Tag Archive: R D Laing


This entry in Wikipedia was posted by a Facebook group member a year ago, and I posted it to my timeline.  It just came up today as a memory.  It is quite long, too long for me to read again at the moment.  I’m not an authority, anyway.  I don’t know a lot about the professionals and experts cited and their views, though I know a little.  I’m offering it in this post for anyone who wants to read it and do their own research, or even anyone who might already know more than I do.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_construction_of_schizophrenia

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.

It’s Not My Fault

Actually, that’s not how I think.  I have what I believe to be a really unhelpful habit of looking back and blaming myself for so many things.  The way I think, it sometimes seems as if I must hate my younger self.  I feel as if I can see that I was totally wrong.  There are people who would rejoice in that, people who have already told me it is all my fault and take no responsibility for the inhumanity of their own words and actions towards me.  Some church people have been so strict and confrontational with me you wouldn’t know it was church people you were dealing with.  Those people, according to what has been said to me, still don’t want anything to do with me and are insistent that I stay away from them.  The Shearmans, the Coleses, are only two examples.  At the Christian Centre, Nottingham, one of the pastoral staff told me I was welcome to come to church but that I had frightened the Shearmans with silent calls about 16-17 years ago and I was to stay away from them. First of all they and their staff had frightened and angered me, and I was just being frightened, angry and confused OCD with my first ever mobile phone.  I’m sorry that I frightened them but they and their staff had also frightened and offended me.  They were targeting me from the platform.  I know this because one day one of them approached me and told me to leave because I wasn’t doing what I was being told to do.  As I remember it it was only coming from the platform, they weren’t talking to me otherwise.  And I think what the Coleses and their staff did to me was really nasty.  I was angry without any sign of violence, and it seems they have such an exalted idea of their position that they thought it was OK to pronounce sickness over me.  That was Moira Knight, one of their trusted few, in John Coles’s presence.  He didn’t say she was wrong.  I couldn’t believe what she had said to me, and it exploded in my mind how far they were prepared to go to resist me and keep me under.  It was a very effective double bind, which R D Laing said was operational in a lot of people called schizophrenic.

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.

Mish-Mash Musings 2

In my last post I wrote about how the Church, during the Inquisition, used to ‘relax’ people into the hands of the state so they could be burnt, and wrote about the parallel drawn by Thomas Szasz between this and the mental health movement.  He said that in a religious age ‘heretics’ were ‘relaxed’ into the hands of the state, but in the so-called enlightened age the parallel is that society turns to the mental health movement for the upholding of the dominant culture.  However, the Church is part of the society which does this, and does it itself.  So for the mental patient who is also a Christian, there is no ‘comfort’ for them in religion.  The mental health system is part of the new way of dealing with ‘heretics’ for the church.  The church believes in this, or says it does, and largely it accords the mental health system the same authority as the rest of society does, except for some people.  It might decide that some people are really not mentally ill and try to help them, but on the whole it validates the mental health system and its ideas.  So someone like me can become very isolated since the Church refers me back to the mental health services.  Admittedly I have not been to every existing church, but the ones that have been part of my life to date have all said the same thing, that they believe I am mentally ill, so accepting the categorisation in the first place.  Many other religious bodies do the same thing.  Scientology does not.  I have only recently discovered that Thomas Szasz had links with Scientology.  For some people this will put them off him, but there are others who hold the some of same views who do not have those links, the writers and editors of This Is Madness, for instance, and Foucault, and R D Laing.  R D Laing was ridiculed for turning to Buddhism, apparently.  I was told this by one of the nurses on Rowan 2, I think, and they said how ironic it was that the psychiatric system is itself now looking towards things like mindfulness as a way of raising people’s consciousness.  They wouldn’t call it raising people’s consciousness, but essentially that is what it is.

I’m not on Rowan 2 at the moment, I was transferred to Newark on Friday night. It is a place like Macmillan Close, complete with door slamming!  I’m not sure how I feel and I hope it is not a matter of my choice, because there are pros and cons with both.  I was told at 6.30 pm on Friday evening that the transfer was going to be made and that I had no right to refuse.  Steve, who was on duty, told me it was only temporary and that I am expected to go back some time this week, citing my housing situation and residence in Nottingham a a reason for me going back.  However, the staff in Newark are under the impression that I am here long term and that housing can be dealt with from here.  I’m confused and feel very disorientated.  I said I didn’t want to come because I don’t know Newark, and that seems to me a good reason at the moment.  I have been homeless 2 years now, Friday was the anniversary, and it can’t be good for me to keep being so uprooted.

Anti-Psychiatry

I’m really embarrassed that, as someone who has never really believed in psychiatry, and as someone who lost her father to death by overdose at the age of 11, I have got to the age of 50 and never pursued the anti-psychiatry movement with any degree of commitment.

Although I am against the psychiatric view of people and their problems, I know that I am nervous of psychiatric patients and ex-psychiatric patients and don’t really want to spend time with them.

One of the reasons for this is that I think we are all too desperate, and in our own minds too undermined.  Most of the time we are grasping desperately, even at each other.

Another reason is that I think we develop a self-protective dishonesty, even if we didn’t have it before.  I’m not going in there in this post.

Another reason is that, in a structured group, the people running it, in my experience, are usually people who validate the psychiatric approach, or at least won’t speak against it.  For an angry and volatile anti-psychiatrist, like myself, that is not a good place to be.

Today I feel that my life has failed to mean anything, because I have failed to follow this in a committed way, when following it and investigating it properly was my obvious duty, as my father’s daughter.

I put ‘anti psychiatry’ into Google as a search term.  I’ve just started reading the first of the results that came up, the website www.antipsychiatry.org.  It looks as if it has some very well-written articles.

There is a whole school of thought behind this, from the 60s at least.  R D Laing I’ve known about for some time.  I didn’t know Foucault was one of them.

This might sound really selfish, but I feel really upset.  My life could have made so much more sense and been so much richer, if I had only known this before.  To me the obvious reason that I feel this way is that I feel I have something in common with these academics and might have grown up with them and in contact with them.  Obviously that doesn’t necessarily follow.  The feeling I have is, ‘oh no, not you.  I didn’t know you were into that.  Why didn’t you tell me?’, as if they knew me to tell me and I have always been a part of this community and I’ve got lost.  Or something.  I don’t know much about them anyway, I only know their names.  I don’t know why they seem to mean that much to me.  I never studied them adequately when they were part of my education, and they probably just represent this (supposedly) wonderful thing, education, to me, and the youthful ideal of education is what is invoked for me when I read or hear their names. 

What I am thinking, whether I like it or not, is that if I knew something about their lives, I might not be so keen to identify with them in their anti-psychiatric views and see them as the best proponents.  I don’t know anything about their lives.  Even if I did and didn’t like what I knew, that wouldn’t necessarily invalidate what they have to say.  People don’t like my life.  That might make me an embarrassment to my beliefs, or not, but in itself it doesn’t invalidate them.  Right beliefs are right beliefs, whoever holds them.  Like the belief that two and two make four doesn’t become untrue because of the life of the person who holds it.  And I have been taught two things about the universe, that it is both mathematical and moral.

Lady ‘hallelujah every time I cough or anything’ harassment upstairs has been on for the last half hour or so, latching onto my cough and my audio.  She’s doing my brain and my feelings in.  She’s savage.  I don’t know what I mean or what I’m talking about as long as this is going on.  I feel that maybe I never will again.  She is the nearest I have been to a demon and this is the nearest I have been to living with possession.  They frighten me so much.  It is so indecent and spiritually and psychologically violent, I feel beaten about the head just about all the time.  They combine violence and rejection and indecent invasion with a santa madre scenario.  Both at the same time I want to break down in totally reduced and beaten tears, and hit back.  They have been playing a locking and shutting doors game every time they hear me in the corridor recently.  She says ‘hallelujah’ when I cough.  What is wrong with this stupid moron?  Is she frightened of me or something?  Why can’t I cough and fart, etc, in peace, without this indecent and terrifying and desperation-inducing invasiveness?  I really can’t take it much more, and I wish some of these people who want me to think of them as friends (whether they are or not) would listen to me and help me and get me away from them.

I’m wondering if the idea is to make as much invasive and control-taking sound as they can, coming up to 10pm when everything is supposed to go silent, and then just shut up?

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