Sanity, Madness and the Family (Paperback) book cover

Sanity, Madness and the Family

By R.D Laing, Aaron Esterson

© 2017 – Routledge

278 pages

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Paperback: 9781138687745
pub: 2016-09-22
Hardback: 9781138462045
pub: 2017-10-31
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pub: 2016-10-04
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In the late 1950s the psychiatrist R.D.Laing and psychoanalyst Aaron Esterson spent five years interviewing eleven families of female patients diagnosed as 'schizophrenic'. Sanity, Madness and the Family is the result of their work. Eleven vivid case studies, often dramatic and disturbing, reveal patterns of affection and fear, manipulation and indifference within the family. But it was the conclusions they drew from their research that caused such controversy: they suggest that some forms of mental disorder are only comprehensible within their social and family contexts; their symptoms the manifestations of people struggling to live in untenable situations.

Sanity, Madness and the Family was met with widespread hostility by the psychiatric profession on its first publication, where the prevailing view was to treat psychosis as a medical problem to be solved. Yet it has done a great deal to draw attention to the complex and contested nature of psychosis. Above all, Laing and Esterson thought that if you understood the patient's world their apparent madness would become socially intelligible.

This Routledge Classics edition includes a new Foreword by Hilary Mantel.

Table of Contents


Preface to the Second Edition

Foreword to the Routledge Classics Edition, by Hilary Mantel


  1. The Abbotts
  2. The Blairs
  3. The Churches
  4. The Danzigs
  5. The Edens
  6. The Fields
  7. The Golds
  8. The Heads
  9. The Irwins
  10. The Kings
  11. The Lawsons



About the Series

Routledge Classics

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Movements / Psychoanalysis