Thursday, 30 July 2009

The game and R.D. Laing

I didn't like R.D. Laing when I attended University. I guess I didn't understand his words. I don't know if I understand his words much better these days, but I like them. And that makes all the difference.

"They are playing a game. They are playing at not playing a game. If I show them I see they are, I shall break the rules and they will punish me. I must play their game, of not seeing I see the game."

"It is our duty to bring up our children to love, honour and obey us.
If they don't, they must be punished,
otherwise we would not be doing our duty.

If they grow up not to love, honour and obey us
either we have brought them up properly
or we have not;
If we have
there must be something the matter with them;
if we have not
there is something the matter with us."

From KNOTS by R.D. Laing, Penguin Books Ltd, 1970


  1. "It is our duty to bring up our children to love, honour and obey us. If they don't, they must be punished,otherwise we would not be doing our duty."
    ?? I could scarcely disagree more!
    To whom does RD Laing think we owe such a duty anyway?!
    I think this quote is a much healthier way of expressing our duties and responsibilities *to* our children
    "Any situation in which 'A' objectively exploits 'B' or hinders his and her pursuit of self-affirmation as a responsible person is one of oppression. Such a situation in itself constitutes violence, even when sweetened by false generosity, because it interferes with the individual's ontological and historical vocation to be more fully human."

  2. Hi Georgie,

    When I read it that way, I agree with you. However, R.D. Laing was saying what other people say about their children though. He didn't espouse that view.
    It is truly dreadful when children are treated as objects (or anyone is treated like an object). I remember my father telling me I had to do something the way he said to do it. When I questioned him, he told me to 'hang as you grow then. Hang as you grow.' My father liked to have control over me, and I didn't think he should have control over me. We had a strange, combative relationship for a long time, but he mellowed towards the end of his life, God rest him, and I think we learned to respect each other finally.