Since attending the conference/lectures on Friday at the School of Geography and Earth Sciences at Glasgow University, called 'Encountering RD Laing', I've been reflecting on whether I actually did meet with him unexpectedly, casually, by chance. And yes I did.
I saw and heard him but not in the lecturing and academic posturing, the talking down to us and the shooshing, the tales of drunkenness and of buildings, the history and factual information, and of books to sell.
I saw something of him in the personhood of a man I know, a professor and researcher, who got alongside the women and mothers at this event, listening to us and being with us. I noticed it when first entering the refreshment room how he was in conversation with a woman that was more of a being with her. Listening.
Later on at lunch this same man came and sat with me and another mother/carer, on the periphery, which meant I was able to go and do some networking and engaging with others who were up for it. Not everyone was up for engaging with a mother like me. A writer, activist and campaigner. But some were and the dialogue was both interesting and useful.
I also saw something of him in the presentation from the last speaker whose philosophy is similar to mine (we're facebook friends) and who told stories of the Philadelphia Association communities. The legacy of RD Laing. He spoke in the voices of the people who had been mad and were helped in the PA community, by being there and having people go with them through the madness.
[I walked out of the morning session because I got fed up with being talked at and enjoyed some conversations with women, in the corridor and at the tea table. I made connections, heard stories and it was good to be on a level playing field.]
The event wasn't what I'd expected and I found it difficult at times to hang on in there because I don't like being lectured to or made to conform. It sets my teeth on edge and reminds me of the psychiatric system, coercive treatment and lost agency. I've always rebelled against institutionalisation. Just like RD Laing.
The caring focus of RD Laing by Prof Phil Barker and Poppy Buchanan-Barker
Recovering Sanity: A Compassionate Approach to Understanding and Treating Pyschosis by Edward Podvoll