The British Psychological Society’s History & Philosophy of Psychology Section in collaboration with the UK Critical Psychiatry Network invites submissions for its 2016 Annual Conference to be held at Leeds Trinity University 22nd-23rd March.
The theme of the conference is the history of mental health, with keynote addresses from Professor Gail Hornstein (Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts) and Dr. Joanna Moncrieff (University College London). Papers are invited in related areas such as clinical psychology, psychiatry, service users, resistances to psychiatry, critical perspectives and interventions.
Who is the Conference intended for? Academics (psychology, philosophy, medicine, history, sociology), clinicians (mental health), mental health service users/carers, postgraduate students.
The conference is open to independent and professional scholars in all relevant fields, not just Section or British Psychological Society members.
Oral and Poster Submissions will be invited for this Conference. Individual papers or symposia in any area dealing with conceptual and historical issues in Psychology, broadly defined, are invited. We particularly welcome submissions in related areas to the theme of the conference, such as clinical psychology, psychiatry, service users, resistances to psychiatry, critical perspectives and interventions.
Four bursaries are available to those working with mental health charitable organisations, service user groups or carers’ groups. If you wish to apply for a bursary please contact Dr. Alison Torn on firstname.lastname@example.org
AHP readers may be interested in a forthcoming article in Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A. The article, now available online, explores Scottish philosopher Thomas Brown’s associationism and recasts the associationist tradition in psychology. Full details follow below.
“Associationism without associative links: Thomas Brown and the associationist project,” by Mike Dacey. The abstract reads,
There are two roles that association played in 18th–19th century associationism. The first dominates modern understanding of the history of the concept: association is a causal link posited to explain why ideas come in the sequence they do. The second has been ignored: association is merely regularity in the trains of thought, and the target of explanation. The view of association as regularity arose in several forms throughout the tradition, but Thomas Brown (1778–1820) makes the distinction explicit. He argues that there is no associative link, and association is mere sequence. I trace this view of association through the tradition, and consider its implications: Brown’s views, in particular, motivate a rethinking of the associationist tradition in psychology. Associationism was a project united by a shared explanandum phenomenon, rather than a theory united by a shared theoretical posit.
The Constitution of Man by George Combe (1828) was probably the most influential phrenological work of the nineteenth century. It not only offered an exposition of the phrenological theory of the mind, but also presented Combe’s vision of universal human progress through the inheritance of acquired mental attributes. In the decades before the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species, the Constitution was probably the single most important vehicle for the dissemination of naturalistic progressivism in the English-speaking world. Although there is a significant literature on the social and cultural context of phrenology, the role of heredity in Combe’s thought has been less thoroughly explored, although both John van Wyhe and Victor L. Hilts have linked Combe’s views on heredity with the transformist theories of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck. In this paper I examine the origin, nature and significance of his ideas and argue that Combe’s hereditarianism was not directly related to Lamarckian transformism but formed part of a wider discourse on heredity in the early nineteenth century.
The September issue of Science in Context includes an article by Henning Schmidgen as part of a topical section on “Surfaces in the History of Modern Science: Inscribing, Separating, Enclosing.” In his piece Schmidgen explores the importance of Hermann Helmholtz’s graphic recordings of the speed of nerve transmissions. Full details follow below.
“Leviathan and the Myograph: Hermann Helmholtz’s “Second Note” on the Propagation Speed of Nervous Stimulations,” by Henning Schmidgen. The abstract reads,
In the winter of 1849–1850 in Königsberg, German physiologist Hermann von Helmholtz (1821–1894) conducted pioneering measurements concerning the propagation speed of stimulations in the living nerve. While recent historians of science have paid considerable attention to Helmholtz’s uses of the graphic method, in particular his construction of an instrument called “myographion,” this paper draws attention to the inscription surfaces that he used in effective ways for capturing and transmitting his findings. Against the background of recent archival findings, I show that Helmholtz used isinglass copies of his graphical recordings in order to communicate the basic principle of previous measurements to the academic public. As the correspondence with his Berlin-based friend and colleague Emil du Bois-Reymond (1818–1896) and the subsequent development of the myographion make clear, these curves were not meant as measurements but functioned as demonstrations. In other words, Helmholtz’s curves did provide “images of precision” (Olesko and Holmes 1993) – but they were not precise images.
We are sad to report that Elizabeth Scarborough has passed away. Scarborough’s work on the history of women in psychology, together with collaborator Laurel Furumoto, was groundbreaking. Their book Untold Lives: The First Generation of American Women Psychologists remains a classic. A founding member of Cheiron, she was a fixture at the society’s annual meetings, never missing a year, including the most recent gathering in Lawrence, Kansas this past June. A towering figure in the field, Elizabeth was warm and welcoming to newcomers. She will be sorely missed.
Update: An official obituary for Elizabeth Scarborough is now available online.
Wilhelm Wundt (1832–1920), as is well known, pursued his historically outstanding work at the University of Leipzig and it could be said that he counts as the most distinguished founder of Psychology. He not only built the world’s first laboratory of experimental psychology in Leipzig but also developed a theory of conscious experience that was underpinned by the method of introspection. Wundt wrote influential books on many aspects of psychology and he was a champion of investigating psychological processes by means of experiment. He further initiated a culture-historically oriented developmental psychology, for which he coined the – now obsolete – term “folk psychology”.
The houses in Leipzig where Wundt lived were destroyed in the Second World War. His last residence, in Großbothen near Leipzig, has been preserved, however. Wilhelm Ostwald (1853–1932), the Nobel Prize winner for chemistry with whom Wundt was close friends, lived across the street; there is a well-kept memorial site there for Ostwald that is quite popular. Wundt’s building was constructed in the style of its time (see photo). It is no longer in the possession of Wundt’s descendants and was uninhabited for quite some time. Though it is heritage-protected, its current owner has no interest in its preservation and would be willing to sell it at a reasonable price. High renovation costs would arise in case of its acquisition but at the same time the German Foundation for the Maintenance of Historical Monuments (Deutsche Stiftung für Denkmalschutz) has signaled that it would generously support such a project. There already exists the “Wilhelm Wundt Room” at Leipzig’s Department of Psychology and the Adolf-Würth Center for the History of Psychology in Würzburg. Yet it would be desirable if there were a place where we could commemorate the person behind all these achievements, to inspire future generations, and Wundt’s house in Großbothen could be a possible location for it.
So to save the Wundt house we are considering initiating crowd funding. As you are probably aware, donations by that method are initially virtual. Only if the number of backers and prospective sums appear sufficient for realizing the project would those who have participated be asked whether, indeed, they would be willing to donate the prospective amount.
In our introduction to this special issue on the histories of feminism, gender, sexuality, and the psy-disciplines, we propose the tripartite framework of “feminism and/in/as psychology” to conceptualize the dynamics of their conjoined trajectories and relationship to gender and sexuality from the late 19th through the late 20th centuries. “Feminism and psychology” highlights the tensions between a political movement and a scientific discipline and the efforts of participants in each to problematize the other. “Feminism in psychology” refers to those historical moments when self-identified feminists intervened in psychology to alter its content, methodologies, and populations. We propose, as have others, that these interventions predate the 1970s, the period most commonly associated with the “founding” of feminist psychology. Finally, “feminism as psychology/psychology as feminism” explores the shared ground between psychology and feminism—the conceptual, methodological, and (more rarely) epistemological moments when psychology and feminism made common cause. We suggest that the traffic between feminism and psychology has been persistent, continuous, and productive, despite taking different historically and geographically contingent forms.
Full titles, authors, and abstracts for articles in this special issue follow below.
The September 2015 issue of History of Psychiatry is now online. Among the articles in this issue are ones on Carl Jung (above) and his investigation of his cousin’s mediumship, the epistemological problems of incorporating possession into the DSM, a case study of a museum of mental health care history, and much more. Full titles, authors, and abstract follow below.
“The epistemological significance of possession entering the DSM,” by Craig Stephenson. The abstract reads,
The discourse of the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM reflects the inherently dialogic or contradictory nature of its stated mandate to demonstrate both ‘nosological completeness’ and cultural ‘inclusiveness’. Psychiatry employs the dialogic discourse of the DSM in a one-sided, positivistic manner by identifying what it considers universal mental disease entities stripped of their cultural context. In 1992 the editors of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders proposed to introduce possession into their revisions. A survey of the discussions about introducing ‘possession’ as a dissociative disorder to be listed in the DSM-IV indicates a missed epistemological break. Subsequently the editors of the DSM-5 politically ‘recuperated’ possession into its official discourse, without acknowledging the anarchic challenges that possession presents to psychiatry as a cultural practice.
Claudia Hammond presents the history of psychology series which examines the work of the people who have changed our understanding of the human mind. This week she explores Carl Rogers’ revolutionary approach to psychotherapy, led by the client and not the therapist. His influence can be seen throughout the field today.
Claudia meets Rogers’ daughter, Natalie Rogers, who has followed in her father’s footsteps and developed Expressive Arts Person-Centred Therapy, and hears more about the man from Maureen O’Hara of the National University at La Jolla, who worked with him. Richard McNally of Harvard University and Shirley Reynolds of Surrey University explain how far Rogers’ influence extends today, and Claudia sees this for herself in a consulting room in downtown San Francisco, where she meets Person-Centred psychotherapist, Nina Utigaard.
The latest issue of Theory & Psychology has been posted online and contains many compelling pieces, including works on Situated and Embodied Social Psychology, a critical Wittgensteinian investigation of methodological plurality, and a cultural-historical standpoint on subjectivity and Social Representation theory. We’ve compiled the abstracts here for your convenience:
Rethinking situated and embodied social psychology
Wim T. J. L. Pouw, & Huib Looren de Jong
This article aims to explore the scope of a Situated and Embodied Social Psychology (ESP). At first sight, social cognition seems embodied cognition par excellence. Social cognition is first and foremost a supra-individual, interactive, and dynamic process (Semin & Smith, 2013). Radical approaches in Situated/Embodied Cognitive Science (Enactivism) claim that social cognition consists in an emergent pattern of interaction between a continuously coupled organism and the (social) environment; it rejects representationalist accounts of cognition (Hutto & Myin, 2013). However, mainstream ESP (Barsalou, 1999, 2008) still takes a rather representation-friendly approach that construes embodiment in terms of specific bodily formatted representations used (activated) in social cognition. We argue that mainstream ESP suffers from vestiges of theoretical solipsism, which may be resolved by going beyond internalistic spirit that haunts mainstream ESP today.