Dr Ronald David Laing

Dr Ronald David Laing

Birth
Glasgow City, Scotland
Death 23 Aug 1989 (aged 61)
France
Burial Glasgow, Glasgow City, Scotland
Memorial ID 79891039 · View Source
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Scottish psychiatrist & author who wrote extensively on mental illness, particularly the experience of psychosis. Laing's views on the causes & treatment of serious mental dysfunction, greatly influenced by existential philosophy, ran counter to the psychiatric orthodoxy of the day by taking the expressed feelings of the individual patient or client as valid descriptions of lived experience rather than simply as symptoms of some separate or underlying disorder. Laing was associated with the anti-psychiatry movement, although he rejected the label.
A radical psychiatrist, psychoanalyst & psychotherapist who profoundly altered our understanding of mental illness, he founded just one organisation: The Philadelphia Association. He studied medicine at the University of Glasgow & his first experiment in changing the way people designated the mentally ill took place at Glasgow's Gartnavel Hospital where he & colleagues radically altered the treatment regime in a long-term women's ward.
At a time when psychiatry & psychology were convinced of the biological basis of mental illness & of the largely chemical answer to the problem, Laing's best work stands as a challenge, a voice claiming that there is another way of making sense of these matters & that there are other ways of helping people deal with them. Still valid too is Laing's insistence that there is indeed meaning in madness & that the discourse of the disturbed may well make sense if listened to in the right spirit. While it is common to hear that his ideas have been discredited or even disproved (whatever that might mean), there seems little doubt that he (among others) changed the way that mental illness is understood & changed the ways in which those designated mentally ill are treated. He suffered a heart attack while playing tennis in the south of France.


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  • Created by: JohnRobert Mauney
  • Added: 5 Nov 2011
  • Find a Grave Memorial 79891039
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Dr Ronald David Laing (7 Oct 1927–23 Aug 1989), Find a Grave Memorial no. 79891039, citing Glasgow Western Necropolis, Glasgow, Glasgow City, Scotland ; Maintained by JohnRobert Mauney (contributor 47310410) .