Read Knots (Selected Works of R.D. Laing 7) by R.D. Laing Free Online
Book Title: Knots (Selected Works of R.D. Laing 7)|
The author of the book: R.D. Laing
Edition: Taylor & Francis, Inc.
Date of issue: September 10th 1998
ISBN 13: 9780203210482
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 569 KB
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Reader ratings: 3.8
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An unusual work by the Scottish psychoanalyst R.D.Laing, Knots is a book of poems, or dialogues, dating from 1971. Each poem describes a different kind of relationship, indicating the knots people will tie themselves into through preconception or misunderstanding. Laing calls them "tangles, disjunctions, impasses or binds". The relationship might be that of parent and child, lovers or analysts. The bonds can be of love, dependency, uncertainty or jealousy. Sometimes the relationship is obvious, but in other poems it becomes apparent through the dialogue.
In his introduction Laing comments, "They are all, perhaps, strangely, familiar." The patterns of language he uses are simplistic and common. With its short lines and repetitious spare vocabulary the book reads rather like a reading primer - or a very basic book in logic. Since the relationships are often familiar to us too, his comment is not very surprising. The poems themselves can indeed best be described as someone "tying themselves in knots". If these thoughts were spoken out loud, those voicing them would be accused by the majority of overanalysing the situation.
It is interesting to consider whether this is a subjective experience of mental illness. Laing challenged psychiatric diagnosis itself, famously stating that schizophrenia was, "a theory not a fact", or that a so-called psychotic episode could be an attempt to communicate worries and concerns in situations where this was not possible, or not permitted. He never actually denied the existence of mental illness - indeed he admitted that he was a clinical depressive himself - but unlike his contemporaries Laing believed it could be a transformative experience. He considered that in the future we would view schizophrenia as, "one of the forms in which light begins to break through the cracks in our all-too-closed minds." He viewed mental illness as a kind of journey from which a person could return with important insights, enabling them to become a wiser and more grounded person as a result.
R.D. Laing wrote a considerable number of works, mainly studies into forms of mental illness and his own developed theories of psychotherapy. This particular book is unique in that it is such an accessible book of poems, yet it reveals many of the ways Laing believed ordinary people tie themselves in knots. Many of his colleagues believed he had a brilliant mind that had somehow gone wrong. (His family had a tradition of mental illness.) Some even viewed him as actually psychotic himself. But these poems are startling and revealing in their simplicity; in their assertion that any one of us may find themselves in situations which feel impossible because they have no right answer. Who is to define which behaviour then is "mad."
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Read information about the authorRonald David Laing was a Scottish psychiatrist who wrote extensively on mental illness – in particular, the subjective experience of psychosis. Laing's views on the causes and treatment of serious mental dysfunction, greatly influenced by existential philosophy, ran counter to the psychiatric orthodoxy of the day by taking the expressed feelings of the individual patient or client as valid descriptions of lived experience rather than simply as symptoms of some separate or underlying disorder.
Laing was associated with the anti-psychiatry movement although he rejected the label.
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