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R.D. Laing in the Twenty-First Century: What is Love? Week of July 22-27, 2018

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Workshop Details

R.D. Laing devoted his career to exploring the nature of intimacy in both its emancipatory and demonic editions. In this year’s workshop, we will focus on one of Laing’s favorite themes: the nature of love. We will explore the various kinds of love including erotic, spiritual, and sacrificial, and the variety of contexts in which we encounter it. We will ask, how does love manifest in the therapy relationship? Does love heal or drive us mad? In what measure does a broken heart result in neurotic or extreme states? What is the relation between love and happiness? What are the biological aspects of love? What did Freud mean when he suggested that psychoanalysis is a cure through love?
This workshop, designed for those in the mental health and healing professions, is a continuation of our previous Esalen workshops that focused on the nature of sanity and madness, the therapeutic relationship, and altered realities. Numerous guest speakers will join the workshop leaders to assess the nature of love in all its glory. The workshop will be comprised of theoretical presentations, panel discussions, and experiential exercises to demonstrate the kind of intimacy for which Laing’s work was famous. Guest speakers include Nita Gage, Douglas Kirsner, Steve Gans, Edie Irwin, Will Hall, Michael Cornwall, and others.
Note: participants must first contact Michael Thompson at for pre-screening.
Recommended reading: Thompson, The Death of Desire: An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness; Capra and Luisi, The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision; Gage, Soul Whispering: The Art of Awakening Shamanic Consciousness.
For continuing education syllabus, see
CE credit for MFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs and LEPs;
CE credit for nurses;


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