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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Coming of age
No book on first reading has ever hit me with the force of this one.

Some of the content I don't buy: the focus on madness as a positive journey and the de-emphasis on inborn factors that may lead to "schizophrenia".

But as an example of compelling writing, of a writer putting his heart into his work, I don't know of any rival to this book...
Published on 25 Oct. 2007 by calmly

versus
1 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Divided Self is better
I read this book about a year ago and on seeing it pop up again on Amazon felt compelled to jot my opinion down as much as i am interested in other peoples feedback on the bird of paradise. The authors book called ' the divided self' & first book in this offering were v interesting. Bird of Paradise stuck in my mind as one of, if not, THE most wack things I have read.
Published on 21 Dec. 2009 by SJB


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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Coming of age, 25 Oct. 2007
No book on first reading has ever hit me with the force of this one.

Some of the content I don't buy: the focus on madness as a positive journey and the de-emphasis on inborn factors that may lead to "schizophrenia".

But as an example of compelling writing, of a writer putting his heart into his work, I don't know of any rival to this book.

But there's a lot more than writing style here. This is one of the strongest challenges to us "normal" folk about the potential we may have tossed away in exchange for a fit in our troubled society.

This isn't a book that tells us what to do or that sells some old tradition. This is a book that tells us how it seems ... to someone uniquely qualified and extraordinarily concerned about our well-being.

Laing was a great gift to the world and this is his greatest book.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Are you confused by this book, or do you share the experience?, 19 May 2010
By 
J. lee (Sheffield, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
'The politics of experience' is a discussion about the differences that can exist between people because of differences in their conscious states.

Some people have never experienced passion, for example, and so may regard love as something purely physical. Others may have done so and matured emotionally having then sought and acquired an extensive vocabulary they share in common with everyone else which they use to communicate their experience.

Your maturity and knowledge act as a brake on how much you will understand, however, the book's content is not subjective.

Laing's view is that WE exist within our little culture - or as he puts it a straight jacket of conformity - and like anyone living and working within an abnormal system or environment are prone to errors. Laings view is that it's the systems we live in that are the problem, and not us. 96% of the time I expect he's right.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Inner Space, 24 April 2014
By 
Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles "FIST" (London) - See all my reviews
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One of his easiest books to comprehend but at the same time you would have to be immersed in the psychological field to get who it is aimed at. I recollect trying to read it years ago, after getting into psychology through therapy and not having the reference points to comprehend who the ire was being blasted at.

I have a great deal of sympathy with transactional analysis but came to the same conclusion as Laing on the fact it concentrates not on people and their experiences but on what they say. However I think TA can be rescued from mere technique to assist in a form of depth psychology when combined with the work of Adler. Adler is a stuffy stick in the mud about some things and enlightened being on others.

Laing's analysis of alienation and what constitutes normality, normalcy and the norm is the crux. For Laing it is not about applying a label to someone who is aberrant but how those who constitute the norm define themselves as normal. Because as Laing details those who create the rules when looked at from the results of their actions are pathological. This is particularly directed at "psychiatry" which rests upon falsifying empirical science by people who lack as theory of emotions (people who fall upon the Asperger's scale) who then dutifully label other people who do not fit their categories. Laing makes the point you can only label people from your own projections and beliefs. What is required is a reflection upon what is healthy rather than an assumption that it is due to what most people do with themselves.

For those who want to delve in Laing this is probably the best place to start to understand the concepts of alienation, normality, elusive self, schizophrenia, transcendence and a host of other concepts.

Thought I knew everything, but returning back to this is a like a constant jack in the box with so many surprises. One of the great books of psychotherapy/psychiatry. He offers no system only a journey into inner space to re-discover the self. Only the intrepid can make that journey, the rest hover around and what for reports. Laing says that the intrepid are akin to Columbus in their journey and I agree with him about this as with 99% of everything else he has depicted in this book.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Psychiatric call to arms still relevant today, 18 April 2009
As a psychiatric-call-arms this book is abit of a dog's dinner. Apart from the very last chapter everything here is taken from direct transcripts of Laing's lectures throughout the early 60s. The style & approach changes quite rapidly then: The first 3 chapters are abit Irving Goffman with possibly a hint of heidegger thrown in, and its probably only until chapter 4 that Laing starts to write in his own voice and becomes profound by way of personal experience; as opposed to whatever he was reading the week before.

And do you know, for all the accusations of self-indulgent anti-conformism, Laing is just about the most lucid, compassionate, rational and pragmatic philosopher of psychiatry imaginable. Once he gets going.

His main thesis also benefits from being devastatingly simple: If you want to know the best way to treat someone who's 'gone mad' ask someone who's 'been mad'. If you want to get better, allow yourself to go through the process of being unwell. If, as a culture, you want to be able to deal with your own mental spaces, give it a context with which it can be explored.

Of course even in 2009 this is still largely unrealised stuff. Psychotherapy has perhaps become somewhat more 'client-orientated', non-judgemental. We dont accept the dogmatic extremism of behaviourism quite like we used to, and can now acknowledge our private spaces, to some limited extent, once more.

Although this is all pretty meagre 'progress' from where we started out. We still treat mentally ill patients much the same as well did before, still erroneously refer to them as being 'ill', and in mainstream academia physicalism looks set to bring the spectre of behaviourism back to life all over again.

It's all abit depressing, and other than Szasz you do wonder where the much needed voices of descent have gone. Perhaps it's because as Laing suggests: the interior life is just something we're fundmanetally uncomfortable with as a culture. How often for instance do you talk about your dreams with your friends? Even amongst close relatives refering to your internal dramas in a public setting can still be regarded as 'socially deviant'.

There's something about 'experience' that continues to bug us. Is it too unquantifiable to satisfy our occidental addiction for charts and statistics? Possibly. Although i expect you could point to any number of social/political causes for our failure to engage with ourselves. In mean time however, you cant do much worse than picking up this book and having a wee think for yourself.

The proto-Irvine Welsh ramble at the end is pretty good as well.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revelatory Psychology, 9 May 2013
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This review is from: The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise (Paperback)
Although written in the era of the 3 minute warning and when child beating was a perk of a teaching career,this examination and analysis of the causes of mental disturbance still resonates, as its subjects are the timeless ones that mediate our inner experiences, particularly in relation to other people and the wider society we live in.Although the external landscape has changed since it was written the human condition remains exactly the same.
Much of the authors point of view is summed up by the theory of the Gadarene Swine,whereby an individual is considered to be off-course if they've strayed from a group,irrespective of the fact that the group maybe off course itself.The individual is then faced with the dilemma of attempting to adapt to a world gone mad,which is when the trouble starts,identity is repudiated by violence masquerading as love and enforced debt tactics are used to effect control and coerce the individual into a humanity destroyed by interdependence.
There are some great passages concerning social interactions relating to the formation of groups and the processes necessary for cohesion.The book closes with an evaluation of schizophrenia and psychotic episodes as healing processes and natural methods of adjustment necessary to the "self" ,to allow it to advance,in a society that places little value on inner experience.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very important and profound book., 23 July 2013
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This review is from: The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise (Paperback)
All who care about their own and others mental wellbeing would benefit from reading this, especially those wanting to build a real change in our attitude to "mental illness".
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great works of its time., 9 Nov. 2011
By 
G. Grant (Geneva / Accra) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise (Paperback)
A remarkable work. It confronts us with ourselves and dares us to do something about it. Still as remarkable a read as ever.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Madness of Conformity, 17 Mar. 2013
By 
Although written in the era of the 3 minute warning and when child beating was a perk of a teaching career,this examination and analysis of the causes of mental disturbance still resonates, as its subjects are the timeless ones that mediate our inner experiences, particularly in relation to other people and the wider society we live in.Although the external landscape has changed since it was written the human condition remains exactly the same.
Much of the authors point of view is summed up by the theory of the Gadarene Swine,whereby an individual is considered to be off-course if they've strayed from a group,irrespective of the fact that the group maybe off course itself.The individual is then faced with the dilemma of attempting to adapt to a world gone mad,which is when the trouble starts,identity is repudiated by violence masquerading as love and enforced debt tactics are used to effect control and coerce the individual into a humanity destroyed by interdependence.
There are some great passages concerning social interactions relating to the formation of groups and the processes necessary for cohesion.The book closes with an evaluation of schizophrenia and psychotic episodes as healing processes and natural methods of adjustment necessary to the "self" ,to allow it to advance in a society that places little value on inner experience.
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1 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Divided Self is better, 21 Dec. 2009
By 
SJB (London, England) - See all my reviews
I read this book about a year ago and on seeing it pop up again on Amazon felt compelled to jot my opinion down as much as i am interested in other peoples feedback on the bird of paradise. The authors book called ' the divided self' & first book in this offering were v interesting. Bird of Paradise stuck in my mind as one of, if not, THE most wack things I have read.
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1 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars no delivery, 20 Dec. 2010
I have ordered this book on the 7th of december, and I still have not received it, and the estimate was 14th of December..
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The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise
The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise by R.D. Laing (Paperback - 25 Jun. 1970)
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