After more than forty years, Vincenzo Caretti’s account of conversations with the Scottish psychiatrist, R.D. Laing, has finally been translated from Italian into English. Earlier translations in French, German and Dutch have been out of print for quite a while. For that reason, this English translation is of special importance. It was edited by Miles Groth, the daseinsanalyst and existential analyst living in New York.
For many years now a psychoanalyst, the probing questions of Caretti, who was then a young therapist in training only in his early 20s but welcomed by Laing for a week of discussions, is as fresh and insightful now as it was when first published in 1979. The translation by Danilo Serra, a brilliant young Italian scholar in philosophy and the humanities, is superb and brings to life the wit and subtlety of the famous radical psychotherapist and author of now classic works of social phenomenology on the family and schizophrenia. This year marks the 95th anniversary of the birth of Laing.
The topics of the conversations range from the Bible to Zen, Freud and Jung, the fate of the family and schizophrenia, language, silence and time, and the place of young people and women in the rapidly changing world ushered in by the Sixties. Their final conversation is characterised by Caretti as “a profession of faith” on the part of Laing. We have in these dialogues an illuminating portrait of the many sides of R.D. Laing the man, the thinker, and the therapist.