Tara Abraham‘s Rebel Genius: Warren S. McCulloch’s Transdisciplinary Life in Science is now available from MIT Press. Rebel Genius recounts the life and work of neurophysiologist and cybernetician Warren McCulloch. As described by the publisher,
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Warren S. McCulloch (1898–1969) adopted many identities in his scientific life—among them philosopher, poet, neurologist, neurophysiologist, neuropsychiatrist, collaborator, theorist, cybernetician, mentor, engineer. He was, writes Tara Abraham in this account of McCulloch’s life and work, “an intellectual showman,” and performed this part throughout his career. While McCulloch claimed a common thread in his work was the problem of mind and its relationship to the brain, there was much more to him than that. In Rebel Genius, Abraham uses McCulloch’s life as a window on a past scientific age, showing the complex transformations that took place in American brain and mind science in the twentieth century—particularly those surrounding the cybernetics movement.
Abraham describes McCulloch’s early work in neuropsychiatry, and his emerging identity as a neurophysiologist. She explores his transformative years at the Illinois Neuropsychiatric Institute and his work with Walter Pitts—often seen as the first iteration of “artificial intelligence” but here described as stemming from the new tradition of mathematical treatments of biological problems. Abraham argues that McCulloch’s dual identities as neuropsychiatrist and cybernetician are inseparable. He used the authority he gained in traditional disciplinary roles as a basis for posing big questions about the brain and mind as a cybernetician. When McCulloch moved to the Research Laboratory of Electronics at MIT, new practices for studying the brain, grounded in mathematics, philosophy, and theoretical modeling, expanded the relevance and ramifications of his work. McCulloch’s transdisciplinary legacies anticipated today’s multidisciplinary field of cognitive science.
The February 2017 issue of History of the Human Sciences is now online and includes a number of articles that may be of interest to AHP’s readers. Articles in this issue tackle: the relationship between Sigmund Freud and Chilean physiologist Alejandro Lipschütz, information overload in postwar America, Frédéric LePlay and scientific observation, the Susan Isaacs’ interwar work on progressive education and psychanalysis, and the patient-analyst relationship in psychoanalysis and telepathy-like experiences. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.
“Sigmund Freud and Alejandro Lipschütz: Psychoanalysis and biology between Europe and Chile,” by Silvana Vetö and Marcelo Sánchez. The abstract reads,
This article deals with the relationship between the creator of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, and the Latvian-born Chilean professor of physiology – and endocrinologist and anthropologist – Alejandro (or Alexander) Lipschütz. Up till now, the historiography of psychoanalysis in Chile has ignored the existence of this relationship, that is to say, the fact that there exists an interesting exchange of correspondence as well as references to Lipschütz in some important works published by Freud and in Freud’s correspondence with the Hungarian psychoanalyst Sándor Ferenczi. There are also references to works on psychoanalysis carried out by Lipschütz in Chile. The Freud–Lipschütz relationship allows us to examine two interesting topics in contemporary historiographical approaches to psychoanalysis. First, it permits us to reflect on the connections that Freud and Ferenczi sought to establish between psychoanalysis and biology (endocrinology in particular) as a strategy to address criticism of the scientific foundations of psychoanalysis and, therefore, to help legitimize psychoanalysis in the field of science. Second, the relationship between Freud, working in a culturally influential city such as Vienna, and Lipschütz, working in a ‘peripheral’ country such as Chile, paves the way to reflect on the consequences of a history of psychoanalysis written from the perspective of the ‘margins’. This is a history that focuses not on regions where early industrialization and modernization processes, along with an important academic and scientific tradition, help explain the interest in and reception of psychoanalysis, but on regions where different sets of conditions have to be examined to explain appropriation and dissemination processes.
“The nature of the glut: Information overload in postwar America,” by Nick Levine. The abstract reads, Continue reading New From HHS: Susan Isaacs’ Progressive Education, Information Overload, & MoreShare on Facebook
The Journal of Gay & Lesbian Mental Health has just published a review of the recent book Barbara Gittings: Gay Pioneer. As Jack Drescher notes in his review Gittings, as part of a lifetime of LGBT activist efforts, pushed to remove homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Drescher notes,
Gittings, at Lahusen’s suggestion, sought an openly gay psychiatrist to present at a 1972 APA symposium entitled “Psychiatry: Friend or Foe to Homosexuals? A Dialogue.” Along with Gittings and [Frank] Kameny, the panel included a gay-friendly heterosexual analyst, Judd Marmor. As none of the gay psychiatrists she knew would appear openly gay in public—at the time, one could lose one’s medical license because homosexuality was illegal in almost every U.S. state—Barbara Gittings convinced John Fryer to appear in disguise as Dr. H. Anonymous.
Fryer, wearing an oversized tuxedo, a rubber Richard Nixon Halloween mask, and a fright wig, explained to his fellow psychiatrists the pain of the professional closet. [Kay Tobin] Lahusen’s photograph of the masked Dr. H Anonymous, now gone viral on the Internet, is a chilling, yet humorous, iconic moment in the history of the LGBT civil rights movement. Further, the panel and the hard work of Gittings, Lahusen, Kameny, and Fryer led to the APA’s removing “homosexuality” from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-II) the following year.
More on Gittings and Tracy Baim’s biography can be found here.Share on Facebook
A new book length account of the life and work of Hermann Rorschach,The Inkblots: Hermann Rorschach, His Iconic Test, and the Power of Seeing by Damion Searls, has just been released. As described on the publisher’s website,
In 1917, working alone in a remote Swiss asylum, psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach devised an experiment to probe the human mind: a set of ten carefully designed inkblots. For years he had grappled with the theories of Freud and Jung while also absorbing the aesthetic movements of the day, from Futurism to Dadaism. A visual artist himself, Rorschach had come to believe that who we are is less a matter of what we say, as Freud thought, than what we see.
After Rorschach’s early death, his test quickly made its way to America, where it took on a life of its own. Co-opted by the military after Pearl Harbor, it was a fixture at the Nuremberg trials and in the jungles of Vietnam. It became an advertising staple, a cliché in Hollywood and journalism, and an inspiration to everyone from Andy Warhol to Jay Z. The test was also given to millions of defendants, job applicants, parents in custody battles, and people suffering from mental illness or simply trying to understand themselves better. And it is still used today.
In this first-ever biography of Rorschach, Damion Searls draws on unpublished letters and diaries and a cache of previously unknown interviews with Rorschach’s family, friends, and colleagues to tell the unlikely story of the test’s creation, its controversial reinvention, and its remarkable endurance—and what it all reveals about the power of perception. Elegant and original, The Inkblots shines a light on the twentieth century’s most visionary synthesis of art and science.
A short interview with author Damion Searls on NPR can be heard here.Share on Facebook
The editors of History of the Human Sciences have issued a call for submissions from early career researchers wishing to engage with John Forrester’s work “Thinking in Cases.” Short expressions of interest are due March 13th, 2017. Full details of the call for submissions follow below.
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As part of our celebration of the work of the incomparable John Forrester, History of the Human Sciences (HHS) is hosting a review symposium around John’s final work: Thinking in Cases (Polity: 2017). The first essay in this collection ‘If p, then what? Thinking in cases’ was originally published in HHS back in 1996: (http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/095269519600900301)
As part of our efforts to showcase the work of new and emerging scholars, HHS invites expressions of interest from all early career researchers (a flexible definition) whose work bears in some way upon the work John started with ‘Thinking in Cases’. We welcome anyone who would like to contribute to such a dialogue with John’s work, and with each other.
If interested, please send a short expression of interest (max 200 words) to the email address below, outlining your strengths as candidate for inclusion in such a review symposium. Depending upon response, we anticipate final contributions of c.3,000 words.
– Expressions of Interest: Monday 13th March, 2017.
– Submission of Contributions: 31st October, 2017.
– Publication in HHS: 2018.
If you have questions, please email Chris Millard: c[dot]millard[at]Sheffield[dot]ac[dot]uk
We look forward to hearing from you,
Felicity Callard (Editor-in-Chief) & Chris Millard (Reviews Editor)
The I Am Psyched! exhibit, first launched as part of the Smithsonian Institute’s Museum Day Live in 2016, is hitting the road! The pop-up exhibit will be at Howard University tomorrow through Thursday, February 23rd, in celebration of both Howard University’s 150th anniversary and the American Psychological Association’s 125th anniversary. Kick off events tomorrow February 21st will be followed by three live interviews on APA’s Facebook page starting at1:15 PM (ET):
1:15 PM – Drs. Jessica Henderson Daniel and Shari Miles-Cohen will discuss Dr. Henderson Daniel’s storied career and how she made history by being elected as the first African American woman to lead the Association.
1:45 PM – Drs. Nicole Monteiro and Carlota Ocampo will discuss their research, what inspired them to go into psychology, and words of wisdom for the next generation of women of color psychologists.
2:15 PM – The winner and runners-up of the “I am Psyched” student poster session competition will discuss their winning posters and what has inspired them to pursue careers in psychology.
The exhibit is a collaboration between the APA’ Public Interest Directorate’s Women’s Programs Office, the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, and Psychology’s Feminist Voices. The exhibit is described as follows:
The I am Psyched! National Tour launches on Feb. 21, 2017 with a three-day installation at Howard University (HU) in Washington, D.C., celebrating both APA’s 125th anniversary and HU’s 150th anniversary. The opening includes remarks from APA President-elect Jessica Henderson Daniel, PhD, ABPP, and members of HU’s senior administration, followed by round tables of women psychologists discussing how they have used psychology to make positive social change. Bringing full circle the past, present and future of women of color in psychology, the program will conclude with the grand opening of the I am Psyched! at Howard University exhibit and a juried poster session of empirical research by or about women of color conducted by HU graduate students. APA and HU are grateful to the National Black Employees Association and our other funders for helping to defray the cost of this event.
The second stop on the national tour is Drexel University, in Philedelphia from Feb. 27 through March 10. Dorothy Charbonnier, PhD, chair of the department of psychology, will host an opening reception with Drexel University President John Anderson Fry and other high level administrators, trustees and donors in attendance.
The I Am Psyched! exhibit will also be making the following stops on its national tour:
Howard University, Washington, D.C. Feb, 21-23, 2017
Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pa. Feb, 27-March 10, 2017
St. John’s University, Queens, N.Y. March 14-17, 2017
Pace University, New York, N.Y. (tentative) March 20-21, 2017
University of Memphis, Memphis, Tenn. April 5-8, 2017
Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. April 28-30, 2017
Follow the full tour on Twitter with the hashtag
Decades before these technologies existed, a man hunched over a microscope in Spain at the turn of the 20th century was making prescient hypotheses about how the brain works. At the time, William James was still developing psychology as a science and Sir Charles Scott Sherrington was defining our integrated nervous system.
Meet Santiago Ramón y Cajal, an artist, photographer, doctor, bodybuilder, scientist, chess player and publisher. He was also the father of modern neuroscience.
More details on the book, The Beautiful Brain: The Drawings of Santiago Ramón y Cajal
(By Larry Swanson, Eric Newman, Alfonso Araque, and Janet Dubinsky) can be found here, while the exhibit is scheduled to appear at the following locations:
The Beautiful Brain Tour Schedule
January 28 – May 21, 2017 | Weisman Art Museum, University of Minnesota
September 5 – December 3, 2017 | Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery,
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
January 9 – March 31, 2018 | Grey Art Gallery, New York University
New York City, New York, USA
May 2, 2018 – January 1, 2019 | MIT museum, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
January 27 – April 7, 2019 | Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
The European Society for the History of the Human Sciences has issued a call for abstracts for their 2017 meeting. Submission are due March 17th, 2017 and the meeting will take place in Bari, Italy from July 12th through 14th. Full details can be found here.
FIRST CALL FOR ABSTRACTS
The European Society for the History of the Human Sciences (ESHHS) invites submissions to its conference to be held from July 12 to July 14, 2017, at the Seminar for the History of Science, University of Bari ‘Aldo Moro’, Italy.
Sessions, papers, workshops, round-tables and posters may deal with any aspect of the history of the human, behavioural and social sciences or with related historiographic and methodological issues. However, this year’s conference will pay particular attention to:
– history and new trends in historiography of human sciences
– circulation and popularization of scientific knowledge
– history of the body
– comparative studies and cultural hegemonies in history of science
– laboratory science and professionalization
– theories and practices in the historical development of human sciences
Submissions: must be received by March 17, 2017.
Please send your proposal electronically as attachment in MSWord (.doc/.docx) to each of the three members of the programme committee:
– Mariagrazia Proietto
– Annette Mülberger
– Jannes Eshuis
Only proposals connected with original research should be sent. Please indicate the submission type (session, paper, poster, workshop or round-table proposal). Any submission should include the name, email, and institutional address of the proponent.
Oral presentations: send a 500-600 word abstract in English plus a short bibliography. In case your communication will be in another language, please inform the committee in order to assist you in planning linguistic support, if necessary.
Posters: send a 300 word abstract.
Proposal for a session, workshop or round-table: send a 500-600 word rationale of the event (plus a short bibliography) as well as a short abstract for each paper or intervention.
Notification of acceptance will be sent by April 30, 2017.
A limited number of travel stipends will be available to students or scholars who present a paper or a poster and need economic support. Please indicate along with your submission if you wish to be considered for this arrangement.
For updates on the conference (registration and accommodation), check the following website www.eshhs.eu
Organization: Mariagrazia Proietto, Augusto Garuccio, Francesco Paolo de Ceglia
Eshhs and the Seminar for the History of Science welcome you to Bari!Share on Facebook
The March 2017 issue of History of Psychiatry is now online. Guest edited by Chris Philo and Jonathan Andrews, this special issue explores “Histories of asylums, insanity and psychiatry in Scotland.” Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.
“Introduction: histories of asylums, insanity and psychiatry in Scotland,” by Chris Philo and Jonathan Andrews. The abstract reads,
This paper introduces a special issue on ‘Histories of asylums, insanity and psychiatry in Scotland’, situating the papers that follow in an outline historiography of work in this field. Using Allan Beveridge’s claims in 1993 about the relative lack of research on the history of psychiatry in Scotland, the paper reviews a range of contributions that have emerged since then, loosely distinguishing between ‘overviews’ – work addressing longer-term trends and broader periods and systems – and more detailed studies of particular ‘individuals and institutions’. There remains much still to do, but the present special issue signals what is currently being achieved, not least by a new generation of scholars in and on Scotland.
“A ‘Scottish Poor Law of Lunacy’? Poor Law, Lunacy Law and Scotland’s parochial asylums,” by Lauren Farquharson. The abstract reads,
Scotland’s parochial asylums are unfamiliar institutional spaces. Representing the concrete manifestation of the collision between two spheres of legislation, the Poor Law and the Lunacy Law, six such asylums were constructed in the latter half of the nineteenth century. These sites expressed the enduring mandate of the Scottish Poor Law 1845 over the domain of ‘madness’. They were institutions whose very existence was fashioned at the directive of the local arm of the Poor Law, the parochial board, and they constituted a continuing ‘Scottish Poor Law of Lunacy’. Their origins and operation significantly subverted the intentions and objectives of the Lunacy Act 1857, the aim of which had been to institute a public district asylum network with nationwide coverage.
“Liberty and the individual: The colony asylum in Scotland and England,” by Gillian Allmond. The abstract reads, Continue reading Special Issue History of Psychiatry: Histories of Asylums, Insanity and Psychiatry in ScotlandShare on Facebook