Book - The Politics Of Experience




RD Laing - 1970
Ballantine
ISBN: none
The Politics Of Experience
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This is the most profound book I ever read. Laing defines mental illness as an ontological crisis with the potential to be a spiritual breakthrough. He decries psychiatry for perversely thwarting this potential with various forms of torture (incarceration, drugs, electroshock, etc.) As to normality, Laing argues it is the product of a pathological "us and them" mentality underlying personal identity and group dynamics.

To be well-adjusted to our modern dysfunctional society is not healthy for the individual or society. Who is more dangerous? Laing asks: the psychotic who mistakenly believes he carries a hydrogen bomb in his stomach or the perfectly adjusted B-52 bomber pilot who will drop very real hydrogen bombs when ordered to do so?

The chapter titled "The Bird of Paradise" is hypnotically poignant in exploring the inner world of thoughts and emotions. Laing was much more than a scientist. He was a visionary who shed light on the dark role of pscyhiatrists as voodoo-like priests and purveyors of social engineering.