Category Archives: Cheryl McGeachan

Cheryl McGeachan

Dr Cheryl McGeachan is Lecturer in 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 (Scottish) psychiatry and psychoanalysis, 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.

I am currently working in collaboration with Glasgow Museums on the Art Extraordinary Collection; a unique collection of Scottish ‘art brut’ collected by the first art therapist in Scotland, Joyce Laing. My work includes ‘mapping’ the Art Extraordinary collection in and through the (asylum) worlds from which it came and creating new asylum histories. Acute attention is given to attempting to understand the lived experiences of mental ill-health relating to the collection, and the intricate geographies that this produces.



In partnership with Dr Anthony Lewis and Claire Coia from Glasgow Museums, we are continuing to develop new initiatives with the Art Extraordinary Collection. This includes ongoing collaboration with community partners such as Leverndale Hospital and Barlinnie Prison.

Selected Publications from this work includes:

McGeachan, C. (2018) “A Prison within a Prison”?: Examining the enfolding spatialities of care and control in the Barlinnie Special Unit. Area, (Accepted for Publication)

McGeachan, C. (2017) ‘The Head Carver ’: Art Extraordinary and the small spaces of the asylum. History of Psychiatry, 28(1), pp. 58-71.(doi:10.1177/0957154X16676693) (PMID:27834293)

I also continue to work on the Scottish psychiatrist Ronald David Laing, tracing the sites, spaces and places that are important to his psychiatric practice. In doing so, I seek to reveal his thoroughly ‘spatial’ approach to engaging with mental ill-health and the worlds his patients encountered.

Selected Publications from the work includes:

McGeachan, C. (2016) ‘Do you have a frog to guide you?’: Exploring the ‘asylum’ spaces of R.D. Laing. In: Kritsotaki, D., Long, V. and Smith, M. (eds.) Deinstitutionalisation and After: Post-War Psychiatry in the Western World. Series: Mental health in historical perspective. Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 195-213. ISBN 9783319453590(doi:10.1007/978-3-319-45360-6_10)

McGeachan, C. (2014) ‘The world is full of big bad wolves’: investigating the experimental therapeutic spaces of R.D. Laing and Aaron Esterson. History of Psychiatry, 25(3), pp. 283-298.(doi:10.1177/0957154X14529222)

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. (doi:10.1016/j.jhg.2012.10.002)