Category Archives: General

April 2016: “The Future of the History of the Human Sciences”

To mark the end of James Good‘s time as editor of History of the Human Sciences a special two-day meeting on “The Future of the History of the Human Sciences” is planned for April 7th and 8th, 2016. The meeting, hosted jointly by Chris Renwick and History of the Human Scienceswill take place at the University of York and feature as speakers: Roger Smith, Steve Fuller, Peter Mandler, Marianne Sommer, Amanda Rees, Michael Finn, Elizabeth Toon, Jessica Hendy, Maurizio Meloni, Des Fitzgerald, Alexandra Bacopoulos Viau, and Jonna Brenninkmeijer. Full details about the meeting, including (free) registration and postgraduate bursary information, follow below.

The Future of the History of the Human Sciences
University of York
Thursday 7th & Friday 8th April 2016

This two-day meeting, hosted jointly by Dr Chris Renwick and History of the Human Sciences, gathers together established scholars and early-career researchers to consider changes wrought in the broad interdisciplinary field of the history of the human sciences by new developments in the medical humanities, biological sciences, and literary/cultural theory. Marking the end of James Good’s 15-year tenure as HHS editor and the beginning of a new editorial team, comprising Dr Felicity Callard, Dr Rhodri Hayward, and Dr Angus Nicholls, the meeting will survey the field’s development since the foundation of HHS almost 20 years ago, and offer provocations – from various disciplinary perspectives – about the directions that it might take in the future.

Speakers include Roger Smith, Steve Fuller, Peter Mandler, Marianne Sommer, Amanda Rees, Michael Finn, Elizabeth Toon, Jessica Hendy, Maurizio Meloni, Des Fitzgerald, Alexandra Bacopoulos Viau, and Jonna Brenninkmeijer.

There will be four intensive sessions:

  1. The Problem of the Archive: biological data, digital media, material culture, and their impact upon the archive and human nature;
  2. The Problem of the Human: how the neurosciences are challenging conventional approaches to history;
  3. The Problem of the Social: How do models of ‘the social’ in the life sciences challenge those in the social sciences and humanities?
  4. Practice in the Human Sciences: new methods and approaches in medical humanities and science studies.

These sessions will be followed by a roundtable in which the outgoing and incoming History of the Human Sciences editors, plus speakers from the conference, discuss the state of the field and its future. Continue reading April 2016: “The Future of the History of the Human Sciences”

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New HoP: Evil, Attachment, and Trends in Psychiatry

The February 2016 issue of History of Psychology is now online. The issue includes an opening editorial note from incoming editor Nadine Weidman on her plans for the journal. Articles in the issue explore studies of evil by Ernest Becker and Stanley Milgram, the influence of William Blatz on Mary Ainsworth’s attachment theory, and Foucault’s work on mental illness. The issue also includes an article on cyclical trends in the history of psychiatry by Hannah Decker, along with commentary from Allen Frances and Ronald Pies and a response from the author. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“History of Psychology,” by Nadine Weidman. The abstract reads,

The editor of History of Psychology discusses her plan to vary the journal’s content and expand its scope in specific ways. The first is to introduce a “Spotlight” feature, a relatively brief, provocative thought piece that might take one of several forms. Along with this new feature, she hopes further to broaden the journal’s coverage and its range of contributors. She encourages submissions on the history of the psy-sciences off the beaten path. Finally, she plans to continue the journal’s tradition of special issues, special sections, and essay reviews of two or more important recently published books in the field.

“Ernest Becker and Stanley Milgram: Twentieth-century students of evil,” by Jack Martin.

Both Stanley Milgram and Ernest Becker studied and theorized human evil and offered explanations for evil acts, such as those constituting the Holocaust. Yet the explanations offered by Becker and Milgram are strikingly different. In this essay, brief biographical records of their lives are provided. Differences in their research methods and theories are then examined and traced to relevant differences in their lives, education, and careers. Especially important in this regard were their personal experiences of evil and the scholarly practices and traditions of social scientific and humanities scholarship that characterized their graduate education and scholarly work. The final parts of the essay are devoted to a comparative and integrative analysis of their respective approaches to the question of evil, especially as manifest during the Holocaust, and a brief exegesis of their disciplinary commitments.

“From secure dependency to attachment: Mary Ainsworth’s integration of Blatz’s security theory into Bowlby’s attachment theory,” by Lenny van Rosmalen, Frank C. P. van der Horst, and René van der Veer. Continue reading New HoP: Evil, Attachment, and Trends in Psychiatry

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APA Time Capsule on the Bühlers

2016-02-time-capsule_tcm7-196733Adrian Brock‘s new piece in the February 2016 edition of the Monitor on Psychology looks at the differing professional experiences of Karl and Charlotte Bühler. He emphasizes how comparison of their respective careers provide examples of the ways that disciplinary reception of theory and research is context bound.

An excerpt from the article:

It is widely accepted that immigrants have to adapt to a new culture in their personal lives. What is often overlooked is that émigré psychologists had to adapt to a new culture in their professional lives as well. The differing success of Karl and Charlotte Bühler in the United States shows that some were more able to adapt to this new professional culture than others.

These local differences continue to exist. It might seem surprising that someone can be regarded as a major figure in the history of psychology on one side of the Atlantic and virtually unknown on the other, but this situation is not at all unusual. The only thing that makes Karl Bühler stand out from the others is that he spent the last 23 years of his life in one of the countries where he is virtually unknown.

Find the full work here.

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New Article: Revisiting Introspection in William James’ Early Work

William James in Brazil, 1865

The February 2016 issue of Theory & Psychology includes an article that may be of especial interest to AHP readers. Saulo de Freitas Araujo and Rayssa Maluf de Souza explore William James’ views on introspection as a method in their article ““… to rely on first and foremost and always”: Revisiting the role of introspection in William James’s early psychological work.” The abstract reads,

In order to legitimate itself as a science, psychology has faced the ongoing problem of establishing its proper method of investigation. In this context, debates on introspection have emerged that have remained intense since the 18th century. However, contemporary debates and historical investigations on this topic have not done justice to the richness and diversity of positions, leading to oversimplifications and hasty generalizations, as if the terms “introspection” and “introspectionism” referred to one and same thing. The central goal of this article is to offer an analysis of William James’s position on the introspective method within the intellectual context of his time, covering the period from his early writings until the publication, in 1890, of The Principles of Psychology. Our results indicate that James used two different types of introspection. We conclude by discussing divergences in the secondary literature and the implications of our study for historical and theoretical debates in psychology.

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UCL/BPS Talk Feb 15: “‘The apostolic function’: Michael Balint and the postwar GP”

Enid and Michael Balint

The British Psychological Society‘s History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, has announced the another talk in their 2016 seminar series. On Monday February 15th Shaul Bar-Heim will speak on “‘The apostolic function’: Michael Balint and the postwar GP.” Full details follow below.

Dr. Shaul Bar-Heim (Birbeck): “‘The apostolic function’: Michael Balint and the postwar GP”

What started in the early 1950s as a small informal peer-group of GPs, based in the Tavistock Clinic, became by the 1960s one of the most influential medical movements of the postwar era: the Balint movement. Named after the British-Hungarian psychoanalyst, Michael Balint, the theoretical assumption behind Balint Groups was that many doctors – and especially family doctors – do not know yet how to use one of the most important medical tools, namely, what Balint described as the ‘drug doctor.’. This was particularly true, he believed, in psychosomatic illnesses and medical cases with a clear psychosocial nature.

This paper will contextualize the emergence of the Balint movement within the heyday of welfarist ideology, where GPs were encouraged to take a parental role in running the emotional economy of domestic lives in their communities. Thus, patients and doctors were invited to adopt a psychoanalytical language which focuses on internal feelings, emotions, and unconscious behavior of the individual. At the same time, however, a new kind of medical authority emerged – one which played a crucial role as a social and ethical guidance in the postwar British welfare society.

Organiser: Professor Sonu Shamdasani (UCL)

Time: 6pm to 7.30 pm.

Location: Arts and Humanities Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet Place, University College London.

From the Torrington Place entrance to UCL, enter the campus on Malet Place. After fifty metres, you will find Foser court on the right hand side. Turn right under the underpass, and enter via the second door on the right. The common room is straight ahead.

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New Book: A Critical History of Schizophrenia

A new book on the history of schizophrenia is now available from Palgrave MacMillan. Kieran McNally‘s A Critical History of Schizophrenia is described as follows,

Schizophrenia was 20th century psychiatry’s arch concept of madness. Yet for most of this period, schizophrenia was both problematic and contentious. This new history explores changes in the concept of schizophrenia across the 20th century. It provides a broad map of the concept’s mutating symptoms, fluctuating subtypes, social uses, and changing definitions.

This research reveals and cites a long tradition of critical unease towards schizophrenia – by numerous mainstream psychiatrists, psychologists, and schizophrenia authorities. This critical stance is shown to have existed in addition to complaints by so-called anti-psychiatrists (also documented). The book therefore explains how and why North American Psychiatry eventually sought to stabilize its disease concept at an institutional level – through the use of operational definitions in its DSM series.

Among its many remarkable offerings, the research unearths accounts of children being experimentally kept on LSD for over one year, and demonstrates that the stigmatising idea of schizophrenia as a split personality actually stems from Swiss Psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler – the concept’s creator. But its principle aim is to serve as a useful introduction to schizophrenia that guides the reader through a complex history of rejection, negotiation, and transformation, in this most contested of 20th century concepts.

This historical contribution to our understanding of schizophrenia draws extensively on primary sources from the schizophrenia literature, and builds on the research of recent historians of psychiatry and related disciplines.

 

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Become Wellcome Library’s Wikimedian in Residence!

The Reading Room at Wellcome Collection. Wellcome Images reference: C0108488.
The Reading Room at Wellcome Collection. Wellcome Images reference: C0108488.

Phoebe Harkins, the  Library Communications Co-ordinator at Wellcome, has posted an application announcement for a new contractual position of Wikimedian in Residence on their blog (flexible 6-12 months, depending on the projects the Wikimedian proposes and develops).

Excerpts from the post:

Incurably curious? Interested in the history of medicine? Know a bit about Wikipedia?

Our collections cover so much more than the history of medicine – essentially life, death and everything in between, so there’s huge potential for improving the content on Wikipedia. We’ll also be looking at enriching other Wikimedia projects.

The Wikimedian will work with us on the project to help develop areas of Wikipedia covered by our amazing holdings. We’d love you to help us to make our world-renowned collections, knowledge and expertise here at the Wellcome Library even more accessible.

Application deadline is February 2nd 2016

Harkins contact is  p.harkins@wellcome.ac.uk

Find the full post here for more info.

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Steven Shapin on Autism: “Seeing the Spectrum” in The New Yorker

In this week’s issue of The New Yorker historian of science Steven Shapin explores the complicated history of autism in his review of John Donvan and Caren Zucker’s new book In a Different Key: The Story of Autism. As Shapin writes,

The history of how autism was discovered, how the term entered the vocabulary of psychological expertise and also of everyday speech, and how its identity has evolved has been told many times. Chloe Silverman’s 2012 book, “Understanding Autism,” is the most sensitive account by an academic historian, and Steve Silberman’s best-selling work “NeuroTribes” (2015) is a deep history of autism, which ends up as a discussion of how we ought to think about it today. Now comes “In a Different Key: The Story of Autism,” by John Donvan and Caren Zucker (Crown). The authors are journalists, and, like many writers on the subject, they have a personal interest in autism. Donvan has a severely autistic brother-in-law. Zucker’s son has autism, and so does a grandson of Robert MacNeil, a former anchor of “PBS NewsHour,” for which Zucker produced a series of programs on the condition. Appropriately, a major focus of the book is on autism in the family and the changing historical role of parents of autistic children. “In a Different Key” is a story about autism as it has passed through largely American institutions, shaped not only by psychiatrists and psychologists but by parents, schools, politicians, and lawyers. It shows how, in turn, the condition acquired a powerful capacity both to change those institutions and to challenge our notions of what is pathological and what is normal.

The full review can be read online here.

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UCL/BPS Talk Feb 1: “Kinaesthesia and the Avant-garde”

The British Psychological Society‘s History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, has announced the another talk in their 2016 seminar series. On Monday February 1st Irina Sirotkina (right) will speak on “Kinaesthesia and the Avant-garde.” Full details follow below.

UCL/British Psychological Society History of the Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series

Monday 1 February 2016

Dr. Irina Sirotkina (Russian Academy of Sciences, Institute for the History of Science and Technology, Moscow)

Kinaesthesia and the Avant-garde

With a project as much anthropological as artistic, the re-creation of the human being and the renewal of human feelings, the avant-garde could not and did not ignore kinaesthesia. Filipo Marinetti conceived of a new art of touch — ‘tactilism’; with the futurist artist Benedetta Cappa, he created palpable ‘tables for the travelling hand.’ Avant-garde artists reassessed the ideas of theosophy and anthroposophy about ‘higher sensitivity’ — an unmediated access through feelings to the other, higher world. Vassily Kandinsky wrote on ‘fine sensitivity’ as a direct perception of ‘abstraction’ and on ‘abstract motion’ and dance, and Mikhail Matiushin experimented with ‘enlarged vision’ which included kinaesthesia and other feelings.
Many of the avant-garde artists were athletic and adroit, danced, played in theatre and cinema, fought and engaged in sport. They were eager to use kinaesthesia as a creative resource: Vladimir Mayakovsky, for example, insisted on composing verses in motion.

The avant-garde stressed practical ‘know how,’ the skill, the art of doing, in opposition to theoretical ‘knowing what.’ For making such knowledge, kinaesthesia is indispensable. In Russia, the post-Revolutionary cult of labour, the production art (proizvodstvennoe iskusstvo) and constructivism facilitated the growth of such knowledge, an alternative to academic forms. Yet it was initiated earlier, by the Russian Formalists, who adored dance, sport, theatre and the circus. By questioning the traditional hierarchy in which practice is inferior to theory, the avant-garde artists contemplated a “kinaesthetic turn” in the humanities. A century later, on the way to legitimating this new kind of knowledge, the avant-garde artists are still in the avant-garde.

Organiser: Professor Sonu Shamdasani (UCL)

Time: 6pm to 7.30 pm.

Location: Arts and Humanities Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet Place, University College London.

From the Torrington Place entrance to UCL, enter the campus on Malet Place. After fifty metres, you will find Foser court on the right hand side. Turn right under the underpass, and enter via the second door on the right. The common room is straight ahead.

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New Popular Book on the History of Autism

9780307985675ABC news correspondent Jon Donvan and producer Caren Zucker culminate their decade plus of reporting on the topic with a cultural history of autism, In a Different Key. Their narrative is populated with the landmark Cases (Donald T) and renowned researchers (Kanner, Asperger), but also those of the condition’s “pre-history,” phrenologists, mentalists, institutional administrators. The authors’ scope spans the shifting landscape of its social politics, theoretical, diagnostic and management controversies, making a grounded case for neurodiversity-oriented reform.

Here are links to the authors’ various pieces on the project from around the net:

 

 

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