To write such a history is a daunting task. Why should we undertake it? Gender analysis offers some particularly rich historiographic potential for psychology as a science that is not only gendered on multiple levels but also directly produces scientific knowledge about gender itself. It is a powerful contributor to – as much as it draws upon – the ‘beliefs about gender’ that affect everyday experience and how we understand each other and ourselves. This deeply reflexive nature of psychology has been extensively discussed by historians (see Smith, 2005). Gender is one of the primary axes of self-understanding and social and political organisation – including that of science. Thus, examining how the gendering of psychology has influenced its knowledge-generation about gender can help us begin to disentangle the science/gender system in new ways. Finally, by bringing close historical scrutiny to the ways that gender ideologies run in and through psychology, we can start to destabilise – and perhaps even change – them today.
Some AHP readers may interested in a forthcoming symposium on Mad Studies and Neurodiversity. The one day event will take place Wednesday June 17th at Lancaster University in the UK,and “aims to foster dialogue between two relatively new areas of scholarship and activism in the social sciences – that of Mad Studies and Neurodiversity.” The symposium’s description and aims are provided below and full details, including registration information, for the event can be found here.
Mad Studies and Neurodiversity – exploring connections
Wednesday 17th June 2015 – Lancaster University, UK
Funded by the Centre for Disability Research and the Department of Sociology, Lancaster University.
This symposium builds on conversations that begun during the inaugural Mad Studies stream at Lancaster Disability Studies Conference in September 2014. It aims to foster dialogue between two relatively new areas of scholarship and activism in the social sciences – that of Mad Studies and Neurodiversity.
Mad Studies and Neurodiversity are both emergent areas of scholarship that aim to bring the ‘experiences, history, culture, political organising, narratives, writings and most importantly, the PEOPLE who identify as: Mad; psychiatric survivors; consumers; service users; mentally ill; patients; neuro-diverse; inmates; disabled – to name a few of the “identity labels” our community may choose to use’ (Costa, 2014) to the academic table. To date, academic activities around madness and neurological divergence have failed to include those with lived experience, who are ‘frequently frozen out of the processes of knowledge production’ (Milton, 2014, p. 794). This is not limited to the big business of pharmaceuticals, or the biological or genetic research that seeks to identify bio-markers for and eradicate autism, schizophrenia and the like. Indeed, much of social scientific work in these areas may aim, but continually fail, to include lived expertise equally, positioning patients/users/survivors as outsiders, objects for interpretation and research ‘on’ rather than ‘with’ (Beresford and Russo, 2014; Milton and Bracher, 2013).
In an article forthcoming in Theory & Psychology Mariagrazia Proietto and Giovanni Pietro Lombardo explore the history of the idea of “crisis” in psychology through the lens of Italian psychology. The article is now available OnlineFirst here. Full title and abstract follow below.
“The “crisis” of psychology between fragmentation and integration: The Italian case,” by Mariagrazia Proietto and Giovanni Pietro Lombardo. The abstract reads,
Crisis, as a construct, recurs in the history of psychology and has attracted the attention of psychological historians and philosophers in recent years, who have given life not only to a debate about psychological historiography, but also to a philosophical-epistemological reflection about the foundations of scientific psychology. These scholars, however, ignore the Italian literature on the theme, which is rich with useful details for both areas. After an analysis of the different meanings historically applied to the term crisis, this article examines the history of Italian psychology with a description of the origins and developments and with special attention paid to the construct of crisis. The analysis covers both the output of early 20th-century Italian psychologists on the theme, and how this has been treated in historians’ reconstruction of the theme. The article provides new historiographical elements within the framework of international research on the crisis.
The volume is comprised of sections on: philosophical/conceptual approaches, historical approaches, narrative and social psychological approaches, and theoretical studies of scientific, professional, and life practices.
Chapters of particular interest to our readership include:
Theory for and as Social Practice of Realizing the Future: Implications from a Transformative Activist Stance, by Anna Stetsenko
Historical Thinking as a Tool for Theoretical Psychology: On Objectivity by Thomas Teo
The History of Psychological Objects by Adrian Brock
Historical Ontology, by Jeff Sugarman
Historiometry, by Dean Keith Simonton
Statistical Thinking in Psychological Research: In Quest of Clarity through Historical Inquiry and Conceptual Analysis, by James T. Lamiell
Allies in Interdisciplinary Spaces: Theoretical and Science Studies, by Kareen R. Malone and Lisa M. Osbeck
Feminism and Theoretical Psychology, by Alexandra Rutherford, Kate Sheese, and Nora Ruck
Black Skin, White Coats is a history of psychiatry in Nigeria from the 1950s to the 1980s. Working in the contexts of decolonization and anticolonial nationalism, Nigerian psychiatrists sought to replace racist colonial psychiatric theories about the psychological inferiority of Africans with a universal and egalitarian model focusing on broad psychological similarities across cultural and racial boundaries. Particular emphasis is placed on Dr. T. Adeoye Lambo, the first indigenous Nigerian to earn a specialty degree in psychiatry in the United Kingdom in 1954. Lambo returned to Nigeria to become the medical superintendent of the newly founded Aro Mental Hospital in Abeokuta, Nigeria’s first “modern” mental hospital. At Aro, Lambo began to revolutionize psychiatric research and clinical practice in Nigeria, working to integrate “modern” western medical theory and technologies with “traditional” cultural understandings of mental illness. Lambo’s research focused on deracializing psychiatric thinking and redefining mental illness in terms of a model of universal human similarities that crossed racial and cultural divides.
Black Skin, White Coats is the first work to focus primarily on black Africans as producers of psychiatric knowledge and as definers of mental illness in their own right. By examining the ways that Nigerian psychiatrists worked to integrate their psychiatric training with their indigenous backgrounds and cultural and civic nationalisms, Black Skin, White Coats provides a foil to Frantz Fanon’s widely publicized reactionary articulations of the relationship between colonialism and psychiatry. Black Skin, White Coats is also on the cutting edge of histories of psychiatry that are increasingly drawing connections between local and national developments in late-colonial and postcolonial settings and international scientific networks. Heaton argues that Nigerian psychiatrists were intimately aware of the need to engage in international discourses as part and parcel of the transformation of psychiatry at home.
A new interactive history of psychology resource, Investigating Psychology, is now freely available online via The Open University. The tool was created by Rose Capdevila (The Open University), Eleni Androuli (The Open University), and Katherine Hubbard (University of Surrey). As described in the announcement of the tool’s launch,
Our aims in developing this was to generate a tool to enable people to explore the development of psychological thinking not only across time, but also within the context of social, conceptual and historical changes. It includes: people, contexts, perspectives and methods as well as the ‘narratives’ feature. We’ve especially tried to generate a greater feeling of investigation and discovery throughout the feature and so it encourages interaction. Its also possible to ‘share’ star fields and information generated in the resource.
Its a completely open resource, thanks to Open Learn, and so absolutely anyone can use it. It was recently launched at the annual BPS conference and so it ready to be used as a useful tool for anyone teaching or learning CHIP. It can also be continually updated – just see the ’email us’ link at the bottom to make any suggested inclusions to the tool.
Continuing the theme of the history of madness that has organically cropped up in our posts as of late, the Finnish University of Oulu‘s Department of the History of Science and Ideas has launched a new forum for scholars of madness as a substantive topic with a geographic focus on the Nordic region specifically, Europe at large, but with a global scope.
Their mission statement is as follows:
The main purpose of Madness Studies is to provide a useful platform for communication, cooperation and collaboration across national borders and disciplinary boundaries. At this early stage, the primary goal is to compile data about scholars, doctoral students and research groups involved in research activities, as well as inform about conferences, journals, books and primary sources. Potential future forms of activities include a founding of a society and organization of meetings devoted to the multidisciplinary aspects of madness.
Current projects include: modern depression and contemporary culture in Finland, a history of the life and conditions of Danish children and adults who were taken into public care during the period 1945–1980, mental health, medicine and social engineering in 20th century Finland, and perspectives on current forms of social vulnerabilities in contemporary Finnish society.
Current scholars range from Finland, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, the UK, and Spain in Europe, to Canada, the US, Argentina, and Australia.
Find further details here. Apply to join the network here!
The authors employ examples of Dadd’s art (the majority of which created during his incarceration at Bethlem and Broadmoor hospitals) as a lens to explore the shifting social politics of theories of physiognomy in clinical practice and public perception. The idiosyncratic and atypical subjects of Dadd’s works defied both the early and over-determined categories of mad facial features championed by the renowned anatomist Charles Bell, and the nondistinctive challenge thereto by alienist Alexander Morison. In doing so, the authors argue, Dadd’s interpretation forshadowed more modern approaches to physiognomic diagnostics.
Early on, Bruner explored the ways that experience affects perception. His paper “Value and Need as Organizing Factors in Perception” (Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 1947) reported the finding that children were more likely to overestimate the size of coins than cardboard discs — and the greater the value of the coin, the more likely the children were to overestimate its diameter. What’s more, poor children were significantly more likely than rich children to overestimate the size of coins. In other words, both value and need influenced the way the children perceived the world around them.
Through research and observation, Bruner understood that human behavior is always influenced by the world and culture in which we live. His work helped move the field of psychology away from strict behaviorism and contributed to the emergence of cognitive psychology.
Jones identifies Hurst’s provocative footage of disordered movement as having lasting historical impact on our comprehension of how shell shock presented itself and was understood by contemporaries of the first World War; he then asserts the film was a non-representative and highly mediated rendition of the condition as experienced by the soldiers in that context. Jones goes on to elucidate the skeptical response of other psychiatric professionals to Hurst’s methods and claims to unprecedented and outstanding therapeutic efficacy, for which Hurst provided little explanation or followup.