The title of this post was how the below video was described on youtube. I think it’s a very important question to think about. What is normal after all?
Are normal people really sane?
(Sadly the video is no longer available)
So R.D. Laing refers to the DSM 3 in this video. Yes, the DSM was perceived as problematic way back then by Laing and others. We need to understand that the DSM throughout it’s entire history has been gravely flawed. There are some people who criticize the DSM 5 (Allen Francis comes to mind who was the Chair of the DSM IV Task Force) who fail to realize that the DSM has been a dangerous and misleading document since it’s start. (It’s simply not grounded in science and does nothing other than describe and then pathologize behaviors which then get called diseases that can ultimately be medicated…hence it’s a boon for the pharmaceutical industry and the disease model)
For a round-up of articles critiquing the DSM see here: DSM5 news roundup
I love and have posted these quotes by RD Laing a couple of times already:
The sobering but oh, so enlightening, words of R.D. Laing revisited…
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
What we call ‘normal’ is a product of repression, denial, splitting, projection, introjection and other forms of destructive action on experience. It is radically estranged from the structure of being. The more one sees this, the more senseless it is to continue with generalized descriptions of supposedly specifically schizoid, schizophrenic, hysterical ‘mechanisms.’ There are forms of alienation that are relatively strange to statistically ‘normal’ forms of alienation. The ‘normally’ alienated person, by reason of the fact that he acts more or less like everyone else, is taken to be sane. Other forms of alienation that are out of step with the prevailing state of alienation are those that are labeled by the ‘formal’ majority as bad or mad.
R. D. Laing, from Politics of Experience
Another post on Beyond Meds that includes video with RD Laing narrating : The violence of birth in modern medicine: often our first trauma
Books by Laing: