Ronald David Laing's The Divided Mind?
Ronald David Laing (1927- 1989) was a Scottish existential psychiatrist who wrote largely on the experience of psychosis. He is considered a path breaker in the field of psychology as he quite openly shunned the psychiatric orthodoxy of his times and willingly parted ways with classical psychotherapy in a bid to seek new treatments for schizophrenia based on an interest in the rights of mental patients. Since he was largely influenced by the existential outlook, he always advocated the use of a patient’s descriptions of his/her lived experience as valid rather than simply checking his/her symptoms for a particular disorder. Despite his eventual radicalism, his early life and training were pretty orthodox. He was born in Glasgow, eventually
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This book explored schizophrenia as a rational response to unbearable experiences. When he sat down to write the book in the late 1950s, the outlook in psychiatry was that the mind of an unbalanced person was just an amalgamation of senseless fantasies or obsessions. Patients were simply tested for certain symptoms of mental illness, and treated proportionately. His goal was “to make madness, and the process of going mad, comprehensible”, and he accomplished this by showing how psychosis – especially, that relating to schizophrenia - actually “makes sense to the person suffering it.” According to him, the psychiatrist on his/her part should simply get inside the mind of the sufferer. He very categorically pointed out that ‘The Divided Self’ was not a medically researched book rather a set of observations, clouded by existential philosophy, about the essence of schizophrenia. Our knowledge of schizophrenia has moved on markedly since his day, towards a more biological and neurological explanation, but his narrations of what it feels like to live with a ‘divided self’, go ‘mad’ or have a ‘breakdown’, still remains one of the best ever