The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise

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The Politics of Experience
The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise cover.jpg
Author R.D. Laing
Published 1967 (Penguin Books)
Media type Print
Pages 156
ISBN 978-0-14-002572-9
OCLC 954582

The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise is a 1967 book by Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing, comprising two parts - the first a collection of seven articles previously published between 1962 and 1965;[1] the second a free-flowing quasi-autobiographical piece of poetry and prose.

The work was inspired in part by Laing’s extensive experimentation with LSD;[2] but also owes a debt (among others) to Gregory Bateson and J. P. Sartre.[3]

Summary[edit]

Laing examines the nature of human experience from a phenomenological point of view, as well as the possibilities for psychotherapy in an existentially distorted world. He challenges the idea of normality in modern society, and argues that it is not merely people who are mad, but the world as well.[4][5] He presents psychosis as "a psychedelic voyage of discovery in which the boundaries of perception were widened, and consciousness expanded".[2]

While accepting in principle that “There is no need to idealize someone just because he is labelled 'out of formation'”[6] (or mad), Laing tended to confirm a view of the mad as explorers of the inner world.[7]

Influence[edit]

The Politics of Experience is Laing's best-known book,[4] its literary influence being especially apparent in Doris Lessing's novel, Briefing for a Descent into Hell.[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ R. D. Laing, The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise (1984) p. 9-10
  2. ^ a b Tom Burns (2006). Psychiatry: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, pp. 96-98.
  3. ^ R. D. Laing, The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise (1984) p. 94 and p. 83n
  4. ^ a b "Review: The Crucible of Experience: R.D. Laing and the Crisis of Psychotherapy". Canadian Journal of Sociology Online. May–June 2001. 
  5. ^ Elizabeth Day and Graham Keeley (1 June 2008). "'Dad solved other people's problems - but not his own'". The Observer. 
  6. ^ R. D. Laing, The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise (1984) p. 98
  7. ^ Jenny Diski, The Sixties (2009) p. 127-9
  8. ^ Harold Bloom, Doris Lessing (2003) p. 230