Addiction Sameness

Alcohol, Opiates, Fat and Sugar are all Addictive Substances: this blog is about that "addiction sameness".

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Presbyterian Scotland




John Knox (1505-1572), a Scot who had spent time studying under Calvin in Geneva, returned to Scotland and led the Parliament of Scotland to embrace the Reformation in 1560 (see Scottish Reformation Parliament). The Church of Scotland was eventually reformed along Presbyterian lines, to become the national, established Church of Scotland.
The Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the Acts of Union 1707 between Scotland and England guaranteed the Church of Scotland's form of government. However, legislation by the United Kingdom parliament allowing patronage led to splits in the Church, notably the Disruption of 1843 which led to the formation of the Free Church of Scotland. Further splits took place, especially over theological issues, but most Presbyterians in Scotland were reunited by 1929 union of the established Church of Scotland and the United Free Church of Scotland.

The Presbyterian denominations in Scotland today are the Church of Scotland, the Free Church of Scotland, the United Free Church of Scotland, the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing), the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, the Associated Presbyterian Church, and the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland.


Thanks, Wikipedia

My interest in this topic was sparked by reading a book called, "The Fifth Business" by Robertson Davies wherein his character is a Canadian Scot who has a severe religious upbringing.  It is the first novel in a trilogy and I find it a great read when I'm in bed at night.

R. D. Laing Bio Review

THE WING OF MADNESS: The Life and Work of R. D. Laing
By Daniel Burston

By the time he collapsed and died of a heart attack while playing tennis in August 1989, R. D. Laing had devolved from one of the most compelling intellectual heroes of the 1960's into a gruesome purveyor of mysticism and bad poetry. Once the charismatic power behind a community of radical therapists and the influential author of several provocative books, the Scottish psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who had broken down the barriers between sanity and madness -- in theory, in practice and even in the swagger of his personality -- had become "yesterday's icon," as Daniel Burston describes Laing's last years in "The Wing of Madness."

Born in Glasgow in 1927, Laing was the only child of "a quiet Presbyterian couple," as Mr. Burston calls them, whose behavior was anything but quiet. Laing's father and grandfather had "brutal physical scenes in the parlor," while his mother was wont to burn the family's trash inside the apartment so as to conceal its contents from the neighbors and regularly destroyed her son's toys.

Both "introverted" and "rebellious," Laing was a product of "complex tensions." As a schoolboy, Laing excelled at classics and dabbled in evangelical Christianity; he also maintained a schedule of reading that, by the time he was 15, included Voltaire, Marx, Nietzsche and, of course, Freud.

In 1953, Laing set up the "Rumpus Room," a day room for schizophrenic patients in a hospital near Glasgow, that allowed them some possibility for social interaction. Later that year, he found the case that confirmed his views on the relation between brain and mind, neurology and psychiatry.

Nan, a 15-year-old girl with severe head injuries, had changed her personality after recovering from a coma. Before her accident, she had been a promising young hausfrau; now, Mr. Burston writes, she was a "coquette." Although to the neurologists Nan's first attempts at speech and movement were incoherent, to the rest of the hospital staff "they were construed...as deliberate humor," leading to the rewards of "sweets and caresses." Laing ascribed the change to an interpersonal factor -- "the new 'Nan,' " as he himself put it, "began as a construction of the others."

Laing's first book, "The Divided Self" (1959), added to the vocabulary of the interpersonal the vocabulary of the existential. Emotional misery, he argued, has its roots in experiences with others, usually in the family, as he would go on to argue (with Aaron Esterson) in " Sanity, Madness and the Family" (1964).

Falling ill is the first step in a "self-cure," a process Laing later called "metanoia," "a term used in the Greek New Testament for atonement." Metanoia, especially in its schizophrenic form, is an existential journey, Laing argued; with safe surroundings, it can actually be a route toward recovery based on choice.

"Laing, like Sartre, construed the mad (or nearly mad) person as an active agent in the creation and perpetuation of his own misery, who must choose, finally, to abandon his schizoid isolation in favor of authentic relatedness to others in order to regain his sanity."

Laing's attempt to put these notions into the radical practice that made him famous came with the establishment in 1964 of Kingsley Hall, the controversial therapeutic community in London's East End in which staff and patients of ten exchanged roles. Laing's "therapeutic utopia," as Mr. Burston amusingly describes it, was "anarchic," and its legendary characters included Mary Barnes, the middle-aged Roman Catholic nurse who attracted wide attention after writing a book about her regression and recovery.

Kingsley Hall was dissolved in 1970, at the beginning of the next phase of Laing's career, a showier phase frankly intended to cash in on his notoriety as a guru (Laing's money problems were endless) and to explore newer interests like the relation between shamanism and psychotherapy.

Despite the Philadelphia Association -- the umbrella organization he had helped to found in 1965, which was stocked with disciples who loosely oversaw a group of therapeutic communities -- Laing's clinical movement also lost steam toward the end of the decade.

By the1980's, Laing was in decline. In 1987, he even lost his license to practice medicine in Britain because a patient alleged he had been "intoxicated and unprofessional" on two occasions. At the end Laing was "a once-famous man with no profession, no fixed address and no funds."

Laing always hesitated to ask: whether or not self and other even exist except in their relation. Laing was unable, or unwilling, to integrate this paradox into his thinking.


In retrospect, Laing's charismatic vexation derives from acting out his overdetermination (to use Freud's terms) as a thinker instead of working it through. Laing was a real and significant sufferer because he took tensions to the limit without managing to resolve them. A crucible for the century's own overdeterminations, Laing's sorrows are a kind of sacrifice for our wider understanding after him -- and in many ways because of him.


POSTSCRIPT

Laing always hesitated to ask: whether or not self and other even exist except in their relation. Laing was unable, or unwilling, to integrate this paradox into his thinking. 

Laing should have read his Buddhist books:

In the beginning is the One, and only the One is. From the One comes Two, the innumerable Pairs of Opposites. But there is no such thing as Two, for no two things can be conceived without their relationship, and this makes three, the basic Trinity of all manifestation.




Document URL: http://www.writing.upenn.edu/~afilreis/50s/laing.html