Why should I know R. D. Laing?

Ronald David Laing, aka R. D. Laing, was a Scottish psychiatrist who wrote extensively on mental illness – in particular, the experience of psychosis.

Books by R. D. Laing

Quotes by R. D. Laing

“Attempts to wake before our time are often punished, especially by those who love us most. Because they, bless them, are asleep. They think anyone who wakes up, or who, still asleep, realizes that what is taken to be real is a ‘dream’ is going crazy.”

R. D. Laing

“Human beings seem to have an almost unlimited capacity to deceive themselves, and to deceive themselves into taking their own lies for truth.”

R. D. Laing The Politics of Experience

“In a world full of danger, to be a potentially seeable object is to be constantly exposed to danger. Self-consciousness, then, may be the apprehensive awareness of oneself as potentially exposed to danger by the simple fact of being visible to others. The obvious defence against such a danger is to make oneself invisible in one way or another.”

R. D. Laing The Divided Self

“Insanity -- a perfectly rational adjustment to an insane world.”

R. D. Laing

“Life is a sexually transmitted disease and the mortality rate is one hundred percent.”

R. D. Laing

“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.”

R. D. Laing The Politics of Experience

“The condition of alienation, of being asleep, of being unconscious, of being out of one’s mind, is the condition of the normal man. Society 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.”

R. D. Laing The Politics of Experience

“The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there is little we can do to change; until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.”

R. D. Laing

“There are good reasons for being obedient, but being unable to be disobedient is not one of the best reasons.”

R. D. Laing The Divided Self

“There is a great deal of pain in life and perhaps the only pain that can be avoided is the pain that comes from trying to avoid pain.”

R. D. Laing

“We all live under the constant threat of our own annihilation. Only by the most outrageous violation of ourselves have we achieved our capacity to live in relative adjustment to a civilization apparently driven to its own destruction.”

R. D. Laing The Politics of Experience

“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.”

R. D. Laing

“We are effectively destroying ourselves by violence masquerading as love.”

R. D. Laing

“We live in a moment of history where change is so speeded up that we begin to see the present only when it is already disappearing.”

R. D. Laing

“Whether life is worth living depends on whether there is love in life.”

R. D. Laing