NPR has posted a brief interview with Kevin Cook on his new book Kitty Genovese: The Murder, the Bystanders, the Crime That Changed America. (For more on the Kitty Genovese case and its often repeated errors see our previous posts here.) Audio of the interview, as well as a transcript are available online. As NPR describes,
Share on Facebook
In March 1964, there was a heinous murder in the Kew Gardens neighborhood of Queens, N.Y. Back then, there was no 911 emergency number, there were no good Samaritan laws and, despite her cries, there was no one coming to help Catherine Genovese.
Kitty, as she was known, was a bar manager on her way home from work in the early morning hours. According to news reports at the time, she was attacked not once but three times over the course of a half-hour. What’s more: There were apparently 38 witnesses.
Ten years ago, Genovese’s girlfriend at the time, Mary Ann Zielonko, reflected on the crime in an interview with Sound Portraits Productions:
“I still have a lot of anger toward people because they could have saved her life, I mean, all the steps along the way when he attacked her three times. And then he sexually assaulted her, too, when she was dying. I mean, you look out the window and you see this happening and you don’t help. That’s — how do you live with yourself knowing you didn’t do anything?”
A recent article in Symbolic Interaction provides insight into sociologist Erving Goffman’s work on mental illness. As part of a freely available special issue dedicated to Goffman, Dmitri N. Shalin explores the role of Goffman’s personal biography on his work. In addition to a more general piece on this subject, “Interfacing Biography, Theory and History: The Case of Erving Goffman,” Shalin details how Goffman’s Asylums, as well as a briefer piece “The Insanity of Place” were informed by his personal experiences. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.
“Interfacing Biography, Theory and History: The Case of Erving Goffman,” Dmitri N. Shalin. The abstract reads,
This study aims to show that much of Erving Goffman’s writing is crypto-biographical and that key turns in his intellectual career reflected his life’s trajectory and attempts at self-renewal. The case is made that Goffman’s theoretical corpus reflects his personal experience as a son of Russian–Jewish immigrants who struggled to raise himself from the obscurity of Canadian Manitoba to international stardom. The concluding section describes the Erving Goffman Archives and the contribution that the large database of documents and biographical materials assembled therein can make to biocritical hermeneutics, a research program focused on the relationship between biography, theory, and history.
“Goffman on Mental Illness: Asylums and “The Insanity of Place” Revisited,” Dmitri N. Shalin. The abstract reads,
Share on Facebook
This case study is designed to demonstrate that sociological imagination can feed on personal experience, that research practice interpolates our biographical circumstances, and that a systematic inquiry into the interplay between our professional and everyday life offers a fruitful avenue for sociological analysis. The discussion focuses on Erving Goffman’s treatment of mental illness. The argument is made that the evolution of Goffman’s constructionist views on mental disorder had been influenced by his family situation and personal experience.
New Books in Science, Technology, and Society, part of the New Books Network, has released an audio interview with historian Michael Pettit (left) on his recent book The Science of Deception: Psychology and Commerce in America. (For previous AHP posts on The Science of Deception see here and here.) As New Books in STS describes,
Parapsychology. You may have heard of it. You know, telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, psychokinesis. Spoon-bending and that sort of thing. If you have heard of it, you probably think of it as a pseudoscience. And indeed it is. But it wasn’t always so. There was a time in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when practitioners and advocates of parapsychology abounded. William James, one of the very founders of modern psychological science, was a fan. Most of the founders of modern psychology, of course, weren’t fans. They considered the parapsychologists frauds peddling cheap tricks to gullible people. These con-men, they said, gave true psychological science a bad name. There was only one thing to do: unmask them.
As Michael Pettit shows in his fascinating book The Science of Deception: Psychology and Commerce in America (University of Chicago Press, 2013), that is precisely what the scientific psychologists did, or at least tried to do. They worked hard to create a firm boundary between their legitimate practice and what they considered illegitimate trickery. In so doing, they developed a science of deception, one that had far reaching implications for science, the law, and commerce in the United States.
The full interview can be heard online here.
Share on Facebook
The Eastern Psychological Association‘s Annual meeting will take place in Boston March 13-16th. Yesterday we highlighted the PsyBorg’s Digital History symposium at the conference (for details on that session see here). Today we bring you the rest of the history programming at the conference. Below you’ll find all the details about the talks, including a keynote address from Alexandra Rutherford: Women “Ought Not to Have Any Sex, But They Do”: And Other Tales of Gender in Science.
Symposium: International Perspectives
Saturday, March 15
Chair: David B. Baker (University of Akron)
This invited symposium on the history of psychology brings together the diverse perspectives of Uwe Gielen, Professor of Psychology at St. Francis College and Executive Director of the Institute for International and Cross-Cultural Psychology, Fabian Agiurgioaei Boie, School Psychologist and formerly of the Albert Ellis Institute, and David B. Baker, Professor of Psychology and Margaret Clark Morgan Executive Director at the Center for the History of Psychology, University of Akron.
Magazin der Erfahrungsseelenkunde (1783 – 1793): The World’s First Psychology Journal, by Uwe Gielen, St. Francis College
Psychology in Romania: The Myth of Phoenix, by Fabian Agiurgioaei Boie, St. John’s University
Discussant(s): David B. Baker, University of Akron
History Invited Keynote Address: Alexandra Rutherford
Saturday, March 15, 2014
1:30 PM – 2:50 PM, Terrace
Chair: Claire Etaugh (Bradley University)
Women “Ought Not to Have Any Sex, But They Do”: And Other Tales of Gender in Science, by Alexandra Rutherford (York University) Continue reading
Share on Facebook
This is part of a special series of posts on the digital history of psychology from members of the PsyBorgs Lab at York University, in Toronto, Canada. The full series of posts can be found here.
The PsyBorgs, or at least a subset of us, are taking our digital history of psychology show on the road next month. We’ll – Christopher Green, Jeremy Burman, Daniel Lahham, and I – be travelling to Boston for the Eastern Psychological Association‘s Annual meeting, March 13-16th. If you’re planning to attend the conference, or happen to be in the Boston area, stop by and see us at our Digital History symposium, Saturday March 15th from 3-4:20pm in Winthrop. We’ll be discussing the results of work with a veritable smorgasbord of digital methods: geomapping, networking, and data mining PsycInfo. More details follow below.
Symposium Title: Digital History: Stanley Hall’s Travels, Intellectual Networks, Ethology/Comparative, Trends with PsycINFO
Digital History, in part, is the effort to analyze large electronic databases of historical data by using graphical statistical displays. At York University we have assembled a Digital History of Psychology Laboratory in which faculty and students collaborate on projects to uncover novel aspects of the discipline’s past with these methods. This symposium presents four of those projects. (1) Jacy L. Young presents maps of the many lecture tours made by G. Stanley Hall as he publicized his “Child Study” movement. (2) Christopher D. Green shows how the intellectual structure of early American psychology is revealed by networks of journal articles published during the 1880s1920s. (3) Daniel E. Lahham uses networks to reveal the impact of European ethology on American comparative psychology in the 1950s. (4) Jeremy T. Burman discusses how to employ APA’s PsycINFO database to investigate intellectual trends in psychology since 1967.
“Mapping the Psychologist as Public Scientist: G. Stanley Hall’s Late-Nineteenth Century North American Travels,” by Jacy L. Young (York University): Continue reading
Share on Facebook
Well, it’s finally here: our 1,000th post! 6 years, 8 months, 17 days, countless words, and well over 200,000 unique visitors* since that first AHP post way back in May 2007 and we’re still going strong. Here’s to many more exciting developments in the history of psychology in the years to come!
*We only began keeping track of visitors to the site in 2009, so this is undoubtedly a serious underestimation. Even in more recent years, our tracking has been spotty at times. Still, whatever the exact numbers, it’s clear the history of psychology as a readership.
Share on Facebook
Historian Jamie Cohen-Cole‘s new book, The Open Mind: Cold War Politics and the Sciences of Human Nature, is now available. The volume explores how the human sciences crafted a particular vision of autonomous, rational, and creative selfhood in the post-war years. Although first used to promote centrist political policies, the open-minded self – and its attendant scientific technologies – later came to divide individuals into increasingly polarized political factions. As Cohen-Cole writes,
If psychology could explain everything, there was one aspect of the self that held special importance to the intellectual and policy worlds: open-mindedness. Open-mindedness was a kind of mind characterized by autonomy, creativity, and the use of reason. To the scientific experts, intellectuals, and policy makers who developed and utilized the concept of the open mind, this type of self served simultaneously as model and ideal of national and intellectual character. They projected upon the open mind their aspirations for the American character and liberal pluralist democracy, for scientific thinking and true intellectual inquiry. Indeed, for some of these individuals the open mind transcended the academic and political, as its traits were even conscripted to serve as criteria for human nature itself. Cold War intellectuals and policy makers saw in open-mindedness solutions to the most pressing problems faced by the nation. Those who defined American foreign policy believed that open-minded autonomy, a hallmark of American virtue, posed a threat to the communist system. Traditional or authoritarian societies could not be sustained in the presence of a citizen body that thought autonomously, but for a modern democracy like America, open-mindedness would have the opposite effect, offering social cohesion. The open mind meant a respect for individuality, tolerance of difference, appreciation of pluralism, and appreciation of freedom of thought. If citizens were sufficiently equipped with these virtues, thought policy makers and social critics, the nation would flourish.
An extended excerpt from The Open Mind can be read online here. The University of Chicago Press describes the volume as follows,
Share on Facebook
The Open Mind chronicles the development and promulgation of a scientific vision of the rational, creative, and autonomous self, demonstrating how this self became a defining feature of Cold War culture. Jamie Cohen-Cole illustrates how from 1945 to 1965 policy makers and social critics used the idea of an open-minded human nature to advance centrist politics. They reshaped intellectual culture and instigated nationwide educational reform that promoted more open, and indeed more human, minds. The new field of cognitive science was central to this project, as it used popular support for open-mindedness to overthrow the then-dominant behaviorist view that the mind either could not be studied scientifically or did not exist. Cognitive science also underwrote the political implications of the open mind by treating it as the essential feature of human nature. While the open mind unified America in the first two decades after World War II, between 1965 and 1975 battles over the open mind fractured American culture as the ties between political centrism and the scientific account of human nature began to unravel. During the late 1960s, feminists and the New Left repurposed Cold War era psychological tools to redefine open-mindedness as a characteristic of left-wing politics. As a result, once-liberal intellectuals became neoconservative, and in the early 1970s, struggles against open-mindedness gave energy and purpose to the right wing.
Journalist and author Ariel Sabar has extended his May 2013 Harper’s Magazine article, “Our Town: How Roger Barker made Oskaloosa, Kansas, His Laboratory” (see AHP post here), into a 25,000 word biography of the now little known psychologist. The biography, The Outsider: The Life and Times of Roger Barker, is now available for purchase as a Kindle Single at the Amazon store. Barker’s story is described on Amazon as follows:
Roger Garlock Barker was one of the most extraordinary — and least known — figures in the history of psychology. Just months after becoming chair of the psychology department at the University of Kansas in the late 1940s, Barker decamped with his family to the tiny backwoods town of Oskaloosa, population 725. It wasn’t escape Barker was after, but revelation. What Jane Goodall would do with chimpanzees in Tanzania, Barker wanted to do with his own species — homo sapiens — in its natural habitat. He hoped to understand nothing less than the “naturally occurring behavior” of “free-ranging persons.”
Barker stayed in Oskaloosa not for a one-off round of observations, but for a lifetime. He and his wife, Louise, joined its churches and social clubs. He sent his children to its schools. And for 25 years, Barker, his colleagues and even Louise and the three kids gathered meticulous data on the ebb and flow of everyday life in what he believed was a quintessential Midwestern town. He locked up his findings in the vault of an old bank building on the town square, in a rickety suite of offices that would rise to international renown as the “Midwest Psychological Field Station.”
The iconoclastic Barker saw his work as revolutionary, and by the early 1960s, establishment figures in psychology could no longer ignore his prodigious and painstaking output. Barker won hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant money and was decorated with the same prestigious awards given over the years to better-known luminaries like B.F. Skinner, Jean Piaget and Noam Chomsky. Margaret Mead visited Barker’s field station, as did Washington officials, foundation presidents, and scholars from universities as far afield as Norway and Australia.
But the shining new path Barker had illuminated for psychology faded suddenly into oblivion, the victim of forces Barker felt powerless to control.
The full Barker biography can be purchased online here.
Share on Facebook
The Brain Observatory at the University of California San Diego, directed by Jacopo Annese, has made available as part of its Digital Brain Library an atlas of H.M.’s brain. H.M., now known to be Henry Molaison, is one of the best known case studies in memory research. Molaison experienced profound amnesia following a bilateral medial temporal lobectomy and was subsequently studied for more than 50 years. Following his death in 2008, Molaison’s brain was donated to science and sectioned into more than 2400 slices (right), a procedure that was aired live on the web (see a previous AHP post on this process here). As described on the site,
In December 2009, Annese and his team at The Brain Observatory dissected H.M.’s brain into 2,401 thin tissue slices that have been preserved cryogenically in serial order. The collection was meant to support the histological examination of the brain and to better understand the neurological basis of human memory function. While the brain was being sliced, we collected an unabridged series of digital images of the surface of the block each corresponding to individual tissue sections. These images were archived and used to create a 3-D model of the whole brain. A regular series of sections through the brain was stained and digitized at a resolution of 0.37 microns per pixel to reveal cellular-level features. These virtual sections, a matching series of anatomically delineated images, and data from postmortem MRI of the specimen were combined into an atlas of patient H.M.’s brain.
The atlas was conceived as a web-accessible resource to support collaboration and retrospective studies.
Project HM can be explored in full here.
Share on Facebook
The February 2014 issue of History of the Human Sciences is now online. Included in this issue are articles exploring British neurosurgeon and psychologist Wilfred Trotter’s work on herd instinct, as well the construction of responsibility in inattention and hyperactivity disorders. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.
“Max Weber’s charismatic prophets,” by Christopher Adair-Toteff. The abstract reads,
Most accounts of Weber’s notion of charisma follow his own explicit comments and seek its origins in the writings of Rudolf Sohm. While I acknowledge the validity of this, I follow Weber’s suggestions and locate the charismatic forces in the political and ethical conduct and beliefs of certain Old Testament prophets, specifically Amos, Jeremiah and Isaiah. Their emphasis on political justice and ethical fairness, coupled with their unwavering belief in the power of prophecy, infuse Weber’s conception of charisma and in crucial ways contribute to the formation of his notion of the modern political leader.
“Collectivity, human fulfilment and the ‘force of life’: Wilfred Trotter’s concept of the herd instinct in early 20th-century Britain,” by Gillian Swanson. The abstract reads, Continue reading
Share on Facebook