The British Anti-Psychiatrists: From Institutional Psychiatry to the Counter-Culture, 1960-1971, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The British Anti-Psychiatrists

From Institutional Psychiatry to the Counter-Culture, 1960-1971, 1st Edition

By Oisín Wall


212 pages

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Hardback: 9781138048560
pub: 2017-09-08
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315170121
pub: 2017-09-13
from $27.48

FREE Standard Shipping!


The British anti-psychiatric group, which formed around R.D. Laing, David Cooper, and Aaron Esterson in the 1960s, burned bright, but briefly, and has left a long legacy. This book follows their practical, social, and theoretical trajectory away from the structured world of institutional psychiatry and into the social chaos of the counter-culture. It explores the rapidly changing landscape of British psychiatry in the mid-Twentieth Century and the apparently structureless organisation of the part of the counter-culture that clustered around the anti-psychiatrists, including the informal power structures that it produced.

The book also problematizes this trajectory, examining how the anti-psychiatrists distanced themselves from institutional psychiatry while building links with some of the most important people in post-war psychiatry and psychoanalysis. The anti-psychiatrists bridged the gap between psychiatry and the counter-culture, and briefly became legitimate voices in both. Wall argues that their synthesis of disparate discourses was one of their strengths, but also contributed to the group’s collapse.

The British Anti-Psychiatrists offers original historical expositions of the Villa 21 experiment and the Anti-University. Finally, it proposes a new reading of anti-psychiatric theory, displacing Laing from his central position and looking at their work as an unfolding conversation within a social network.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: "A Vista of Broken Clocks"

2. "Psychiatry’s Third Revolution": The Therapeutic Community, Community Care, And Deinstitutionalisation

3. The Anti-Hospital and the Therapeutic Community: Two Anti-Psychiatric Communities

4. "With Co-Operation We Could All Actually Win’: Three Anti-Psychiatric Events

5. "Society is a Concentration Camp": Existential Reality and Liberation

6. "A Depersonalized, Dehumanized World": The Politics of the Family

7. Conclusion

About the Author

Oisín Wall is the Research Curator of the Medicine Galleries at the Science Museum, London.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Cultural History

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Social History