Ronnie Laing Daring to Care

Someone who has had a very widespread and revolutionary influence on psychiatric and non-clinical therapy is R.D. Laing. His book The Politics of Experience, published in 1967, sums up his view of how the sane and the so-called insane can be helped by forming a supportive environment in which self-regulation can take place. He says in the book:

No age in the history of humanity has perhaps so lost touch with this natural ‘healing’ process, that implicates some of the people whom we label schizophrenic. No age has so developed it, no age had imposed such prohibitions and deterrence’s against it, as our own. Instead of the mental hospital, which is a sort of re-servicing factory for human breakdowns, we need a place where people who have traveled further and, consequently, may be more lost than psychiatrists and other sane people, can find their way ‘further’ into inner space and time, and back again. Instead of the ‘degradation’ ceremonial of psychiatric examination, diagnosis and prognostication, we need, for those who are ready for it, an initiation ceremonial, through which the person will be guided with full social encouragement and sanction, into inner space and time, by people who have been there and back again. Psychiatrically this would appear as ex-patients helping future patients to go mad.

What is entailed then is:

i A voyage from outer to inner,

ii from life to a kind of death,

iii from going forward to going back,

iv from temporal movement to temporal standstill,

v from mundane time to aeonic time,

vi from the ego to the self,

vii from being outside (post birth) back into the womb of all things (pre birth).

viii And then subsequently a return voyage from:

ix Inner to outer,

x from death to life,

xi from the movement back to a movement forward,

xii from immortality back to mortality,

xiii from eternity back to time,

xiv from self to a new ego,

xv from a cosmic foetalisation to an existential rebirth.

This process may be one that all of us need, in one form or another. The process could have a central function in a truly sane society.

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