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The Divided Self: An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness (Anglais) Broché – 30 août 1965

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Revue de presse

"Dr. Laing is saying something very important indeed. . . . This is a truly humanist approach."
—Philip toynbee in the Observer

"It is a study that makes all other works I have read on schizophrenia seem fragmentary. . . . The author brings, through his vision and perception, that particular touch of genius which causes one to say Yes, I have always known that, why have I never thought of it before?'"
Journal of Analytical Psychology

Présentation de l'éditeur

Dr. Laing's first purpose is to make madness and the process of going mad comprehensible. In this, with case studies of schizophrenic patients, he succeeds brilliantly, but he does more: through a vision of sanity and madness as 'degrees of conjunction and disjunction between two persons where the one is sane by common consent' he offers a rich existential analysis of personal alienation.

The outsider, estranged from himself and society, cannot experience either himself or others as 'real'. He invents a false self and with it he confronts both the outside world and his own despair. The disintegration of his real self keeps pace with the growing unreality of his false self until, in the extremes of schizophrenic breakdown, the whole personality disintegrates.

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Amazon.com: HASH(0x8d3406b4) étoiles sur 5 40 commentaires
77 internautes sur 79 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x8d2cb564) étoiles sur 5 Self-help, Political Critique, Philosophy, Existentialism. 28 décembre 2003
Par John Russon - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
This book is a very clear and engaging introduction to the existential conception of the person. It uses the insights of Sartre, Heidegger and Hegel to reconsider those people generally called crazy, and shows that what is often called madness is better understood as meaningful gestures of communication from people who have been wrongly ignored. It is a great introduction to existentialism, it will help you understand yourself, it is a deep critique of the mental health profession, and it is a real pleasure to read. I often use it in courses in existentialism or intro to philosophy because of its clarity and because it shows the deep relevance of philosophy in general and existentialism in particular to everyday human life. This should be essential reading for everyone!
52 internautes sur 53 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x8d508fe4) étoiles sur 5 An existential approach to the conception of the self 18 mai 2005
Par HORAK - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
In this valuable study, Dr Laing proposes to examine the way some individuals are very proficient in acquiring a false self in order to adapt to false realities and to give an account of specifically personal forms of depersonalisation and disintegration. It is no small task for the therapist to articulate what the patient's "world" is and his way of being in it in order to outline his psychopathology. The author states that if we look at his actions as signs of a disease, we impose categories of thoughts on the patient in our effort to try to explain his mental state and it isn't easy for the therapist to transpose himself into the patient's strange and alien view of world in order to understand his existential position.

Dr Laing states that many patients suffer from "ontological insecurity" because they feel insubstantial, the ordinary circumstances of life constituting a continual threat to their own existence. He mentions personalities like Franz Kafka, Samuel Beckett and Francis Bacon. Then Dr Laing proceeds by giving the account of three forms of anxiety encountered by the ontologically insecure subject: engulfment, implosion and petrification. To illustrate these three forms, the author describes the case of Mrs R. who suffered from agoraphobia and schizohphrenic withdrawal.

Interestingly enough, the schizoid individual constantly feels vulnerable as he is exposed by the look of another person and that is why he fears live dialectical relationships with live people and prefers to relate himself to depersonalised persons or to phantoms of his own fantasies, thus the distinction between the "embodied" and "unembodied" self. Such an individual is afraid of the world, frightened that any impingement will be total and engulfing. He is afraid of letting himself "go", of coming out of himself or of losing himself because he feels that he will be depleted, exhausted, emptied, robbed or sucked dry. So for the schizoid individual, direct participation in life is felt as being at a risk of being destroyed by life. One aspect of this individual's ontological insecurity is the precariousness of his subjective sense of his own aliveness and the sense that others threaten this tentative feeling. The schizoid individual strongly believes in his own destructiveness by others. This view is in accord to the existentialist's philosophy represented by Jean-Paul Sartre who stated in his famous theatre play "Huis Clos" that "L'enfer, c'est les autres."

Thus a false self can arise in the individual which is in compliance with the intentions and expectations of the other or with what are imagined to be the other's intentions or expectations. Indeed, the self-conscious person feels he is more the object of other people's interest than in fact he is. And so the schizoid individual carries out defences like being like everyone else, being someone other than oneself, playing a part, being nobody or being incognito and anonymous. So if the gaze of others is experienced as a threat, there is a constant dread and resentment at being turned into someone else's thing (what Sartre called "l'être-pour-autrui"), of being penetrated by him, and a sense of being in someone else's power and control. Freedom then consists in being inaccessible. Love too for schizoid individuals is viewed as disguised persecution since it aims to turn him into an object of the other.

This type of individual can be himself in safety only in isolation. With others he plays an elaborate game of pretence and his social life is felt to be false and futile. But the more he keeps his "true self" concealed and unseen, the more he presents to others a false front and the more compulsive this fake presentation of himself becomes. This can lead to a complete disintegration of the personality.
29 internautes sur 30 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x8d1d7108) étoiles sur 5 Inside the world of the psychotic 15 février 2000
Par New Age of Barbarism - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
This is Ronald Laing's brilliant first work, written by the eminent psychiatrist at the tender young age of 28. I must say that it contains one of the most eloquent and compassionate descriptions of the process by which an individual retreats from the world of consensual experience and enters the fantastic world of psychosis. Laing provides a detailed theory of this process in his dichotomy between the "false" and "real" selves (based on the existentialist notions of inauthentic and authentic existence, respectively). (Laing explains that the "false self" is best thought of as a "system of false selves".) Beginning with the eccentric neurotic and "schizoid" individuals, Laing explains how these individuals, from a sense of ontological insecurity, progress into the schizophrenic stage of acute psychosis. He harvests the profound insights of existential philosophers (Heidegger, Kierkegaard, Merleau-Ponty, Sartre, et al) and applies them to his psychoanalysis.
While I find his explanations of the schizoid individual pretty compelling, they become more and more difficult to follow as he approaches the schizophrenic stage. (In fact, the last case presented in his book of chronic schizophrenia, "The Ghost of the Weed Garden", is downright depressing, and his idea of the schizophrenogenic family (as opposed to schizophrenogenic mother) of this girl seems somewhat unfair to the family members of this chronically psychotic individual.) Most people today would agree that schizophrenia (or "the schizophrenias", whatever the disease/s is/are) is best explained in terms of physiology; however, Laing offers an excellent existential analysis of the "illness" and provides insight into the unique perspectives of the borderline psychotic and psychotic individuals.
All in all, this is a beautiful exposition of the schizoid/schizophrenic mode of being-in-the-world.
18 internautes sur 18 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x8d1fd768) étoiles sur 5 The engine of the Sixties! Or, one of 'em. 23 septembre 2005
Par ancient cheddar - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
This book felt to me strangely intimate, and understanding when I first read it. Laing, who was a clinical psychiatrist, presents case studies of people who feel overly self-conscious and self-critical, fearful to be on the street alone, hiding from social contact -- common enough feelings which he treats with supreme empathy, not judgement or haste to reform. He explains in the preface his analysis is based on existenstial thought, yet, he avoids the amoralistic tendencies of this genre of philosophy. His emphasis is more on the process of alienation of self from self, and inner self from outer self, into a "split." He gives analysis of the so-described schizoid and schizophrenic personality, attempts to analyze why a person slips into so-called "psychosis" -- in his analysis a schizophrenic person is forming a logical reaction to an untenable situation. Here he leans on other writers, such as Gregory Bateson's double-bind theory.

Laing's writing is poetic in some places, and is literate in a way psychology books seldom are. i recommend this book highly to anyone who wants to know more about their own behavior, and others'.
12 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x8d1e0fd8) étoiles sur 5 Master and Slave 23 décembre 2002
Par Nathan - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
Foucault wrote in madness and civilization: "The constitution of madness as a mental illness, at the end of the eighteenth century, affords the evidence of a broken dialogue.... In the serene world of mental illness, modern man no longer communicates with the madman."
Psychiatric dogma says that Schizophrenics are incapable of human relationships; that it is impossible to meaningfully dialogue with schizophrenics. Laing in this work develops an existential account of madness, which is in direct opposition to the modern dogma of psychiatry. He shows, with the aid of case studies, that madness should be viewed from the 'inside'; that is, people diagnosed as psychotic should be understood; a conversation/relationship should and can be developed. This is the very thing to be avoided according to the modern idea that the mentally ill are merely objects of 'scientific ' enquiry; patients to be diagnosed and treated.
Also developed in the book is the idea that public sanity is not identical with wisdom or truth. As Laing says early in the book " ... The cracked mind of the schizophrenic may let in light which does not enter the intact minds of many sane people whose minds are closed". This is not altogether new, Socrates saw "the superiority of heaven-sent madness over man-made sanity". The idea seems to have been lost in our current culture where the standards of sanity and reason are in large part intellectual constructions; formed by supposed 'experts' of the human condition or by the sloganistic and emotive words of public opinion devoid of all fixed meaning.
The book is informative and just great reading.
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