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Colloquia Topics Index [link]In Person Index

Brother Beast:
the David Cooper Anti-Page

David Cooper was born in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1931. He graduated from the University of Cape Town in 1955 and came to London, where he held a series of hospital posts. In the last of these he directed the experimental unit for young schizophrenics called Villa 21. His principal concern has been to develop existential psychiatry in Britain and to elaborate principles to overcome the methodological difficulties and compartmentalization of the human sciences. He is a founder member of the Phildelphia Association, London, and Director of the Institute of Phenomenological Studies.

Brother Beast: A Personal Memoir of David Cooper, by Stephen Ticktin
Asylum Magazine for Democratic Psychiatry

The Death of the Family, by David Cooper
Title chapter from the book

The Topography of Love, by David Cooper
from Death of the Family

Villa 21 - an experiment in anti-psychiatry, by David Cooper
from Psychiatry and Anti-psychiatry [TC]

On Knowing Where You Stand, by David Cooper
from The Grammar of Living [PD]

The Inner is the Outer, by David Cooper
from The Grammar of Living

Beyond Words, by David Cooper
from The Dialectics of Liberation

The Language of Madness, by David Cooper
Title chapter from the book [PD]

Reason and Violence
Reason and Violence: A Decade of Sartre's Philosophy 1950-1960
Tavistock 1964 (with R.D. Laing)

Reason and Violence has been influencial in presenting to the English reader aspects of Sartre's thought embodied in his three major books published between 1950 and 1960.
The three volumes included in this exposition - Saint Genet, Comédein et Martyr; Questions de Méthodes; and Critique de la Raison Dialectique - span the distance from individual biography to the basic theory of groups and social organization: from Saint Genet, perhaps the most penetrating attempt by one man to understand the life of another living man, to the Critique, which seeks to establish the dialectical bases for a structural and historical anthropology. This body of thought represents more than another synthesis of social theories and the insights of individual psychologies; it is the contribution of one of the most radical thinkers of the century to a revolution in man's understanding of himself.
The Dialectics of Liberation
Penguin 1968

The Congress of the Dialectics of Liberation, held in London in 1967, was a unique expression of the politics of modern dissent, in which existential pyschiatrists, Marxist intellectuals, anarchists and political leaders met to discuss - and to constitute - the key soical issues of the next decade. Amongst other Stokely Carmichael spoke on Black Power, Herbert marcuse on liveration from the affluent society, R.D. Laing on social pressures and Paul Sweezy on the future of capitalism. In exploring the roots of violence in society the speakers analysed personal alienation, repression and student revolution. They then turned to the problems of liberation - of physical and cultural 'guerilla warfare' to free man from mystification, from the blind destruction of his environment, and from the inhumanity which he projects onto his opponents in family situations, in wars and in racial conflict. The aim of the congress was to create a genuine revolutionary consciousness by fusing ideology and action on the levels of the individual and of mass society. These speeches clearly indicate the rise of a new, forceful and (to some) ominous style of political activity.
Psychiatry and Anti-Psychiatry
Tavistock 1967
Paladin 1970

David Cooper, an associate of R.D. laing, believes that mainstream psychiatry, preoccupied with the paraphernalia of the natural sciences, has developed techniques that are largely irrelevant to the human situation. He prosposes a radical social re-evaluation of the whole concept of 'madness' and outlines a new approach to the psychological problems of personal realtionships. He also indicates a new way of looking at the development and treatment of schizophrenia. An account is given of the famous "Villa 21", a unit for schizophrenics in a large mental hospitla near London, where conventional psychiatric attitudes and methods have been significantly reversed or eliminated.
The Grammar of Living
Allen Lane 1974
Pelican/Penguin 1974

Aphoristic, intelligent, intolerant and extreme, The Grammar of Living continues David Cooper's struggle to cauterize the repressions of bourgeois society and to liberate the individual from the restraints that prevent him from developing honest and understanding relations with his fellow beings. He attacks directly and without compromise the depersonalizing 'safeguards' imposed by modern society, and by the attitudes of conventional psychiatry in particular. In the fight for liberation he demands that we should employ all the techniques that lie to hand - anti-psychiatry, hallucinogenic drugs, sexual experimentation - in order to break the moulds that form our envious and hate-ridden society and to build a new world founded on Love and Understanding.
The Death of the Family
Allen Lane 1971
Pelican 1972

Dr. Cooper is a leading existentialist psychiatrist and, with R.D. Laing, has conducted considerable research into the psychology and treatment of schizophrenics. This work has convinced him that the concept of the family pervades the inner life, destroying the sexual and social independence of the individual. The Death of the Family is the outcome, an astringent critque of the concepts and the structure of the 'familial situation'.
This is no doubt a revolutionary book. The author is not content with criticism, but goes on to discuss alternatives to the conventional family, and to illustrate how the 'familial' goals which dominate life can be rejected. He also explores the difficulties frequently encountered in setting up communes or 'anti-families'.
The Death of the Family is an important and provocative study which New Society hailed as an 'extraordinarily powerful little book'.
The Language of Madness
Penguin 1978

"I am not saying that there is a radical need to go mad but that madness is one desperate expression of a radical need for ... change". This remark by David Cooper is indicative of his study of the language of madness. To go mad because there is nowhere else to go is to use that language both as an expression of need and as a challenge to the world which fails to see that need. Thus madness becomes the indictment of our failure to bring together our sexuality, our lives and our autonomy.
Cooper points to the need both to accept this indictment and to recover the mad and their experience in the process of fighting to put ourselves together. He points to ways in which we might put this programme into practice. The book ends with a new statement of the position the author, together with R.D. laing, put forward on schizophrenia in the fities and sixties. The statment is new and more powerful than ever before because both the world and Cooper have changed. Anti-psychiatry has been given another resonance in this book and becomes the demand to understand ourselves.

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