R. D. LAING QUOTES III

Scottish psychiatrist (1927-1989)

In the context of our present pervasive madness that we call normality, sanity, freedom, all our frames of reference are ambiguous and equivocal.

R. D. LAING, The Divided Self

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We live in a moment of history where change is so speeded up that we begin to see the present only when it is already disappearing.

R. D. LAING, introduction, The Politics of Experience

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Society highly values its normal man. It educates children to lose themselves and to become absurd, and thus to be normal. Normal men have killed perhaps 100,000,000 of their fellow normal men in the last fifty years.

R. D. LAING, The Politics of Experience

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How do we define, how do we describe, how do we explain and/or understand ourselves? What sort of creatures do we take ourselves to be? What are we? Who are we? Why are we? How do we come to be what or who we are or take ourselves to be? How do we give an account of ourselves? How do we account for ourselves, our actions, interactions, transactions (praxis), our biologic processes? Our specific human existence?

R. D. LAING, "The Use of Existential Phenomenology in Psychotherapy", The Evolution of Psychotherapy

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The Lotus opens. Movement from earth, through water, from fire to air. Out and in beyond life and death now, beyond inner and outer, sense and non-sense, meaning and futility, male and female, being and non-being, Light and darkness, void and full. Beyond all duality, or non-duality, beyond and beyond. Disincarnation. I breathe again.

R. D. LAING, The Politics of Experience

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Experience is mad when it steps beyond the horizons of our common, that is, our communal sense.

R. D. LAING, "Transcendental Experience in Relation to Religion and Psychosis", The Psychedelic Review, 1964

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What we call "normal" is a product of repression, denial, splitting, projection, introjection and other forms of destructive action on experience. It is radically estranged from the structure of being. The more one sees this, the more senseless it is to continue with generalized descriptions of supposedly specifically schizoid, schizophrenic, hysterical "mechanisms."

R. D. LAING, The Politics of Experience/The Bird of Paradise

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The statesmen of the world who boast and threaten that they have Doomsday weapons are far more dangerous, and far more estranged from "reality," than many of the people on whom the label "psychotic" is affixed.

R. D. LAING, The Divided Self

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In describing one way of going mad, I shall try to show that there is a comprehensible transition from the sane schizoid way of being-in-the-world to a psychotic way of being-in-the-world.

R. D. LAING, The Divided Self

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True guilt is guilt at the obligation one owes to oneself to be oneself. False guild is guilt felt at not being what other people feel one ought to be or assume that one is.

R. D. LAING, Self and Others

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It is terrifying that having moved up through the irrationality/rationality of sets of sub-systems until we reach the total social context, we there seem to glimpse a total system that appears to be dangerously out of the control of the sub-systems or sub-contexts that comprise it. Here we face a theoretical, logical and practical dilemma. Namely, we seem to arrive at an empirical limit which itself appears to be without obvious intelligibility, and beyond this limiting context we do not know what further context there may be that may help us to set the total social world system in a larger pattern or design in which it finds its rationality. Some people think that it may be possible to do this within a cosmic pattern. On the other hand, more than one person has said--and usually been regarded as mad for having said it--that perhaps God is not dead: perhaps God is Himself mad.

R. D. LAING, "The Obvious", Going Crazy: The Radical Therapy of R.D. Laing and Others

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When I go beyond a certain range it's outside of my direct horizon therefore I've got to rely on the writings and personal communications given to me by other people that I know.... I've got to try to piece together some tentative information picture of what the whole thing is like, but I'm aware that it becomes more and more speculative as it becomes more and more second, third, fourth hand. And this applies to absolutely everyone.

R. D. LAING, interview, "Our Present Madness", Unit, no. 11

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We are all murderers and prostitutes -- no matter to what culture, society, class, nation, we belong, no matter how normal, moral, or mature we take ourselves to be. Humanity is estranged from its authentic possibilities.

R. D. LAING, introduction, The Politics of Experience

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In certain cases, a man blind from birth may have an operation performed which gives him his sight. The result: frequently misery, confusion, disorientation. The light that illumines the madman is an unearthly light, but I do not believe it is a projection, an emanation from his mundane ego. He is irradiated by a light that is more than he. It may burn him out.

R. D. LAING, "Transcendental Experience in Relation to Religion and Psychosis", The Psychedelic Review, 1964

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From the moment of birth, when the Stone Age baby confronts the twentieth-century mother, the baby is subjected to these forces of violence, called love, as its mother and father, and their parents and their parents before them, have been. These forces are mainly concerned with destroying most of its potentialities, and on the whole this enterprise is successful.

R. D. LAING, The Politics of Experience

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What we take anything to be profoundly affects how we go about describing it, and how we describe something profoundly affects how we go about explaining, accounting for, or understanding what is what we are, in a sense, defining, by our description.

R. D. LAING, "The Use of Existential Phenomenology in Psychotherapy", The Evolution of Psychotherapy

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The dialectic, if it exists, is the singular adventure of each person's relations with the objects of his experience. There are no categories, in anyone's head or in the sky: there is no pre-established scheme which can be imposed on these singular developments: the dialectic does not impose on historical man terrible contradictions in terms of which he has to live: but under the sway of scarcity and necessity the actions of men are such that dialectical rationality alone makes them intelligible. The dialectic, if it exists, can be only totalization of concrete totalizations carried out by a multiplicity of totalizing singularities.

R. D. LAING, Reason and Violence: A Decade of Sartre's Philosophy, 1950-1960

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Schizophrenia is the name for a condition that most psychiatrists ascribe to patients they call schizophrenic.

R. D. LAING, attributed, The Concise Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

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One cannot say everything at once.

R. D. LAING, preface, The Divided Self

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Truth is literally that which is without secrecy, what discloses itself without a veil.

R. D. LAING, attributed, R. D. Laing: The Philosophy and Politics of Psychotherapy

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Tags: truth