I had owned this book for ages: I bought it from a used book shop for £1.50 and have carried it around for a long time; occasionally flicking through it, feeling that anticipation of all the overflowing knowledge to come. Finally taking the plunge, I plucked the small and enticing book from the shelf and took a bite.
The book takes the form of a short series of lectures transcribed into chapters, each dealing with different psychological aspects of the family. Laing’s contention here is to show the different ways family life can affect the development and lived patterns of an individual in the banality of their daily lives. His renowned innovative and unorthodox methods are on full display here from communicating with psychotics, the role of the 'therapist', and the 'double bind'.
This small book is very enlightening, there is no waffle, and the flow is interesting and questioning - as per his methods at no point does he come across as an expert, but as one of us dealing with our issues in whatever ridiculous ways we think are best. I had heard about Laing’s strange methods of living with his patients in communal country houses and what I read here went along with these radical techniques.
His argument is certainly compelling; it seems obvious now that the family and its structure are a massive pressure on a person’s development - probably due to the ideas being so influential over the years – before they are suddenly pushed off out into the world having made decisions they didn’t realise they had made, repeating them over and over until you finally become aware of them, or 'awake' as Laing says.
Short and sweet and maybe a tad idealistic – 'awakening' seems dramatic – but no less affecting because of it, it certainly transformed a small part of my world.
The Idiotllectual © 2013. All Rights Reserved