New collection: on tour with R D Laing in 1970s America

R D Laing talking to an audience in Chicago (MS Laing Add 1/A/75) From “R D Laing in the USA” © 1972, 2011 Surveillance Films, Inc. All rights reserved.

40 years ago, on the 5 November 1972, the psychiatrist  R D Laing (1927-1989) embarked on a month-long speaking tour of the USA. Special Collections is pleased to announce that the film and audio recorded during his journey is now available for consultation. The material, from director/producer Peter Robinson’s “R.D. Laing in the USA”, is a revealing, in-depth, largely unseen portrait of Laing in both formal and informal situations – addressing packed lecture halls at university campuses, in intimate discussion groups, meeting professional colleagues, conducting media interviews and in private moments of relaxation.

Peter Robinson, the director and producer of a number of films about Laing including “Asylum”, here reveals wide-ranging insights into Laing and his work among audience members, students, journalists and fellow professionals, and in discussion with Laing himself. 1972, like 2012, was an election year in America – Richard Nixon was re-elected as President on 7 November – and Laing’s observations on contemporary life and politics in America and the West, and comparisons with his recent experience of living in India and Sri Lanka, are also recorded.

Director/producer Peter Robinson interviewing Laing on train to Baltimore (MS Laing Add 1/A/15) From “R D Laing in the USA” © 1972, 2011 Surveillance Films, Inc. All rights reserved.

This collection, which also includes “Breathing & Running” and “Psychiatry and Violence” has been presented by the director’s son, Kenneth Robinson (Surveillance Films). We are also grateful to the Wellcome Trust who funded the preservation and digitisation of this material, and to the Scottish Screen Archive (National Library of Scotland) for technical advice and support.

Access to this material is by appointment. Please contact Special Collections for more information.

See also:
In the news: R D Laing and Kingsley Hall

Categories: Special Collections

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2 replies


  1. Encountering R D Laing’s Archive | University of Glasgow Library
  2. R. D. Laing in the USA, 1972—and His Message to the Smartphone-Obsessed 21st Century – University of Glasgow Library Blog

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