Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Tuesday morning craziness

From my library, Going Crazy: The Radical Therapy of R.D. Laing and Others, I open to this random paragraph:

What does puzzle me somewhat, however, is that the spokeman of the U.S.A.... sometimes seem to think that the violence of the inhabitants of Latin America, Asia and Africa can only be explained as the outcome of a communist plot to overthrow the U.S.A. and Europe.

Well this was written in the late 60s - early 70s. Substitute "terrorist" for "communist" and the proposal Laing provides remains static. If it's not the commies, it's those damn terrorists- they are out to get us! Laing's excerpt is a from a treatise on the Haves and Have Nots. If I back up a few pages, I find another Cassandra:

...the Have-Nots do not tend to look to the U.S.A. or Western Europe for help, although their governments may do so [an important distinction]... Rightly or wrongly, ... many of them have begin to feel that the U.S.A. and Western Europe have been exploiting them for too long. They look, rightly or wrongly, to Russia, to an increasing extent to China, and to a growing extent to themselves for their help.

Laing suggests that in ten years (circa 1982), the U.S. and China may be allies against Africa.

But cut back even further to Laing's at-the-time, revolutionary ideas regarding mental illness as a self perpetuating complex that finds its proponents and its subjects in the very act of diagnosis and treatment. Here, Laing is speaking as a sociologist and his self fulfilling prophecy applies to those who are named "crazy" and all those who are heading in that direction because they are simply out of the norm. Here's what he says:

As for the patients, the more they protest, the less insight they display; the more they fight back, clearly the more they need to be pacified; the more persecuted they feel at being destroyed, the more necessary to destroy them. And at the end of it all, they may indeed be "cured," they may even express gratitude for no longer having the brains left to protests against persecution. But many do not.

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