22 September: “Portrait of the psychiatrist as a young man. The early writing and work of RD Laing, 1927-1960” (London)

UCL British Psychological Society History of the Psychological
Disciplines Seminar Series

Monday 22nd September

Dr. Allan Beveridge (Queen Margaret Hospital, Dunfermline)

“Portrait of the psychiatrist as a young man. The early writing and work
of RD Laing, 1927-1960”


For a period in the 1960s, Ronald Laing was the most famous psychiatrist
in the world. His books sold in millions and were translated into many
languages. In his most celebrated work, The Divided Self, published in
1960, he argued that madness was understandable. Laing’s reputation
subsequently went into serious decline, but in recent years there has
been renewed interest in him and a number of biographies and books have
been published. This interest has been fuelled by a disenchantment with
the claims of the neurosciences and an unease about biotechnology.
Laing’s existential approach of treating the patient as a person rather
than a malfunctioning mechanism has new-found appeal.

This paper will look at Laing’s early career up to the publication of
his first book in 1960. It will begin by looking at the major influences
on his work: psychiatric theory; existential analysis; religion; and the
Arts. It will then examine Laing’s early clinical career, firstly in the
British Army, followed by his time as a junior doctor at Gartnavel Royal
Hospital and the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow, before his
subsequent move to the Tavistock Clinic in London.

Organiser: Professor Sonu Shamdasani (UCL)

Time: 6pm to 7.30 pm.

Location: Arts and Humanities Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet
Place, University College London.

From the Torrington Place entrance to UCL, enter the campus on Malet
Place. After fifty metres, you will find Foser court on the right hand
side. Turn right under the underpass, and enter via the second door on
the right. The common room is straight ahead.

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