03 september 2012

Resident Evil

There was a time that analytical psychiatrists were convinced that all psychoses were routed in some early psychotraumata and that by letting those patients "out" themselves and live their delusions was the best therapy. They were firmly opposed to neuroleptics, neurobiology and psychopharmaca.

R.Laing from 1965 to 1970 applied this principle in an Asylum where patients and therapists lived together.

The whole experiment sunk into chaos and was abandonned.

Now there is an interesting book by Dominic Harris focusing on what happened to the residents after Kingsley Hall ( East London) was shut down.

More about Kingsley Hall -->  link

From 1965 until 1970, as radical ideas and hippie ideals blossomed then died in cities across the globe, a former community centre in Powis Road in the East End of London became the unlikely setting for Laing's most radical experiment in what came to be known as anti-psychiatry. "We have got Kingsley Hall and I have moved into it," Laing wrote to his colleague, Joe Berke, when he was granted an initial two-year lease. "Others will be moving in in the next two or three weeks... I take it you will pass the word around to relevant people. THIS IS IT."

The "relevant people" in question were other psychiatrists who shared Laing's radical vision and their patients, though even the terms "psychiatrist" and "patient" would be upturned in the next few years at Kingsley Hall. At Laing's insistence, the sprawling house became an asylum in the original Greek sense of the word: a refuge, a safe haven for the psychotic and the schizophrenic, where there were no locks on the doors and no anti-psychotic drugs were administered. People were free to come and go as they pleased and there was a room, painted in eastern symbols, set aside for meditation. There were all-night therapy and role-reversal sessions, marathon Friday night dinners hosted by Laing and visits from mystics, academics and celebrities, including, famously, Sean Connery, a friend and admirer of Laing's. Play was encouraged as was regression through therapy to childhood. (Laing believed that all so-called madness began in the confines of the traditional family structure.)

Read more

Article in the Guardian -->  link

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