R. D. Laing R. Z. Friedenburg

ISBN: 9780670019519

Published: March 16th 1974

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R. D. Laing  by  R. Z. Friedenburg

R. D. Laing by R. Z. Friedenburg
March 16th 1974 | Paperback | PDF, EPUB, FB2, DjVu, AUDIO, mp3, RTF | 0 pages | ISBN: 9780670019519 | 3.61 Mb

This short book contains many thought provoking proclamations. Friedenberg has not written an acolytes review of Laings work. However, supporting arguments for many of the claims are missing because of Friedenbergs writing style.He offers many confusing metaphors that do not clarify any argumentative point. Seemingly, the metaphors in this essay are included because he thought they contained a cleaver turn of phrase. The following example from page 65 is representative:Psychoanalysis, Freud also observed, seeks to limit the patients misery to his perception of and ability to deal with reality.

To do this is not, certainly, to promise anybody a rose garden- but it does rather suggest that a serious and mature rose-fancier would surely admire the rose fields of Bulgaria and prefer tilling them to risking scratches and snake bites as he stumbled through uncharted thickets in search of wild ones that might be illusory.Numerous clunky metaphors obscure insights which are better expressed explicitly, when they are not covering up a complete lack of content.The most interesting part of this essay is not Friedenbergs critical exegesis but his claims concerning the political implications of Laings main theses.

Laing claims that the diagnosis of mental illness serves political and social purposes rather than accurately identifying any real mental disorder of the patient. Schizophrenia is a label ascribed to those whose worldview challenges the dominate cultural narrative, not a mental disorder.

Being labeled schizophrenic alienates many social gadflies. Furthermore, Laing suspects that all cultural institutions, not merely psychiatric institutions, inherently alienate every member of society.Friedenberg understands that these claims have important implications for understanding political behavior, the function of citizenship, and the effects of class structure on society. One of his most interesting claims is found on page 100:Modern industrial societies depend on megabureaucracies and micro-specialisation of function in order to co-ordinate and control their activities.

The result, inevitably-- almost by definition-- is widespread and profound alienation... and with it, a profusion of severely ressentient individuals. Modern industrial societies, moreover, depend on demotic mechanisms for validating authority. They may not be at all democratic in the sense that power is widely shared among those affected by its use- in fact, they hardly ever are.

But they do depend on counting votes at certain stipulated times in order to legitimate policy. Legitimate: reduce to law, codify, make uniform. No modern government can continue to rule indefinitely without elections.It is unclear why anyone should prefer living in a democratic society to a non-democratic society given this severely deflationary account of the value of voting. If all voters are riddled with ressentiment and are incapable of effecting any legitimate change in the society, voting is merely ritualistic. Friedenberg states explicitly:There are many devices that convert the election into a ceremonial by which the voter celebrates his citizenship instead of attempting to influence the course of government (p.

110).Friedenberg explains this ritual by drawing a distinction between the masses and the crooks in office(p. 101). It is unclear how those holding office should not be riddled with ressentiment as well, after all, they are also members of the same alienating social institutions. Friedenberg claims that the wielders of power have a vested interest in keeping the sovereign people alienated (p. 101). But, in democratic systems, those who wield power are also members of the alienating society. Do they have interests in perpetuating their own alienation?

Friedenbergs distinction between the masses and power-wielders is nebulous at best, and it is unclear how ressentiment functions in the powerfuls behavior.Given that all voters are full of ressentiment, envy becomes the primary motivating political force.The country [US] is continually obsessed with the possibility that someone may be getting something for nothing...

consider the proportion of expenditure for amenities, social services, or welfare which is actually used for administrative safeguards against abuses rather than to further the ends presumably sought.

It is impossible to get an adequate welfare programme through any state legislature- cities are being driven bankrupt by the mounting costs of programmes too skimpy to alleviate misery. Yet these programmes are burdened by procedures to eliminate chiseling that, it is clear in advance, will cost far more than the highest possible reasonable estimate of the total amount being chiseled-- and which, in any case, can only serve to make the poor more miserable by added harassment and delay (p.

105)Friedenberg should provide some data or a concrete example to support this claim rather than gesturing toward such evidence by asking the reader to consider it. Within this framework, the poor themselves are significantly responsible for their own harassment and misery. Without any supporting evidence, this claim seems to be a mere plausible assertion.This short essay contains many timely observations.

Those not obscured by strange analogies present many occasions for thought. A beneficial way to approach this text would be to see if you could support many of these observations with evidence and arguments to strengthen their force.



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