Is psychosis a journey and a breakthrough to somewhere more authentic? Should unhappy people be made to adjust to a mad society? Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing was a fierce critic of the mental health system, and saw madness as a rational adaptation to irrational family and social constraints. Laing’s compelling prose, acute intellect, and spiritual insight made a huge cultural impact worldwide, shaping the psychiatric survivor movement and calling to overturn social conventions during the U.S. war in Vietnam and the revolutionary 1960s. How are Laing’s provocative insights about politics and culture still relevant today?
Michael Guy Thompson, a psychoanalyst and founder of the Gnosis Retreat Center, worked with R.D. Laing in London and has created hospital alternative sanctuaries for people struggling with experiences called psychosis. He directs the annual R.D. Laing in the 21st Century Symposium at Esalen Institute. www.gnosisretreatcenter.org www.michaelguythompson.com