Theophillis Goodyear: Eliot Benjamin on Madness as the Norm

11 Society, Cultural Intelligence
Theophillis Goodyear

R. D. Laing eventually decided that society is far more insane than any individual, and that the most insane among us are the ones who can adapt to this insanity without blinking and promote it as being perfectly normal.

The most sane among us are those who are so sensitive that they wither under this cruel, common fiction and retreat into a self-imposed exile from what the world tells them is the normal state of affairs for human society. And they are thrown into insane asylums for their psychic fragility.
It’s like the old joke about the old man from the country trying to give directions to a young man from the city: “You can’t get there from here.” And that’s what Laing was trying to say. We can’t get to sanity if we accept the norms of contemporary society as sane. Or as someone once said: “The terrible thing has already happened.” In other words, the activating mindset is so deeply buried in human history that we’re blind to it.
In this article, Elliot Benjamin—-“philosopher, mathematician, musician, counselor, writer, with Ph.Ds in mathematics and psychology and the author of more than 80 published articles in the fields of pure mathematics, mathematics education, spirituality & the awareness of cult dangers, and art & mental disturbance”—-discusses the idea that madness has become the norm. And he quotes R. D. Laing:
“Given the conditions of contemporary civilization, how can one claim that the ‘normal’ man is sane? 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 men in the last fifty years.”