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.

New Book: History of Psychology 101

As part of Springer’s Psych 101 series psychologist David Devonis, of Graceland University, has authored History of Psychology 101. As described on the publisher’s website,

Spanning the modern development of psychological science and practice-the era most relevant to today’s psychologists-this concise overview of psychology’s history focuses on how the field has striven to make a positive impact on society and the individuals within it. It not only examines, decade by decade, the key developments in psychology, but goes beyond the usual “schools and systems” approach to illuminate not just how psychological theories developed but how they have been applied and practiced. The text is unique in its focus on connecting the historical development of psychology to present concerns in the field, thus making the information more relevant to today’s student.

Woven throughout the book is thread of optimism regarding the value of psychological ideas for the betterment of humanity. The book considers how psychology has informed-and been influenced by-social and cultural concerns of the past century. Each chapter highlights a theme that typified the science and practice of psychology in a particular era, along with a “historical centerpiece,” an examination of an exemplary psychologist or psychological work that typified the field’s development during that time period.

Key Features:

Presents a concise, accessible overview of the modern history of psychology

Goes beyond the usual “schools and systems” approach to focus on how psychological theories were developed, applied, and practiced

Demonstrates how the field of psychology has endeavored to make a positive impact on society and individuals

Focuses on making historical information relevant to psychological practice today

Embeds psychology in the social and cultural milieu of each era

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New Isis: Organizational Revolution and the Human Sciences, Neurohistory, & More

The March 2014 issue of Isis, the official journal of the History of Science Society, is now online. Included in this issue are a number of items of interest to AHP readers, including a special Focus section on Neurohistory. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“The Organizational Revolution and the Human Sciences,” by Hunter Heyck. The abstract reads,

This essay argues that a new way of understanding science and nature emerged and flourished in the human sciences in America between roughly 1920 and 1970. This new outlook was characterized by the prefiguration of all subjects of study as systems defined by their structures, not their components. Further, the essay argues that the rise of this new outlook was closely linked to the Organizational Revolution in American society, which provided new sets of problems, new patrons, and new control technologies as “tools to think with” for researchers in this period. As examples of this new way of thinking and of the multidirectional traffic connecting control technologies, the Organizational Revolution, and the social sciences, the essay looks at Chester Barnard and his book The Functions of the Executive, at Warren Weaver and his essays on communication theory and on science and “organized complexity,” and at the works of J. C. R. Licklider and Robert Taylor on human/computer symbiosis through computer-based communications.

Focus: Neurohistory and History of Science

“Neuroscience, Neurohistory, and the History of Science: A Tale of Two Brain Images,” by Steve Fuller. The abstract reads,

This essay introduces a Focus section on “Neurohistory and History of Science” by distinguishing images of the brain as governor and as transducer: the former treat the brain as the executive control center of the body, the latter as an interface between the organism and reality at large. Most of the consternation expressed in the symposium about the advent of neurohistory derives from the brain-as-governor conception, which is rooted in a “biologistic” understanding of humanity that in recent years has become bound up in various nefarious “neoliberal” political and economic agendas. However, given the sophisticated attitude that neurohistory’s leading champion, Daniel Smail, displays toward evolutionary theory’s potential impact on historical practice, he is perhaps better understood as part of the brain-as-transducer tradition. This tradition, largely suppressed in current representations of neuroscience, has a strong theological provenance, ultimately concerned with our becoming attuned to the divine frequency, not least by extending the powers of the human nervous system through technology. This essay sympathetically explores the implications of this perspective for historical practice.

“Neurohistory in Action: Hoarding and the Human Past,” by Daniel Lord Smail. The abstract reads, Continue reading

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New JHBS: “Primitive” Mentality, James on Emotion, Bekhterev’s Psychoreflexology, & More

The Spring 2014 issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences is now online. Included in this issue are articles on studies of “primitive” mentality, human factor psychology, William James’s theory of emotion, and Bekhterev’s (right) psychoreflexology in relation to Wundt. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Hermannsburg, 1929: Turning Aboriginal “Primitives” into Modern Psychological Subjects,” by Warwick Anderson. The abstract reads,

In 1929, the Lutheran mission at Hermannsburg (Ntaria), central Australia, became an extraordinary investigatory site, attracting an array of leading psychologists wishing to define the “primitive” mentality of the Arrernte, who became perhaps the most studied people in the British Empire and dominions. This is a story of how scientific knowledge derived from close encounters and fraught entanglements on the borderlands of the settler state. The investigators—Stanley D. Porteus, H. K. Fry, and Géza Róheim—represent the major styles of psychological inquiry in the early-twentieth century, and count among the vanguard of those dismantling rigid racial typologies and fixed hierarchies of human mentality. They wanted to evaluate “how natives think,” yet inescapably they found themselves reflecting on white mentality too. They came to recognise the primitive as an influential and disturbing motif within the civilised mind—their own minds. These intense interactions in the central deserts show us how Aboriginal thinking could make whites think again about themselves—and forget, for a moment, that many of their research subjects were starving.

“Turning Men into Machines? Scientific Management, Industrial Psychology, and the “Human Factor”,” Maarten Derksen. The abstract reads,

In the controversy that broke out in 1911 over Frederick W. Taylor’s scientific management, many critics contended that it ignored “the human factor” and reduced workers to machines. Psychologists succeeded in positioning themselves as experts of the human factor, and their instruments and expertise as the necessary complement of Taylor’s psychologically deficient system. However, the conventional view that the increasing influence of psychologists and other social scientists “humanized” management theory and practice needs to be amended. Taylor’s scientific management was not less human than later approaches such as Human Relations, but it articulated the human factor differently, and aligned it to its own instruments and practices in such a way that it was at once external to them and essential to their functioning. Industrial psychologists, on the other hand, at first presented themselves as engineers of the human factor and made the human mind an integral part of management.

““Picturesque Incisiveness”: Explaining the Celebrity of James’s Theory of Emotion,” Claudia Wassmann. The abstract reads,

William James is the name that comes to mind when asked about scientific explanations of emotion in the nineteenth century. However, strictly speaking James’s theory of emotion does not explain emotions and never did. Indeed, James contemporaries pointed this out already more than a hundred years ago. Why could “James’ theory” nevertheless become a landmark that psychologists, neuroscientists, and historians alike refer to today? The strong focus on James and Anglo-American sources in historiography has overshadowed all other answers given to the question of emotion at the time of James. For that reason, the article returns to the primary sources and places James’s work back into the context of nineteenth century brain research in which it developed.

“The Emergence and Development of Bekhterev’s Psychoreflexology in Relation to Wundt’s Experimental Psychology,” Saulo de Freitas Araujo. The abstract reads,

After its foundation, the Laboratory for Experimental Psychology at Leipzig University became an international center for psychological research, attracting students from all over the world. The Russian physiologist and psychiatrist Vladimir Bekhterev (1857–1927) was one of Wilhelm Wundt’s students in 1885, and after returning to Russia he continued enthusiastically his experimental research on mental phenomena. However, he gradually distanced himself from Wundt’s psychological project and developed a new concept of psychology: the so-called Objective Psychology or Psychoreflexology. The goal of this paper is to analyze Bekhterev’s position in relation to Wundt’s experimental psychology, by showing how the former came to reject the latter’s conception of psychology. The results indicate that Bekhterev’s development of a philosophical program, including his growing interest in establishing a new Weltanschauung is the main reason behind his divergence with Wundt, which is reflected in his conception of scientific psychology. Despite this, Wundt remained alive in Bekhterev’s mind as an ideal counterpoint.

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History of the Human Sciences in Isis

The most recent issue of Isis, the journal of the History of Science Society, includes two articles on the history of the human sciences. Leila Zenderland explores the work of Max Weinreich (above) on culture and personality at the Yiddish Scientific Institute, while in the issue’s Focus section, Global Currents in National Histories of Science: The “Global Turn” and the History of Science in Latin America, Julia Rodriguez looks at the historiography of the human sciences in Latin America. Full titles, authors, and abstracts – along with human science related book reviews – follow below.

“Social Science as a “Weapon of the Weak”: Max Weinreich, the Yiddish Scientific Institute, and the Study of Culture, Personality, and Prejudice,” by Leila Zenderland. The abstract reads,

This essay examines Max Weinreich’s efforts to turn “culture and personality studies” into social and psychological weapons that could be used to combat the effects of prejudice. It focuses on language choice, audience, and purpose in the production of such knowledge by and for a Yiddish-speaking Eastern European population. During the 1930s, Weinreich led the Yiddish Scientific Institute, a research organization headquartered in Poland but affiliated with neither a state nor a university. He was profoundly influenced by a year spent at Yale and a trip through the American South visiting segregated African-American universities. In his 1935 study Der veg tsu undzer yugnt [The Way to Our Youth], Weinreich blended European, Soviet, American, and African-American research traditions to examine the effects of prejudice on child and adolescent development; he also considered the ways members of “despised minorities” could use such science. In 1940 he fled to New York and in 1946 published Hitler’s Professors, the first book analyzing the uses of the human sciences to advance Nazi state-sponsored antisemitism. In examining Weinreich’s Yiddish and English writings, this essay explores the broader relationship of social science not only to state power but also to statelessness and powerlessness.

“Beyond Prejudice and Pride: The Human Sciences in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Latin America,” by Julia Rodriguez. The abstract reads,

Grappling with problematics of status and hierarchy, recent literature on the history of the human sciences in Latin America has gone through three overlapping phases. First, the scholarship has reflected a dialogue between Latin American scientists and their European colleagues, characterized by the “center/periphery” model of scientific diffusion. Next, scholars drew on postcolonial theory to undermine the power of the “center” and to recover the role of local agents, including both elites and subalterns. In the wake of numerous studies embracing both models, the way has been cleared to look at multiple dimensions simultaneously. Histories of the human sciences in the complex multicultural societies of Latin America provide an unusually direct path to integration. Moreover, this dynamic and multilayered approach has the potential to address ambivalences about authority and power that have characterized previous analyses of the production and application of knowledge about the human condition.

Book Reviews
Peter Lamont. Extraordinary Beliefs: A Historical Approach to a Psychological Problem. Review by: Michael Pettit.

Nicolas Langlitz. Neuropsychedelia: The Revival of Hallucinogen Research since the Decade of the Brain. Review by: Chris Elcock

Melissa M. Littlefield; Jenell M. Johnson, eds. The Neuroscientific Turn: Transdisciplinarity in the Age of the Brain. Review by: Stephen Jacyna

Paul Wouters, Anne Beaulieu, Andrea Scharnhorst, & Sally Wyatt. (Eds.). Virtual Knowledge: Experimenting in the Humanities and the Social Sciences. Review by: Joshua W. Clegg.

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Interview with Marga Vicedo on The Nature and Nurture of Love

AHP is pleased to present an interview with historian of science Marga Vicedo on her recent book The Nature and Nurture of Love: From Imprinting to Attachment in Cold War AmericaThe full interview follows below. Many thanks to Marga for agreeing to be interviewed!

AHP: As a historian and philosopher of biology how did you first become interested in the various ways we’ve conceptualized human instincts and the nature of love?

I have always been interested in understanding our views on human nature because those views inform our ideas about how to lead a moral life. How should I act? What should I do in order to be a good person and have a life worth living? Those seem to me the most fundamental questions we all confront in our lives. The more we understand who we are, the better we will be able to answer those questions. Thus, very early in my philosophical and historical studies I wanted to explore what biology and psychology have to say about human nature.

A central debate in those fields focuses on how much and in what ways our biological constitution influences our mental and emotional makeup. Scientists have used different concepts over time: instincts, innate drives, evolutionary stable strategies, human nature, genetic makeup, … but the question is basically the same: how much does biology shape the way we think, feel, and act? The answer to that question is central for explaining human behavior in psychology and biology. In addition, it also informs our ideas about biological or environmental determinism, standards of normality, conceptions of ethics, and views about individual and social responsibility. Trying to understand all those fundamental issues and their interrelations is what led me to focus on instincts.

One striking feature of the discourse on instincts is the profound “gendering” of some behaviors and emotions. Although the search for instincts aims to locate those characteristics that are part of all human beings, many scientists claimed that human nature came in two forms: male and female. Aggession became the defining instinct for males. And the maternal instinct became the defining characteristic of women’s nature. But how did love become “gendered”? How can we differentiate maternal and parental love? And how did we come to think that maternal love is fundamental to the emotional development of a child?

In this book, I explore ideas about mother love in the United States from World War II until the 1970s. My central claim is that during that period prominent researchers from various fields of study established the view that emotions are an integral part of the self and that mother love determines an individual’s emotional development. One theory in particular played a key role in the establishment and permanence of those views: John Bowlby’s ethological theory of attachment behavior. This was not the only theory that put forth maternal care and love as the cradle of the emotional self, but it has become the most enduring and successful one. My book tries to explain why.

AHP: What were some of the factors that supported the post-WWII move toward envisioning maternal love as a biological instinct? Continue reading

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Mar. 24th Talk! Over the Edge: William Sargant and the Battle for the Mind

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 the BPS History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series. UCL’s Mike Jay will be speaking on “Over the Edge: William Sargant and the Battle for the Mind.” Full details, including abstract, follow below.

British Psychological Society History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series
Sponsored by the British Psychological Society. Open to the public.

Date: Monday 24th March
Time: 6pm to 7.30pm
Location: Arts and Humanities Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet Place, University College London.

Over the Edge: William Sargant and the Battle for the Mind
Mike Jay

In his bestselling book of 1957, Battle for the Mind, the psychiatrist William Sargant revealed to the public the secret techniques that had been used to manipulate humanity, in his words, ‘from the Stone Age to Hitler’. His ideas were adopted by public intellectuals including Robert Graves, Aldous Huxley and Bertrand Russell.

Sargant’s theory was perhaps the most potent manifestation of postwar psychiatry in British popular culture, both drawing on and contributing to its aura of power and expertise. He presented a stark image of a modern world that had outgrown religious consolation but was not yet rational enough to resist the forms of control that were replacing it.

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The History of Qualitative Psychology in Qualitative Psychology

Qualitative Psychology is a new journal from the American Psychological Association. The journal’s first issue includes two articles that may be of interest to AHP readers. In “Qualitative inquiry in the history of psychology” Frederick Wertz details the long history of qualitative work in psychology, while in his article David Leary describes the history of qualitative research through discussion the work of William James. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Qualitative inquiry in the history of psychology,” by Frederick J. Wertz. The abstract reads,

Despite the importance and ubiquity of qualitative inquiry, a comprehensive account of its history in psychology has not been written. Phases and landmark moments of qualitative inquiry are evident in variations that range from informal, implicit, and unacknowledged practices to philosophically informed and scientifically sophisticated methodologies with norms and carefully specified procedures. After the founding of psychology in 1879, qualitative inquiries were conducted by Wilhelm Wundt, Sigmund Freud, and William James, who assumed their scientific status. During the 20th century, with a rising emphasis on hypothesis testing by means of quantification, psychologists continued to use qualitative practices but did not include them in general accounts of scientific research methods. Although Gordon Allport (1942) called for bold innovation and an increasingly rigorous accountability, a delay in the systematic development of qualitative methodology took place even as practices continued to yield fruitful research in work such as Flanagan (1954); Maslow (1954, 1959), and Kohlberg (1963). Only between the late 1960s and 1990 did phenomenologists, grounded theorists, discourse analysts, narrative researchers, and others articulate and assert the general scientific value, methodologies, and applicable tools of qualitative inquiry in psychology. Between the 1990s and the present, a revolutionary institutionalization of qualitative methods has taken place in publications, educational curricula, and professional organizations. Examples of ground breaking, well-known psychological research using qualitative methods have begun to be examined by research methodologists. The historical study of qualitative methods offers a treasure trove for the growing comprehension of qualitative methods and their integration with quantitative inquiry.

“Overcoming blindness: Some historical reflections on qualitative psychology,” by David E. Leary. The abstract reads, Continue reading

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New Book: How Reason Almost Lost Its Mind: The Strange Career of Cold War Rationality

A new volume from the University of Chicago Press may be of interest to AHP readers. How Reason Almost Lost Its Mind: The Strange Career of Cold War Rationality describes efforts to reshape rationality within the human sciences during the Cold War. A recent review of the book by Ole Holsti, of Duke University, can be found on H-Net. As described on the publisher’s site,

In the United States at the height of the Cold War, roughly between the end of World War II and the early 1980s, a new project of redefining rationality commanded the attention of sharp minds, powerful politicians, wealthy foundations, and top military brass. Its home was the human sciences—psychology, sociology, political science, and economics, among others—and its participants enlisted in an intellectual campaign to figure out what rationality should mean and how it could be deployed.

How Reason Almost Lost Its Mind brings to life the people—Herbert Simon, Oskar Morgenstern, Herman Kahn, Anatol Rapoport, Thomas Schelling, and many others—and places, including the RAND Corporation, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the Cowles Commission for Research and Economics, and the Council on Foreign Relations, that played a key role in putting forth a “Cold War rationality.” Decision makers harnessed this picture of rationality—optimizing, formal, algorithmic, and mechanical—in their quest to understand phenomena as diverse as economic transactions, biological evolution, political elections, international relations, and military strategy. The authors chronicle and illuminate what it meant to be rational in the age of nuclear brinkmanship.

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New Issue History of Psychiatry: Albert Moll and Hypnosis, Therapeutic Fascism, Lycanthropy, & More

A new issue of History of Psychiatry is now online. Included in this issue are articles on Albert Moll (right) and hypnosis, therapeutic fascism, lycanthropy, and much more. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“The powers of suggestion: Albert Moll and the debate on hypnosis,” by Andreas-Holger Maehle. The abstract reads,

The Berlin physician Albert Moll (1862–1939) was an advocate of hypnotic suggestion therapy and a prolific contributor to the medical, legal and public discussions on hypnotism from the 1880s to the 1920s. While his work in other areas, such as sexology, medical ethics and parapsychology, has recently attracted scholarly attention, this paper for the first time comprehensively examines Moll’s numerous publications on hypnotism and places them in their contemporary context. It covers controversies over the therapeutic application of hypnosis, the reception of Moll’s monograph Der Hypnotismus (1889), his research on the rapport between hypnotizer and subject, his role as an expert on ‘hypnotic crime’, and his views on the historical influence of hypnotism on the development of psychotherapy. My findings suggest that Moll rose to prominence due to the strong late-nineteenth-century public and medical interest in the phenomena of hypnosis, but that his work was soon overshadowed by new, non-hypnotic psychotherapeutic approaches, particularly Freud’s psychoanalysis.

“Mental health, citizenship, and the memory of World War II in the Netherlands (1945–85),” by Harry Oosterhuis. The abstract reads, Continue reading

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The Psych Files: What Was Life Like in an Asylum?

The most recent episode of the Psych Files features an interview with AHP blogger Jennifer Bazar. In “What Was Life Like in an Asylum?” Bazar describes life in the asylum in the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As described on the Psych Files site,

Ever wondered what it was like to be a patient in an “insane asylum”? “Asylums” changed names over the years (including “State Hospital” and “Psychiatric Center”) and so did the treatment of the mentally ill. Hear from Dr. Jennifer Bazar how we went from chaining people up to hydrotherapy to sexual surgery and finally to what is called “moral treatment“. A fascinating walk down the history of psychology with an engaging psychology historian.

The full podcast can be heard online here.

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