How we 'treat' people with mental health problems has varied over the years from medical approaches where patients were locked up away from society to more community-based approaches which have sought to integrate treatment in the community so that people can live as full a life as possible. This cycle-ride will look at some of the significant sites of these different approaches.
Our guided tour will start at Kingsley Hall which was designed by Charles Cowles Voysey, son of C F A Voysey. Associated with radical movements, it housed Mahatma Gandhi in 1931.
Kingsley Hall represents an enduring question: is medication (and maybe psychotherapy) the appropriate treatment for mental ill health, or is empathy, 'being with' people who are undergoing psychotic experiences the curative factor? R D Laing came from a conventional treatment background. At Kingsley Hall from 1965-70 he presided over a radical anti-psychiatry experiment, where 'the sprawling house became an asylum in the original Greek sense of the word: a refuge, a safe haven for the psychotic and the schizophrenic, where there were no locks on the doors and and no anti-psychotic drugs were administered. Kingsley Hall's most famous resident was Mary Barnes, who covered the walls with finger paintings made first with her own excrement and later with paints. Today Kingsley Hall appears more conventional; even so, it hosted a mental health survivors' event for FEEL (Friends of East End Loonies) in 2010.(For further information see Observer - Kingsley Hall: RD Laing's experiment in anti-psychiatry)
Leaving, we'll ride down Bow Road on the CS2 to Aldgate East, turning off at Leman Street, for lunch in or around St Katherine's Dock. Around 2-2:30 we'll set off, riding across Tower Bridge, in the direction of the Maudsley Hospital in Camberwell and possibly the ORTUS, the Maudsley's learning and events centre in Grove Lane.
Meet 10:45 outside Kingsley Hall, Powis Road, Bow, E3 3HJ. (Nearest bike-friendly stations Bromley-by-Bow, Devons Road, and Bow Church: check for closures). This will be an easy going all-day ride with a pub lunch stop. No need to book - just turn up. Please ensure your bike is roadworthy. Contact Geraldine on 07739 232598 for further information.