Psychoanalysis, Psychotherapy and
Marital Therapy Centre

Writings and Links #01

Writings and Links #01

Dr. Bruce Scott

I am author of "Testimony of Experience: Docta Ignorantia and the Philadelphia Association Communities", published by PCCS Books, Ltd in April 2014.

This book presents a unique piece of research carried out with people who have been residents of the Philadelphia Association communities, set up in the 1960's by R.D.Laing and other colleagues, as a response to reductive medical and scientific theories of mental suffering.

In contemporary society, there are few places left for people to escape the modern plight; the cognitive and neuroscientific imperialistic discourse of mental distress. ‘Testimony’ is an attempt to rise above this repressive discourse. ‘Testimony’ presents over 40-years-worth of experiences of people who have lived in Philadelphia Association communities.

The totalitarianism of scientific certainty and striving for ‘knowing’ so widespread within governmental, state, and university sanctioned ‘mental health’ initiatives deprives us conceptualising our subjectivities in other more creative and realistic ways; of what it is to suffer, to live, to be human.

‘Testimony’ re-examines an ancient dictum which is being marginalised today as a result of scientistic overbearing - the Docta Ignorantia - the doctrine of wise unknowing. Using a philosophically informed critique of positivistic research methodology and an analysis and deconstruction of interviews with people who have lived in Philadelphia Association communities, ‘Testimony’ asks the question that must be uttered to regain our besieged subjectivity; is there room for wise unknowing in mental suffering in a world of certainty?


This book lets us hear the testimonies of the many people who have lived in the Philadelphia Association Community Houses. Their accounts give a fascinating insight into what it was like to have been a resident in such places. We hear of the experience of living with other people, many of whom were seriously mentally disturbed. We listen into the debates about whether medication was of value and we see how different therapists operated. The most famous, of course, was RD Laing who is remembered fondly by most of the residents and who comes across in these interviews as a charismatic and innovative figure, ready to engage with others. Bruce Scott sensitively frames these testimonies in the context of his wide reading of philosophy, religion and psychotherapy. The book greatly adds to our understanding of this turbulent but important era. Dr Allan Beveridge, Consultant Psychiatrist, Queen Margaret Hospital, Dunfermline and author of Portrait of the psychiatrist as a young man. The early writings and work of RD Laing, 1927-1960.

Bruce Scott's book is a well written and illuminating testimony of people's personal experiences of living within a community household. My father RDLaing was one of the co-founders of The Philadelphia Association which set up these community houses as an alternative to conventional psychiatric wards and treatments. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in mental health.
Karen Laing, Psychotherapist

must be uttered to regain our of certainty?