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.

Social History of Medicine May Issue

Whittingham Asylum

The May 2015 issue of Social History of Medicine is now online. The issue includes a number of items that may be of interest to AHP readers, including an article on Irish patients in the Victorian Lancashire asylum system and one on the importance of black celebrity activism in making the mental health of black youth a civil rights issue. The issue also includes a special section, “Focus on Learning from Pain,” where a number of recent volumes on the history of pain are reviewed. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“‘A Burden on the County’: Madness, Institutions of Confinement and the Irish Patient in Victorian Lancashire,” by Catherine Cox and Hilary Marland. The abstract reads,

This article explores the responses of the Poor Law authorities, asylum superintendents and Lunacy Commissioners to the huge influx of Irish patients into the Lancashire public asylum system, a system facing intense pressure in terms of numbers and costs, in the latter half of the nineteenth century. In particular, it examines the ways in which patients were passed, bartered and exchanged between two sets of institution—workhouses and asylums. In the mid-nineteenth century removal to asylums was advocated for all cases of mental disorder by asylum medical superintendents and the Lunacy Commissioners; by its end, asylum doctors were resisting the attempts of Poor Law officials to ‘dump’ increasing numbers of chronic cases into their wards. The article situates the Irish patient at the centre of tussles between those with a stake in lunacy provision as a group recognised as numerous, disruptive and isolated.

“Black Celebrities, Selfhood, and Psychiatry in the Civil Rights Era: The Wiltwyck School for Boys and the Floyd Patterson House,” by Dennis A. Doyle. The abstract reads,

This paper contends that a color-blind psychologisation of black interiority constituted one way in which activists imagined African Americans as both fully human and deserving of equal citizenship during the long civil rights era. Between 1954 and 1964, the Wiltwyck School for Boys, a reform school with a predominantly black student body in Esopus, New York, expanded their therapeutic services into Manhattan, creating one of the US’s first psychiatric aftercare programmes. Singer Harry Belafonte and boxing champion Floyd Patterson, two black culture heroes linked to the civil rights movement, lent their support as the Wiltwyck Board of Directors sought the funds needed to build a halfway home named in Patterson’s honor. The public support of these black celebrity-activists helped create the impression that the mental health of black children was a matter of civil rights import, underscoring the black psyche as both the very source of equality between the races and as a site where racial progress could be measured.

Focus on Learning from Pain
Review of Joanna Bourke, The Story of Pain: From Prayer to Painkillers by Rob Boddice. Extract: Continue reading Social History of Medicine May Issue

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Special (31 Article!) Issue of Universitas Psychologica

A special issue of the journal Universitas Psychologica dedicated to the history of psychology is now freely available online. The issue includes 31 contributions which explore the history of psychology in a variety of international locales. Articles in this issue include ones on the work of Christian Wolff, the history of psychoanalysis in Chile, a comparative study of behaviorism in Argentina and Brazil, and much, much more.

While most articles are in Spanish a number are written in English. For more on this issue see this post by the Blog da Rede Iberoamericana de Pesquisadores em História da Psicologia. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

Happy reading!

“La Idea de Psicología Racional en la Metafísica Alemana (1720) de Christian Wolff,” Saulo Araujo and Thiago Constâncio Ribeiro Pereira. The abstract reads,

Christian Wolff (1679-1754) fue una figura central en la Ilustración europea del siglo XVIII. Al mismo tiempo, tuvo una importancia particular para el desarrollo histórico de la psicología, pues fue el primero en darle a ésta su significación moderna. Sin embargo, la historiografía tradicional de la psicología no le ha dado el debido reconocimiento. El objetivo de este artículo consiste en presentar los elementos centrales de su psicología racional en su Metafísica Alemana (1720) y mostrar su importancia para los debates psicológicos posteriores. Con ello, esperamos contribuir a la divulgación de un aspecto importante del desarrollo histórico de la psicología.

““MUJERES EXTRAVIADAS”: PSICOLOGÍA Y PROSTITUCIÓN EN LA ESPAÑA DE POSTGUERRA,” by Javier Bandrés, Eva Zubieta, and Rafael Llavona. The abstract reads,

La brutal depresión económica en que se sumió la España de postguerra empujó a muchas mujeres a recurrir a la prostitución como único medio de subsistencia. Las autoridades franquistas habían anulado el decreto abolicionista republicano por lo que el comercio sexual era tolerado. Sin embargo, el auge incontrolado de la prostitución hizo reaccionar a las autoridades y se establecieron cárceles especiales para prostitutas. Se analizan los trabajos de postguerra sobre la psicología de la prostitución de tres personajes situados en instituciones claves de la época: Antonio Vallejo Nágera (Universidad de Madrid, Consejo Nacional de Sanidad), Eduardo Martínez Martínez (Clínica Psiquiátrica Penitenciaria de Mujeres) y Francisco J. Echalecu y Canino (Patronato de Protección a la Mujer). Los textos de estos tres autores y sus investigaciones sobre prostitutas españolas les llevan a caracterizarlas como afectas innatas de psicopatía sexual, deficiencia mental y amoralidad. Este diagnóstico les lleva a justificar su internamiento para reforma en las cárceles especiales para prostitutas. Los trabajos de Vallejo, Martínez y Echalecu fueron instrumentales para justificar el establecimiento de las cárceles especiales. El marco conceptual de la biopsicología de inspiración alemana se puso al servicio del proyecto social de la biopolítica franquista.

“Scientifics exchanges between France and Brazil in the history of psychology – the role of Georges Dumas (1908-1946),” by Carolina S. Bandeira de Melo and Regina de Freitas Campos. The abstract reads, Continue reading Special (31 Article!) Issue of Universitas Psychologica

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The Cummings Center: 5 Minute History Lesson

The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology has just released the first video in a new series 5 Minute History Lesson. Episode 1, featured above, explores the life and work of psychologist James V. McConnell. A second episode, on Ruth Howard Beckham, is scheduled for release this summer.

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April 20th Talk! Religion & Anti-psychiatry in Imperial Germany

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 April 20th Eric Engstrom (left) will be speaking on “Pastoral Psychiatry and Irrenseelsorge: Religious Aspects of the Anti-psychiatry Debates in Imperial Germany.” 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 20 April 2015
Dr Eric Engstrom (Humboldt University of Berlin), “Pastoral Psychiatry and Irrenseelsorge: Religious Aspects of the Anti-psychiatry Debates in Imperial Germany.” The abstract reads,

Historians of psychiatry have often enough interpreted the relationship between psychiatry and religion within narrative frameworks that focus on diagnoses and treatments (religious madness, exorcism) or that emphasise broader historical processes such as secularisation, medicalisation, and biologisation. While there is considerable merit to such frameworks, recent critiques of the secularisation paradigm have suggested a larger place for religion and spirituality in late 19th-century urban culture than is often assumed. The work of the American historian Edward R. Dickinson in particular has reminded us of the enduring influence and inertia of conservative Christian organisations in shaping moral discourse and social policy in the Kaiserreich.

My paper examines more closely the interdisciplinary topography between psychiatric and religious professionals, mapping out some of the common terrain on which they cooperated and/or disagreed with one another. In particular, I will examine debates about the place of religion in 19th-century asylum culture and the role of the so-called ‘Irrenseelsorger’. Against this backdrop and drawing especially on examples from Berlin, I will then explore efforts by religious organisations to expand their role in psychiatric after-/extramural care and show how those efforts contributed decisively to a nascent ‘anti-psychiatry’ movement in the years leading up to World War One.

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Somatosphere Review: Nicolas Langlitz’s Neuropsychedelia

Head on over to the blog Somatosphere for a review of Nicolas Langlitz’s recent book, Neuropsychedelia: The Revival of Hallucinogen Research Since the Decade of the Brain. The volume is described on the publisher’s website as an examination of

the revival of psychedelic science since the “Decade of the Brain.” After the breakdown of this previously prospering area of psychopharmacology, and in the wake of clashes between counterculture and establishment in the late 1960s, a new generation of hallucinogen researchers used the hype around the neurosciences in the 1990s to bring psychedelics back into the mainstream of science and society. This book is based on anthropological fieldwork and philosophical reflections on life and work in two laboratories that have played key roles in this development: a human lab in Switzerland and an animal lab in California. It sheds light on the central transnational axis of the resurgence connecting American psychedelic culture with the home country of LSD. In the borderland of science and religion, Neuropsychedelia explores the tensions between the use of hallucinogens to model psychoses and to evoke spiritual experiences in laboratory settings. Its protagonists, including the anthropologist himself, struggle to find a place for the mystical under conditions of late-modern materialism.

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Special Issue: “Ordering the Social: History of the Human Sciences in Modern China”

The March 2015 issue of the journal History of Science is a special issue on “Ordering the Social: History of the Human Sciences in Modern China.” Guest edited by Howard Chiang (right), the issue includes several articles that may be of interest to AHP readers. Among these articles are ones on Pavlovianism during the Maoist era, the origins of zaolian (early love) as a form of juvenile delinquency, and debates over koro. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

Editorial: “Ordering the Social: History of the Human Sciences in Modern China,” by Howard Chiang. No abstract.

“Disciplining China with the scientific study of the state: Lu Zhengxiang and the Chinese Social and Political Science,” by John H. Feng. The abstract reads,

This paper discusses the Chinese Social and Political Science Association and its impact on China’s inclination to Wilsonianism. The CSPSA was founded in Beijing in 1915. Two primary supporters were Lu Zhengxiang (China’s Foreign Minister) and Paul S. Reinsch (American Minister to China during the Wilson administration). It chose English as its official language in order to have dialogues with American scholars. The CSPSA had strong interests in constitutionalism, international relations and international law. As it pondered how to discipline China, it demonstrated its inclination to the American scientific study of the state. Epistemologically, this led to the political converge between China and the US during the Great War.

“From palaeoanthropology in China to Chinese palaeoanthropology: Science, imperialism and nationalism in North China, 1920–1939,” by Hsiao-pei Yen. The abstract reads,

Before the establishment of the Cenozoic Research Laboratory (Xinshengdai yanjiushi) in 1929, paleoanthropological research in China was mainly in the hands of foreigners, individual explorers as well as organized teams. This paper describes the development of paleoanthropology in China in the 1920s and 1930s and its transformation from the international phase to an indigenized one. It focuses on the international elite scientist network in metropolitan Beijing whose activities and discoveries led to such transformation. The bond between members of the network was built on shared scientific devotion, joint field experience, and social activities. However, such scientific internationalism was not immune from imperialistic and nationalistic interests and competition as most members of the network also belonged to institutions of the dominant hegemonic powers, such as the French Paleontological Mission and the American Museum of Natural History, operating by the logic of international system of imperialism. While these foreign institutions enjoyed relatively unrestricted access to the Chinese frontier and Mongolia in the early 20th century to discover and collect for the establishment of what they saw as universal scientific knowledge, in the late 1920s rising Chinese and Mongolian nationalisms began to interpret these activities as violations to their national sovereignty. The idea of establishing a “Chinese” institute to carry out paleoanthropological research in China took shape in such milieu. This paper highlights the entanglement between scientific internationalism, imperialism, nationalism in China in the early 20th century and the complicated process of knowledge formation at various national and personal levels.

“Pavlovianism in China: Politics and differentiation across scientific disciplines in the Maoist era,” by Zhipeng Gao. The abstract reads, Continue reading Special Issue: “Ordering the Social: History of the Human Sciences in Modern China”

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“Why is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders so hard to revise?”

The forthcoming June 2015 issue of Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences includes an article by Rachel Cooper on the difficulty of revising the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Full details follow below.

“Why is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders so hard to revise? Path-dependence and “lock-in” in classification,” by Rachel Cooper. The abstract reads,

The latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the D.S.M.-5, was published in May 2013. In the lead up to publication, radical changes to the classification were anticipated; there was widespread dissatisfaction with the previous edition and it was accepted that a “paradigm shift” might be required. In the end, however, and despite huge efforts at revision, the published D.S.M.-5 differs far less than originally envisaged from its predecessor. This paper considers why it is that revising the D.S.M. has become so difficult. The D.S.M. is such an important classification that this question is worth asking in its own right. The case of the D.S.M. can also serve as a study for considering stasis in classification more broadly; why and how can classifications become resistant to change? I suggest that classifications like the D.S.M. can be thought of as forming part of the infrastructure of science, and have much in common with material infrastructure. In particular, as with material technologies, it is possible for “path dependent” development to cause a sub-optimal classification to become “locked in” and hard to replace.

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New JHBS: The Visual Cliff, POW Stress, Models of Addiction, & More

The Spring 2015 issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences is now online. Included in this issue are articles on the forgotten animals of the visual cliff experiment, stress research and the POW experience, the use of animal models in addiction research, and more. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“The visual cliff’s forgotten menagerie: Rats, goats, babies, and myth-making in the history of psychology,” by Elissa N. Rodkey. The abstract reads,

Eleanor Gibson and Richard Walk’s famous visual cliff experiment is one of psychology’s classic studies, included in most introductory textbooks. Yet the famous version which centers on babies is actually a simplification, the result of disciplinary myth-making. In fact the visual cliff’s first subjects were rats, and a wide range of animals were tested on the cliff, including chicks, turtles, lambs, kid goats, pigs, kittens, dogs, and monkeys. The visual cliff experiment was more accurately a series of experiments, employing varying methods and a changing apparatus, modified to test different species. This paper focuses on the initial, nonhuman subjects of the visual cliff, resituating the study in its original experimental logic, connecting it to the history of comparative psychology, Gibson’s interest in comparative psychology, as well as gender-based discrimination. Recovering the visual cliff’s forgotten menagerie helps to counter the romanticization of experimentation by focusing on the role of extrascientific factors, chance, complexity, and uncertainty in the experimental process.

“Understanding the POW Experience: Stress research and the implementation of the 1955 U.S. Armed Forces code of conduct,” by Robert Genter. The abstract reads, Continue reading New JHBS: The Visual Cliff, POW Stress, Models of Addiction, & More

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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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