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(160) Purpurarauður

To continue my Laingian jag: I have a relative who, if you stay with her and come in through the door, being one of only two other people in the house, will say, “Is that John?”. She knows it’s you, of course—an intruder would not enter the house with the same noise characteristics. Metacommunication: <<I know you exist but I’m going to pretend you don’t exist because I don’t want you to be here; because I don’t want you to be here, I’m going to make you feel like you don’t exist as a social entity so you feel dead/angry inside—yet I haven’t broken any social rules as regards impoliteness. If you ask, “Is it okay to visit now?” I’ll reply, “Of course, you’re always welcome.”>> Hence Laing said schizos would say things like “I’m dead”; it’s because they’ve been unpersoned by maladaptive communication.

It’s a double-bind, since the overt communication is “you’re welcome” yet the metacommunication is “you’re not welcome”. The next steps in the game might be that the guest goes to their room and refuses to socialise in the lounge because they feel unwelcome inside. Then the relative will say to another relative, “Is everything okay with John, why doesn’t he come down?”. Metacommunication: <<I’m innocent, I’m a good host—he’s anti-social and has “a problem”>>. Double-binds are mainly a female thing; and Laing understood them because his mother was incredibly like this. This maladaptive communication strategy has increased in the West since women were emancipated because previously women were trained to be quiet and submissive.

It’s not entirely women. This relative’s father would do things like, when you were invited round and rung the bell, close the door in your face and say, “Not today, thank you.” But you invited me. <<But I only invited you to be polite, and to maintain control I’ll psychologically “unperson” you before you come in>>. However, my relative mainly learned it from her mother, a headteacher—teachers are very very unenlightened.


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