Category Archives: Resources

Allan Branstiter: Madness & A Thousand Reconstructions

The Mississippi State Asylum, see original post on AHA Today for full image citation
The Mississippi State Asylum, see original post on AHA Today for full image citation

Another highlight from the AHA Today blog–an announcement of a three parted post series by University of Southern Mississippi PhD Student Branstiter.  Titled “Madness and a Thousand Reconstructions: Learning to Embrace the Messiness of the Past,” the series, a reflexive narrative about archival research and historiography, will be of particular interest to other graduate students and early career historians engaging in similar processes of craft development.

Branstiter’s series will explain how shifts in the reformulation of his topic (an asylum scandal in Reconstruction-era US south) from ‘event’ to ‘lens’ allowed him to investigate its contexts in a way that could more fully apprehend the complexity involved. By recounting his own historiographic processes, Branstiter expounds upon common challenges in the construction of historical knowledge, including the politics of interpretation, the benefits of allowing the data to speak, as well as negotiation of the limits of formal records and informal memory practices. We look forward to the installments!

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A brief history of personality psychometrics on The Conversation

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Academic journalism site The Conversation posted a short piece on personality testing that touches on the context-boundedness and reflexive aspects of such measures and how they relate to the history of the field more generally. Titled Psychology by numbers: a brief history of personality tests (and written by Chris Millard, a Wellcome Trust Medical Humanities Research Fellow), it’s an example of popularization that is both straightforward but still relatively sophisticated; it could work well as a teaching resource.

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Interactive Timeline: “Replication in Psychology: A History Perspective”

Those who’ve been following the most recent controversy over the replicability of psychological findings (see here, here, here, here, and here for a primer), may be interested in the latest output from the PsyBorgs Digital History of Psychology Laboratory. Michael Pettit (left) has created an interactive timeline of replication controversies over psychology’s history:

This interactive timeline offers the reader a brief guide to this longer history. I define replication fairly broadly, but attempt to not simply offer a history of psychology in its entirety. Instead, I have focused on famous replication controversies from the past alongside the development of psychology’s favored research methods.

I am personally quite agnostic as to the value of the current interest in direct replication. My worry is that it distracts (as is often the case in psychology) from questions of external validity. My goal is to provide a richer context for contemporary controversies animating psychology.

I welcome corrections, updates, and suggestions of relevant topics. Please contact me at mpettit at yorku.ca

The timeline can be explored in full here.

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Feminist Psychology Resources

pfvHappy first Friday of the (academic) year!

A quick crosspost from our York ally Psychology’s Feminist Voices facebook account, highlighting their website’s Resources page. Helpful for teaching and research alike, these offerings include bibliographies, teaching resources, websites, archives, and mapping herstory.

And I’ll take the opportunity to mention our Resources page as well, which rounds up bibliographies, blogs, journals, podcasts, schools, and much more for your convenience.

 

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New MA programme in Theory/History of Psychology at Groningen!

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The University of Groningen is now offering a master’s degree, Reflecting on Psychology. As the number of degrees offered in the meta-psychological sub-fields has been notably reduced over the past few decades, this is exciting news indeed!

The included course offerings are conducted in English, and look stellar: philosophy of psychology, sociology of mental health, controversies in psychology, boundaries of psychology, and reflecting on science.

We look forward to the work that comes out of this new community!

 

 

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The Monitor on research directions @ The Kinsey Institute

2015-10-kinsey_tcm7-192230The latest edition of Monitor on Psychology includes a short piece by Rebecca Clay about the history and current status of psychological work at The Kinsey Institute, offering those in the field an opportunity to touch base with the work that is being done there.

Info from Drucker’s 2014 volume is used to establish how the institute’s inception and early work relates to, and differs from, its recent research directions and expansion of focus to include work on relationships as well as sexuality. Their research programs on condom usage, sex and immunity, and the impact of technology on communication in sexual relations are featured.

Read the article, with more details about the relevant researchers and administration of the institute, here.

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History and the Hoffman Report: A Round-Up

Chances are you, like us, have been following the fall out from the American Psychological Association’s Hoffman Report, which details how the organization colluded with the United States government to ensure psychologists remained part of its torture program. While there are a ton of opinion pieces floating around in the wake of the report, we thought we’d highlight a few pieces that take a particularly historical view on the current situation.

Over on the Hidden Persuaders blog, part of a project on Cold War era brainwashing efforts, Marcia Holmes has written “What we’re reading now: The APA report.” Holmes details the events leading up to the Hoffman Report and situates psychology’s involvement in torture in relation to the emergence of “operational psychology.” The fundamental tension between “operational psychology” and ethics, Holmes argues, may never be resolved. Read the full piece online here.

BBC Radio program Witness has produced an episode on “CIA Mind Control Experiments” in the 1950s. While this piece is not directly about the Hoffman Report, it documents  the long history of relations between psychology and the CIA:

In the 1950s the CIA started attempting to brainwash psychiatric patients. They wanted to develop methods which could be used against enemies in the Cold War. Hear from one man whose father was experimented on in a Canadian psychiatric hospital.

The full 10-minute episode can be heard online here.

Finally historian Laura Stark, writing in Inside Higher Ed, explains “Why Ethics Codes Fail.” Stark, having previously written about the first ethics code adopted by the APA in 1973, argues that,

The APA’s current ethics mess is a problem inherent to its method of setting professional ethics policy and a problem that faces professional organizations more broadly. Professions’ codes of ethics are made to seem anonymous, dropped into the world by some higher moral authority. But ethics codes have authors. In the long term, the APA’s problems will not be solved by repeating the same process that empowers a select elite to write ethics policy, then removes their connection to it.

All ethics codes have authors who work to erase the appearance of their influence. Personal interests are inevitable, if not unmanageable, and it may be best for the APA — and other professional groups — to keep the link between an ethics policy and its authors. Take a new lesson from the Hippocratic oath by observing its name. The APA should make its ethics policies like most other papers that scientists write: give the code of ethics a byline.

Read the full piece online here.

If there are other historically focused responses to the Hoffman Report that we’ve missed please feel free to add them in the comments!

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A 3D-Printed 19th c. Psych Instrument – See Kirschmann’s Colour Mixer in Action!

Erich Weidenhammer, a graduate of the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology at the University of Toronto, has recently remade a Farbenmisch-Apparat nach Kirschmann (“Colour mixing apparatus after Kirschmann’s design”) via 3D printing. This colour mixing apparatus was designed by August Kirschmann, a German-born psychologist who trained with Wilhelm Wundt. Kirschmann succeeded James Mark Baldwin as head of the Psychological Laboratory at the University of Toronto in the late-nineteenth century. He also designed several laboratory instruments.

Weidenhammer set out to recreate Kirschmann’s instrument and fortunately discovered a colour mixing apparatus among the psychology instruments stored at the University of Toronto (now a part of the University of Toronto Scientific Instruments Collection). The full process of recreation, and the significance of this kind of colour research during Kirschmann’s time, is discussed in detail in a recent blog post by Weidenhammer. The recreated Farbenmisch-Apparat nach Kirschmann can be seen in action in the video above.

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New 5 Minute History Lesson: “Ruth Howard”


The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology has released the second episode in its series 5 Minute History Lesson. The episode is discusses the life and work of psychologist Ruth Howard and features audio from a telephone interview with Howard by Even the Rat was White author Robert Guthrie. More details on the video can be found here. (The first episode in the series was on psychologist James V. McConnell.)

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BBC Radio: “The Psychology of War”

As part of the programme, The War that Changed the World, BBC Radio has aired an episode on “The Psychology of War.” The episode features an expert panel and live audience discussing war’s psychological effects. As described on the BBC Radio website,

One hundred years ago World War One set the course for the twentieth century; for the countries that took part nothing would be the same again. In this worldwide series of events with the British Council, we look at the impact of the war from around the world.

The third debate of the series comes from The Imperial War Museum in London as we explore the psychology of war. What drove men to volunteer for the war? What drove them to the edge of sanity when they got there?

Historian and broadcaster Amanda Vickery is joined by a panel of experts and a live audience to explore the mental impact of fighting the war at home and abroad. World War One experts Dan Todman (Queen Mary, University of London) and Michael Roper (University of Essex) are joined by the celebrated cultural historian, Joanna Bourke (Birkbeck, University of London), who presents her specially commissioned essay, Shell Shock and the Shock of Shells.

You can listen to this episode here and explore other episodes in the series here. You can also enrol in the Open University’s accompanying free online course, “World War 1: Trauma and Memory,” here.

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