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Thursday, April 9, 2015

R.D. Laing and the Divided Self!

The following is Part Two of the articles written by fellow sufferers of the disease, Schizophrenia.  The first one in the series was an autobiographical approach written by "Janis" (not her real name). (see: Today I am presenting an informational article written by a different person....His article discusses the psychiatrist, Laing, and examines his contribution to schizophrenia and the treatment of it and how that has affected our understanding of the disease today.

R.D. Laing and the divided self!
The biological model of madness is becoming mainstream. New discoveries in the realm of neuroscience has improved our understanding of the brain. This has led to more complex theories on why some people become psychotic and others don't.

The most well known theory is the dopamine hypothesis, which suggest that schizophrenics and other psychotic people have excess of this neurotransmitter. The theory was developed after the drugs seemed to better the patients condition. These drugs, called anti-psychotics, lower dopamine levels in the brain. And that is how the dopamine hypothesis was born.

Some people might be interested in more psychological models of psychosis and schizophrenia. A mostly overlooked expert in this field is R.D. Laing. Some credit him for the invention of Anti Psychiatry, but he was not against treatment as some say. Neither did he think that psychosis was a positive experience. His book "The Divided Self", holds many interesting thoughts which we will look at. Schizophrenia actually means split mind or divided mind, thus the title of the book.

For him a schizophrenic person is unable to relate to the real world. A person rarely becomes schizophrenic from one day to the next. Laing describes the term schizoid, which is a person who has deviant beliefs, but still relates and functions in the world. He gives many examples in his book, like the one about a certain young man. This man feels that he only way he can ever express his real self is by talking only to strangers. This means that he frequently visits other towns for haircuts or similar activities, that would lead to familiarity. He is able to function in the world, but eventually he develops full blown schizophrenia.

This seems like a dark future for the diagnosed but Laing offers a little promise. He says that schizophrenic people might let light into their lives that some normal people might not. In other words you can enjoy life just as much as a schizophrenic as a more normal person. It should not make you any less of a good person.

Laing finishes the book by stating that a person is longer mad when he meets someone that shares his world and understands his thoughts. R.D. Laing is a good read for everyone who wants to understand how they have become severly mentally ill and I highly frecommend it.
By Mottec
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