All posts by Jacy Young

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a doctoral student in the History and Theory of Psychology program at York University. Her dissertation explores the early history of questionnaires in American psychology.

Latest on Little Albert: Not Neurologically Impaired After All?

Now available via  History of Psychology‘s OnlineFirst option is the latest in the ongoing saga over the identity of John Watson and Rosalie Rayner’s Little Albert. Forthcoming in History of Psychology is an article from Nancy Digdon, Russell A. Powell, and Ben Harris challenging the recent depiction of Albert as a neurologically impaired child. Full article details, including abstract, follow below.

“Little Albert’s Alleged Neurological Impairment: Watson, Rayner, and Historical Revision,” by Nancy Digdon, Russell A. Powell, and Ben Harris. The abstract reads,

In 2012, Fridlund, Beck, Goldie, and Irons (2012) announced that “Little Albert”—the infant that Watson and Rayner used in their 1920 study of conditioned fear (Watson & Rayner, 1920)—was not the healthy child the researchers described him to be, but was neurologically impaired almost from birth. Fridlund et al. also alleged that Watson had committed serious ethical breaches in regard to this research. Our article reexamines the evidentiary bases for these claims and arrives at an alternative interpretation of Albert as a normal infant. In order to set the stage for our interpretation, we first briefly describe the historical context for the Albert study, as well as how the study has been construed and revised since 1920. We then discuss the evidentiary issues in some detail, focusing on Fridlund et al.’s analysis of the film footage of Albert, and on the context within which Watson and Rayner conducted their study. In closing, we return to historical matters to speculate about why historiographical disputes matter and what the story of neurologically impaired Albert might be telling us about the discipline of psychology today.

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4th Annual BPS ‘Stories of Psychology’ Symposium

The British Psychological Society‘s History of Psychology Centre is hosting its fourth annual history of psychology symposium, “Stories of Psychology,” October 8, 2014. This year’s symposium is one of a number of BPS events marking the centenary of the First World War and looks at the influence of the war on psychology’s development in Britain. The day’s events are hosted by Alan Collins (right) of Lancaster University. Full program details follow below.

‘Stories of Psychology’ Symposium
War and Its Legacy

The fourth annual history of psychology symposium

Wednesday 8 October 2014 at the Chancellor’s Hall, Senate House, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU
10.30am-4pm (including buffet lunch)

Convened by Dr Alan Collins (Lancaster University)

This year’s symposium is part of the British Psychological Society’s planned series of events to mark the centenary of the First World War.

The First World War came at a time when psychology was still only beginning to emerge as an academic discipline and psychological organisations were in their infancy, particularly in Britain. After the War things started to look very different very quickly. So what impact did the War have on the development of psychological ideas and practice? Our speakers will attempt to provide some answers.

Speakers:

Professor Jamie Hacker Hughes (Anglia Ruskin University, and BPS President Elect)
‘From Myers to the MoD: 99 Years of British Military Psychology’

Professor Edgar Jones (Institute of Psychiatry)
‘Shell Shock: The First World War and the Origins of Psychological Medicine’

Professor Michael Roper (University of Essex)
‘Growing Up in the Aftermath: Childhood and Family Relationships Between the Wars’

Professor Sonu Shamdasani (University College London)
‘C.G Jung, 1914-1918: From the Great War to the War Within’

plus

Andrea von Hohenthal (University of Freiburg, Germany) will make a short presentation of initial findings from her doctoral research on the development of psychology in Britain and Germany during the Great War.

This is a public event and all are welcome. The programme has been designed to have general appeal as well as academic validity for historians of psychology. 

Cost (including lunch): £15 Registration essential

To register click here

For more information, e-mail hopc@bps.org.uk or call Peter Dillon Hooper on 0116 252 9528.

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July Talk! BPS History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series

The British Psychological Society’History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, has announced another talk as part of the BPS History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series. On July 21st Vincent Barras, of the University of Lausanne, will be speaking on “Plays between Reason, Language and Gods: The Case of Glossolalia 19th-20th Centuries.” Full details follow below.

The British Psychological Society History of Psychology Centre in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines

Location: UCL Arts and Humanities Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet Place, London WC1E 7JG
Time: 6pm-7.30pm

Monday 21 July
Professor Vincent Barras (University of Lausanne)
“Plays between Reason, Language and Gods: The Case of Glossolalia 19th-20th Centuries”

Glossolalia, or speaking in tongues, plays a surprisingly important role in discussions between theologians, psychologists and psychiatrists at the turn of the 20th century on the relationships between religious psychology, mental automatisms, subliminal
processes and inner language, and in the formation of modern psychology itself. Its role in the formation of modern psychology will be reconstructed, with particular emphasis on the debates around the Swiss theologian Emile Lombard’s masterpiece of 1910, “Concerning glossolalia in the early Christians and similar phenomena.”

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New Issue Round-Up! JHBS, HHS, Memorandum

We’re popping in quickly from our annual summer vacation (read: dissertation writing) with a round up of recent journal issues for your summer reading pleasure. Now online are new issues of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, History of the Human Sciences, and Memorandum: Memory and History in Psychology (Memorandum: Memória e História em Psicologia). Full details, including titles, authors, and abstracts, follow below for each.

Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences

“Operant Psychology Makes a Splash—In Marine Mammal Training (1955–1965),” by James Arthur Gillaspy Jr., Jennifer L. Brinegar and Robert E. Bailey. The abstract reads,

Despite the wide spread use of operant conditioning within marine animal training, relatively little is known about this unique application of behavioral technology. This article explores the expansion of operant psychology to commercial marine animal training from 1955 to 1965, specifically at marine parks such as Marine Studios Florida, Marineland of the Pacific, Sea Life Park, and SeaWorld. The contributions of Keller and Marian Breland and their business Animal Behavior Enterprises (ABE) as well as other early practitioners of behavioral technology are reviewed. We also describe how operant technology was introduced and formalized into procedures that have become the cornerstone of marine animal training and entertainment. The rapid growth of the marine park industry during this time was closely linked to the spread of behavioral technology. The expansion of operant training methods within marine animal training is a unique success story of behavioral technology.

“Beyond the Schools of Psychology 2: A Digital Analysis of Psychological Review, 1904–1923,” by Christopher D. Green, Ingo Feinerer and Jeremy T. Burman. The abstract reads, Continue reading

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CfP: European Yearbook of the History of Psychology

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 2.58.40 PMA new peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the history of psychology has just issued a call for papers. As announced on the blog earlier this year, the European Yearbook of the History of Psychology (EYHP) is edited by Mauro Antonelli, University of Milano. Horst Gundlach, of the University of Würzburg, is Co-Editor. The full call for papers follows below.

European Yearbook of the History of Psychology (EYHP). Sources, Theories, and Models

Call for Papers

The European Yearbook of the History of Psychology. Sources, Theories, and Models (EYHP) is a new peer-reviewed international Journal devoted to the history of psychology, published by Brepols Publishers. This new journal is now indexed on the web site of Brepols Publishers: http://brepols.metapress.com/content/122892/?v=editorial

The editorial board is excited to announce its first call for papers of EYHP’s for the first number to be published in winter 2014

Besides Original essays on interdisciplinary topics pertaining to psychological research and interconnections between historiographic survey and epistemology, the Yearbook encompasses the following sections: Unpublished and archival material; Discussions (a space where authors can confront one another and discuss specific topics); Interviews; Book reviews and reading recommendations.

Contributions should be written preferably in English,however contributions in French, Italian, and German are also welcome (but must be accompanied by an English abstract). Articles should be between 5,000 and 8,000 words in length, including footnotes (however exceptions can be taken into consideration by the editors). Contributions should be submitted by September 15 to:

Prof. Mauro Antonelli
Department of Psychology
University of Milano – Bicocca
Piazza dell’Ateneo Nuovo 1
20126 Milano
Italy

Email: mauro.antonelli@unimib.it

For informal details contact the editor, Mauro Antonelli (mauro.antonelli@unimib.it)

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June Talks – BPS History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series

The British Psychological Society’History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, has announced the next two talks as part of the BPS History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series. On Monday June  16th Graham Richards will be speaking on Some Psychological Facets of Creationism. Two weeks later Sarah Chaney (right) will be speaking on ‘A Perversion of Self-feeling’: The Emergence of Self-harm in Victorian Asylum Psychiatry. Full details, including abstracts, follow below.

The British Psychological Society History of Psychology Centre in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines

Location: UCL Arts and Humanities Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet Place, London WC1E 7JG
Time: 6pm-7.30pm

Monday 16 June: Dr Graham Richards (UCL), Some Psychological Facets of Creationism. The abstract reads,

This presentation explores the psychological aspects of the debates around Creationism. It explores the psychological character of the ‘Argument from Design’ and how this has changed over time from Ray, via Paley to current Intelligent Design theorists, the underlying motivations of Creationists, and the relevance to these debates of Paul Tillich’s discussion of ‘types of anxiety,’ and the history of ‘literal’ biblical fundamentalism. It signposts how psychology has the potential to illuminate the Creationism/Intelligent Design issue in ways which might break what is currently a log-jam of ritualised argument and counter-argument.

Monday 30 June: Dr Sarah Chaney (UCL), ‘A Perversion of Self-feeling’: The Emergence of Self-harm in Victorian Asylum Psychiatry. The abstract reads,

This paper explores the emergence of self-harm as a specific category of abnormal individual behaviour in the second half of the 19th century, when ‘self-mutilation’ was defined within asylum psychiatry. I will briefly explain the background of the asylum system and psychiatric profession in Western Europe and the USA in this period, and describe how ‘self- mutilation’ emerged from the interest clinicians had in classifying and defining ‘insane’ behaviour. In particular, this was associated with the widespread publicity given to the increasing decision to regard suicidal acts as evidence of mental illness. While it is often assumed today that Victorian writers made no distinction between suicidal and non-suicidal self-injury, I argue that this was not the case. Psychiatrists in the 19th century frequently claimed that self-mutilation was not carried out for suicidal reasons, although they differed in their method of applying alternative meaning to such acts.

Finally, I will explore why it was that this distinction was made in this particular period, and what led psychiatrists to draw parallels between different kinds of self-inflicted injury to create a universal category. The concept of self-harm today is often used to refer to an act of injury; this application, I argue, emerged from late 19th-century asylum psychiatry. While people had certainly harmed themselves in a variety of ways prior to this period, the late 19th century was the first time these diverse acts – from skin-picking to amputation – became regarded as equivalent behaviours. Combining them under the umbrella term ‘self-mutilation’ prompted the idea that some form of universal meaning might also be discoverable. Self-harm became viewed as an act that had meaning beyond the physical nature of any wounds inflicted or the immediate sensations caused; an act that revealed something of the character of an individual; and, in addition, an act that might help to explain the relationship between individual and society.

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Now Available: The Psychology Book

A new book by Wade Pickren, editor of History of Psychology, is now available. The Psychology Book profiles 250 milestone in the history of psychology and features a foreword by Philip Zimbardo. The book is described as follows,

What could be more fascinating than the workings of the human mind? This stunningly illustrated survey in Sterling’s Milestones series chronicles the history of psychology through 250 landmark events, theories, publications, experiments, and discoveries. Beginning with ancient philosophies of well-being, it touches on such controversial topics as phrenology, sexual taboos, electroshock therapy, multiple personality disorder, and the nature of evil.

A perfect book for every psychologist’s coffee table!

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New HoP: The “Lens,” Helmholtz, The Phi Phenomena, & More

The May 2014 issue of History of Psychology is now online. Included in this issue are articles on the interplay of images and concepts in ideas about the “lens” as developed by Fritz Heider and Egon Brunswick, the influence of Johann Gottlieb Fichte’s Ego-doctrine on Helmholtz’s theory of perception, the future of the history of psychology course in Canada, and archives on the history of Chinese psychology. The issue also features a special section devoted to the centenary of Max Wertheimer’s publication of the phi phenomena. Article titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Remembering the “lens”: Visual transformations of a concept from Heider to Brunswik,” by Martin Wieser. The abstract reads,

It is argued that Frederic Bartlett’s views on the social and cultural determinants of remembering and recognition provide a useful background for analyzing the transformations of psychological concepts and images when they are introduced into new academic collectives. An example of a “Bartlettian” view on the history of psychology is given by reconstructing and contextualizing the transformation of the “lens,” a model of human perception that was invented by Fritz Heider in the 1920s and adopted by Egon Brunswik from the 1930s onwards. Heider’s early work suggested a new perspective on the epistemological relation between subject, media, and object that was devised to create a new conceptual foundation for academic psychology. Brunswik, on the other hand, transformed Heider’s “lens” into a clear-cut experimental framework that was based on the physicalist and operationalist demands of logical empiricism, the movement for the “unity of science,” and, after his migration to Berkeley, neobehaviorism. This episode provides many similarities with Bartlett’s theory of the social determinants of knowledge and the shaping power of collective presuppositions, norms, and ideals.

“Voluntarism in early psychology: The case of Hermann von Helmholtz,” by Liesbet De Kock. The abstract reads,

The failure to recognize the programmatic similarity between (post-)Kantian German philosophy and early psychology has impoverished psychology’s historical self-understanding to a great extent. This article aims to contribute to recent efforts to overcome the gaps in the historiography of contemporary psychology, which are the result of an empiricist bias. To this end, we present an analysis of the way in which Hermann von Helmholtz’s theory of perception resonates with Johann Gottlieb Fichte’s Ego-doctrine. It will be argued that this indebtedness is particularly clear when focusing on the foundation of the differential awareness of subject and object in perception. In doing so, the widespread reception of Helmholtz’s work as proto-positivist or strictly empiricist is challenged, in favor of the claim that important elements of his theorizing can only be understood properly against the background of Fichte’s Ego-doctrine.

Special Section: On the occasion of the centenary of Max Wertheimer’s article on the “phi phenomenon”

“Max Wertheimer centennial celebration in Germany,” by Michael Wertheimer. The abstract reads, Continue reading

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Slate: Phineas Gage, Neuroscience’s Most Famous Patient

Slate Magazine has just published a piece on infamous brain damage survivor Phineas Gage. To tell the story of Gage and his continuing importance in the history of psychology the article draws heavily on the work of Malcolm Macmillan. As the Slate article recounts,

Most of us first encountered Gage in a neuroscience or psychology course, and the lesson of his story was both straightforward and stark: The frontal lobes house our highest faculties; they’re the essence of our humanity, the physical incarnation of our highest cognitive powers. So when Gage’s frontal lobes got pulped, he transformed from a clean-cut, virtuous foreman into a dirty, scary, sociopathic drifter. Simple as that. This story has had a huge influence on the scientific and popular understanding of the brain. Most uncomfortably, it implies that whenever people suffer grave damage to the frontal lobes—as soldiers might, or victims of strokes or Alzheimer’s disease—something essentially human can vanish.

Recent historical work, however, suggests that much of the canonical Gage story is hogwash, a mélange of scientific prejudice, artistic license, and outright fabrication. In truth each generation seems to remake Gage in its own image, and we know very few hard facts about his post-accident life and behavior. Some scientists now even argue that, far from turning toward the dark side, Gage recovered after his accident and resumed something like a normal life—a possibility that, if true, could transform our understanding of the brain’s ability to heal itself.

The full article can be read online here and Macmillan’s website on Gage can now be found hosted on the Center for the History of Psychology site.

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Medical History: Families and 19th c. Colonial Lunactic Asylums

The April 2014 issue of Medical History includes an article of interest to AHP readers. Lindy Wilbraham (left), of Rhodes University, discusses the relationship between families and colonial lunatic asylums in late-nineteenth century South America. Title and abstract follow below.

“Reconstructing Harry: A Genealogical Study of a Colonial Family ‘Inside’ and ‘Outside’ the Grahamstown Asylum, 1888–1918,” by Lindy Wilbraham. The abstract reads,

Recent scholarship has explored the dynamics between families and colonial lunatic asylums in the late nineteenth century, where families actively participated in the processes of custodial care, committal, treatment and release of their relatives. This paper works in this historical field, but with some methodological and theoretical differences. The Foucauldian study is anchored to a single case and family as an illness narrative that moves cross-referentially between bureaucratic state archival material, psychiatric case records, and intergenerational family-storytelling and family photographs. Following headaches and seizures, Harry Walter Wilbraham was medically boarded from his position as Postmaster in the Cape of Good Hope Colony of South Africa with a ‘permanent disease of the brain’, and was committed to the Grahamstown Asylum in 1910, where he died the following year, aged 40 years. In contrast to writings about colonial asylums that usually describe several patient cases and thematic patterns in archival material over time and place, this study’s genealogical lens examines one white settler male patient’s experiences within mental health care in South Africa between 1908 and 1911. The construction of Harry’s ‘case’ interweaves archival sources and reminiscences inside and outside the asylum, and places it within psychiatric discourse of the time, and family dynamics in the years that followed. Thus, this case study maps the constitution of ‘patient’ and ‘family’ in colonial life, c.1888–1918, and considers the calamity, uncertainty, stigma and silences of mental illness.

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