Chronology (Adapted from Laing Society):
7th October 1927. Born in Govanhill, Glasgow, Scotland. Only son of David McNair Laing and Amelia Laing nee Kirkwood. During the pregnancy, his mother constantly concealed the fact that she was pregnant by wearing a heavy overcoat whenever
she went out. Ronald Laing claimed later to remember his moment of birth.
August 1932. Began to attend John Cuthbertson Primary School, Glasgow, aged four.
1936-1945. Attended Hutcheson's Boys' Grammar School, Glasgow, where he was an excellent student. Studied the Classics extensively. Learned Greek and Latin. Showed exceptional musical ability. Was elected as a Licentiate of the Royal
Academy of Music on 30th March 1944, and an associate of the Royal College of Music in April 1945. Read numerous works of philosophy while still at school, including Freud, Marx, Nietsche and especially Kierkegaard.
1945-51. Studied Medicine at Glasgow University. Prominent member of the university Debating Club and the Mountaineering Club. Met his first girlfriend, a French exchange student called Marcelle Vincent. Failed his final exams early
1950, which he successfully retook in December 1950. Spent a brief period as a houseman on a psychiatric ward, which inspired him to pursue psychiatry. During this period he met Aaron Esterson, with whom he later co-authored Sanity, Madness and the Family.
1951. Spent six months working as an internist at the Killearn Neurosurgical Unit, near Glasgow.
1951-53. Conscripted as an officer into the Royal Army Medical Corps. Posted to the British Army Psychiatric Unit, Netley, near Southampton, and then to the Military Hospital at Catterick, Yorkshire.
11th October 1952. Married his girlfriend Anne Hearne, who had become pregnant.
7th December 1952. His wife Anne gave birth to a girl whom they named, Fiona.
July 1953. Published a paper in the Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps - 'An Instance of the Ganser Syndrome.'
Late 1953-56. Left the army. Went to Gartnavel Royal Mental Hospital, Glasgow, to complete his psychiatric training. There he set up an experimental treatment setting - the 'Rumpus Room', where schizophrenic patients spent time in a
comfortable room. Both staff and patients wore normal clothes, and patients were allowed to spent time doing activities such as cooking and art, the idea being to provide a setting where patients could respond to staff and each other in a social, rather
than institutional setting. The patients all showed a noticeable improvement in behavior as a result of this. Later moved to a senior registrar's post at the Southern General Hospital.
September 1954. Laing's second daughter, Susan, was born.
November 1955. A third daughter, Karen, was born.
1st January 1956. Qualified as a psychiatrist.
May 1956. Read Colin Wilson's recently published book The Outsider, which he vowed to emulate. Began writing The Divided Self.
Late 1956. Appointed as a senior registrar at the Tavistock Clinic, London. Accepted for training as a psychoanalyst by the Institute of Psychoanalysis.
1957. A son, Paul was born.
1958. Began the research that led to Sanity, Madness and the Family. Also began a series of seminars that involved him with a number of people who were to go on to become important collaborators, including Aaron Esterson and David Cooper.
April 1958. Adrian Laing born.
1960. The Divided Self published by Tavistock Publications. The book received favorable reviews but at first did not sell well. Laing qualified as a psychoanalyst and set up a private practice at 21 Wimpole Street, London. Began to
experiment with drugs, especially LSD.
1961. Self and Others published by Tavistock Publications.
Early 1962. Met Gregory Bateson, another important collaborator, while on a research trip in the United States. By this time his marriage was beginning to break up, and he began an affair with a Daily Express journalist called Sally
Vincent. Appointed Clinical Director of the Langham Clinic in London.
1963. Began to appear in the popular media.
1964. Wrote most of the articles that were later compiled into The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise. Appeared on British television five times. Sanity, Madness and the Family, which had been co-authored with Aaron Esterson
was published, as was Reason and Violence, which was co-authored with David Cooper. Met Timothy Leary in New York.
1965. Started another affair with a German graphics designer called Jutta Werner. The Divided Self, reissued by Penguin Books, became an immediate bestseller. Opened the Kingsley Hall project with Aaron Esterson, David Cooper and others.
This was an experimental, non-hierarchical community, were schizophrenics were given space to work through their psychoses without resort to drugs, ECT or surgery. Inspiration came from Laing's 'Rumpus Room' project, Cooper's 'Villa 21', a community for
schizophrenics with no distinctions made between staff and patients, and Esterson's experiences of a kibbutz for schizophrenics in Israel.
15th to 30th July 1967. Took part in the Dialectics of Liberation Congress, intended to bring together left wing politics and psychoanalysis. Gave a speech entitled 'The Obvious', which was later published in an anthology of speeches
from the congress.
1967. The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise, his most commercially successful book, published by Penguin in Britain and Pantheon in the US.
September 1967. His girlfriend Jutta Werner gave birth to a son, Adam.
1970. The Kingsley Hall Project closed.
April 1970. Had a second child by Jutta Werner, a girl called Natasha.
1971. Knots published by Penguin in Britain and Pantheon in the US.
March 1971. Went to Ceylon with Werner and their two children, where he spent two months studying meditation in a Buddhist retreat. After their visas expired, they moved on to India, where Laing spent three weeks studying under Gangroti
Baba, a Hindu ascetic, who initiated Laing into the cult of the Hindu goddess Kali. Also spent time learning Sanskrit and visiting Govinda Lama, who had been a guru to Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert.
April 1972. Returned to London.
5th November to 8th December 1972. Embarked on a lecture tour of the United States. Appeared on TV with Norman Mailer. Met Elizabeth Fehr, a psychotherapist who used 'rebirthing' psychodramas to treat patients. Laing would go on to
adopt these rebirthing techniques himself.
Late 1973. Began running regular rebirthing sessions.
Valentine's Day, 1974. Married Jutta Werner.
24th June 1975. Max, his third child with Jutta, was born.
1976. Do You Love Me? and The Facts of Life published. These works sold poorly in Britain and America, but were popular in continental Europe.
March 1976. Susie Laing, his daughter from his first marriage, died of leukemia.
1978. Conversations With Children published.
21st April 1978. Laing's father died at 5.15pm, the exact time of Laing's birth.
September 1980. Took part in a three week conference, 'The Psychotherapy of the Future', at Zaragosa, Spain. Other notable figures included Fritjof Capra, Stanislav Grof, Jean Houston and Rollo May.
15th September 1984. Ronald's 9th child, Benjamin, was born to his girlfriend Sue Sunkel.
February 1985. His autobiography, Wisdom, Madness and Folly, was published. A portrait of Laing was unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery of Scotland.
1986. Divorced from Jutta Laing.
1987. Was forced into resigning from the medical register of the General Medical Council, effectively preventing him from practicing medicine.
6th January 1988. A son, Charles, was born to Marguerite (née Romayne-Kendon) and Ronald Laing
1988. Participated in a Canadian documentary entitled Did You Used to Be R.D. Laing?
23rd August 1989. Died of a heart attack while playing tennis in St. Tropez, France.