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R. D. Laing (Ronald David Laing) Biography

(1927–89), (Ronald David Laing), In The Divided Self, The Self and Others, The Politics of Experience

British psychiatrist and author, born in Glasgow, where he obtained his M.D. in 1951 and worked as an instructor in psychological medicine at the University. He moved to London in 1956 to practise psychiatry. In 1964 he founded the Philadelphia Association to experiment with more humane treatments of mental illness. In The Divided Self (1960) and The Self and Others (1961; revised, 1969), Laing advanced his controversial views concerning the social and familial aetiology of schizophrenia, which he argued was a mode of adaptation to extreme circumstances rather than a meaninglessly aberrant condition. The political and cultural implications of his theories were expanded upon in The Politics of Experience (1967), re-issued with The Bird of Paradise in 1967, which saw his emergence as leading figure in the radical movements of the 1960s. Among his subsequent writings, which include poetry and transcripts of recorded conversations, are The Politics of the Family (1971), Do You Love Me? (1976), Conversations with Children (1978), and Sonnets (1980). The autobiographical Wisdom, Madness, and Folly: the Making of a Psychiatrist appeared in 1985.

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