Jesse's Reviews > The Divided Self: An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness
The Divided Self: An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness
by R.D. Laing
by R.D. Laing
Aug 03, 2011
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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