The Philadelphia Association was founded in 1965 by psychiatrist R.D. Laing, Dr Leon Redler, Dr Joseph Berke and a number of other psychiatrists, to challenge accepted ways of understanding and treating mental and emotional suffering.
In order to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Philadelphia Association’s residency at Kingsley Hall in London's East End, R.D. LAING 50 will explore some of their radical approaches to "anti"/psychiatry through conversation, film, and music. By unfolding this "soft" historiography of the Association's work, we can hopefully better contextualise its lasting impact on a diverse range of fields, as well as add something to our received history of the time.
The evening will bring together practitioners from Kingsley Hall, and artists who have researched and been inspired by its specific time/space. The event is curated by musician Dee Sada.
“For people who had been diagnosed as being psychotic and hospitalised, but who found psychiatric treatment unhelpful or harmful, or for people who likely would be diagnosed as psychotic and hospitalised if they found themselves in a medical/psychiatric context, Laing and colleagues wanted to offer the possibility of a place where they could live with others and be safe from unwanted treatment (in all senses).
Such a place might be a place for communal and collective research into the understanding of severe sufferings of the soul, or psyche, and/or damaged sense of one’s own being and relatedness to others, without that being ‘medicalised’ and ‘treated’ by means of conventional psychiatry.
If actualised, and this is what at least some hoped might happen at Kingsely Hall, that could offer the possibility of fresh ways of understanding self and others and coming to discover who one was and wasn’t…when the conventions of psychiatry and society were put in question and not privileged.
50 years later, I’m an old man and have tried to honour the spirit of that research into the origins of suffering and responsible responses to suffering…in self and others. I remain a perpetual beginner….which may be both too modest and too grand a claim.”
Dr Leon Redler, March 2015
"My life at KH was lively, enlightening, exhausting, difficult, infuriating and productive. This is not just because of my involvement with Mary Barnes, but because I was part of a continually changing community which revolved around a charismatic leader, Ronnie Laing.
It was a very creative period which developed new ways of relating to very disturbed and disturbing people (especially the non designated patients living at KH, the therapists and artists), the use of psychedelic drugs ( at that time completely legal) , exploring political and social systems (particularly through the New Left Review magazine), meeting all manner of avant-garde artists, philosophers, musicians, and cranks, and organizing the Dialectics of Liberation Conference ( July 1967, at the Roundhouse).
Dr Joseph Berke, March 2015
DR LEON REDLER
DR JOSEPH BERKE
THE BOHMAN BROTHERS
I LOVE THEM, FOR THEY ARE MY FRIENDS (BLUE ON BLUE)