R.D. Laing & Anti-Psychopathology: The Myth of Mental Illness Redux

“I would like to share with you some thoughts I have about R. D. Laing’s conception of psychopathology. This is not an easy topic to explore, in part because Laing was somewhat ambivalent about the concept and avoided even using this term. In The Politics of Experience, for example, Laing famously questioned whether schizophrenia, the form of psychopathology he is most identified with, even exists! Yet many of the people Laing saw in therapy suffered terribly and saw him in therapy in the hope that he could help them relieve their anguish. But what, precisely, was it that Laing was helping them be relieved of, if not a psychopathological condition? Surely, if there is a bona fide thing such as “therapy,” then there must be some condition or state, however we regard or label it, that the process of therapy presumes to relieve. What else is the one person, the patient, paying the other person, the therapist, for?”



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