R.D. Laing and theology: the influence of Christian existentialism on The Divided Self

Miller, G. (2009) R.D. Laing and theology: the influence of Christian existentialism on The Divided Self. History of the Human Sciences, 22(2), pp. 1-21. (doi: 10.1177/0952695108101284)

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The radical psychiatrist R. D. Laing's first book, The Divided Self (1960), is informed by the work of Christian thinkers on scriptural interpretation — an intellectual genealogy apparent in Laing's comparison of Karl Jaspers's symptomatology with the theological tradition of `form criticism'. Rudolf Bultmann's theology, which was being enthusiastically promoted in 1950s Scotland, is particularly influential upon Laing. It furnishes him with the notion that schizophrenic speech expresses existential truths as if they were statements about the physical and organic world. It also provides him with a model of the schizoid position as a form of modern-day Stoicism. Such theological recontextualization of The Divided Self illuminates continuities in Laing's own work, and also indicates his relationship to a wider British context, such as the work of the `clinical theologian' Frank Lake.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Miller, Dr Gavin
Authors: Miller, G.
Subjects:R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Journal Name:History of the Human Sciences
ISSN (Online):1461-720X

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