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Emily Dickinson

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MUCH madness is divinest sense
To a discerning eye;
Much sense the starkest madness.
’T is the majority
In this, as all, prevails.
Assent, and you are sane;
Demur,—you ’re straightway dangerous,
And handled with a chain.
p. 9. Life.

Emily Dickinson

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His most original contribution, the source of his inspiration, what he wrote about and where he wrote from, was the time that he spent listening to mad people. Before Ronnie, few psychiatrists, if any, spoke with such a good ear for madness. There were others including Freud, Jung, Fromm-Reichman and Rosen, who attempted in some way to decode mad-speak, but Ronnie "hung out" with mad people. He was first of all a guy who, with people who were seen as mad, entered into a kind of a friendship; he created space that hadn't before opened up, between himself and the "mad." Also he was very plastic and mimetic, so he could imitate and get into other people's moods, thoughts, language, and world, including those of so-called "mad" people. And he was able to bring back and speak of what it was like to be "mad" (more or less). This gave "mad" people an enormous sense of relief. Someone heard them. They were not alone. Madness was not unreason, a total unintelligibility, a total difference between the sane and the insane. Ronnie showed that we're all in it together. There was not an unbridgeable gulf between sanity and madness: rather there is a continuum. Mad people felt that "this guy really understands what I'm going through." This proved extremely helpful for people who thought they were going mad, or who were told they were mad.

Ronald David Laing

His madness keeps him sane.

Joshua Abraham Norton

The constitution of madness as a mental illness, at the end of the eighteenth century, affords the evidence of a broken dialogue, posits the separation as already effected, and thrusts into oblivion all those stammered, imperfect words without fixed syntax in which the exchange between madness and reason was made. The language of psychiatry, which is a monologue of reason about madness, has been established only on the basis of such a silence.

Michel Foucault

In a totally sane society, madness is the only freedom.

J. G. Ballard

In this century the writer has carried on a conversation with madness. We might almost say of the twentieth-century writer that he aspires to madness. Some have made it, of course, and they hold special places in our regard. To a writer, madness is a final distillation of self, a final editing down. It's the drowning out of false voices.

Don DeLillo
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