ANNA by David Reed


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A terrible story, both clinical and personal, of the final breakdown of German-born Anna who married British ""David Reed."" She had several earlier crack-ups and had been in treatment for three years with R. D. Laing's associate, Dr. Landis (also a pseudonym). Mary Barnes, who appears briefly, told about her own successful ""recovery by confrontation"" in a small Laingian hospital (Mary Barnes, 1972). That account left one wondering about the inherent dangers to herself and others, just as obvious here since Anna was homicidal/suicidal in a household including not only David but their two young children. Anna set fire to herself and, although she fought for her life, died blaming Laing's ideas, which--""however theoretically attractive""--did not safeguard her; David blamed himself. He reviews their marital relationship and their mutual refusal to put her in a National Health hospital which they thought (however justly) synonymous with electric shock treatment. We have had other grim reminders of the tragic resolutions and irresolutions of various psychiatric disciplines, most recently James Wechsler's. This seems to be the first time that Laing has been so glaringly liable to censure--most tellingly in his own words when he makes a brief second appearance (and is most indifferent to Anna and David), offhandedly saying ""I feel I know. . . less than I did twenty years ago as a young doctor.

Pub Date: May 21st, 1976
Publisher: Basic Books