Category Archives: General

Mediating Shell Shock: The 1918 Film ‘War Neuroses’ as Clinical Controversy

sgt-bissettBPS’ May volume of The Psychologist includes an insightful historical piece by Edgar Jones (out of the Institute for Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience at King’s College London). His article, Filming Trauma, assesses the influence and controversy in Britain surrounding the clinical research of Arthur Hurst on treatment of shell shock as a medical emergency within their military forces.

Jones identifies Hurst’s provocative footage of disordered movement as having lasting historical impact on our comprehension of how shell shock presented itself and was understood by contemporaries of the first World War; he then asserts the film was a non-representative and highly mediated rendition of the condition as experienced by the soldiers in that context. Jones goes on to elucidate the skeptical response of other psychiatric professionals to Hurst’s methods and claims to unprecedented and outstanding therapeutic efficacy, for which Hurst provided little explanation or followup.

An engaging read! Find it as pdf, or post.

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TPR: Andrew Scull’s “Madness and meaning: Depictions of insanity through history”

The Paris Review currently features a beautifully illustrated piece from historian Andrew Scull. In “Madness and Meaning” Scull discusses the many depictions of mental illness – religious, medical, pharmaceutical – produced through history. Read the full piece, and see all the evocative images, online here.

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Issues in Open Scholarship: ‘If Data Sharing is the Answer, What is the Question?’

coverThe European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics‘ publication ERCIM NEWS put out a special issue on ‘scientific data sharing and re-use.’ In it Christine Borgman (out of UCLA’s department of Information Studies) touches in brief on some of the topics covered in her new volume Big Data, Little Data, No Data: Scholarship in the Networked World (2015, MIT Press).

In her book, Borgman locates data as only meaningful within borgmaninfrastructures or ecologies of knowledge, and discusses the management and exploitation of data as particular kinds of investments in the future of scholarship. Her take on the history of big data and the growing enthusiasm for data sharing, which she asserts often obscures the challenges and complexities of data stewardship, is relevant to historians of the social sciences. An excerpt:

Data practices are local, varying from field to field, individual to individual, and country to country. Studying data is a means to observe how rapidly the landscape of scholarly work in the sciences, social sciences, and the humanities is changing. Inside the black box of data is a plethora of research, technology, and policy issues. Data are best understood as representations of observations, objects, or other entities used as evidence of phenomena for the purposes of research or scholarship. Rarely do they stand alone, separable from software, protocols, lab and field conditions, and other context. The lack of agreement on what constitutes data underlies the difficulties in sharing, releasing, or reusing research data.

Concerns for data sharing and open access raise broader questions about what data to keep, what to share, when, how, and with whom. Open data is sometimes viewed simply as releasing data without payment of fees. In research contexts, open data may pose complex issues of licensing, ownership, responsibility, standards, interoperability, and legal harmonization. To scholars, data can be assets, liabilities, or both. Data have utilitarian value as evidence, but they also serve social and symbolic purposes for control, barter, credit, and prestige. Incentives for scientific advancement often run counter to those for sharing data.

To librarians and archivists, data are scholarly products to curate for future users. However, data are more difficult to manage than publications and most other kinds of evidence. Rarely are data self-describing, and rarely can they be interpreted outside their original context without extensive documentation. Interpreting scientific data often requires access to papers, protocols, analytical tools, instruments, software, workflows, and other components of research practice – and access to the people with whom those data originated. Sharing data may have little practical benefit if the associated hardware, software, protocols, and other technologies are proprietary, unavailable, or obsolete and if the people associated with the origins of the data cannot be consulted.

Read the full article here.

You can also listen (here) to Borgman talk about the topic in an interview with Jasmine McNealy over at New Books in Science, Technology, and Society.

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Why was Wundt’s journal titled *Philosophical* Studies?

Wilhelm Wundt is best known as the founder of first laboratory dedicated specifically to experimental psychology. But he titled the journal that published his famous laboratory’s research Philosophische Studien (Philosophical Studies). Why was that? If his aim was to distinguish between the old philosophical psychology and the new experimental psychology, why confuse the matter by associating himself so closely with philosophy?

First, Wundt was not opposed to philosophical psychology. He just thought that philosophy could be enhanced by adding experimental methods to its toolbox. His Leipzig professorship was, after all, in philosophy, and he wrote a number of treatises on philosophical problems far removed from his experimental work. But still, why didn’t he title his journal something like Psychologische Studien (Psychological Studies), since it reported the psychological research of his students and himself?

The answer is that there was already a journal in Germany entitled Psychische Studien (Psychical Studies) that published work on spiritualism and paranormal phenomena. Wundt regarded this as unscholarly nonsense, and he did not want his own work to be confused with it in the public mind, so he went with the “Queen of the Sciences” instead: philosophy.

Andreas Sommer has just retweeted an excellent little 2013 article on that “other” journal at his blog, “Forbidden Histories.” You can read it here.

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BBC Radio Free Thinking Series: Madness in Civilisation

free thinking

The March 17 2015 episode of BBC 3’s Free Thinking with Matthew Sweet featured authors Andrew Scull and Lisa Appignanesi, who discussed the history of madness within Western contexts–the reflexive relations between how it has been conceptualized and experienced, philosophical and theoretical changes in how it has been studied academically and professionally, and the shifting social politics of how it is apprehended and engaged with by the publics at large.

Listen to the full piece here.

Works cited in the interview:                                                                                                                 Andrew Scull, (April, 2015) Madness in Civilization: A Cultural History of Insanity, from the Bible to Freud, from the Madhouse to Modern Medicine.                                                                          Lisa Appignanesi, (2009) Mad, Bad and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors from 1800 to the Present.

 

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New Book: The Classification of Sex, Alfred Kinsey and the Organization of Knowledge

the-classification-of-sexBy Donna J. Drucker, guest professor at Technische Universität Darmstadt. Published by the University of Pittsburgh Press, 2014. The back cover reads:

Alfred C. Kinsey’s revolutionary studies of human sexual behavior are world-renowned. His meticulous methods of data collection, from comprehensive entomological assemblies to personal sex history interviews, raised the bar for empirical evidence to an entirely new level. In The Classification of Sex, Donna J. Drucker presents an original analysis of Kinsey’s scientific career in order to uncover the roots of his research methods. Continue reading New Book: The Classification of Sex, Alfred Kinsey and the Organization of Knowledge

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New Book: Beautiful Data, A History of Vision and Reason since 1945

beautifuldataBy Orit Halpern, assistant professor at the New School for Social Research/Eugene Lang College and associate of their Parsons the New School of Design. Published by the Duke University Press. The dust jacket flap text reads as follows:

 

Beautiful Data is both a history of big data and interactivity, and a sophisticated meditation on ideas about vision and cognition in the second half of the twentieth century.  Continue reading New Book: Beautiful Data, A History of Vision and Reason since 1945

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Call for Papers: 4S Open Panel on STS, Technology & Psychology

denver-skyline

CfP: Open Panel @ the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Social Studies of Science (4S)

November 11-14, 2015. Denver, CO.

STS Open Panel call for papers deadline: March 22, 2015.

An open panel is being hosted at the 4S AGM on “STS & Technologies/ Techniques in the Psychological Sciences.” The panel organizers welcome submissions from a wide range of disciplines, including those from the humanities, STS, anthropology, psychology, statistics, psychiatry, etc. They are particularly interested in interdisciplinary work that combines historical and contemporary sites of analysis to address the following questions:

What can STS theories and methodologies contribute to the study of the
psychological sciences?

What perspectives from psychology and the behavioral sciences might be
beneficial to STS?

How do psychological sciences and technologies create power and knowledge,
across diverse societal spheres?

How might we best identify and address aporias in existing research on the
psy sciences, including discussions of race/gender/sexuality, new models of
subjectivity, and new technologies, projects, and processes of
subjectivization?

Submissions should be made directly to the conference (find detailed instructions here).         Please also forward a copy of your abstract to the panel organizers:

 Marisa Brandt, UCSD (mrbrandt@ucsd.edu)                                                                                          Beth Semel, MIT (bsemel@mit.edu)                                                                                                              Luke Stark, NYU (luke.stark@nyu.edu)

Further conceptual elucidation after the jump:  Continue reading Call for Papers: 4S Open Panel on STS, Technology & Psychology

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Women’s History Month @ Psychology’s Feminist Voices!

Marlowe_Most Wanted

Our sister site Feminist Voices is celebrating Women’s History Month with a-post-a-day on their social media!

 Connect with their facebook & twitter accounts to take part in the fun:

 

 

 

  • do some historical sleuthing into the lives of PFV’s “Most Wanted,” and learn more about little-known women psychologists
  • get insiders’ perspectives, from the humourous to the profound, throughout the history of psychology; play “who’s that face?” with collections of unidentified photos, and much more!

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Women’s History Month is all about rectifying the gender bias that has traditionally plagued historical scholarship, and thanks to PFV’s great work at York we can help construct a more accurate history by illuminating the crucial roles that women have always played in psychology!

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Call for Graduate Student Papers: “Sorting Brains Out: Tasks, Tests, and Trials in the Neuro- and Mind Sciences”

 

Penn_campus_2CFP from graduate students for a conference at the University of Pennsylvania,

Sept. 18/19, 2015.

This conference, titled Sorting Brains Out: Tasks, Tests, and Trials in the Neuro- and Mind Sciences, 1890–2015, invites “participants to think broadly and deeply about the social, philosophical, political, and ethical commitments that have been reflected, reinforced, denounced, or discarded by [the mind and brain sciences over the past 125 years]. We ask participants to look forward and back in time, to explore how contemporary conceptions of mind and brain prolong and elaborate much older ideas, and how the histories of these sciences can help us understand both continuities and ruptures in theories, practices, and values.”

Find the full explanation and details about the conference here.

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