Recently, he's been updating his comedy-drama I,Tommy, based on the life and times of controversial political figure Tommy Sheridan. But Pattison's biographical theatre work has inspired his quixotic hand to a deeper delve into the mind with a new play, a full-blown drama, based on an episode in the life of controversial - and cult - Glasgow-born psychiatrist RD Laing.
Laing, who died 25 years ago next year, challenged the core values of a practice of psychiatry which considers mental illness to be a biological phenomenon - without regard for social, intellectual and cultural dimensions. Laing also claimed psychiatry was founded on a false epistemology; mental illness is diagnosed by conduct, but treated biologically.
But it was his risk-taking radical treatments and interaction with patients which set Laing apart. For example, he would become naked to treat patients who refused to wear clothing. He experimented with LSD in the 1960s, and hung around with rock stars - which made him a prime target for Establishment forces.
Pattison reveals he has been fascinated by Laing since the 1970s.
"Back in 1972, I was doing a course in English literature at Streatham College and the teacher handed the class out sheets of papers with a poem on it," he recalls.
"We were asked to read the poem and suggest what it meant. The poem read 'They are playing a game. They are playing at not playing a game. If I show them I say they are I shall break the rules and they will punish me. I must play their game of seeing I say the game'.
"I said it sounded to me like somebody was struggling in a totalitarian regime, one man against the odds trying to find a coping strategy.
"Turns out I was absolutely wrong - and absolutely right. The poem was written by RD Laing who had been doing a lot of work with schizophrenics.
"But it was about coping strategies, in fact by family members who perhaps have a fragile shell of a personality - which is being weighed down by a domineering or controlling family member. And this personality fragments into other facets of their personalities.
"It's about these fragile people trying to exercise a measure of control over those oppressors. And it made me think the family is actually quite a political construct, and the particular becomes the universal."
Pattison read more of Laing and was fascinated, by themes, by Laing's very clever writing, by Laing's descriptions of his own life in Wisdom, Madness and Folly.
"His work is still being talked about, analysed by successive generations. I saw a photo recently of Russell Brand with a copy of The Politics of Experience in his hand. And RD remains a controversial figure. When a plaque was unveiled in his birthplace recently, in Ardbeg Street in Glasgow's Govanhill the psychiatrists' Association were divided about whether or not to contribute to the cost. In the end, they didn't. Laing's old alma mater Glasgow University on the other hand, was delighted to do so.
"Then having written a play about Tommy Sheridan, I figured I would like to try another of those fascinating, flawed, driven charismatic characters - who were both good looking.
"And what also connects them was their character flaws both brought about their personal nadirs. I also loved the idea of exploring another controversial figure, but like Tommy, RD's story is a fascinating one."
Pattison has taken a Laing family incident and used it to illuminate the psychiatrist's story. Considering Laing analysed the individual via the Family dynamic, it's a clever premise to switch the focus on to the man who evaluated the minds of others.
"I hope so," says the writer. "And it seems to me there was gap between what Laing said - and did.
"But, aside from his take on the workings of the human mind, what I like about RD was his sense of humour. I remember from my early teens my own family sitting around the dinner table one Christmas. During a pause in the conversation my father said, 'Here we all are, sitting around, waiting for death'. In our mordant Scottish way, my father and I both found this very funny. RD had a similar dark strain in his humour. He too liked to hear the chains rattle in the cupboard."
Divided, Oran Mor, Glasgow, September 9-14.
The opening production in the new season of A Play, A Pie and A Pint lunchtime theatre, Trouble and Shame, is reviewed on Page 18.
I, Tommy is at the Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow, September 17-21.