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Chapter 10

Chapter 10: The Existentialism of R.D. Laing

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PSYC 370
Robert Ley

PSYC 370 – Fall 2012 Book Notes: Chapter 10 – The Existentialism of R.D. Laing Existentialism - The powerful inducement of existentialism holds out to victims of appalling life experiences - Does not qualify as personality theory - Existentialists think it is totally wrongheaded to bring causality from the natural sciences into psychology as the principle by which sequential events are accounted for - Claims not to need the false path of science - Represents a radical alternative to a science of human behavior in its concern for the human possibilities in the world – a radical belief alternative in its belief that human can choose what they want to be - Respects the person; emphasizes personal choice and personal responsibility R.D. LAING – PERSONAL HISTORY - Ronald David Laing, born October 1927 in Glasgow, in a heavy slum area - Was an only child - Brought up in family tension; his mother wanted a better living situation - Parents were impossibly strict and harsh; and Laing eventually broke off all ties with them - Before her death, her mother expressed her hatred for her famous son by sticking pins in a Ronald doll, hoping to give him a heart attack - Was well liked in school, had exceptional musical talent, was uncommonly curious, and read a lot of books (Marx, Plato, Kierkegaard, Freud, Nietzsche) - Free scholarship to Glasgow University, studied medicine - Worked at the Gartnavel Mental Hospital o Disturbing experience, administered treatment to unwilling patients o Critical issue of the politics of the matter, “Who has the power to do what to whom against whose will?” o Deep belief that traditional psychiatry was inhumane (lobotomy, electric shock, etc) Ontology – sense of being - We do not doubt the reality of our experience - We can encounter difficulties in relationships, health, morality, etc all of which may challenge us but do not undermine our ontological security Ontological Insecurity and Schizophrenia - Instead of looking for the cause, Laing tried to uncover what being-in-the-world might be like for a person sentenced to schizophrenic experience - Julie, an obedient child, let her mother make all her decisions of the day…she failed to develop independently; h
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