Category Archives: General

Masculinity in Mid-20th Psychology in the New Osiris

The 2015 volume of special topic publication Osiris is now available and dedicated to the theme of “Scientific Masculinities.” Among the plethora of interesting pieces in the issue, is one specifically on the history of psychology: “Maintaining Masculinity in Mid-Twentieth-Century American Psychology: Edwin Boring, Scientific Eminence, and the ‘Woman Problem'” by Alexandra Rutherford. The abstract reads,

Using mid-twentieth-century American psychology as my focus, I explore how scientific psychology was constructed as a distinctly masculine enterprise and was navigated by those who did not conform easily to this masculine ideal. I show how women emerged as problems for science through the vigorous gatekeeping activities and personal and professional writings of disciplinary figurehead Edwin G. Boring. I trace Boring’s intellectual and professional socialization into masculine science and his efforts to understand women’s apparent lack of scientific eminence, efforts that were clearly undergirded by preexisting and widely shared assumptions about men’s and women’s capacities and preferences.

Share on Facebook

New Hist. of Psychiatry: DSM-III, ECT, Veridical Hallucinations, & More

The December 2015 issue of History of Psychiatry is now online. Articles in this issue explore multiaxial assessment in the DSM-III, electroconvulsive therapy, and veridical hallucinations in France, among other topics. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Félix Voisin and the genesis of abnormals,” by Claude-Olivier Doron. The abstract reads,

This article traces the genealogy of the category of ‘abnormals’ in psychiatry. It focuses on the French alienist Felix Voisin (1794–1872) who played a decisive role in the creation of alienist knowledge and institutions for problem children, criminals, idiots and lunatics. After a presentation of the category of ‘abnormals’ as understood at the end of the nineteenth century, I identify in the works of Voisin a key moment in the concept’s evolution. I show how, based on concepts borrowed from phrenology and applied first to idiocy, Voisin allows alienism to establish links between the medico-legal (including penitentiary) and medical-educational fields (including difficult childhood). I stress the extent to which this enterprise is related to Voisin’s humanism, which claimed to remodel pedagogy and the right to punish on the anthropological particularities of individuals, in order to improve them.

“The nature of delusion: psychologically explicable? psychologically inexplicable? philosophically explicable? Part 1,” by J. Cutting and M. Musalek. The abstract reads, Continue reading New Hist. of Psychiatry: DSM-III, ECT, Veridical Hallucinations, & More

Share on Facebook

CfP: “Alcohol Flows Across Cultures: Drinking Cultures in Transnational & Comparative Perspective”

A call for papers has been issued for a research symposium on alcohol consumption across cultures that will take place at St. Anne’s College, Oxford at the end of June, 2016. Full details follow below.

Alcohol flows across cultures: Drinking cultures in transnational and comparative perspective

Wednesday 29 June 2016 – Thursday 30 June 2016
Location: St Anne’s College, Oxford


International Research Symposium

Alcohol consumption is currently seen as a major public health hazard across the globe. The medicalisation of alcohol use has become a prominent discourse that guides policy makers and impacts public perceptions of alcohol and drinking. This symposium intends to map the historical and cultural dimension of these phenomena and to trace the development of changing attitudes to consumption and historical and contemporary representations of alcohol and drinking in different regions, from the pre-modern to the postcolonial period. Emphasis is on the connected histories of different regions and populations across the globe in terms of their consumption patterns, government policies, economics and representations of alcohol and drinking. This transnational perspective facilitates an understanding of the local, transnational and global factors that have had a bearing on alcohol consumption and legislation and on the emergence of particular styles of ‘drinking cultures’. A comparative approach helps identify similarities, differences and crossovers between particular regions and pinpoint the parameters that shape alcohol consumption, policies and perceptions. The exploration of plural drinking cultures within any one particular region, their association with particular social groups, and their continuities and changes in the wake of wider global, colonial and postcolonial economic, political and social constraints and exchanges will be important dimensions of analysis.

Compensation for travel expenditure and local hospitality during the conference is aimed at but cannot be guaranteed. The closing date for abstracts (300 words) is 10 January 2016. Please indicate the primary source base of your contribution in your abstract, and clearly state your research questions, aims and arguments.

Contact for submission of abstracts and for inquiries:
Professor Waltraud Ernst,
Professor David Foxcroft,

Share on Facebook

New HoP: Instruments, Forensic Psychology in Germany, & More

The November 2015 issue of History of Psychology is now online.  Articles in this issue explore forensic psychology in Germany, phrenology in Gilded Age America, and much more. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Anthropophagy: A singular concept to understand Brazilian culture and psychology as specific knowledge,” by Arthur Arruda Leal Ferreira. The abstract reads,

The aim of this work is to present the singularity of the concept of anthropophagy in Brazilian culture. This article examines its use in the Modernist Movement of the 1920s and explores the possibilities it creates for thinking about Brazilian culture in nonidentitarian terms. We then use the concept of anthropophagy in a broader, practical sense to understand psychology as a kind of anthropophagical knowledge. We do so because in many ways the discipline of psychology is similar to Brazilian culture in its plurality and complexity.

““God save us from psychologists as expert witnesses”: The battle for forensic psychology in early twentieth-century Germany,” by Heather Wolffram. The abstract reads,

This article is focused on the jurisdictional battle between psychiatrists and psychologists over psychological expertise in legal contexts that took place during the first decades of the 20th century. Using, as an example, the debate between the psychologist William Stern, the psychiatrist Albert Moll, and the jurist Albert Hellwig, which occurred at the International Congress for Sexual Research held in Berlin in 1926, it aims to demonstrate the manner in which psychiatrists’ responses to psychologists’ attempts to gain admittance to Germany’s courtrooms were shaped not only by epistemological and methodological objections, but also by changes to expert witnessing that had already encroached on psychiatrists’ professional territory. Building upon recent work examining the relationship between psychologists and jurists prior to the First World War, this article also seeks to examine the role of judges and lawyers in the contest over forensic psychology in the mid-1920s, arguing that they ultimately became referees in the increasingly public disputes between psychiatrists and psychologists.

“Psychological testing and the German labor market, 1925 to 1965,” by David Meskill. The abstract reads, Continue reading New HoP: Instruments, Forensic Psychology in Germany, & More

Share on Facebook

New Book: The Corrigible and the Incorrigible by Greg Eghigian

The University of Michigan Press has recently published Greg Eghigian’s The Corrigible and the Incorrigible: Science, Medicine, and the Convict in Twentieth-Century Germany. As the publisher describes,

The Corrigible and the Incorrigible explores the surprising history of efforts aimed at rehabilitating convicts in 20th-century Germany, efforts founded not out of an unbridled optimism about the capacity of people to change, but arising from a chronic anxiety about the potential threats posed by others. Since the 1970s, criminal justice systems on both sides of the Atlantic have increasingly emphasized security, surveillance, and atonement, an approach that contrasts with earlier efforts aimed at scientifically understanding, therapeutically correcting, and socially reintegrating convicts. And while a distinction is often drawn between American and European ways of punishment, the contrast reinforces the longstanding impression that modern punishment has played out as a choice between punitive retribution and correctional rehabilitation. Focusing on developments in Nazi, East, and West Germany, The Corrigible and the Incorrigible shows that rehabilitation was considered an extension of, rather than a counterweight to, the hardline emphasis on punishment and security by providing the means to divide those incarcerated into those capable of reform and the irredeemable.

Share on Facebook

Theory & Psychology Special Issue: “Unplugging the Milgram Machine”

The October 2015 issue of Theory & Psychology is a special issue on “Unplugging the Milgram Machine.” Guest edited by Augustine Brannigan, Ian Nicholson, and Frances Cherry the issue includes a number of articles of interest to AHP readers. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Introduction to the special issue: Unplugging the Milgram machine,” by Augustine Brannigan, Ian Nicholson, and Frances Cherry. The abstract reads,

The current issue of Theory & Psychology is devoted to Stanley Milgram and his contribution to the study of obedience. It presents a decidedly critical evaluation of these well-known experiments that challenges their relevance to our understanding of events such as the Holocaust. It builds on recent investigations of the Milgram archive at Yale. The discipline’s adulation of the obedience research overlooks several critical factors: the palpable trauma experienced by many participants, and the stark skepticism of the deceptive cover-story experienced by many others, Milgram’s misrepresentation of the way in which the prods were undertaken to ensure standardization, and his failure to de-brief the vast majority of participants. There is also the cherry-picking of findings. The project was whitewashed in the film, Obedience, prepared by Milgram to popularize his conclusions. The articles contributed for this issue offer a more realistic assessment of Milgram’s contribution to knowledge.

“Coverage of recent criticisms of Milgram’s obedience experiments in introductory social psychology textbooks,” by Richard A. Griggs and George I. Whitehead III. The abstract reads, Continue reading Theory & Psychology Special Issue: “Unplugging the Milgram Machine”

Share on Facebook

New Book: Saulo de Freitas Araujo’s Wundt and the Philosophical Foundations of Psychology

Wundt and the Philosophical Foundations of Psychology: A Reappraisal is now available from Springer. Written by Saulo de Freitas Araujo (right), the book

reassesses the seminal work of Wilhelm Wundt by discussing the history and philosophy of psychology. It traces the pioneering theorist’s intellectual development and the evolution of psychology throughout his career. The author draws on little-known sources to situate psychological concepts in Wundt’s philosophical thought and address common myths and misconceptions relating to Wundt’s ideas. The ideas presented in this book show why Wundt’s work remains relevant in this era of ongoing mind/brain debate and interest continues in the links between psychology and philosophy.

Share on Facebook

New Isis: Experimenters & Subjects, & Bounded Rationality

A new issue of Isis, the official journal of the History of Science Society, is now online. The issue includes an article by Jill Morawski (right) on the relationship between experimenters and subjects in postwar American psychology. A special focus section on “Bounded Rationality and the History of Science” also includes a couple of pieces that tackle the history of psychology. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Epistemological Dizziness in the Psychology Laboratory: Lively Subjects, Anxious Experimenters, and Experimental Relations, 1950–1970,” by Jill Morawski. The abstract reads,

Since the demise of introspective techniques in the early twentieth century, experimental psychology has largely assumed an administrative arrangement between experimenters and subjects wherein subjects respond to experimenters’ instructions and experimenters meticulously constrain that relationship through experimental controls. During the postwar era this standard arrangement came to be questioned, initiating reflections that resonated with Cold War anxieties about the nature of the subjects and the experimenters alike. Albeit relatively short lived, these interrogations of laboratory relationships gave rise to unconventional testimonies and critiques of experimental method and epistemology. Researchers voiced serious concerns about the honesty and normality of subjects, the politics of the laboratory, and their own experimental conduct. Their reflective commentaries record the intimacy of subject and experimenter relations and the plentiful cultural materials that constituted the experimental situation, revealing the permeable boundaries between laboratory and everyday life.

“Hypothesis Bound: Trial and Error in the Nineteenth Century,” by Henry M. Cowles. The abstract reads, Continue reading New Isis: Experimenters & Subjects, & Bounded Rationality

Share on Facebook

Human Subjects & Migration and Madness in Social History of Medicine

The November 2015 issue of Social History of Medicine includes several pieces of interest to AHP readers. Articles in this issue include ones that explore the modern construction of human subjects, madness during voyages to New Zealand during the Victorian and Edwardian eras, and the use of case records of early 20th century Eastern European emigrants as sources. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Migration and Madness at Sea: The Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-century Voyage to New Zealand,” by Angela McCarthy.

This article draws on a range of sources—including surgeon superintendents’ reports as well as asylum records—to examine the mental health of migrants and crew on the voyage to New Zealand during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. It examines key themes such as relations between crew and passengers, the emotional dimensions of insanity, attempts to export the insane, and collaboration between doctors and relatives in adhering to mental health legislation in order to repatriate the insane, all of which facilitate assessment of wider debates about medical authority. While surgeon superintendents documented actions rather than causes for unusual behaviour, asylum doctors and family members were more likely to attempt to explain mental disturbance at sea. Additionally, this article examines the beliefs of medical officials who paradoxically argued that the voyage was beneficial, rather than detrimental, to health.

“Making up ‘Vulnerable’ People: Human Subjects and the Subjective Experience of Medical Experiment,” by Nancy D. Campbell and Laura Stark.

This paper explores how ‘the human subject’ was figured historically and expands the interpretive range available to historians for understanding the subjective experiences of people who have served in medical experiments in the past. We compare LSD studies on healthy ‘volunteers’ conducted in two experimental settings in the 1950s: the US National Institutes of Mental Health’s (NIMH) Addiction Research Center (ARC) Lexington, Kentucky and the NIH Clinical Center (NIHCC) in Bethesda, Maryland. Sources consist of oral history interviews, transcripts and archival documents including photographs and records. Political priorities and historical contingencies relevant for crystalising the expert domain of modern bioethics, especially the 1960s US Civil Rights movement, were central for producing the ‘vulnerability’ attributed to the modern figure of the ‘human subject’. Using Ian Hacking’s historical ontology approach, we suggest how this figure of the ‘vulnerable human subject’ affected historical actors’ self-understandings while foreclosing paths of historical inquiry and interpretation.

“‘Insane emigrants’ in transit. Psychiatric Patients’ Files as a Source for the History of Return Migration, c. 1910,” by Gemma Blok. Continue reading Human Subjects & Migration and Madness in Social History of Medicine

Share on Facebook

BPS’s The Psychologist: “Psychology and the Great War, 1914–1918”

The November 2015 issue of The Psychologist includes a piece on “Psychology and the Great War, 1914–1918.” Written by Ben Shepard, the article explores psychology’s various involvements in World War One. As Shepard notes,

Many of those involved in the war, on both sides of the Atlantic, were pupils of Wundt. Indeed, the academic discipline of psychology in 1914 was itself essentially a German invention. Frederic Bartlett later recalled that the course taught at Cambridge before the war ‘was Germans, Germans all the way, and if we were going to stick to psychology then to Germany sooner or later we must all surely go’. Bartlett never went to Germany himself, but nearly everyone else did; many had fond memories of the ‘unstinted kindness and precious friendship’ of very many Germans and found it uncomfortable to be at war with them. Amongst the conflict-driven dreams Rivers recorded at Craiglockhart Hospital in 1917 was one in which he found himself back in the Heidelberg laboratory where he had worked two decades before. But divided loyalties were most powerfully played out at Harvard, where Hugo Münsterberg, the pioneer of applied psychology and a deeply patriotic German, found himself surrounded by anglophile New Englanders. Instead of returning to Germany, Münsterberg stood his ground but the strain took its toll, and in December 1916, while lecturing at Barnard College, he collapsed, fell from the podium and died.

The full piece can be read online here.

Share on Facebook