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Fig 6.20 – Bird of Paradise

Text: Page 250

Rollo May, the renowned American existentialist, considered Laing’s book, The Politics of Experience: The Bird of Paradise as one of the most unsettling and thought-provoking books ever written about mental illness. For Laing, the Bird of Paradise symbolized the need for psychotherapists to embrace their own “madness.” The embrace was essential for the liberation of the patient. The bird of paradise looks like a bird ready for the flight of freedom, joy, and triumph. It is likely that Laing would encourage a bird of paradise flower be in the office of every psychologist as a symbol of their own “exotic” nature. A shared joy with a client of the feeling that both had triumphed over a mad and destructive world.

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