Jesse's Reviews > The Divided Self: An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness

The Divided Self by R.D. Laing
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's review
Aug 03, 2011

it was amazing
Read from July 25 to August 01, 2011

One cannot go too long in this life without meeting people who have more or less lost their humanity (try saying "Hello!" to everyone you meet today on the street; you will invariably be met with not a few mute lips and stone-faced grimaces!). This is called alienation, and schizophrenia is the psychological term for it. I like to call it the Madonna-syndrome, because the primary symptom is not identifying with what one projects oneself to be. Hence, schizophrenics are everything in fantasy because they are nothing in reality; self-willing their death so as to preserve their life from external death - it is the imagination that has destroyed reality. No one outside of Laing chose to talk about this topic with the understanding that what schizophrenics were doing and saying wasn't insane, but a mere reflection of their personal, and perhaps our larger social tragedy. As a result, Laing was labeled an anti-psychiatrist and stigmatized as a crazy lefty, but for those who really want to understand what happens to individuals in an individualist, i.e. alienated, society, there is no better resource in all of psychological literature than Laing's book here.
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03/24 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by C (new)

C Unexpected.
You may like the works of Erich Fromm, specifically
To Have or To Be
The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness
The Sane Society

Jesse Yeah? I'll look for those. To Have or To Be - good title.

message 3: by C (new)

C Yeah the book looks quite good. It's about how the Capitalist mode of production alienates us into judging one another, and feeling a sense of worth, through possessions and not through being.

message 4: by C (new)

C Does Laing touch on Narcissism at all? Which from personal anecdotal information, seems to be rapidly and inexorably leading to the state of the common Americans basic disposition?

Jesse He is precisely against any sort of Narcissistic interpretation of the subject; rather, he invites the leftist view, which is much more generous - that the problems with the subject are in fact the problems with the environment. What is "personal anecdotal information"?

message 6: by C (new)

C As in I have no meta-analysis at hand, but it appears as if every other person I meet is a narcissist. Perhaps it's an environmentally induced, but none the less seems to be a psychological disorder rapidly on the rise.

message 7: by Caroline (new) - added it

Caroline Graham Jesse, I would like to add you as a friend because I like your review, of sort, but I can't because your profile is private. If you see this comment I would appreciate a message and or friend request, but I understand if you decline the invitation for either. :p

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