I am the author of "Testimony of Experience: Docta Ignorantia and the Philadelphia Association Communities". (PCCS Books, Ltd).
(From PCCS Books Website)Bruce Scott presents one of the very few pieces of research carried out with people who have been residents of the Philadelphia Association, set up in the 1960's by R.D.Laing and colleagues.
Today, there are few places left for people to escape our modern plight; the cognitive and neuroscientific imperialistic discourse of mental distress. Testimony of Experience is an attempt to transcend this oppressive discourse. It does so by presenting over 40-years-worth of the experiences of ex-residents of Philadelphia Association (PA) communities. These were set up by R.D. Laing and others in the 1960s as a response to reductive medical and scientific theories of mental suffering.
The tyranny of scientific certainty and striving for ‘knowing’ so prevalent within our state-sanctioned ‘mental health’ institutions deprives us of other ways of accommodating our curtailed subjectivities, of what it is to suffer, to live, to be human.
This book re-examines an ancient dictum which is dying out today - the Docta Ignorantia - the doctrine of wise unknowing. Through a philosophically informed critique of positivistic research methodology and an analysis and deconstruction of interviews with ex-residents of the PA communities, this book asks the question that must be uttered to regain our subjectivity; is there room for wise unknowing in mental suffering in a world of certainty?
This book lets us hear the testimonies of the many people who have lived in the Philadelphia Association Community Houses. Their accounts give a fascinating insight into what it was like to have been a resident in such places. We hear of the experience of living with other people, many of whom were seriously mentally disturbed. We listen into the debates about whether medication was of value and we see how different therapists operated. The most famous, of course, was RD Laing who is remembered fondly by most of the residents and who comes across in these interviews as a charismatic and innovative figure, ready to engage with others. Bruce Scott sensitively frames these testimonies in the context of his wide reading of philosophy, religion and psychotherapy. The book greatly adds to our understanding of this turbulent but important era. Dr Allan Beveridge, Consultant Psychiatrist, Queen Margaret Hospital, Dunfermline and author of Portrait of the psychiatrist as a young man. The early writings and work of RD Laing, 1927-1960.
Bruce Scott's book is a well written and illuminating testimony of people's personal experiences of living within a community household. My father RDLaing was one of the co-founders of The Philadelphia Association which set up these community houses as an alternative to conventional psychiatric wards and treatments. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in mental health.
Karen Laing, Psychotherapist
I am a contributor to "R.D. Laing: 50 Years since the Divided Self", Edited by Theodor Itten and Courtenay Young. PCCS Books Ltd.
From PCCS Books Website)First published in 1960, The Divided Self by Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing (1927–1989) set out to explain psychosis as an ordinary and understandable human experience. Laing’s insight was absolutely revolutionary in its humane approach. One commentator described it as ‘that particular touch of genius which causes one to say “Yes, I have always known that; why have I never thought of it before?”.
Collected in these pages are writings critically appraising Laing’s life, work, frailties, brilliance, and his wide and varied influences over the last half century. You will find transcripts, memoirs, newly commissioned articles and a few previously published papers. Contributions have come from colleagues, friends and clients, as well as people who never knew him personally, yet deeply appreciate his work. Each is different in tone and character. Each captures something unique about Laing and his work.
R.D. Laing was famous for his empathic perception, sagacious intellect and wisdom of the heart, as well as his rebelliousness and falling from grace. In reading this book you may be made to rethink some of your assumptions. We hope that you will find more than a little inspiration.
The Myth of Toxic Masculinity published on SPIKED online 11th January 2018
The Tyranny of "Mental Health" published on SPIKED online 13th July 2017
The Philadelphia Association, London
The College of Psychoanalysts-UK (CP-UK)