Introducing: Dr Cheryl McGeachan

Dr Cheryl McGeachan teaches Human Geography in the School of Geographical & Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow, and can be contacted by email:, or twitter: @cherylmcgeachan


My ongoing research interests concern historical and cultural geographies of mental ill-health and asylum spaces, history of psychiatry and psychoanalysis, histories of science, life-writing and biography, and psychotherapeutic practices such as art therapy. Methodologically, I am interested in critically investigating the practices of the ‘archive’ and using visual methods to capture situated memories.

My work into ‘Asylum and Post-Asylum’ spaces is predominately situated in Scotland and centres on the life and work of psychiatrist and psychotherapist Ronald David Laing (1927-1989). Using the extensive collection of his papers held in the Special Collections at the University of Glasgow, I constructed a geographical biography into his early life and work entitled ‘Enticing Ghosts to Life: Exploring the Historical and Cultural Geographies of R.D. Laing’ (2010). In this work I aimed to demonstrate how certain spaces, sites and places became integral to the formation of Laing’s practices and broader philosophy on mental health issues, particularly schizophrenia. In uncovering Laing’s geography in this way I argue it becomes possible to understand how Laing’s ideas and practices with psychotic individuals are gradually reshaped through his different encounters with these spaces, sites and places. The sites, spaces and places under investigation range from the most intimate spaces of his childhood world to the experimental psychiatric spaces of army life.

Publications from this work include:

McGeachan, Cheryl (2014) ‘The world is full of big bad wolves’: investigating the experimental therapeutic spaces of R.D. Laing and Aaron Esterson. History of Psychiatry. ISSN 0957-154X (In Press)

McGeachan, C. (2013) Needles, picks and an intern named Laing: exploring the psychiatric spaces of Army life. Journal of Historical Geography, 40 . pp. 67-78. ISSN 0305-7488 (doi:10.1016/j.jhg.2012.10.002)

McGeachan, C. (2013) (Re)remembering and narrating the childhood city of R.D. Laing. Cultural Geographies, 20 (3). pp. 269-284. ISSN 1474-4740 (doi:10.1177/1474474012462532)

McGeachan, Cheryl (2014) ‘Worlding’ psychoanalytic insights: unpicking R.D. Laing’s geographies. In: Kingsbury, Paul and Pile, Steve (eds.) Psychoanalytic Geographies. Ashgate. ISBN 9781472407214 (In Press)

A Tapestry of Tales: Investigating the Historical Geographies of Art Therapy and ‘Art Extraordinary’ in Scotland (1950-1980)

Funded by the British Academy BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grants (2014/15)

Current research into ‘Asylum and Post-Asylum Spaces’ centres on the creation of art therapy and Art Extraordinary in Scotland. Examining the sites and spaces of the production of such work in Scotland – from mental hospitals to prisons – this work seeks to shed new light on the complex histories and geographies of mental health care during the period.

4 thoughts on “Introducing: Dr Cheryl McGeachan

  1. Pingback: Asylum and Post-Asylum Booklet Launch | Asylum and Post-Asylum Spaces

  2. Pingback: Reflections on RD Laing’s Archives Workshop | Asylum and Post-Asylum Spaces

  3. Pingback: ‘The Four Men of Hillside’: Art Extraordinary and Memories of Stone | Asylum and Post-Asylum Spaces

  4. Pingback: Researching Art Extraordinary | Asylum and Post-Asylum Spaces

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