Revisiting Experimental Psychiatry

Pioneering Scots Psychiatrist R.D. Laing was nothing if not innovative.  In the late 1960’s and early 70’s he famously used game theory to investigate family dynamics and their role in the development of serious mental illness, particularly schizophrenia.

I came across a 1970’s documentary featuring one of Laing’s experimental community’s, where psychiatrists and psychologists lived side-by-side with their patients.  This revolutionary reversion of the standard doctor-patient relationship had interesting, if not particularly conclusive results.

There are times when this film is frustrating.  The therapeutic approach seems, at times, to be so deeply counterintuitive.  Yet, it pays to suspend judgement; what seems like an almost hopeless case, where one particularly disturbed individual seems incapable of living in community, has a surprising outcome.

Thinking ‘outside the box’ should always be encouraged.  R.D. Laing did it better than most.

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