Ronald David Laing, usually cited as R. D. Laing, was a Scottish psychiatrist who wrote extensively on mental illness – in particular, the experience of psychosis. Laing’s views are relevant to the case on Imdad Ali, the 50-year-old prisoner who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and psychosis in 2012, that doctors said impaired Mr Ali’s “rational thinking and decision-making capabilities”, and was declared clinically insane in a medical report the following year.

Facts of the case aside, the condition is a medical fact and its ignorance about it is political and social. It is a sad day that Pakistan’s highest court has ruled that schizophrenia does not qualify as a “mental disorder” under the country’s legal definition, paving the way for the future cases to be influenced. Such ignorance of mental diseases and disorders will only lead to a lack or access and care for sick people, as well as ridicule and stigmatisation.

“There is no such condition as schizophrenia, but the label is a social fact and the social fact a political event.”

–R. D. Laing, psychiatrist

(7 October 1927 – 23 August 1989).