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Encountering R.D. Laing’s Archive: Mental Health, Care and Creativity

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Encountering R.D. Laing’s Archive: Mental Health, Care and Creativity Why would anyone wish to encounter a dead psychiatrist? This was a question pursued throughout this project which sought to use one of Scotland’s most famous psychiatrists, Ronald David Laing (1927-1989), as a pivot to open up a set of conversations about mental health care across different academic disciplines, professions and communities. By developing a set of interconnecting events – a creative writing workshop in the Laing archive, a conference at the University of Glasgow and a film-showing of rare footage – this project sought to explore the different ways in which Laing’s material legacy could be used creativity to initiate new discussions about mental health care in Scotland and beyond. (See blog:

2014 marked a significant milestone in the institutional history of mental health care in Glasgow and this project aimed to use this unique opportunity to develop a new set of conversations across disciplines, professions and communities about the role of mental health care and provision in the current landscape. Through running a series of intersecting events, including a creative writing session in the R.D. Laing archive held in Special Collections at the University of Glasgow, a conference and film showing this project sought to highlight the R.D. Laing Collection as a research resource and inspiration for critical and creative outputs.

Key objectives included:

- To engage in cross-disciplinary and cross-community dialogue about mental health care in Scotland and beyond;

- To relate Laing’s work to the Humanities, both in Scotland and beyond;

- To set agendas and compile new initiatives for future engagements with the Laing collection;

- To introduce the Laing collection to a wider audience (through the dissemination of research and film screening of rare footage).

Funded by:  Wellcome Trust

Main contact:  Dr Cheryl McGeachan


Keywords: ArchivesCreative WritingFilm and TVHistory of MedicineMental healthPsychiatryR. D. Laing

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