We can think of Laing as a voice:
Kooky, wise, sympathetic, abrasive, perhaps
a voice, I think more and more, with a hint
of Hume or Adam Smith in its cadences.
To many, for sure, a voice of understanding –
“Laing knows me far better than you: he speaks
to me,” a patient, who’d never met Ronnie
told his psychiatrist.
But has there ever been a better
photographed mind doctor?
(extract from the poem ‘Pocket Edition’ written by Adrian Chapman)
On the 18th September 2014, a small group of individuals made their way through the grey Glasgow weather to the Special Collections in the University of Glasgow. They were there to take part in a Wellcome Trust supported creative writing project using the archive of Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing to explore issues of mental health and creativity. Supported by creative writer Geraldine Perriam, librarian Sarah Hepworth and geographer Cheryl McGeachan, the participants discussed, handled, listened and wrote about the archival materials associated with this famous psychiatrist. These pieces wonderfully created through the imagination of all involved, highlight the complexity of thinking about individuals now gone and the haunting questions that remain about the unearthing and retelling of the histories of mental health care.
Participants have donated their work from the day, ranging from poetry to personal commentary, and this has been compiled into a brochure that is freely available. If you would like a copy please email Cheryl McGeachan with your postal address.