Lewis Hyde’s Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth and Art (North Point Press) is a wonderful book of old stories about Hermes in Greece, Raven and Coyote in North America, Krishna in India and Eshu in West Africa, and new stories about Picasso, Fredrick Douglas, John Cage and Allen Ginsberg. Hyde’s thesis is that the “liveliness and durability of cultures require that there be space for figures whose function is to uncover and disrupt the very things that culture is based on.” In my work as a psychotherapist, ancient and modern stories about shamans, monks, gurus, Zen masters, Hasidic rabbis and philosophers are often the best sources for understanding what goes on between patient and therapist. My teacher was the late R.D. Laing, the controversial Scottish psychiatrist whose “shape-shifting,” I realize after reading Hyde, included trickster mind. The institution of psychiatry defines the threshold between sanity and madness: those it deems mad it can torture by calling its ministrations “treatment”; those who are certified mad lose their voices. “You are incapable of truth,” says the institution to the lunatic. Laing had the courage to converse with those whom society (and psychiatry) quarantined by labelling them mentally ill. The price Laing paid was that many of his colleagues considered him an ambulatory schizophrenic and would have loved to get their hands on him. They would not have conversed with him; they would have treated him, confined him, silenced him. Octavio Paz said that “to realize itself, love must violate the laws of our world. It is scandalous and disorderly, a transgression committed by two stars who break out of their predestined orbits and rush together in the midst of space.” Trickster is, perhaps, love realized. When Krishna multiplies himself 16,000 times to appear fully to each woman gathered around him, gratifying each one’s desire to be his lover, he is like a virus. Laing allowed for an epidemic of love, and he did his best to infect as many people as possible. What is love? For Laing it was letting the other be, with care and concern; it was treating the other as a legitimate other with whom one can coexist; it was contributing to the other’s survival benefits in an enlarging way; it was the absence of persuasion and coercion. The women followed Krishna because he gave each his full attention. So did Laing attend to each of his patients. He was with them. He invited everyone to cultivate enjoyment. Hyde writes of Ginsberg being asked, “How does one become a prophet?” Ginsberg replied, “Tell your secrets.” When Ginsberg admonished us to “pick your nose eyes ears tongue sex and brain to show the populace,” he wanted to make tricksters of us all.