His groundbreaking exploration of the nature of madness, R.D. Laing's The Divided Self illuminated the nature mental illness, making the mysteries of the mind comprehensible to a lay audience. This Penguin Modern Classics edition includes an introduction by Professor Anthony S. David.
First published in 1960, this watershed work aimed to make madness comprehensible, and in doing so revolutionized the way we perceive mental illness. Using case studies of patients he had worked with, psychiatrist R. D. Laing argued that psychosis is not a medical condition, but an outcome of the 'divided self', or the tension between the two personas within us: one our authentic, private identity, and the other the false, 'sane' self that we present to the world.
Laing's radical approach to insanity offered a rich existential analysis of personal alienation and made him a cult figure in the 1960s, yet his work was most significant for its humane attitude, which put the patient back at the centre of treatment.
R.D. Laing (1927-1989), one of the best-known psychiatrists of modern times, was born in Glasgow, Scotland. R.D. Laing's writings range from books on social theory to verse, as well as numerous articles and reviews in scientific journals and the popular press. His many publications include The Divided Self, Self and Others, Interpersonal Perception, The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise, and Madness and Folly.
If you enjoyed The Divided Self, you might like Sigmund Freud's The Joke and Its Relation to the Unconscious, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.
'One of the twentieth century's most influential psychotherapists'
'Laing challenged the psychiatric orthodoxy of his time ... an icon of the 1960s counter-culture'