Tag Archive: Books


Updated Books Page

I’ve updated my books page today with some books by R D Laing.  I’ve read two and am reading one.  The two I have read are Knots and Sonnets.  At the back of Sonnets are some thoughts in prose which I found helpful.  The one I am reading is Sanity, Madness and the Family: Families of Schizophrenics, which is a book of case studies and transcriptions of taped interviews.  I’m not sure if it is of its time or not, but it is very interesting.  I have provided UK and USA Amazon links for each book.

R D Laing was a leading figure in the Antipsychiatry movement and established some houses in London as part of the Philadelphia Association which provides an alternative approach to mental distress.

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Knots by R D Laing

I bought this book recently from the internet, I think Amazon.  It was delivered this morning.  I was first introduced to it by one of my English teachers at 6th form.  She read something that went:

I know
He knows I know
I know he knows I know

and it is full of things of the same ilk that I just get lost in.  I tried to be with it and stay with it but in the end I just ended up believing he wanted us to laugh at the convolution of it all.  People say that laughter is the best therapy, and if he just wanted to wear us out with all the permutations to make us laugh at ourselves and with each other – I thought it was a bit like reading Zen koans.  One of the poems says that what they want from each other is generosity, not one thinking the other is greedy while the other in turn thinks the first is mean.  I think laughter opens the door to generosity, especially the laughter that can arise when you realise you are beaten by the representation of what is going on in the relationship.  That is, unless he is much more intelligent than I am and there are others who manage to keep up where I can’t.  Sometimes I experience a little breakthrough in understanding what he is portraying, and there are places of identification, especially identification from the past of how I used to think and feel in relationships.  I was surprised to see something I went through a few years ago represented, where I thought, basically, that I wasn’t entitled to anything so I was stealing everything I had, or getting it by trickery.  Part of that was the belief that all money is dirty by association somewhere along the line.  Another was being afraid that if someone loved and respected me they were wrong, because I was awful, and the only people I could respect or trust were those who didn’t seem to respect me.

Anyway, I haven’t finished it.  I’ve got about half way through.  There was one poem in particular which really made me throw my hands up in despair of being able to understand it.  It was written in about 6 parts.  Maybe it was meant for performance.  It seems it might be the only way to keep up with it.  I have no idea how much was him having a romping good laugh and how much was a serious unfolding.  I feel sure its main purpose must be to make us loosen up.

This Is Madness

I’ve read a bit more of this book and I’m finding it very interesting.  For me one of the most important things it says is that with physical illnesses diagnosis starts with something happening in the body and ends up with the diagnostic concept, but with ‘so-called’ mental illness it is the other way round, that it starts with a concept and mental conglomeration in the minds of physicians and they then go looking for people who fit the concept, like crusaders.  The concept is fleshed out in committee and applied to individuals, rather than subjective symptoms first being recognised in the individual and a remedy sought.  That is my memory of what was said in the chapter called ‘Diagnosis’.

I’ve just ordered another book as well called ‘Untrain Your Parrot’ by Elizabeth Hamilton.  It is a well grounded and often humorous approach to Zen.  The book is in the Multi-Faith room at the hospital but we are not allowed to take them out, and sometimes no one is there who can unlock the cabinet where the books are kept.  It makes sense that the books shouldn’t leave the room, it keeps them available and in good condition.  I have found that when I have spent time reading it in there I approach things in a better and lighter mood.  I’m looking forward to having my own copy because I think it is something that I will read and dip into more than once

I’m a lot more open and self-controlled on the ward these days, but I still feel angry, hurt and frustrated at what I see happening with other people.

I’ve got a bad cold at the moment.

We have started making approaches to accommodation.  It seems to me it could move either very quickly or more slowly than I would like.  I would like it to move quickly.

I’ve been reading a few ‘Freshly Pressed’ selections and really enjoying them.  They are so interesting.  I just read one called ‘There was no escaping his father’s words’ which made quite an impact on me.  It’s about a man who meets up in later life with his father who had told him that he was going from fad to fad and I felt those words from his father had partly shaped the man’s life.

I don’t feel able to write much more today.  I am generally feeling quite upset and that I need to cry.  That is what I usually feel inside.  I’ve had no intimacy for a very long time now, and I feel very much that I am getting old.  I am nearer death than birth.  For a wonderful period in my 30s I was unafraid, but now I feel a bit wobbly.  I’m not sure if I’m a real Christian, and I have been taught and believe that only Christians go to heaven.  I have not been taught to be a liberal, and my emotional attachments don’t really allow it.  I have been taught, and believe, that there is a hell for people who are not Christians.  I know to some people that will make me sound really archaic.  I have found myself praying that love and mercy will be my judge in the end, that love (God is love) will save me at death.  There is also the teaching that not everyone will die but Jesus will come back and some people who are living will be caught up to Heaven.  I suppose many people want to believe they will be among those who do not die.  I would like to live beyond 80, even to 100.  I’m afraid I will die much sooner.  I’m really afraid that I might go to hell, and I’m afraid that there will be no one who cares for me intimately when I die.  I have no children and no partner, and the only member of my family I am in contact with is my mother.  I would like not to feel so tired and worn out, and upset and vulnerable, and as if my time now is not worth anything and won’t be, that I have passed a point where there was a point.

A Book-Burning Confession

I burned a book once, after my first time in hospital.  It was called ‘Love Is A Choice’, and as far as I was concerned it had caused all the trouble.  Now I think, just from the title, it might be possible to say I interpreted it selfishly, that I didn’t have to love if and where I didn’t want to, but on the other hand, that seemed to be part of the book’s premise, as it was a book on codependency.  I have wondered in recent years just how humane that particular emphasis in counselling actually is, and definitely whether or not it is compatible with Christianity, although I am coming back to seeing it as having a definite place in relationships.  I bought the book again off eBay.  As much to reacquaint myself with the offending document as anything else.  I think the problem with the way I handled it might have been that I took it and used it almost in defiance, having had it used so harshly against me, so I felt.

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