R.D. Laing

The Wing of Madness: The Life & Work of R.D. Laing

Audio Interview--11-29-06

Deborah Harper, President of Psychjourney, interviews Dr. Daniel Burston, author of The Wing of Madness: The Life and Work of R.D. Laing and The Crucible of Experience: R.D. Laing and the Crisis of Psychotherapy

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"This will be the definitive biography of Laing for years to come, and by far the most learned exposition of his thought."

-- Anthony Storr


" The Wing of Madness reminds one of the good old days before the word 'biography' implied a hostile deconstruction of a famous person's hypocrisies and sexual skeletons in the closet . . . Above all, Burston is intent first on mapping how Laing was able to turn his own background and psychiatric experience into an original philosophy of mind . . . Then he distills Laing's ideas from their milieu to set them in historical and critical perspective . . . Burston's biography reminds us that to ignore so inventive a thinker because of changes in fashion is to impoversh our knowledge of ourselves."


-- Michael Vincent Miller, The Boston Sunday Globe


" His timely contribution is a superb intellectual biography whose breadth, balance and depth is not likely to be eclipsed soon . . . His . . . reconstruction of Laing's thought requires more than a passing knowledge of complex traditions in psychiatry, psychology, psychoanalysis, philosophy, sociology, cybernetics and mysticism, both Christian and Oriental. Yet Burston's exposition is always clear enough for the general reader to follow. . .


-- Charles Levin, The Globe and Mail


" . . . a serious and very fair account of R.D. Laing's intellectual development, and very clearly set out."


-- Phil Virden, Asylum: A Magazine for Democratic Psychiatry

The Crucible of Experience

"Laing's role as a 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."


– Anthony W. Clare, author of In the Psychiatrist's Chair


"Daniel Burston is one of the most thoughtful and perceptive scholars writing today about the history of psychoanalysis. He uses his broad, multidisciplinary 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."


– Deirdre Bair, author of Anais Nin: A Biography


"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 psychologists. More broadly, its arguments offer a welcome – and controversial –challenge to the currently dominant biological, antipsychological psychiatry."


– Anthony Storr, author of Feet of Clay: Saints, Sinners, and Madmen: A Study of Gurus


"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."


– Ernesto Spinelli, School of Psychotherapy and Counseling, Regent's College (London)


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