The BBC’s Radio 4 program Mind Changers, hosted by Claudia Hammond (above), has returned with several all knew episodes dedicated to the history of twentieth century psychology. Now available to listen to online are three episodes that explore the work of James Pennebaker, Abraham Maslow, and Anna Freud, respectively. Full descriptions of these episodes follow below.
James Pennebaker and Expressive Writing
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Claudia Hammond returns with the history of psychology series examining the work of the people who have changed our understanding of the human mind. This week she meets the American social psychologist, James Pennebaker, to discuss his work on expressive writing.
Pennebaker’s ground-breaking experiment was published in 1986; he showed that simply writing about one’s emotions can significantly improve one’s health. His work revolutionised how emotions are viewed within psychology. Continue reading New Mind Changers Episodes!
BBC Radio 4 has just aired an episode on the history of mental illness. The episode, Mad Houses, explores three museums of madness in Europe in anticipation of the establishment of a museum of mental illness at Bedlam Hospital in the coming years.
As described on Radio 4’s website,
Ken Arnold explores how three European countries variously tell the history of mental illness. What do museums of madness tell us about who we were and who we are? Ken Arnold, Head of Public Programmes at the Wellcome Trust, visits three of Europe’s old ‘mad houses’ that are now museums in Aarhus in Denmark, Haarlem in the Netherlands and Ghent in Belgium. Two of these institutions still function as psychiatric hospitals. Each has unusual, beautiful and terrifying objects on show ranging from straight-jackets to lobotomy tools, and also collections of ‘outsider art’, but each is also strikingly successful at evoking for their visitors different (and sometimes wildly different) views of madness – strange, worrisome, extreme mental states.
Ranging from a pitch-dark solitary confinement cell to the brightly coloured papier-mache dolls made by long term inmates, from the era of shackles to the era of the talking cure, the history of Europe’s reaction to the madness in its midst as shown by these museums is long and still shifting. Britain doesn’t yet have a national museum of mental illness or psychiatry. Bedlam Hospital in London will take on this role in years to come. What might we learn from the mad houses of Europe?
The episode can be heard online here.
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Psychologist and writer Gina Perry, author of Beyond the Shock Machine: The Untold Story of the Notorious Milgram Psychology Experiments, has a new project that looks at the Sherif’s Robber’s Cave experiment. Perry has just produced an episode for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Radio National’s show Hindsight on this famous psychological study of group relations. The program features interviews with some of the boys who participated in the experiment and audio recorded as part of the study, as well as interviews with historians of psychology David Baker, of the Center for the History of Psychology, and Hank Stam, of the University of Calgary. As described on the program’s website,
In 1954 at a small national park in rural Oklahoma, Turkish-American psychologist Muzafer Sherif brought two groups of 11-year-old boys to a summer camp. The boys, from Oklahoma city, arrived at the camp excited at the prospect of three weeks outdoors. What they didn’t know and what they were never told was that their behaviour over the next three weeks would be studied, analysed, discussed and used in theories about war, interracial conflict and prejudice for generations to come.
Almost 60 years since it was conducted, it’s still cited in psychology textbooks today. But what’s less well known is that the Robbers Cave was Sherif’s third attempt to generate peace between warring groups. The earlier studies were the 1949 ‘Happy Valley Camp’ study in Connecticut, and the second was his 1953 ‘Camp Talualac’ study.
‘Inside the Robbers Cave’ tells the story of two of the three studies. Producer Gina Perry’s research unearths a tale of drama, failure, mutiny and intrigue that has been overlooked in official accounts of Sherif’s research.
The program features original archival audio from recordings made during 1953 and 1954.
The program Inside Robbers Cave can be heard online here. Perry also discusses her research for the project on her blog here.
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AHP’s readers may be interested in some of the podcasts recently made available by Situating Science. Situating Science is a seven year project funded the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada’s Strategic Knowledge Cluster grant in order to promote “communication and collaboration among humanists and social scientists that are engaged in the study of science and technology.” While there are a number of talks from Situating Science’s Trust in Science and Trust in the New Sciences series available online, two in particular may be of especial interest to AHP readers. In the first talk, sociologist Nikolas Rose discusses selfhood in the 21st century, and in the second Cornelius Borck explores the how the neurosciences attempt to explain what it is to be human. Audio of both talks is embedded below and can also be found online here.
Nikolas Rose, “Engineering Selfhood in the 21st Century.”
Dr. Rose discusses the implications for the ways we understand and govern ourselves and the new dilemmas of rights and obligations that confront us taking examples from biomedicine, genomics and neuroscience.
Cornelius Borck, “Mind the Gap: The Neurosciences and Their Determination to Explain the Human.”
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Understanding the brain and the biological basis of mind, consciousness and behaviour is the ultimate challenge. It stimulates researchers to look into the brain with ever more sophisticated technology such as functional neuroimaging. This colourful visualization of mental processes in the living human brain enthrals scientists and the public alike.
Mind Changers, the BBC Radio 4 series hosted by Claudia Hammond in which she explores “the development of the science of psychology during the 20th century,” now has another new episode online. This episode, Donald Broadbent (right) and the Cocktail Party, looks at Broadbent’s development of the cocktail party effect and is described as follows,
When Donald Broadbent died in 1993 he left a legacy which still influences our understanding of how we process the complex information that is all around us and focus on what is salient to us. With his innovative dichotic listening experiments, Broadbent moved from his original filter model of selective attention to an understanding of the ‘cocktail party effect’, whereby significant information, such as our own name, intrudes on our consciousness, even when it’s embedded in auditory information we’re not apparently attending to. In the programme Claudia Hammond illustrates the point with examples of dichotic listening experiments that listeners can try themselves.By applying an information processing model to attention, Broadbent launched the cognitive revolution in psychology in Britain. As Director of the Medical Research Council’s Applied Psychology Unit from 1958 to 1974, Broadbent propagated his belief that psychology should be applied to practical problems, such as optimising human performance by the design of aircraft cockpits or nuclear reactor control rooms. He became a regular expert contributor on radio and TV, promoting psychology to the public.
Meeting psychologists who studied and worked with Broadbent – Professor Susan Gathercole of the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Professors Alan Baddeley of York University and Dylan Jones and Andy Smith of Cardiff University – Claudia Hammond builds a picture of the man and his ground-breaking work, learning that noise has a far greater impact on our efficiency at work than we realize.
You can find the full audio catalogue of previous Mind Changers episodes online here and AHP’s previous posts on the series here.
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BBC Radio 4 program Mind Changers, a series hosted by Claudia Hammond in which she explores “the development of the science of psychology during the 20th century,” has just returned with new episodes. Now available online are episodes on the work of Joseph Wolpe (right) and Julian Rotter. Wolpe most famously developed and perfected the technique of systematic desensitization for the treatment of phobias, while Rotter developed the I-E scale to measure locus of control, or the degree to which individuals believe they have control over events in their lives.
You can find the full audio catalogue of previous Mind Changers episodes online here and AHP’s previous posts on the series here. Titles and descriptions of the Wolpe and Rotter episodes follow below.
Joseph Wolpe and Systematic Desensitization
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When the South African psychiatrist, Joseph Wolpe, took up his post at Temple University in Philadelphia in 1965, he brought with him the treatment he’d developed for patients with phobias. Systematic Desensitization involved a lengthy process of relaxation and gradual exposure to the object of the phobia. It was known as Behaviour Therapy, with its concentration on learning a different response to a stimulus. It paid no attention to the patient’s childhood or underlying psychological experiences and was thus a radical departure from the Freudian, psychoanalytic approach that was the established method of psychiatry in the US at the time. He brought about a sea change, which sees him regularly listed as one of the top twenty most influential psychologists of the 20th century.
Claudia Hammond visits Philadelphia to meet two of Joseph Wolpe’s former colleagues, Michael Ascher and Allan Cristol to hear about the man and his work. Continue reading New Episodes of Mind Changers!
AHP‘s readers may be interested in a podcast interview with historian Ann Fabian (left) produced by the New Books Network (as part of both the New Books in History and New Books in Science, Technology, and Society series). Fabian was interviewed about her 2010 book, The Skull Collectors: Race, Science, and America’s Unburied Dead, which details the near obsession with the skull exhibited by some in the scientific community in the nineteenth century.
The work of American Samuel Morton is the particular focus of Fabian’s book, and she recounts Morton’s efforts to hierarchically arrange the races according to their skull size and shape, which was thought to correspond with brain size and, more important still, degree of intelligence. Morton’s work was most famously criticized in Stephen Jay Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man, where Gould revisited Morton’s skull measurements and concluded that Morton fudged his data. This claim has since been challenged by others, most recently – and controversially – by a group of anthropologists who went back and remeasured Morton’s skulls and challenged Gould’s analysis.
As described by the University of Chicago Press,
When Philadelphia naturalist Samuel George Morton died in 1851, no one cut off his head, boiled away its flesh, and added his grinning skull to a collection of crania. It would have been strange, but perhaps fitting, had Morton’s skull wound up in a collector’s cabinet, for Morton himself had collected hundreds of skulls over the course of a long career. Friends, diplomats, doctors, soldiers, and fellow naturalists sent him skulls they gathered from battlefields and burial grounds across America and around the world.
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With The Skull Collectors, eminent historian Ann Fabian resurrects that popular and scientific movement, telling the strange—and at times gruesome—story of Morton, his contemporaries, and their search for a scientific foundation for racial difference. From cranial measurements and museum shelves to heads on stakes, bloody battlefields, and the “rascally pleasure” of grave robbing, Fabian paints a lively picture of scientific inquiry in service of an agenda of racial superiority, and of a society coming to grips with both the deadly implications of manifest destiny and the mass slaughter of the Civil War. Even as she vividly recreates the past, Fabian also deftly traces the continuing implications of this history, from lingering traces of scientific racism to debates over the return of the remains of Native Americans that are held by museums to this day. Continue reading Podcast: Ann Fabian on The Skull Collectors
Currently streaming on BBC Radio4 for the next 6 days is a program exploring the influence of psychiatric ideas on literature and vice versa. In Writing Madness, literary works by Virginia Woolf (above), F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Charles Dickens are discussed in terms of the development of psychoanalysis and the rise of psychotherapy. As described on the program’s website,
Vivienne Parry takes her diagnoses of literary heroines into the 20th century and the age of Freud, the Great War and the explosion of the ‘sciences of the mind’ focusing on three great works of fiction, mixing contemporary psychiatric and literary insight.
How did modern literary and psychiatric ideas meet and how did each shape the other? Do these heroines show literature of the period to be a critical – and even emancipating – force…or is fiction really medicine’s stooge? Novels on the couch include Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night and Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway….interestingly with both novels there’s a tendency to base the heroines on real people – Nicole Diver is based on the case history of Fitzgerald’s own wife Zelda, whereas Woolf’s Mrs.Dalloway comes very close in literary terms to what Freud calls ‘self-analysis’ – one difference is that Woolf sometimes believed ‘madness’ was necessary to be creative, while Scott Fitzgerald depicted it as disastrous drain on creativity (ie. his). And both novels have the dynamic and lucrative new industry of psychotherapy in their sights. Vivienne compares fiction in the age of Freud to literary ideas of mental health in the Victorian age and in Dickens specifically, using Great Expectations’ Miss Havisham as a case study.
Contributors include psychotherapist and essayist Adam Philips, leading psychiatrist Simon Wessely, cultural historian Lisa Appignanesi and Chris Thompson, psychiatrist and medical director of The Priory
Listen to the full 30-minute program online here.
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The most recent “Short” episode released by the wonderful Radiolab radio program tackles the life and work of Alan Turing. In The Turing Problem, hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich describe Turing’s tragic life and his contributions to computer science and artificial intelligence in this, the 100th anniversary of his birth. (You can find AHP’s previous post on the Turing centenary here.) As described on Radiolab’s website,
Turing lived his whole life with machines. He built the machine that deciphered the German “Engima Code” during World War II. He imagined a day when machines would flirt with us, joke with us, listen to our problems and, above all, think for themselves. He even thought up a way to test whether machines had become indistinguishable from humans (for more on the Turing Test, check out our episode Talking to Machines).
The idea that machines would become our equals was unsettling for many of Turing’s peers. (Frankly, it still unsettles a lot of folks today, just ask Robert!) But to Turing, it was just the natural extension of his fundamental belief that we, all of us, are machines ourselves in a way. And he worried that society might judge the computers of the future as harshly as it judged him.
Alan Turing was arrested and convicted in 1952 for activities that are no longer illegal in England. Janna Levin and David Leavitt help explain how Alan Turing’s personal life may have shaped his relationship to machines. And James Gleick muses about how profound Turing’s contributions to math and computing really were.
Click here to listen to the episode online or download the episode from iTunes here.
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Christopher Green (left), producer of the podcast series This Week in the History of Psychology (or TWITHOP) and AHP faculty consultant, is back at work producing podcasts on the history of psychology.
Green has just released an episode of what is to be an occasional series, Discussions in the History of Psychology (or DitHoP). In this inaugural episode Vincent (Vinny) Hevern (centre), Henderikus (Hank) Stam (right), and Robert (Bob) Kugelman (not pictured) sat down with Green to discuss the history psychology’s “Third Force,” Humanistic psychology. You can find that episode here.
A further podcast series, History of Psychology Laboratory (or HooPLa!) is also being produced. The first episode of this series tackles the history of the nineteenth century lunatic asylum, and features interviews with noted historians Andrew Scull, David Wright, Elizabeth Lunbeck, and Gerald Grob. The discussion in this episode is led by Jennifer Bazar, and features Jeremy Burman and Jacy Young (all of whom are Green’s graduate students and AHP bloggers). A second episode on the history of mental testing is in the works and a third episode on the history of comparative psychology is in the planning stages.
Finally, Green et al. are at work on a new series, TWITHOP: Shorts. This podcast series will consist of brief (approximately 5 minute) reviews of significant new journal articles about the history of psychology. The first episode of this series is on Fridlund, Beck, Goldie, & Irons’ article “Little Albert: A Neurologically Impaired Child,” forthcoming from the journal History of Psychology (and currently available through APA’s PsycArticles on-line first initiative), with further episodes to come.
You can find these podcasts, as well as Green’s original series TWITHOP, here. Subscribe through iTunes here.
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