Unarmed Descent: The Achievement of R. D. Laing

Unarmed Descent: The Achievement of R. D. Laing
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Unarmed Descent: The Achievement of R. D. Laing

Author Terrell M. Butler

The response to R. D. Laing's innovative psychiatry has been varied. One American colleague of Laing sees him as a "brilliant and sensitive paranoid schizophrenic." Another psychoanalyst who is close to Laing, and familiar with his theoretical and clinical work, believes him to be "perhaps the most original and creative psychiatric thinker since Freud." The intention of this essay is, with special reference to Laing's first book, The Divided Self, to shed light on what is original and creative in his work. In particular, I would like to explore the importance of his achievement for three related concerns—psychiatric theory and practice, intellectual history, and literary criticism.

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