R. D. Laing
Quotations


We are bemused and crazed creatures, strangers to our true selves, to one another, and to the spiritual and material world -- mad, even, from an ideal standpoint we can glimpse but not adopt.

Alienation as our present destiny is achieved only by outrageous violence perpetrated by human beings on human beings.

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 have been, and their parents and their parents before them. These forces are mainly concerned with destroying most of its potentialities. This enterprise is on the whole successful.

The brotherhood of man is evoked by particular men according to their circumstances. But it seldom extends to all men. In the name of our freedom and our brotherhood we are prepared to blow up the other half of mankind and to be blown up in our turn.

Freud was a hero. He descended to the “Underworld” and met there stark terrors. He carried with him his theory as a Medusa’s head which turned these terrors to stone.

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

We are all murderers and prostitutes -- no matter to what culture, society, class, nation one belongs, no matter how normal, moral, or mature, one takes oneself to be.

The experience and behaviour that gets labelled schizophrenic is a special strategy that a person invents in order to live in an unlivable situation.

Madness need not be all breakdown. It may also be break-through. It is potential liberation and renewal as well as enslavement and existential death.

Schizophrenia cannot be understood without understanding despair.

There is no such “condition” as “schizophrenia,” but the label is a social fact and the social fact a political event.

In the society of men the truth resides now less in what things are than in what they are not. Our social realities are so ugly if seen in the light of exiled truth, and beauty is no longer possible if it is not a lie.

Normality 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.



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