Self and Others

Self and Others

Self and Others

Self and Others

Synopsis

This set reprints seven of R.D. Laing's major works, originally published between 1960 and 1971 and out of print for many years. Laing was an existential psychiatrist who offered a radical critique of abnormal behaviour.

Excerpt

This book has been extensively revised, without being changed in any fundamental way. It remains an attempt to weave experience and behaviour into a consistent theory, since they are so woven in real life. The theoretical tendency to split the two still continues since this book was written. I would like to regard it as standing with those comparatively few efforts made in recent years to understand relations between persons in personal terms.

I hope the erudite reader will not be confused by my particularly parochial use of the term phantasy. Another study would be necessary to review the different usages of this term in Western thought, and even the different ways it is employed within psychoanalysis itself. Freud’s use of the concept of unconscious phantasy has been critically reviewed by Laplanche and Pontalis (1964, 1968).

Some of the puzzles posed by the concept of unconscious phantasy may be resolved by bringing into play the theory of mapping. I have recently sketched how this may be done (Laing, 1969). Briefly, if I project an element x from set A on to an element y of set B, and if we call the operation of projection or mapping ø, then y is called the image of x under ø. The operation ø is a function whereby y acquires the ø-value of x. Johnny is the image of his grandfather. A set of relations may be mapped on to another set of relations, and elements of one set may be mapped on to themselves. This is not the place to develop this, but it is perhaps appropriate merely to suggest that this formula seems to me to clarify the double usage of phantasy, as in the expressions: the ‘contents’ of phantasy, and phantasy as a ‘function’. As a function,

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