Dr. ‘L’ had, on more than a few occasions, hinted that Chris was making a fool of him and everybody else. Was Dr ‘L’ going further by suggesting that Chris was acting? I had wondered the same thing. Yet it is difficult to reconcile that someone is acting with what seems to be a genuine inability to snap out of it. Could Chris “play” at being normal if he wanted to?
In his brilliant work The Divided Self, R. D. Laing recounts the thoughts of Joan, a recovered schizophrenic. Here, Joan addresses the word salad of supposedly meaningless things that schizophrenics say: “We schizophrenics say and do a lot of stuff that is unimportant, and then we mix important things in with all this to see if the doctor cares enough to see them and feel them.”
Laing observes, “A good deal of schizophrenia is simply nonsense, red-herring speech, prolonged filibustering to throw dangerous people off the scent, to create boredom and futility in others. The schizophrenic is often making a fool of himself and the doctor. He is playing at being mad to avoid at all costs the possibility of being held responsible for a single coherent idea or intention.”
R. D. Laing, The Divided Self (New York: Penguin, 1990), 164.