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Another Poem About Insanity and the Family by Psychiatrist R.D. Laing

This poem was taken from page 6 of R.D. Laing's book Knots (1970).  Laing's poems seem to implicate the family as the root of many mental and emotional difficulties, believing that within the family people place conditions on acceptance and love, and furthermore that sometimes hostile games are played out within the family.

there is something the matter with him
because he thinks
   there must be something the matter with us
for trying to help him to see
that there must be something the matter with him
to think that there is something the matter with us
for trying to help him see that
  we are helping him
to see that
  we are not persecuting him
  by helping him
  to see we are not persecuting him
  by helping him
  to see that
  he is refusing to see
  that there is something the matter with
    him
  for not seeing there is something the matter
    with him


The poem continues for some pages, but just by taking one section out we can begin to see the twisted logic and make sense of it.  Within families and networks, no one wants to accept responsibility that they might be part of the problem. In reality difficulties arise from the interactions between people, and because each of us has a different and sometimes opposing goal. If someone is acting out, why are they acting out? What caused it? Are they rebelling against something or someone? Society, the family, the environment, these things all contribute and cause problems to arise. There is a sense of shared responsibility. This shared responsibility does not however absolve us of individual responsibility. We are all responsible for our own actions, but to try and resolve a problematic situation, we need to understand the dynamic from which the problematic situation arises, and the shared responsibility for causing it. We must each consider our role in resolving the problematic situation. Very often, a compromise must be reached.