Cover: The Wing of Madness in PAPERBACK

The Wing of Madness

The Life and Work of R.D. Laing

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$37.50 • £30.95 • €34.00

ISBN 9780674953598

Publication Date: 01/13/1998


275 pages


[A] comprehensive and extraordinarily readable study of Laing’s life and work.—Perry Meisel, The New York Times Book Review

[Burston’s] timely contribution is a superb intellectual biography whose breadth, balance and depth is not likely to be eclipsed soon… For Laing, the great question was: What is experience, after all? Daniel Burston certainly grasps the significance of this in Laing’s life and work, and sets out to explore its intellectual implications in the rich legacy of his writings… Contemporary scholars sill appreciate his keen sense of what is still relevant in the Laing corpus.—Charles Levin, The Globe and Mail

Burston’s elegant account of [Laing’s] early years has a measured thoughtfulness… The Wing of Madness is…[a] scholarly and articulate book.—Harriet Stewart, The Guardian

This new biography is by far the best account of Laing’s life and achievements that I have yet read. Daniel Burston is frank about Laing’s many personal failings, but also has an impressive intellectual grasp of Laing’s legacy to psychiatry.—Anthony Storr, Boston Book Review

[An] important and timely study… Burston is intent first on mapping how Laing was able to turn his own background and psychiatric experience into an original philosophy of mind with far-reaching implications. Then he distills Laing’s ideas from their milieu to set them in historical and critical perspective… Burston’s biography reminds us that to ignore so inventive a thinker as Laing because of changes in fashion is to impoverish our knowledge of ourselves.—Michael Vincent Miller, The Boston Sunday Globe

Burston makes a plea for judging Laing by his work and achievements. Since we do not condemn painters and scientists for personal indiscretions, why condemn psychiatrists? …This is a searching and critical, balanced and fascinating book, which I enjoyed reading and rereading.—Rachael Chazan, The Jerusalem Post

[Burston] provides valuable insights into some of the reasons for Laing’s fall from prominence.—Richard Restak, The Washington Times

The strength of [the book’s] combination, of biography and the summaries and reviews of psychological ideas, is that it helps us put the psychoanalytic project into its historical perspective.Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences

Burston admirably relates the genesis of Laing’s ideas, assesses the extent to which they have stood the test of time, and describes Laing’s colorful life in straightforward fashion.Library Journal

Burston…astutely analyzes [Laing’s] view of psychotic breakdown as ontological crisis [and] selects significant biographical events that helped form Laing’s ideas.Publishers Weekly

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