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Dramatizing madness: In two minds and 1960s counter-cultural politics

Wilson, Sherryl



This article explores the TV drama In Two Minds (BBC1, 1967) which was broadcast as a part of the Wednesday Play series. I argue that the play is the product of a constellation of social, cultural and institutional forces that dramatizes the avant-garde theories of the controversial psychiatrist R. D. Laing; as such, it represents an example of the ways in which television drama, at times, operates as a transgressive culture. In Two Minds operates at two levels; it at once an exposition of Laingian theory as well as a dramatization of the politics of experience. Representations of mental illness are used to critique traditional psychiatric practices along with traditional family and social structures more widely. The play is a collaboration by Tony Garnett and Ken Loach, whose interest in innovative and social issue-based TV drama formed a part of wider debates within the industry about the development of a television aesthetic. Thus, the play marks the moment in which the politics of television opened up a new transgressive space of representation that coheres with the moment that traditional politics of mental health were also being challenged. Although the play does not pay attention to gender politics there are some issues which, with 21st century hindsight, appear somewhat problematic; these are also explored.


Wilson, S. (2012). Dramatizing madness: In two minds and 1960s counter-cultural politics

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 1, 2012
Publication Date Apr 1, 2012
Journal Transgressive Cultures
Print ISSN 2043-7110
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 2
Issue 1
Keywords media and mental illness, feminist debate, R. D. Laing, schizophrenia, TV drama, TV history
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : This article was originally published in the journal Transgressive Cultures, available online:


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