing's questions of a generation ago remain questions for our time.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgmentsp. vii
An Enigmatic Manp. 1
R. D. Laing and Existential Phenomenologyp. 14
R. D. Laing and Existential Psychotherapyp. 33
Families, Phenomenology, and Schizophreniap. 57
Normality and the Numinousp. 98
R. D. Laing and the Crisis of Psychotherapyp. 132
Epiloguep. 147
Notesp. 151
Bibliographyp. 157
Indexp. 165
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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