Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Words, Part II

A remark on my "Them - and us"-post from Monday: Although I didn't put "junkies" and "alcoholics" in inverted commas at that post, as I did with "schizophrenics", my position is the same when it comes to terms like these.

Laing writes in the preface to "The Divided Self" that he didn't want to explain but to understand. Understanding is the basis for an explanation that doesn't explain AWAY, while an explanation without understanding impossibly can be anything else than explaining AWAY.

The basis for understanding is that you can identify with whom you want to understand. In order to understand you'd have to set aside yourself, your own conception of reality, and try to see the other person, as who he is in his view, not in yours. You'd have to accept his view of himself and the world, his reality, as absolutely valid and meaningful to him. You'd have to see him as equal to yourself.

There's a danger to this: If you accept another person's reality as just as real, possible and valid as your own one is to you, this acceptance weakens your conception of your own reality as generally correct, since there are no two realities, that are completely the same. If your reality only is of relative correctness, validity, if it is valid only for you instead of being universally valid, it becomes insecure and interchangeable. This isn't dangerous in itself, on the contrary, I'd say this is the basis for personal development and transformation and thus for authentic being. But if you're what Laing terms "ontologically insecure", if you're constantly in doubt whether you'll survive personal development and transformation or whether it would disorganize your personality to an annihilating point, if your whole personality stands on rather shaky ground, having to accept another person's reality becomes life-threatening. The more different from your own reality another person's reality is, the more shaky the ground becomes, your reality is built upon. And the more shaky the ground, your own reality is built upon, the more dangerous it becomes to accept the validity of another person's reality. Unless you're equipped with a solid self-knowledge that allows you to develop and transform personally.

Thus, to declare another person's reality invalid is nothing but a self-preserving defence-mechanism. Nevertheless, it excludes any possibility of understanding beforehand, and it is discriminating, devaluing and dehumanising the other person, and thus it is clearly contrary to the human rights and the values of democracy. It is, in fact, a totalitarian practice. Totalitarian systems are by definition rigid. Development, transformation and diversity are their greatest enemies.

Now, there are two ways to get rid of an enemy, a threat: You can fight or negotiate, on equal terms, and you risk to lose or at least having to compromise. Or you can declare your enemy invalid, and win before there even has been a fight or negotiation. The latter practise characterizes totalitarian systems.

Calling another person "junkie", "alcoholic", "schizophrenic", "psychotic", "manic", "crazy", "stupid" etc. etc. therefor corresponds to the totalitarian practise of devaluing this person in order to, most efficiently, get rid of him as the threat to you yourself, you experience him to be. "...psychosis is and always will be meaningless in its nature", the Danish psychiatrist Lars Søndergård thus states, in line with modern, biological psychiatry's interpretation of realities, diverse from society's dogmas and these questioning. Read the fear and the aggression it causes between the lines. The "psychotic" person is explained AWAY. The threat is gone. And so is the unique opportunity for development and transformation.

No comments: