I found this Laing quote last night in a book I’d tried and failed to read ten years ago but that is now speaking to me as if it was written for me and me only (funny how that happens).
I first read Laing when I was about thirteen (I must have been an odd child) – Sanity, Madness and The Family. My memory of it is that it took case studies of schizophrenics and looked at their symptoms and their families. When their ‘mad’ symptoms were seen in the context of the madness of their families, they were suddenly seen as perfectly understandable and ‘sane’.
This made a great deal of intuitive sense to me at the time, and I still hold to it in my work-as-a-therapist now. Some of our thoughts or behaviour patterns might seem crazy, but they have their own intrinsic logic – even if it might take a while to find it. It was once necessary for us to be this way, in order to survive in the world (i.e. to survive our families).
Laing’s quote reminds me of the Zen teaching that we must try not to add anything ‘extra’ to our experience. If we are hungry, we are hungry – it’s only when we try to avoid this suffering that it becomes a problem. This doesn’t mean that we don’t get food as soon as we can, but until we can, we are just hungry. No problem.
A song I love has just come onto the radio. I’m going to finish there so I can listen to it properly. Have wonderful Thursdays.