Nerves and War. Psychological Experiences of Mobilization and Suffering in Germany, 1900-1933

THE GERMAN ARMY ON THE WESTERN FRONT, 1914-1918 © IWM (Q 88100)

From October 12 to 13, 2017 the Friedrich-Meinecke-Institut at the Free University of Berlin is hosting a conference on “Nerves and War. Psychological Experiences of Mobilization and Suffering in Germany, 1900-1933.” Organized by Gundula Gahlen, Björn Hofmeister, Christoph Nübel, and Deniza Petrova the conference is described as follows:

‘Nerves’ enjoyed a central place in German debates about war at the beginning of the 20th Century. Politicians, scientists, the public, and the military discussed the extent to which a future war would strain the nerves of German society. Concepts of ´strength of nerves´ as well as of ´weakness of nerves´ were increasingly used as combat terms during the First World War.  The massive scale of experiences of psychological injuries and suffering only added to this phenomenon. The social and political administration of the medical treatment of psychological war disabilities presided over post-war discourses of managing the consequences of war. Simultaneously, a new spiritual mobilization for war followed in the Weimar Republic, which, after 1933, ‘synchronized’ almost all aspects of social life in the Third Reich.

Current scholarship has devoted substantial historical research to the treatment and accommodation of psychological war-disabled veterans. This conference focuses on contemporary discourses on nerves in politics, society, science, and the military and aspires to elaborate the interaction as well as their practical consequences of these discourses for the period of 1900 and 1933. At this conference nerves are understood as a code and a construct that are central in negotiating identity. Both, contemporary discourses on nerves as well as individual and collective experiences of psychological mobilization and suffering will be presented and analyzed. The focus of the conference papers is on Germany, but in a wider European context.

Venue: Freie Universität Berlin, Fabeckstraße 23-25, 14195 Berlin, Room: 2.2059

Please register/contact us by October 5, 2017 atdpetrova@zedat.fu-berlin.de

For further information please visit the conference website: www.nervenundkrieg.de

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New Book! Constructing Pain: Historical, Psychological and Critical Perspectives

Now available from Routledge is Robert Kugelmann’s Constructing Pain: Historical, Psychological and Critical Perspectives. As described on the publisher’s website,

Everyone experiences pain, whether it’s emotional or physical, chronic or acute. Pain is part of what it means to be human, and so an understanding of how we relate to it as individuals – as well as cultures and societies – is fundamental to who we are.

In this important new book, the first in Routledge’s new Critical Approaches to Health series, Robert Kugelmann provides an accessible and insightful overview of how the concept of pain has been understood historically, psychologically, and anthropologically. Charting changes in how, after the development of modern painkillers, pain became a problem that could be solved, the book articulates how the possibilities for living with pain have changed over the last two hundred years.

Incorporating research conducted by the author himself, the book provides both a holistic conception of pain and an understanding of what it means to people experiencing it today. Including critical reflections in each chapter, Constructing Pain offers a comprehensive and enlightening treatment of an important issue to us all and will be fascinating reading for students and researchers within health psychology, healthcare, and nursing.

The volume was recently reviewed as part of History of the Human Sciencesbook reviews initiative.

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New HoP: Sandor Rado on Bisexuality, Psych and Social Engineering in 20th c. America, & Behavior Therapy in France

Sandor Rado

The August 2017 issue of History of Psychology is now available. Articles in this issue discuss psychoanalyst Sandor Rado’s influential views on bisexuality, American attitudes toward psychology, technology, and social engineering in the 20th century, and the difficult reception of behavior therapy in France. Full details below.

“Sandor Rado, American psychoanalysis, and the question of bisexuality,” by Tontonoz, Matthew. Abstract:

The Hungarian-born physician and psychoanalyst Sandor Rado (1890–1972), who practiced for most of his career in the United States, played a central role in shaping American psychoanalysts’ views toward homosexuality. Historians have pointed to Rado’s rejection of Freud’s notion of constitutional bisexuality as the key theoretical maneuver that both pathologized homosexuality and inspired an optimistic approach to its treatment. Yet scholarly analysis of the arguments that Rado made for his rejection of bisexuality is lacking. This article seeks to provide that analysis, by carefully reviewing and evaluating Rado’s arguments by the standards of his own day. Because one of Rado’s main arguments is that bisexuality is an outdated concept according to modern biology, I consider what contemporary biologists had to say on the topic. The work of behavioral endocrinologist Frank Beach (1911–1988) is important in this context and receives significant attention here. Rado ultimately distanced himself from Beach’s behavioral endocrinology, appealing instead to evolutionary discourse to buttress his claim that homosexuality is pathological. This tactic allowed him to refashion psychoanalysis into a moralistic discipline, one with closer ties to a medical school.

“B. F. Skinner and technology’s nation: Technocracy, social engineering, and the good life in 20th-century America,” by Rutherford, Alexandra. Abstract: Continue reading New HoP: Sandor Rado on Bisexuality, Psych and Social Engineering in 20th c. America, & Behavior Therapy in France

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New History of Psychiatry: Moral Insanity Diagnosis, Laboratory in the Asylum, Post-Mortem, & More!

The September 2017 issue of History of Psychiatry is now online. Articles in this issue explore the diagnosis of moral insanity and the French ethical tradition in psychiatry. Also explored are the laboratory in the asylum, the post-mortem in the asylum, the sphygmograph in the asylum, and much more. Full details below.

“Moral insanity and psychological disorder: the hybrid roots of psychiatry,” by David W Jones. Abstract:

This paper traces the significance of the diagnosis of ‘moral insanity’ (and the related diagnoses of ‘monomania’ and ‘manie sans délire’) to the development of psychiatry as a profession in the nineteenth century. The pioneers of psychiatric thought were motivated to explore such diagnoses because they promised public recognition in the high status surroundings of the criminal court. Some success was achieved in presenting a form of expertise that centred on the ability of the experts to detect quite subtle, ‘psychological’ forms of dangerous madness within the minds of offenders in France and more extensively in England. Significant backlash in the press against these new ideas pushed the profession away from such psychological exploration and back towards its medical roots that located criminal insanity simply within the organic constitution of its sufferers.

“Post-mortem in the Victorian asylum: practice, purpose and findings at the Littlemore County Lunatic Asylum, 1886–7,” by Lynsey T Cullen. Abstract: Continue reading New History of Psychiatry: Moral Insanity Diagnosis, Laboratory in the Asylum, Post-Mortem, & More!

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Chris Millard in The Atlantic: “The Dangers of Over-Policing Motherhood”

Historian Chris Millard writes in The Atlantic about “The Dangers of Over-Policing Motherhood.” Using the case of Munchausen syndrome by proxy as an example, Millard explores the impact of shifting understandings of the emotional support offered by mothers in the twentieth century. As Millard writes,

Towering over mid-century discussions of motherhood is the figure of John Bowlby, a British psychoanalyst of children whose ideas on “attachment theory” and “maternal deprivation” became exceptionally influential. Bowlby waxed lyrical about the importance of a stable mother figure, arguing from research in foster homes that a life of instability, delinquency and psychological problems follow in the wake of inconsistent mothering. Bowlby followed other U.K.-based psychoanalysts such as Anna Freud and Melanie Klein in arguing that small children’s social relations are incredibly important, and disruption of mothering in the early years has wide-reaching psychic and social consequences.

Note the double-edged sword of motherhood here. Attracting the praise of being a “good mother” was always accompanied by the threat that you might fall from the perch at any moment and cause devastating harm to your child. Hence the amplification of mechanisms of control, censure and punishment that go hand in hand with the valorization and surveillance of parenting. Deep within the medical and psychological frameworks promoting motherhood in this period, there lurks male anxiety over female power and influence.

This concern played out over the question of how much time parents should spend at the hospital with their child…

Read the full piece online here.

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New Book: Homo Cinematicus: Science, Motion Pictures, and the Making of Modern Germany

Now available from University of Pennsylvania Press is Andreas Killen’s Homo Cinematicus: Science, Motion Pictures, and the Making of Modern Germany:

In the early decades of the twentieth century, two intertwined changes began to shape the direction of German society. The baptism of the German film industry took place amid post-World War I conditions of political and social breakdown, and the cultural vacuum left by collapsing institutions was partially filled by moving images. At the same time, the emerging human sciences—psychiatry, neurology, sexology, eugenics, industrial psychology, and psychoanalysis—began to play an increasingly significant role in setting the terms for the way Germany analyzed itself and the problems it had inherited from its authoritarian past, the modernizing process, and war. Moreover, in advancing their professional and social goals, these sciences became heavily reliant on motion pictures.

Situated at the intersection of film studies, the history of science and medicine, and the history of modern Germany, Homo Cinematicus connects the rise of cinema as a social institution to an inquiry into the history of knowledge production in the human sciences. Taking its title from a term coined in 1919 by commentator Wilhelm Stapel to identify a new social type that had been created by the emergence of cinema, Killen’s book explores how a new class of experts in these new disciplines converged on the figure of the “homo cinematicus” and made him central to many of that era’s major narratives and social policy initiatives.

Killen traces film’s use by the human sciences as a tool for producing, communicating, and popularizing new kinds of knowledge, as well as the ways that this alliance was challenged by popular films that interrogated the truth claims of both modern science and scientific cinema. In doing so, Homo Cinematicus endeavors to move beyond the divide between scientific and popular film, examining their historical coexistence and coevolution.

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“The Long and Winding Road: 125 years of the American Psychological Association”

Having just wrapped up the convention celebrating the 125th anniversary of the American Psychological Association, this is a good time to reflect back on the the association’s history. John Greenwood does just that in a new piece in Behavioral Scientist:

It began humbly enough. In 1892, Granville Stanley Hall, professor of psychology and president of Clark University, invited 26 American psychologists to join him in forming a psychological association. A dozen invitees attended the first organizational meeting, in Hall’s office, on July 8, 1892. There, they founded the American Psychological Association. The participants learned that many psychologists who could not attend the meeting, such as John Dewey and Lightner Witmer, had agreed to join, and they selected two psychologists who had not been originally invited, Hugo Münsterberg of Harvard and Edward Titchener of Cornell. They elected Hall as the first president and scheduled their first meeting, at the University of Pennsylvania, for December of that year.

….

From its inception, membership in the APA was inclusive, at least with respect to religion and gender. The charter members included Edward Pace, a Catholic, and Joseph Jastrow, a Jew, who devised conventions for reporting that evolved into APA style. Two women, Mary Calkins and Christine Ladd-Franklin, were elected members in 1893.

But membership did not guarantee equal standing. Calkins studied at Harvard under James and Münsterberg, who judged her dissertation on learned paired associates to be the best produced in the Department of Philosophy. Yet Harvard declined to award her a degree because Harvard did not then grant degrees to women. Calkins went on to found her own laboratory and psychology program at Wellesley College. She became the first woman elected to the American Psychological Association (1905) and to the American Philosophical Association (1918). (In 1902 Harvard grudgingly offered her a degree from Radcliffe College, which she declined as “second-best.”)

Read the full piece here.

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New Social History of Medicine: Historicizing Hacking’s Concepts, Psychopathy, & More

The most recent issue of Social History of Medicine includes several articles of interest to AHP readers. Articles in this issue historicize Ian Hacking’s concepts via the example of Munchausen syndrome, describe the development of public health alcohol education in Britain, and explore psychopathy as social engineering in Finland. Full details below.

“Concepts, Diagnosis and the History of Medicine: Historicising Ian Hacking and Munchausen Syndrome,” by Chris Millard. Open Access. Abstract:

Concepts used by historians are as historical as the diagnoses or categories that are studied. The example of Munchausen syndrome (deceptive presentation of illness in order to adopt the ‘sick role’) is used to explore this. Like most psychiatric diagnoses, Munchausen syndrome is not thought applicable across time by social historians of medicine. It is historically specific, drawing upon twentieth-century anthropology and sociology to explain motivation through desire for the ‘sick role’. Ian Hacking’s concepts of ‘making up people’ and ‘looping effects’ are regularly utilised outside of the context in which they are formed. However, this context is precisely the same anthropological and sociological insight used to explain Munchausen syndrome. It remains correct to resist the projection of Munchausen syndrome into the past. However, it seems inconsistent to use Hacking’s concepts to describe identity formation before the twentieth century as they are given meaning by an identical context.

“‘Everybody Likes a Drink. Nobody Likes a Drunk’. Alcohol, Health Education and the Public in 1970s Britain,” by Alex Mold. Open Access. Abstract: Continue reading New Social History of Medicine: Historicizing Hacking’s Concepts, Psychopathy, & More

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NBN Interview w/ Claire D. Clark on The Recovery Revolution: The Battle Over Addiction Treatment in the United States

New from the New Books Network (NBN) of podcasts is an interview with Claire D. Clark on her newly released book The Recovery Revolution: The Battle Over Addiction Treatment in the United StatesAs NBN describes,

Before the 1960s, doctors were generally in control of the treatment of drug addicts. And that made a certain sense, because drug addicts had something that looked a lot like a disease or mental illness. The trouble was that doctors had no effective way to treat drug addiction. Their best idea–Federal “narcotics farms,” one in Kentucky and one in Texas–kept junkies clean, but only by keeping them away from the drugs those junkies craved. In that sense, they were no more effective than prisons, though in fairness drug farms offered various treatment regimens that enabled some addicts to get and stay clean. Other than locking them up, the medical establishment had no good answer to the question “How do you cure someone of narcotics addiction?” Essentially, then, junkies (who could not spontaneously “kick,” and a lot do) usually ended up in one of three places: on the street, behind bars, or dead.

Enter Charles Dederich. In 1958, Dederich, a veteran of AA and ex-drug addict, decided that addicts should take their treatment into their own hands, much like Bill Wilson and Bob Smith had done with AA in the late 1930s. He took what he learned in AA, adapted it, and created a long-term residential “therapeutic community” expressly for addicts and run by addicts. He called it Synanon, and with it he started what Claire D. Clark calls “the recovery revolution.”

The full interview can be heard online here.

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Special Issue: “Pragmatism and Psychologism” Feat. Charles Sanders Peirce on Experimental Psychology

The most recent issue of the European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy is devoted to “Pragmatism and Psychologism.” Edited by Rosa M. Calcaterra and Roberta Dreon the issue includes a number of articles that may be of interest to AHP readers, including a piece on Charles Sanders Peirce (right) and experimental psychology. Full details below.

“Introduction to Pragmatism and Psychologism,” by Rosa M. Calcaterra and Roberta Dreon. No Abstract.

“Anti-Psychologism and Neutrality: The Radical Empiricism of Husserl and James,” by Roberta Lanfredini. Abstract:

Both the phenomenology of Husserl and the pragmatist phenomenology of James can be categorized by the formula “radical empiricism,” which is explicit in James and implicit, but no less pervasive, in Husserl. For both of them, radical empiricism is additionally conjoined with an equally radical anti-psychologism. The problem is that the two terms “radical empiricism” and “anti-psychologism” take on a radically different meaning in the two authors. This essay aims to investigate the structural differences between two perspectives that, while following completely different courses, seem to share the same objective: to elaborate a philosophy which at no point moves away from the experiential plane.

“Psychologism and the Self,” by Vincente Sanfelix Vidarte. Abstract: Continue reading Special Issue: “Pragmatism and Psychologism” Feat. Charles Sanders Peirce on Experimental Psychology

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