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Title: Descandalizing Laing : R.D. Laing as a social theorist
Author: Bark, S.
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2009
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The scandal surrounding R.D. Laing’s work concerns both his life and his theories. Given that there is sufficient biographical material on Laing already in existence, this thesis focuses upon his theoretical contributions. No substantial review and critique of the criticism of Laing is currently in existence. The main objectives of this thesis are to evaluate the critiques of Laing, and to examine these in the light of his contributions to social theory. The critiques of Laing fall into three main categories: conservative critiques by psychiatrists, feminist critiques, and left-wing criticism. The methodological problems involved in the production of a critique are highlighted within each category of criticism. Some of the critiques of Laing constitute little other than criticism of the critic’s own misreading and misinterpretation of his work, which omit the lack of textual evidence to support the critic’s claims. The lines of development of key concepts within Laing’s work, and his intentions for his projects, may be ignored. Laing’s feminist critics view his work as prejudiced against women. This thesis examines the lack of validity within this assertion, and provides an original reading of Laing’s work as of benefit to women, through Laing’s central concern of making ‘madness’ intelligible. The importance of certain of Laing’s ignored texts, such as Reason and Violence, (1964) is highlighted through their centrality to his theoretical contributions. This thesis aims to debunk some of the myths surrounding Laing’s work, such as that it glorifies psychosis. Sedgwick, in particular, has been responsible for the promotion of some of these myths. The poverty of his critique is replicated by other critics, as is a similar poor approach to the production of criticism. Critiques of elements of Laing’s work which lie outside of the standardised criticism are provided, in which the attempt to avoid reproducing the same errors as the other critiques is made. The principles required for a coherent critique of an author’s work are elucidated.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available