Preface to First Edition

I shall try to depict persons within a social system or ‘nexus’ of persons, in order to try to understand some of the ways in which each affects each person’s experience of himself and of how interaction takes form. Each contributes to the other’s fulfilment or destruction.

This book is part of the outcome of research on interactional processes, particularly in marriages and families, with particular but not exclusive reference to psychosis, based on the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations and the Tavistock Clinic. I wish to thank these organizations for facilitating the work in all its aspects.

The latter stages in the preparation of the manuscript were greatly helped by a Fellowship from the Foundations Fund for Research in Psychiatry, which I gratefully acknowledge.

The book owes a great deal to many sources which are, for the most part, little discussed in the text itself—psychoanalysis, particularly the work of Fairbairn, Melanie Klein, Bion, Winnicott, Rycroft, Erikson, Marion Milner; analytical psychology; and American research in communication, person perception, and family process.

Over the past two years much of this book has been discussed by colleagues and friends. I should like to thank in particular Dr Karl Abenheimer, Mr J.A. Ambrose, Dr John Bowlby, Dr David Cooper, Dr A. Esterson, Dr Marie Jahoda, Dr P.E. S. Lomas, Dr E.P. Michell, Mrs Marion Milner, Professor J. Romano, Dr Charles Rycroft, Dr Dennis Scott, Dr Paul Senft, Dr J.D. Sutherland, Dr D.W. Winnicott; also my research colleagues, Dr A. Russell Lee and Mr Herbert Phillipson. Dr Lee is completing a monograph on ‘Schizophrenia and the Family Nexus’.

R.D. LAING

London, June 1961

-xi-

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Self and Others
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface to Second Edition ix
  • Preface to First Edition xi
  • Acknowledgements xiii
  • Part One - Modes of Interpersonal Experience 1
  • Chapter I - Phantasy and Experience 3
  • Chapter II - Phantasy and Communication 18
  • Chapter III - Pretence and Elusion 29
  • Chapter IV - The Counterpoint of Experience 39
  • Chapter V - The Coldness of Death 53
  • Part Two - Forms of Interpersonal Action 63
  • Chapter VI - Complementary Identity 65
  • Chapter VII - Confirmation and Disconfirmation 81
  • Chapter VIII - Collusion 90
  • Chapter IX - False and Untenable Positions 107
  • Chapter X - Attributions and Injunctions 132
  • Appendix 154
  • Selected Bibliography 161
  • Index 165
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