referenced in notes
For Becker, this is literally true: normality is our collective, protective madness, in which we repress the truth of the human condition, and those who have difficulty playing this game are the ones we call mentally ill…a paranoid is someone who knows a little of what’s going on. Psychoanalysis reveals the high price of denying this truth about man’s condition, what might be called “the costs of pretending not to be mad.”
Evidently we must choose between anxiety and repression. If we cannot face the truth of our condition, which is mortality (or groundlessness, according to my Buddhist interpretation), we must forget that truth, which is to repress it. The difference between neurosis and normality — that undramatic, unnoticed psychopathology of the average, according to Maslow — is how successful that repression is. The neurotic has a better memory than most of us, so anxiety keeps breaking through into consciousness and must be dealt with more harshly in order to preserve some purchase on one’s fate, some circumscribed sphere of action.