Sunday, 1 January 2017

An Accused ‘Witch’ and her Inquisitors. Katharina Kepler (1546–1622). Ulinka Rublack conducts: Inner Circle Seminar 240 (November 2017)

An Accused ‘Witch’ and her Inquisitors
Katharina Kepler (1546–1622)
Johannes Kepler’s Defence of his Mother
in her ‘Witch’ Trial
The Disharmony of the World
Johannes Kepler (15711630)
Ulinka Rublack
conducts
Inner Circle Seminar No. 240
introduced by
Anthony Stadlen
November 2017
[date to be announced]
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Ulinka Rublack
Johannes Kepler (1571–1630) was the great astronomer whose Laws developed Copernicus’s thinking and were explained by Newton in his theory. When Kepler’s mother Katharina (1546–1622) was incarcerated and put on trial in Tübingen, accused of being a witch, he moved to live near her, and devoted himself to studying law so that he could defend her in court with the most convincing arguments he could muster. Against all odds, he won the case. Katharina was cleared of the charge of witchcraft. But she has continued to be misrepresented and maligned over the centuries. For instance, Paul Hindemith, in his own libretto for his 1957 opera about KeplerThe Harmony of the World, while ascribing to her a real clairvoyant gift, invents what seems an unhistorical split between mother and son in which she deplores his natural-scientific investigations as desecration and he rejects her alleged magical-mystical practices as superstition. (In fact, Kepler embodied a vision of the oneness of religion and nature, in which there was no such split.) Hindemith’s opera associates Katharina with the moon, and by implication with lunacy, even if at the end it assigns her supposed moonshine’ activities a legitimate place in the cosmos. And Arthur Koestler, in his book The Sleepwalkers: A history of mans changing vision of the Universe (1959), called Katharina an ‘old hag’, ‘a hideous little old woman, whose meddlesome and evil tongue, together with her suspect background, predestined her as a victim’.

The research of Ulinka Rublack, Professor of Early Modern European History at St Johns College in the University of Cambridge, has challenged this tradition of denigrating Katharina. Professor Rublack shows, in her book The Astronomer and the Witch: Johannes Keplers Fight for his Mother (2015), that Kepler brilliantly argued and demonstrated in the trial that his mothers behaviour needed no demonological explanation of the kind proposed by her inquisitors; on the contrary, her conduct was socially intelligible in ordinary human terms, as the understandable conduct of an older widowed woman in her social situation. In this way of seeing and presenting the phenomena, Kepler anticipated Laing and Esterson’s twentieth-century work with women diagnosed as schizophrenicreported in Sanity, Madness and the Family (1964), which we have been studying in the Inner Circle Seminars.

In todays seminar Ulinka Rublack will guide us through her research findings. She and the composer Tim Watts will also introduce us to extracts from both Hindemiths opera and Watts’s own new opera Keplers Trial (2016), (http://keplers-trial.com/)written at her instigation and with her collaboration as a response to Hindemiths unhistorical treatment of Katharina in his opera.

The seminar is being held to synchronise with a performance of Keplers Trial at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, which participants are recommended to attend.  

Is this merely an historically fascinating episode? Or is the inquisitorial method of the witch’ trials four hundred years ago still alive, as Szasz, Laing and Esterson insisted, in the methods of diagnosis and treatment prevalent in our present-day clinical psychiatry? And is the continuing disparagement of Katharina Kepler a paradigm of that continuing hegemony of the calculative machination’ of natural-scientism that Heidegger documented and deplored? All the concerns of our other seminars are unified in todays enthralling subject. Your contribution to the discussion will be warmly welcomed.


Professor Ulinka Rublack was born and raised in Germany, but has taught at Cambridge for nearly twenty years. Her research interests focus on sixteenth and seventeenth century culture, its visual and material aspects, the European Reformation, gender and society as well as methodological concerns.

She is editor of the Oxford Concise Companion to History. Her previous monographs include Dressing Up: Cultural Identity in Early Modern Europe, also published by Oxford University Press, which explores the relation between dress and identities in the period, won the Bainton Prize and was one of six books nominated for the Cundill Prize, the largest non-fiction history book prize in the world.

Ulinka Rublack is sole founder of the Cambridge History for Schools outreach programme; she is a co-founder of what became the Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies and has served on its working party for over ten years. She has been a full member of three European research networks and most recently served as a member of the steering committee of the AHRC-funded network on the history of luxury, led by Giorgio Riello. She has been visiting scholar at the Maison de l'Homme, Paris, and her books have been translated into German and Chinese. One of her aims is to explore and interpret the past in novel ways by collaborating with other scholars as well as with artists and makers. She has co-curated the Fitzwilliam exhibition Treasured Possessions and curated its exhibition A Young Man's Progress (March - September 2015), which resulted from her collaboration with an artist and fashion designer in response to Renaissance fashion images. Further information is available on her tumblr The First Book of Fashion.

Professor Rublack has recently been awarded grants to collaborate with composer Tim Watts and video artist Aura Satz to create art work which responds to the story of Johannes Kepler and his mother. She is also co-investigator of a Swiss National Foundation grant to explore the relationship of materiality, objects and emotional communities in the early modern world. She has recently been appointed as Gender Equality Champion for the University. She combines her busy career with raising two children.

Venue: Durrants Hotel, 26–32 George Street, Marylebone, London W1H 5BJ
Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £120, others £150, some bursaries; coffee, tea, biscuits, mineral water included; payable in advance; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra AvenueLondon N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857  +44 (0) 7809 433 250
E-mail: stadlen@aol.com
For further information on seminars, visit: http://anthonystadlen.blogspot.com/

The Inner Circle Seminars were founded by Anthony Stadlen in 1996 as an ethical, existential, phenomenological search for truth in psychotherapy. They have been kindly described by Thomas Szasz as ‘Institute for Advanced Studies in the Moral Foundations of Human Decency and Helpfulness’. But they are independent of all institutes, schools and universities.

Luther and Heidegger’s Black Notebooks: The role of ‘World Jewry’. Inner Circle Seminar 238 (24 September 2017)

Martin Luther

Martin Heidegger

Luther and Heidegger’s Black Notebooks
‘World Jewry’ and the ‘uprooting of all being from Being’

An investigation, 500 years after Luther posted his
95 theses (31 October 1517), into the influence of
Martin Luther on Martin Heidegger

Anthony Stadlen
conducts 
Inner Circle Seminar No. 238
Sunday 24 September 2017
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In eight Inner Circle Seminars over the last few years we have immersed ourselves in the detailed reports of the seminars that the philosopher Martin Heidegger gave between 1959 and 1969 in the home of the Swiss psychiatrist and Daseinsanalyst Medard Boss at Zollikon near Zurich, retracing them after fifty years almost to the day. We have also started to explore the discussions between Heidegger and Boss which were the ground from which the seminars sprang.

In today’s seminar we step back even further and look at Heidegger’s Black Notebooks. It is here that, according to his brother Fritz, Martin Heidegger is most authentically himself and his real philosophy is to be found. Yet twenty-six short entries in these Notebooks have been the occasion of yet another Heidegger scandal. How seriously should we take this scandal’? 

It has long been known that Heidegger was a paid-up member of the Nazi party from 1933 to 1945; that he was Nazi Rector of Freiburg University; that he told students: The Führer alone is the present and future German reality and its law’; and that in 1949 he said: Farming is now a motorised food-industry, in essence the same as the manufacture of corpses in gas chambers and extermination camps.’ Was he ‘philosophically’ trivialising Nazi mass murder? But did he not have warm relationships, and even at least two love affairs, with Jewish students and colleagues? Did he not have a friendship, even after 1945, with Martin Buber? Granted, he had complained before the war about the Jewification’ of Germany, but perhaps he meant this metaphysically’? Heidegger was, it was said, a great thinker, and not an antisemite’ as his granddaughter Gertrud says his wife Elfride was to the end of her life.

The rumours, rather than the reading, of the Black Notebooks with their sprinkling of remarks about Jews have shaken this view. Peter Trawny, in two influential books, has claimed the Notebooks prove Heidegger was indeed an antisemite. But this is a confused allegation. If we understand this word strictly, in its pseudo-scientific, biological’, racial sense as used by the Nazis, then the Notebooks show unequivocally that Heidegger was not an antisemite. In the Notebooks he specifically denounces ‘antisemitism’ as ‘reprehensible’, and he attacks Nazi ‘racial’ doctrine as itself part of the same destructive ‘calculative’ ‘machination’ and ‘uprooting’ of which he accuses not only Weltjudentum (‘World Jewry’) but also the Bolsheviks, the Americans, the English, in fact almost everybody except traditional non-Bolshevik Russians, Martin Heidegger, and of all people Lawrence of Arabia, an enemy of Germany in the first world war! He insists that his discussion of the role of ‘Weltjudentum is not to do with ‘race’, but is ‘a metaphysical questioning of the kind of humanity that can with downright abandon undertake the uprooting of all being from Being’. On the other hand he sees his teacher Husserl, a convert to Christianity, as ultimately precluded from true insight by the inescapable fact that he is, still, a Jew. But this is presumably a cultural, not a racial, judgement. Or if, in some spiritual’ Heideggerian sense, it is racial’, this has nothing to do with the Nazi biological concept of race’.  

In this seminar we try to get beyond simplistic categories. Just how does Heidegger’s critique of ‘World Jewry’ differ from Nazi ‘scientific ‘racial’ ‘antisemitism’ or, for instance, the religious anti-Judaism of T. S. Eliot (who also denounced ‘antisemitism’ and insisted it was a ‘sin’ and a heresy’ in the eyes of the Church)? What is the reality of Christian and post-Christian anti-Judaism? How did it prepare the ground for Nazi ‘racism’ and for Heidegger’s opposition to both Nazi ‘racism’ and ‘World Jewry’? It is important to understand that even Heideggers Christian theologian colleague Bultmann, who explicitly opposed Nazi antisemitism, even after the second world war and the Shoah in his book Primal Christianity (recommended by Laing) gives an account replete with ignorant unexamined assumptions about the inferiority of Judaism. This is standard European culture.     

Here it is crucial to examine the role of Martin Luther in Heidegger’s (and European) thinking. Heidegger began as a Catholic theologian, but married a Protestant woman and underwent a religious crisis. At the beginning of Being and Time, he lists the current crises in the foundations of the natural and human sciences: for example, the dispute between formalists and intuitionists in mathematics, and the questions raised by relativity in physics. But he does not mention the names of the protagonists in these crises: Hilbert, Brouwer, Einstein. Only in relation to one of the sciences does Heidegger mention a proper name: the  ‘science’ of theology and its transformation by Luther’s  ‘insight’ into the primacy of faithWe shall study the importance of Luther, as well as of his precursor Paul, in Heidegger’s thinking, five hundred years after Luther posted his ninety-five theses at Wittenberg. For Luther, of course, the Jews were the archetypal children of the devil, whose essence was evil calculative machination. Did this also influence Heidegger?   

And what, if any, are the implications of all this for the everyday practice of psychotherapy? Can Heidegger’s thinking help us improve our practice, as the Zollikon seminars make clear he hoped? It would seem so. But is he correct that  psychoanalysis is in essence ‘calculative machination’, as many existential psychotherapists also seem to think? In the Black Notebooks he writes of it in these terms, but in the Zollikon seminars he is more nuanced, presumably under Boss’s influence. Existential therapists generally seem closer to his Black Notebooks position. If ‘calculative machination’ is all they can see in psychoanalysis, are they not by that token guilty of it themselves? Is this an unacknowledged anti-Judaic tendency of existential therapy in general?

The Daseinsanalyst Gion Condrau expressed irritation that people mentioned what he called Heidegger’s ‘political error’. Condrau told me that Boss told his trainees they must not, in the Zollikon seminars, question Heidegger about his Nazism. But Heidegger, if only for a short time, saw his so-called ‘political error’ (and is ‘error’ the right word for a grave moral wrong?) as grounded in his philosophical thinking. Might not existential or daseinsanalytic therapy, also explicitly grounded in his philosophical thinking, be a ‘therapeutic error’? In this seminar, I do not wish to argue this, but rather to be open to this possibility. I hope that the consensus of participants in our seminars on Heideggers Zollikon seminars, that his thinking is indeed a fundamental contribution to psychotherapy, will survive such questioning and be confirmed by todays seminar also. Your contribution to the discussion will be warmly welcomed.


Venue: Durrants Hotel, 26–32 George Street, Marylebone, London W1H 5BJ
Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £120, others £150, some bursaries; coffee, tea, biscuits, Durrants rock, mineral water included; payable in advance; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra AvenueLondon N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857  +44 (0) 7809 433 250
E-mail: stadlen@aol.com
For further information on seminars, visit: http://anthonystadlen.blogspot.com/

The Inner Circle Seminars were founded by Anthony Stadlen in 1996 as an ethical, existential, phenomenological search for truth in psychotherapy. They have been kindly described by Thomas Szasz as ‘Institute for Advanced Studies in the Moral Foundations of Human Decency and Helpfulness’. But they are independent of all institutes, schools and universities.

Freud’s First Case Study. Who was its ‘Heroine’? Fact or Fiction? Richard Skues conducts Inner Circle Seminar 237 (9 July 2017)



Sigmund Freud, 1891

Freud’s First Case Study
Who was its ‘Heroine?
Fact or Fiction?

Richard Skues
conducts
Inner Circle Seminar No. 237
introduced by
Anthony Stadlen
Sunday 9 July 2017
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In 1892 Freud published his very first significant case history. It concerned a woman who was unable to breastfeed her newly born children, but whom Freud treated successfully by means of hypnosis. The patient is one of the very few of Freud’s extended cases whose identity has always remained obscure. This seminar, with the guidance of Dr Richard Skues, will examine closely the details of the patient that Freud gives us and aim to solve, together, the puzzle of her identity, looking at primary candidates and sifting the evidence for and against each one. In the course of this we shall consider not only the extent to which Freud was straightforward in his presentation of cases, but in more general terms whether, in the light of the ethical requirement of strict confidentiality, it is possible to write an accurate psychoanalytic or psychotherapeutic case history without sacrificing detail that could be crucial for an adequate understanding of the patient and the therapeutic process.

Richard Skues is a renowned historian of psychoanalysis, as well as a superb teacher. He has memorably conducted a number of the Inner Circle Seminars over the years, drawing on his extensive researches into Freud and the early history of psychoanalysis and on his findings published in a number of papers. In particular, he has conducted a seminar based on his book Sigmund Freud and the History of Anna O.: Reopening a Closed Case (2006), the definitive book on another of the early case histories, Breuer’s patient ‘Anna O.’

His coming seminar is perhaps one of the most important of all since our seminars began 21 years ago.

Why?

Freud said that his theories were dispensable and (he used the English phrase) ‘open to revision’. To understand and evaluate psychoanalysis we should, he said, examine and ‘judge’ his small number of detailed individual case studies and analyses of specific dreams and slips. The case studies in particular he offered explicitly as true accounts, in which he strove for accuracy in all respects except the minimum disguise necessary for confidentiality. To change any other detail would be, he said, an ‘abuse’. And one should make clear what had been disguised.

For most of the twentieth century, nobody questioned Freud’s truthfulness at this basic level of reporting. His interpretations of what he reported were ridiculed by many as wild, crazy, far-fetched, absurd, the theories of a charlatan; but his honesty as a reporter of facts was unquestioned. And psychoanalysts such as Kanzer and Glenn, in their book Freud and his Patients (1980), argued that, like the plays of Sophocles and Shakespeare, Freud’s case studies would never be replaced as paradigms from which psychoanalysts and others would learn their craft, whether by agreement or dissent.

However, since the 1970s, philosophers, journalists, and even some historians have claimed that Freud, far from being an accurate reporter, was a liar and fraud whose case studies were fiction, even on one occasion portraying a patient who never existed.

This constitutes a grave crisis for psychoanalysis, and for psychotherapy generally. If the case studies which Freud said we should take as embodying his most fundamental discoveries are discredited as fraudulent, what then?

Leading Freudian and, significantly, Jungian analysts have pleaded that all case studies are necessarily fictional; that ‘narrative truth’, not mere ‘historical truth’, is what counts; that, in fact, we are all fictions; and that, for example, Freud’s living ‘Wolf Man’ patient was an ‘impostor’, while the ‘real’ Wolf Man existed precisely in the pages of Freud’s immortal case study and nowhere else. This hardly seems a satisfactory resolution of the crisis.

But why is this also a crisis for other forms of psychotherapy, such as Jungian and existential? Are they not independent of Freudian psychoanalysis? No. For example, the pioneer existential therapists (Binswanger, Boss, Szasz, Laing, Esterson) were all psychoanalysts. They would have been horrified at the schizoid way existential analysis and psychoanalysis are taught today as if they were in mutual contradiction. Boss and Holzhey wrote: ‘Daseinsanalysis wants only to be a purified psychoanalysis’: purified, that is, of natural-scientistic ‘metapsychology’. For what they saw as the phenomenological discoveries of Freud and later psychoanalysts, they had deep respect. They saw existential therapists who were ignorant of psychoanalysis as simply incompetent. Such therapists are likely to use vulgarised psychoanalytic ideas in any case, but without realising they are doing so, and without insight into their origin. In this sense, psychoanalysis and existential analysis stand or fall together.

Was Freud a fraudulent fictionaliser, or was he a conscientious chronicler, or perhaps a bit of both? This is what Richard Skues will help us decide on Sunday 9 July.

As explained above, this is not merely an historical footnote, but is of immediate practical urgency for us as therapists. As a true teacher, Richard Skues will not lecture us on his own views of the matter. Rather, he will show that we ourselves have the means to find the answer.

You are encouraged to bring smartphones and tablets so that we may participate in active research together. If you book, you will be sent a copy of Freud’s first case study as an email attachment.

Your contribution to the dialogue will be warmly welcomed.


Venue: Durrants Hotel, 26–32 George Street, Marylebone, London W1H 5BJ

Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £120, others £150, some bursaries; coffee, tea, biscuits, Durrants rock, mineral water included; payable in advance; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled

Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra AvenueLondon N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857  +44 (0) 7809 433 250
E-mail: stadlen@aol.com

For further information on seminars, visit:

The Inner Circle Seminars were founded by Anthony Stadlen in 1996 as an ethical, existential, phenomenological search for truth in psychotherapy. They have been kindly described by Thomas Szasz as ‘Institute for Advanced Studies in the Moral Foundations of Human Decency and Helpfulness’. But they are independent of all institutes, schools and universities.

Laing & Esterson. 8. The Heads. 50 years on. Hilary Mantel and Anthony Stadlen conduct Inner Circle Seminar 236 (18 June 2017)

Laing and Esterson
Sanity, Madness and the Family
50 Years On
Family 8: The Heads

Dame Hilary Mantel   Anthony Stadlen
conduct
Inner Circle Seminar No. 236
Sunday 18 June 2017
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Hilary Mantel
R. D. Laing
Aaron Esterson





















We believe that the shift of point of view that these descriptions both embody and demand has an historical significance no less radical than the shift from a demonological to a clinical viewpoint three hundred years ago.

Thus, in Sanity, Madness and the Family: Families of Schizophrenics (1964), R. D. Laing and Aaron Esterson introduced their revolutionary descriptions of eleven families of ‘schizophrenics’. But fifty years on, the ‘clinical viewpoint’ still reigns supreme. Have Laing and Esterson been proved wrong? They wrote: ‘Nobody can deny us the right to disbelieve in schizophrenia.’ Why, then, do most psychiatrists and psychotherapists claim Laing and Esterson said ‘families cause schizophrenia’?

Hilary Mantel wrote that the simple words the people speak’ in Laing and Estersons book gave her, at 20, the courage to write her own astonishing books. Her introductions to the seminars in this series have enthralled participants.

Anthony Stadlen continues to interview the eleven families in the twenty-first century. Today, in the eighth of eleven seminars, we shall explore Chapter 8, on Jean Head’ and her family, with the help of Esterson’s original tape recordings on which the book is based; of photographs; and of Stadlen’s reports and recordings of his discussions with Jean and her family: Jean herself, her husband, her father, her brother, her sister-in-law, and her foster-brother. Your contribution to the dialogue will be warmly welcomed.

Venue: Durrants Hotel, 26–32 George Street, Marylebone, London W1H 5BJ
Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £120, others £150, some bursaries; coffee, tea, biscuits, mineral water included; payable in advance; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra AvenueLondon N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857  +44 (0) 7809 433 250
E-mail: stadlen@aol.com
For further information on seminars, visit: http://anthonystadlen.blogspot.com/

The Inner Circle Seminars were founded by Anthony Stadlen in 1996 as an ethical, existential, phenomenological search for truth in psychotherapy. They have been kindly described by Thomas Szasz as ‘Institute for Advanced Studies in the Moral Foundations of Human Decency and Helpfulness’. But they are independent of all institutes, schools and universities.

Making Sense of the World. Raymond Tallis conducts Inner Circle Seminar 235 (21 May 2017)

Raymond Tallis
Making Sense of the World

Raymond Tallis
conducts
Inner Circle Seminar No. 235
introduced by
Anthony Stadlen
Sunday 21 May 2017
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Raymond Tallis is one of our best-loved invited speakers. He writes:

The seminar will focus on the idea of a universe, and our lives within it, making sense. There are many dimensions to making sense. The comprehensibility celebrated by Einstein is the perceived order of the material world (including ourselves as material bodies). This order can be expressed in equations of increasing generality enabling us to predict its behaviour with ever greater precision and vastly extending our power to act upon it in pursuit of our goals. Religion focusses on the place of human beings in the universe and the God who underpins both its order and the meaning and destiny of human life. Philosophy historically has endeavoured to span both world picture of whatever is current science and the meaning of our lives. The arts and therapy focus very much on the sense we make of our individual and shared lives (or nature seen through the lens of our needs and desires). The seminar will take the form of a series of short (10-15 minute) talks each followed by a discussion.

The Inner Circle Seminars are a quest for truth in the foundations of psychotherapy. Helping clients ‘make sense of the world’  or, better, exploring and trying to make sense of the world together – is at the heart of what we try to do as psychotherapists. Or is it? Many ‘existential’ therapists dispute that there is such a phenomenon as the world; they see their task as facilitating clients’ exploration of ‘their’ ‘worlds’. Jaspers, Binswanger, von Gebsattel, Minkowski, Straus, Manfred Bleuler saw the ‘worlds’ of the ‘schizophrenic’, the ‘compulsive’, the  ‘manic’ as utterly alien and uncanny. One cannot, declared Jaspers, ‘empathise’ with such people. Buber, despite his talk of the ‘between, told Rogers, in their famous dialogue, that it was impossible to have an ‘I-Thou’ relationship with an ordinary psychotherapy patient, let alone a ‘schizophrenic’. Binswanger, while affirming Bubers account of ‘I-Thou’ relationships, also affirmed Jasperss assertion of the impossibility of ‘empathy’ with the uncanny people. But even in the absence of ‘empathy’, claimed Binswanger, his ‘daseinsanalytic’ studies of patients such as Ellen West can make ‘scientific’ sense of ‘their’ alien ‘worlds’. Is not this, far from being an existential advance on Freud, a retrogression to the preFreudian, deterministic, binary psychiatry of ‘degeneracy’? But many ‘existential’ therapists still regard Binswanger’s work as exemplary. On the other hand, Freud, Heidegger, Sartre, Szasz, Laing, Esterson, and I see all of us as living in the one world, striving to make sense of it together. Heidegger’s Dasein is Being-in-the-world-with-others’ [emphasis added], not each being in a separate encapsulated world. Neither the Talmud’s assertion that each person is a world, nor Lévinas’s insistence on the absolute ‘traumatism or infinite height of the otherness of the other, contradicts this. Who is right? Which is the true existential tradition? Can this seminar contribute to an answer?

It is not reasonable to expect Raymond Tallis to pronounce on questions of psychotherapy: he is not a psychotherapist. But we may perhaps ask him his view on whether we live in the world, or each in his or her world, or whether this is a meaningless distinction. And your view will be warmly welcomed too.
    

Raymond Tallis was a Professor of Geriatric Medicine and consultant physician in Health Care of the Elderly. He has published 200 research articles in the neurology of old age and neurological rehabilitation, as well as a novel, short stories, three volumes of poetry, and 23 books on philosophy of mind, philosophical anthropology, literary theory, the nature of art, and cultural criticism. He has received many awards and honorary degrees. In 2009, the Economist listed him as one of the world’s 20 leading polymaths.

Nicholas Fearn wrote in The Independent:

When Kirsty Young was asked to name her favourite guest on Desert Island Discs, the rock star Paul Weller was beaten into second place, for her own luxury item would be the writer Raymond Tallis.

Raymond Tallis has given three of our best loved and best remembered Inner Circle Seminars. He kindly confirms that our seminar structure, in which dialogue is of the essence, enables him to communicate and reflect on his ideas. He wrote, after his first Inner Circle Seminar, The Intellectual Plague of Biologism, on 2 December 2012:

The seminar was for me an incredible experience. I have never previously had the opportunity to discuss the topics we covered in such depth with a group of people who came at it from such different angles but in a way that I found illuminating. I learned a lot. It was a tremendous privilege.

Venue: Durrants Hotel, 26–32 George Street, Marylebone, London W1H 5BJ
Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £120, others £150, some bursaries; coffee, tea, biscuits, mineral water included; payable in advance; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra AvenueLondon N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857  +44 (0) 7809 433 250
E-mail: stadlen@aol.com  stadlenanthony@gmail.com

For further information on seminars, visit:
http://anthonystadlen.blogspot.com/

The Inner Circle Seminars were founded by Anthony Stadlen in 1996 as an ethical, existential, phenomenological search for truth in psychotherapy. They have been kindly described by Thomas Szasz as ‘Institute for Advanced Studies in the Moral Foundations of Human Decency and Helpfulness’. But they are independent of all institutes, schools and universities.

Thomas Szasz: 65 years of writing: 1947-2012. Schaler and Stadlen conduct Inner Circle Seminar 234 (12 March 2017)

Thomas Szasz
1970s

Thomas Szasz    Jeffrey Schaler
Szasz
s garden, Manlius, NY
July 2002

Photograph copyright www.szasz.com
Not to be used without permission

Thomas Szasz   Anthony Stadlen   Jeffrey Schaler
Manhattan, 2003
Photograph copyright www.szasz.com
Not to be used without permission

Anthony Stadlen    Thomas Szasz
Szasz
s 90th-birthday seminar
Inner Circle Seminar No. 153
London, 13 June 2010
Photograph copyright jennyphotos.com
Not to be used without permission
Thomas Szasz
Szasz
s 90th-birthday seminar

Inner Circle Seminar No. 153
London, 13 June 2010
Photograph copyright jennyphotos.com
Not to be used without permission
Thomas Szasz
65 years of writing
From his first papers (1947)
through his first book (1957)
to his last paper (2012)

Jeffrey Schaler  Anthony Stadlen
conduct
Inner Circle Seminar No. 234
Sunday 12 March 2017
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


We shall examine five of Szasz’s key texts, from the beginning to the end of his astonishing creative journey. His very first paper, a straightforward medical account of how a man who had been given the last rites because of his extreme congestive heart failure was apparently saved by simply increasing his water intake from 1.5 to 6 litres a day, and his second, a psychosomatic study of the role of hostility in peptic ulcer, were published in 1947, 70 years ago. Ten years later, in 1957, his first book Pain and Pleasure: A Study of Bodily Feelings duels with dualism and points forward to The Myth of Mental Illness (1961), while his key paper ‘Commitment of the mentally ill’ announces his lifelong struggle against compulsory psychiatry. His last publication known to me is the paper Varieties of psychiatric criticism which he sent me unformatted in an email on 16 August 2012 twenty-three days before his death. Kierkegaard said purity of heart is to will one thing. Szasz’s ‘one thing’ was justice, whether for pope, prince, slave, or ‘mental patient’. Here at the end of his life the 92-year-old Szasz contemplates with passionate dispassionate lack of illusion: psychiatry, ‘antipsychiatry’, ‘Laingian’ psychiatry, ‘Critical Psychiatry’. He condemns them all.

But we shall see how this shaking of the foundations and clearing of the rubble is only the prelude to something profoundly positive. Szasz loved the insufficiently explored potential of true psychotherapy (care for the soul); of decent democracy; and of the accusatorial, adversarial, non-inquisitorial method in law and in a possible new discipline which would replace psychiatry.

Already, as a teenager in Hungary before the second world war, Thomas Szasz had no illusions about either ‘mental illness’ or ‘mental hospitals’. He had concluded that these terms were euphemisms, motivated category mistakes, mystifications intended to invalidate inconvenient or embarrassing people and to justify their incarceration and compulsory ‘treatment’ in psychiatric prisons. As an immigrant to the United States, he developed this position in hundreds of papers and in thirty-five books, including The Myth of Mental Illness (1961) and Law, Liberty and Psychiatry (1963), many of which we have studied in Inner Circle Seminars. We have been privileged to have Szasz himself conduct three of these seminars, including one for his ninetieth birthday in 2010.

People have denounced Szasz ever since they began vaguely to register that he was serious when he said he did not believe in ‘mental illness’ or in the so-called ‘commitment’ of the so-called ‘mentally ill’. Psychiatrists say he ‘walked away from’ suffering; psychoanalysts say he was unconscious of the ‘unconscious’; existential therapists say he was a ‘Cartesian dualist’; and all say he discounted the psychological problems of ‘schizophrenics’ and the real threat to society of dangerous ‘mental patients’.

However, these criticisms are not, to put it mildly, soundly based in study of Szasz’s writings. The critics usually have little idea of what Szasz was actually saying or of where he was ‘coming from’. (It must be said that this is true not only of virtually all his adversaries but of virtually all his self-styled admirers and advocates as well.)

Where he was ‘coming from’ is what we shall explore and expound in today’s seminar.

This seminar complements the Inner Circle Seminars on Laing and Esterson’s Sanity, Madness and the Family (1964) and on Heidegger’s and Boss’s Zollikon Seminars (1959-1969). Szasz’s 1961 book The Myth of Mental Illness was the first work referenced in the Laing and Esterson book. All five workers were, during the crucial decade of the 1960s, radically questioning the pseudo-medical concepts of ‘mental health’ and ‘mental illness’, and in particular the concept of ‘schizophrenia’, though Heidegger and Boss clung to the view that psychotherapy was part of medicine.

This is what ‘professionals’, at least as much as ‘lay’ people, find hard to understand. They often seem to think this is all merely a matter of using politically correct language. They argue, for example, that they themselves do not use the ‘stigmatising’ term ‘mental illness’; or, even if they do, they do not believe in ‘pathologising’ patients or clients. They have, they say, a ‘biopsychosocial’ model of ‘mental health’. They do not see that Szasz’s is a fundamental critique of the concepts of ‘mental illness’ and ‘mental health’ as inseparable components of a mystifying and invalidating metaphor. The attempt to cling to the clinical-psychiatric approach while signalling that one has in some unspecified way progressed beyond it was exemplified when President Obama spoke of ‘mental health illnesses’.

The most advanced psychiatric conferences perpetuate this confusion. Well-meaning, hardworking professionals show charts of the waiting times from ‘time of referral’ for ‘service users’ who are said to be ‘experiencing psychosis’ or a ‘mental health crisis’. They report the provision of ‘secure service’ for certain of those so-called ‘service users’: i.e., locking them up and forcibly ‘treating’ them. It is striking that even so-called Open Dialogue advocates often use the same passive jargon of ‘referral’ by others and the attribution that the ‘referred’ person is ‘experiencing psychosis’ rather than having ‘psychosis’ attributed by others.

You may not agree with this assessment, but the heart of these seminars is dialogue, and you will be listened to (and no doubt argued with!) with respect and courtesy if you maintain, to adapt the words of one professor of psychiatry, that Szasz was popular as a sixties kind of guy, an anti-establishment rebel where the facts he distorted were not a problem for the political force of his claims; any smidgin of value he could have had is long eclipsed, and, except as a trip down memory lane, I can see no reason whatsoever why he deserves a [seminar] like this, even a mixed one with opposing views. Dr. Szasz is simply no longer worth it.’

Today’s seminar is conducted by Jeffrey Schaler and Anthony Stadlen, both close friends and colleagues of Thomas Szasz and both recipients of the Thomas S. Szasz Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Cause of Civil Liberties.

Professor Jeffrey A. Schaler is author of Addiction is a Choice (2000), editor of Szasz under Fire: The Psychiatric Abolitionist Faces his Critics (2004), and co-editor of Thomas S. Szasz: The Man and His Ideas (to be published on 31 May 2017).

Jeffrey Schaler conducted Inner Circle Seminar No. 132, Addiction is a Choice, on 12 October 2008, one of the best attended of all Inner Circle Seminars so far. He co-conducted Inner Circle Seminar No. 188, Thomas Szasz: In Memoriam, on 3 March 2013.

Your contribution to the dialogue will be warmly welcomed.

Venue: Durrants Hotel, 26–32 George Street, Marylebone, London W1H 5BJ
Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £120, others £150, some bursaries; coffee, tea, biscuits, Durrants rock, mineral water included; payable in advance; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra Avenue, London N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857  +44 (0) 7809 433 250
E-mail: stadlen@aol.com, stadlenanthony@gmail.com
For further information on seminars, visit: http://anthonystadlen.blogspot.com/

The Inner Circle Seminars were founded by Anthony Stadlen in 1996 as an ethical, existential, phenomenological search for truth in psychotherapy. They have been kindly described by Thomas Szasz as ‘Institute for Advanced Studies in the Moral Foundations of Human Decency and Helpfulness’. But they are independent of all institutes, schools and universities.