All posts by Jacy Young

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Surrey in the UK. She completed her doctorate in the History and Theory of Psychology at York University in 2014.

New HHS: Brain Sciences in the Lycée, Linguistics in Imperial Germany, & Much More

Larry McGrath

The February 2015 issue of History of the Human Sciences is now online. Included in this issue are articles on educational reformers’ promotion of brain sciences in Third Republic France, shifting attention in linguistics to “living” language in Imperial Germany, the cultural psychology of Giambattista Vico, and much more. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Confronting the brain in the classroom: Lycée policy and pedagogy in France, 1874–1902,” by Larry McGrath. The abstract reads,

During the influx of neurological research into France from across Europe that took place rapidly in the late 19th century, the philosophy course in lycées (the French equivalent of high schools) was mobilized by education reformers as a means of promulgating the emergent brain sciences and simultaneously steering their cultural resonance. I contend that these linked prongs of philosophy’s public mission under the Third Republic reconciled contradictory pressures to advance the nation’s scientific prowess following its defeat in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 without dropping France’s distinct tradition of 19th-century spiritualism, which extended from Maine de Biran’s philosophical psychology to Victor Cousin’s official eclectic spiritualism. Between 1874 and 1902, the French Ministry of Public Instruction transformed philosophy into a national project designed to guide the reception of experimental psychology generally and neurology in particular. This article features original archival research on philosophy textbooks and students’ course notes that illuminate the cultural and intellectual impact of these sciences in the fin de siècle from inside the classroom. I argue that the scientific turn in the psychology section of the lycée philosophy course reflected and brought about a distinct philosophical movement that I call ‘scientific spiritualism’. While historians have analysed philosophy instruction as a mechanism used by the Third Republic to secularize students, this article sheds new light on lycée philosophy professors’ campaign to promote scientific spiritualism as a means to advance incipient brain research and pare its reductionist implications.

“Avestan studies in Imperial Germany: Sciences of text and sound,” by Judith R. H. Kaplan. The abstract reads, Continue reading New HHS: Brain Sciences in the Lycée, Linguistics in Imperial Germany, & Much More

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History of Psych at Sundance

Two films at this year’s Sundance Film Festival take inspiration from now infamous experiments from psychology’s past. Experimenter, starring Peter Sarsgaard, centres on Stanley Milgram’s controversial obedience to authority experiments,

In 1961, social psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted the “obedience experiments” at Yale University. The experiments observed the responses of ordinary people asked to send harmful electrical shocks to a stranger. Despite pleadings from the person they were shocking, 65 percent of subjects obeyed commands from a lab-coated authority figure to deliver potentially fatal currents. With Adolf Eichmann’s trial airing in living rooms across America, Milgram’s Kafkaesque results hit a nerve, and he was accused of being a deceptive, manipulative monster.

Experimenter invites us inside Milgram’s whirring mind, beginning with his obedience research and wending a path to uncover how inner obsessions and the times in which he lived shaped a parade of human behavior inquiries, including the “six degrees of separation” findings. Constantly subverting expectations with surprising structural and stylistic choices, writer/director Michael Almereyda transmutes the crusty period biopic form into something playful, energetic, and deeply satisfying—taking bold risks to yield profound insights, like all great experiments. —C.L.

The Stanford Prison Experiment, starring Billy Crudup, explores Philip Zimbardo’s study of the same name. The film is described on the Sundance site as follows,

It is the summer of 1971. Dr. Philip Zimbardo launches a study on the psychology of imprisonment. Twenty-four male undergraduates are randomly assigned to be either a guard or a prisoner. Set in a simulated jail, the project unfolds. The participants rapidly embody their roles—the guards become power-hungry and sadistic, while the prisoners, subject to degradation, strategize as underdogs. It soon becomes clear that, as Zimbardo and team monitor the escalation of action through surveillance cameras, they are not fully aware of how they, too, have become part of the experiment.

Based on the real-life research of Dr. Zimbardo (who was a consultant on the film), The Stanford Prison Experiment is a dramatic period piece that remains relevant over 40 years later. Along with an impressive cast, including Billy Crudup as Zimbardo, Kyle Patrick Alvarez (C.O.G., 2013 Sundance Film Festival) delivers an intense, visceral film about the role of power that plays to both chilling and exhilarating effect. —K.Y.

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Feb. 9 Talk! BPS History of Psych 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 talk as part of its spring term BPS History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series. On February 9, Ivan Crozier of the University of Sydney, “Culture-Bound Syndromes as Theory-Bound Objects: Koro, boundary working, and transcultural psychiatry.” 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 (map)*

Time: 6pm-7.30pm

Monday 9 February 2015

Professor Ivan Crozier (University of Sydney), “Culture-Bound Syndromes as Theory-Bound Objects: Koro, boundary working, and transcultural psychiatry.” The abstract reads,

Transcultural psychiatry lies at the fringe of general western psychopathology. It embodies many of the commitments of the broader discipline, but because it deals with patients from non-western cultures, it has developed its own diagnostic categories to deal with the ‘new’ psychiatric syndromes ‘discovered’ within colonised populations since the end of the nineteenth century. These categories include koro, latah, and amok, the three exemplary syndromes evoked when discussing the central theoretical construct of transcultural psychiatry: culture-bound syndromes. How these non-western syndromes are understood changes over time, and the variations between conceptualisations of mental illnesses in non-western cultures can be used to show how the sub-field of transcultural psychiatry relates to the diagnostic criteria of general psychopathology, while at the same time carving out a space for itself as a semi-autonomous field with its own objects of study. That is, transcultural psychiatry uses boundary working to expand its remit by enveloping new objects from non-western cultures. It is not the same as general psychiatry, because it focuses on different psychiatric objects, uses different theories to understand these objects, and adapts the central concepts of general psychiatry to understand these objects. Transcultural psychiatry is at the forefront of the psychiatric expansion under global mental health strategies that a number of people have recently commented upon (eg. Miller, 2014).

The transcultural psychiatric syndrome examined in this paper is koro – the patient’s fear that their penis is shrinking, and if it retracts completely into the abdomen, that they will die. In Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic Medicine, koro is not specifically considered a mental illness, but is primarily a somatic illness. It was not until the end of the nineteenth century that it was articulated as a psychiatric syndrome. Since, it has been multiply understood; each time there is a major change in the central theoretical assumptions of general western psychiatry – from Emil Kraepelin to Psychoanalysis to the DSMIII – koro is rearticulated to fit with the new theory. This makes it an unstable “boundary object”.

This paper will examine these three important episodes in the history of koro to illustrate how major changes at the centre of psychiatric theory affect the transcultural psychiatry that is practices at the fringe of the discipline. The episodes are: (1) Kraepelin’s (1904) comparative psychiatry, which used koro as an exemplar of a mental illness found in another culture as a variation of a universal condition; (2) PM Yap and the construction of “culture-bound syndromes” (1965), where koro was used as a model for “culture-bound psychogenic illnesses” within a psychodynamic framework; (3) Gaw & Bernstein and the attempt to include culture-bound syndromes in the forthcoming DSMIV (1991), with their epidemiological rendering of koro that was a part of an ongoing process to draw a boundary between psychoanalysis (that had formerly dominated transcultural psychiatry) and transcultural psychiatric practices more aligned with the psychiatry of the DSMIII, which involved splitting koro into two forms (epidemic or “cultural”, and individual). In all of these cases, the psychiatrists had to reconstruct koro to fit their theoretical interests.

These episodes show how culture-bound syndromes are theory-bound objects in a constant flux of renegotiation depending on the dominant theoretical models used in psychiatry. Studying transcultural psychiatry allows us to question the limits of western psychiatric knowledge, because it considers the differences between general western psychiatric conditions, which are often thought to be universal (such as schizophrenia), and conditions in other cultures that are not (usually) found in western patients (such as koro). CBS are understood not as bound by the cultures in which they are manifest, but by the culture of psychiatry that is currently accepted. Studying the boundary objects of this discipline can help us understand how transcultural psychiatric knowledge is constructed.

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History of Psychology 101 Outstanding Academic Title of 2014

Congratulations to David Devonis whose History of Psychology 101 has been named Outstanding Academic Title of 2014!

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HoP Special Issue CFP: “Does the History of Psychology Have a Future?”

History of Psychology invites submissions for a special issue on the topic of “Does the History of Psychology Have a Future?” Submission for the special issue are due July 15, 2015. The full call for papers is reproduced below.

HISTORY OF PSYCHOLOGY 
CALL FOR PAPERS: DOES THE HISTORY OF PSYCHOLOGY HAVE A FUTURE?

History of Psychology invites submissions for a special issue on the future of the history of psychology.

20 years ago, Kurt Danziger published an article with the provocative title, “Does the history of psychology have a future?” and it led to a great deal of comment and debate. The institutional position of the field does not seem to have improved in the meantime. The graduate program in history and theory of psychology at the University of New Hampshire was the only one of its kind in the USA and it was ended in 2009. Although the history of psychology is still widely taught at the undergraduate level, concerns have been expressed over a possible decline in the number of psychology departments offering the course. Professional historians have become increasingly prominent in the field. Could the subject eventually be handed over to them, as has already happened with the history of the physical sciences? Should this development be welcomed? There are many issues to be addressed.

We welcome contributions on any aspect of the subject. In order to get as many different perspectives as possible, we welcome contributions from authors in different disciplines (especially psychologists and historians), authors at different stages in their career (from graduate students to emeriti) and authors from different parts of the world. We are well aware that the current situation in the USA may not be representative of the situation elsewhere.

The submission deadline is July 15, 2015.

The main text of each manuscript, exclusive of figures, tables, references, or appendixes, should not exceed 35 double-spaced pages (approximately 7,500 words). Initial inquiries regarding the special issue may be sent to the regular editor, Nadine Weidman (weidman@fas.harvard.edu) or the guest editor, Adrian Brock (adrian.c.brock@gmail.com).

Papers should be submitted through the regular submission portal for History of Psychology (http://www.apa.org/journals/hop/submission.html) with a cover letter indicating that the paper is to be considered for the special issue.

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JHBS Special Issue: “The Social Sciences in a Cross-Disciplinary Age”

The winter 2015 issue of Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences is a special issue dedicated to “The Social Sciences in a Cross-Disciplinary Age.” Guest edited by Philippe Fontaine (left), the articles in this issue explore facets of interdisciplinarity in the social sciences post-1945. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Introduction: The Social Sciences in a Cross-Disciplinary Age,” by Philippe Fontaine. The abstract reads,

As studies of the history of social science since 1945 have multiplied over the past decade and a half, it has not been unusual for commentators to present cross-disciplinary ventures as a byproduct of the disciplinary system and to contrast the stability of disciplines with the highs and lows of interdisciplinary relationships. In contrast, this special issue takes the view that cross-disciplinary ventures should be considered not so much as efforts to loosen up the disciplinary yoke, but as an alternative form of production and dissemination of social scientific knowledge. Paradoxically, the relationship between cross-disciplinary ventures and the disciplinary system appears as one of complementarity and not of dependence. The essays in the special issue provide examples of ways to reconsider what can be called the interdisciplinary chaos.

“Mnemonic Multiples: The Case of the Columbia Panel Studies,” by Jefferson D. Pooley. The abstract reads, Continue reading JHBS Special Issue: “The Social Sciences in a Cross-Disciplinary Age”

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Review Essay: “Subject matter: Human behavior, psychological expertise, and therapeutic lives”

The February 2015 issue of Social Studies of Science includes a Review Essay of a number of recent works in the history of the human sciences. In this essay Michael Pettit (left) surveys recent monographs by Peter Hegarty (Gentlemen’s Disagreement: Alfred Kinsey, Lewis Terman, and the Sexual Politics of Smart Men), Helen E. Longino (Studying Human Behavior: How Scientists Investigate Aggression and Sexuality), Chloe Silverman (Understanding Autism: Parents, Doctors, and the History of a Disorder), Mathew Thomson (Lost Freedom: The Landscape of the Child and the British Post-War Settlement), and Marga Vicedo (The Nature and Nurture of Love: From Imprinting to Attachment in Cold War America), commenting on the current state and future possibilities of work in the field. Title, author, and an excerpt from the essay (in lieu of an abstract) follow below.

“Subject matter: Human behavior, psychological expertise, and therapeutic lives,” by Michael Pettit. Excerpt:

Few have greater confidence in psychology’s ability to mold subjectivity than its critics. However, there is a tension in much of the historical and sociological literature on psychology and the psychological society between a commitment to a microphysics of power (Foucault, 1977) and the kinds of sources and voices that get included in such analyses. ‘Subjectification’ (Rose, 1996) is all too often taken for granted, rather than made into a matter of inquiry involving contestation, multiplicity, and rejection. Relationships between scientists and publics are largely understood in terms of a hypodermic needle model of communication (Gitlin, 1978). On this basis, critical psychologist-historians select their favored disorder or construct, offer a largely intellectual history of it, and then assert that everyday experience has been psychologized. Such an approach speaks more to scientists’ visions and pretensions than to the social life of psychological facts (O’Connor and Joffe, 2013). Moreover, this approach bolsters and inflates, rather than critically scrutinizes, the scientist’s authority. We need greater specificity about psychology’s impact, better evidence of the circuits between expert description and self-understanding, and appreciation of the complicated lives of scientific methods and theories.
The books under review explore entanglements of psychology, sex, childhood, and development, and in so doing offer rich resources for rethinking much of the received wisdom about the public understanding of psychology, the authority of its experts, and the process of subjectification. The sex/gender distinction has long been recognized as a crucial site of traffic between nature and culture, one weighty with politics and consequences. These dynamics are amplified around children and development, where behavioral sciences and social policy meet, and each tries to anticipate and realize a better future (Adams et al., 2009). As the books here illustrate, psychology does not seek simply to craft accurate depictions of human behavior, but rather …

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The Story of Aaron Beck & Cognitive Therapy in Isis

The December 2014 issue of Isis, the official journal of the History of Science Society, features on article on the work of psychiatrist Aaron Beck (above). Adopting a biographical approach, the article describes how Beck came to articulate his cognitive therapy as a new mode of psychotherapy. Full title, author, and abstract follow below.

“The “Splendid Isolation” of Aaron T. Beck,” by Rachael I. Rosner. The abstract reads,

Aaron T. Beck’s Cognitive Therapy (CT) is a school of psychotherapy, conceived in the 1960s, that is celebrated by many clinicians for having provided the scientific antidote to all that was wrong with psychoanalysis. This essay situates the origins of CT in the crisis of legitimacy in psychiatry in the 1960s and 1970s, when, among many charges, psycho-analysts had to face the accusation that analysis was not adequately scientific. Beck actually began his career as both a psychoanalyst and an experimentalist. Contrary to common triumphalist accounts, Beck created CT to be a neutral space, not a partisan one, in turbulent times. Other notable psychoanalysts also sought compromise, rather than partisanship, to bridge the transition to biomedical science. The biographical approach of this essay to the origins of Beck’s CT both situates him historiographically and articulates the complex experiences of a generation of psychoanalysts otherwise opaque to standard narratives.

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History of Psych in American Journal of Psychology

Society of Experimental Psychologists, 1927

The Winter 2014 issue of the American Journal of Psychology is now available online.  The issue’s “History of Psychology” section includes two articles of interest to AHP readers. Robert Proctor and Rand Evans discuss the complicated relationship between Edward Titchener and female psychologists, given that he trained a number of early American female psychologists, yet excluded women from his society the Experimentalists. In another piece Serge Nicolas and Jacy Young (full disclosure: the latter is the author of this blog post) introduce a translation of a French description of the psychology laboratory at Clark University from 1893. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“E. B. Titchener, Women Psychologists, and the Experimentalists,” by Robert W. Proctor and Rand Evans. The abstract reads,

A well-known fact is that E. B. Titchener, a major figure in psychology in the first quarter of the 20th century, excluded women from the group known as the Experimentalists, which he formed in 1904. This fact provides the basis for depicting him as a misogynist. Less well known and publicized is that he was arguably the strongest advocate for women psychologists in the United States throughout his academic career. He supervised the graduate study of Margaret Washburn, the first woman to receive a PhD in psychology in the United States, directed more than 20 dissertations for women psychologists, most of which were published in The American Journal of Psychology, and influenced and befriended others who were not his PhD students. The purpose of this article is to make psychologists more aware of the prominent role Titchener played in the education of early women psychologists and to reconcile this contribution with his position that the Experimentalists should be restricted to men.

“A French Description of the Psychology Laboratory of G. S. Hall at Clark University in 1893,” by Serge Nicolas and Jacy L. Young. The abstract reads, Continue reading History of Psych in American Journal of Psychology

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The Wellcome Collection’s Interactive Mindcraft

The Wellcome Collection has launched an interactive exhibit Mindcraft. As introduced in the video above,

Mindcraft explores a century of madness, murder and mental healing, from the arrival in Paris of Franz Anton Mesmer with his theories of ‘animal magnetism’ to the therapeutic power of hypnotism used by Freud.

Through an immersive scrolling interface including image galleries, video, and interactives, Mindcraft will take you on a journey that asks who really is in control of their own mind, and where does the mind’s power to harm or heal end?

Mindcraft is written by author and curator Mike Jay, and developed by award-winning digital agency Clearleft. Mindcraft can be explored on a desktop browser or tablet.

Explore Mindcraft online here.

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