“Go a Little Schizo”

Navigating the Dialectics of Our Lives

Nathan Smith
Interfaith Now

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Photo by DJ Paine on Unsplash

At the center of our lives is a dialectical tension between individual experiences and the structures we collectively use to organize those experiences. In The Politics of the Family, R.D. Laing illustrates this tension: a man and woman get married with 100 witnesses, but the wife doesn’t feel married until two months later, and the husband never felt married to the woman at all. In a subsequent fight, the wife says to the husband that she’s married to him, but he’s not married to her. On the one hand are their respective experiences of their relationship, and on the other are the concepts and rituals they use to contain those experiences — in a dialectical tension with one another.

Like Gregory Bateson and Don Jackson — who located schizophrenia in double-bind (mis)communications, compromised containers that scramble individual experiences — Laing located schizophrenia in the more pathological twists of this dialectic. Similarly, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, in response to psychoanalysis in their era, spoke of individuals channeling their lives (or having their lives channeled, so to speak) into interpersonal, sometimes quite complex structures — machines, assemblages. Like Laing’s notion, machines take in people’s energy — their needs, their passions, their anxieties; desire, to use Deleuze and Guattari’s term…

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Nathan Smith
Interfaith Now

Writer, therapy student, queer; interested in psychology, philosophy, literature, religion/spirituality. YouTube.com/@MindMakesThisWorld @NateSmithSNF