Category Archives: Books

New Book: A History of ‘Relevance’ in Psychology

image002Another new book is available out of the Palgrave Macmillan stable: A History of Relevance in PsychologyWritten by Wahbie Long at the University of Cape Town, is described by the publishers as follows:

This book represents the first attempt to historicise and theorise appeals for ‘relevance’ in psychology. It argues that the persistence of questions about the ‘relevance’ of psychology derives from the discipline’s terminal inability to define its subject matter, its reliance on a socially disinterested science to underwrite its knowledge claims, and its consequent failure to address itself to the needs of a rapidly changing world.

The chapters go on to consider  the ‘relevance’ debate within South African psychology, by critically analysing discourse of forty-five presidential, keynote and opening addresses delivered at annual national psychology congresses between 1950 and 2011, and observes how appeals for ‘relevance’ were advanced by reactionary, progressive and radical psychologists alike.

The book presents, moreover, the provocative thesis that the revolutionary quest for ‘social relevance’ that began in the 1960s has been supplanted by an ethic of ‘market relevance’ that threatens to isolate the discipline still further from the anxieties of broader society. With powerful interest groups continuing to co-opt psychologists without relent, this is a development that only psychologists of conscience can arrest.

 

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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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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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New Books in History Podcast: Dan Bouk’s How Our Days Became Numbered


The New Books in History podcast series, part of the New Books Network, has released an episode with historian Dan Bouk about his recent book, How Our Days Became Numbered: Risk and the Rise of the Statistical Individual, which may be of interest to AHP readers. As New Books in History describes,

Who made life risky? In his dynamic new book, How Our Days Became Numbered: Risk and the Rise of the Statistical Individual(University of Chicago Press, 2015), historian Dan Bouk argues that starting in the late nineteenth century, the life-insurance industry embedded risk-making within American society and American psyches. Bouk is assistant professor of history at Colgate University, and his new book shows how insurers categorized individuals and grouped social classes in ways that assigned monetary value to race, class, lifestyles, and bodies. With lively prose, Bouk gives historical context and character to the rise of the “statistical individual” from the Guided Age to the New Deal. Bouk’s primary argument is that risks did not always already exist, nor was risk invented by the medical establishment. Instead, the threat (and reality) of economic crisis helped insurers to create risk as a commodity, and eventually to control the lives it measured. As Bouk phrases it in the interview, “Insurers improved their bottom line by improving Americans’ bottom lines.” Bouk invites readers critically to reflect upon how we have come to see ourselves through a statistical lens in our daily lives– an issue of continued relevance in the age of big data and vast analytical capabilities.

The full episode can be found here.

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New Books in STS Podcast: Erik Linstrum on Ruling Minds

The New Books in STS podcast series, part of the New Books Network, has released an episode with historian Erik Linstrum on his new book Ruling Minds: Psychology in the British Empire. As New Books in STS describes,

Despite its critics, Linstrum shows how psychology mobilized to take part in Britain’s counter-insurgency campaigns in Kenya and Malaya. Colonial administrators borrowed tools from psychology to conduct interrogations and suppress dissent. The colonial state attempted to cast doubt on the psychological maturity of the colonized, articulating Third World nationalism itself as a kind of pathology. Britain’s representatives aimed to actively reshape thoughts and feelings in their quest to win “hearts and minds.”

Linstrum’s book challenges rigid definitions of scientists in the service of empire, complicating earlier narratives which portrayed psychologists as powerful supporters of colonial discourse. Psychology’s intended role was to aid the technocratic administration of a waning empire. While attempting to make the colonized knowable and predictable, British psychologists unintentionally exposed the dysfunctions inherent in European society, challenging the notion of an irrational, inferior “other.”

The full episode can be found here.

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Recent Reviews of Clinical Psychology in Britain: Historical Perspectives

AHP is happy to reprint two recent reviews of the new book Clinical Psychology in Britain: Historical Perspectives (announced on AHP here). These reviews were first published in the December 2015 issue of Clinical Psychology Forum, the house publication of the British Psychological Society’s Division of Clinical Psychology. The full reviews follow below.

Review by Tony Wainright

‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’
George Santayana, The Life of Reason, 1905

This book marks an important milestone in the history of clinical psychology in the UK, with 2016 being the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Division of Clinical Psychology. People are still around (some of the authors) who remember the founding of the NHS, which also closely marked the beginning of the profession.

I found that the best way of getting the most out of the book was to start with the last chapter – the editors’ collective reflections on writing it – and then go to the introduction. This provides a very helpful frame in which the other chapters can be viewed. They have very different writing styles; as they point out, some are clinicians, some are academics, some are historians; some have relatively mainstream views, some have much more radical and critical approaches. The editors have done an excellent job of making this all seem part of the fabric of the profession – diversity and variety being positive and generating creative energy.

In a short review it is not possible to cover all the chapters and full details of the book chapters are available on the Society’s History of Psychology Centre website.

Understanding the profession today is immensely enhanced by this book. The chapter by Pilgrim and Patel is particularly powerful in locating the emergence of the profession following the enormous upheaval of post-war politics, and charting its course through the swinging sixties to the present day. Continue reading Recent Reviews of Clinical Psychology in Britain: Historical Perspectives

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New Book: Clinical Psychology in Britain: Historical Perspectives

The British Psychological Society‘s History of Psychology Centre has just published a new volume on the history of clinical psychology in Britain. The book, Clinical Psychology in Britain: Historical Perspectives, is described as follows:

This book, the second in a series of monographs published by the Society’s History of Psychology Centre, is a comprehensive and informed account of the development of clinical psychology – the largest field of applied psychology in Britain. It identifies key transitions and changes in the work and thinking of clinical psychologists; explores the relationships between disciplinary and professional concerns within their policy, political and economic context; and situates British clinical psychology in relation to wider fields of research and practice in applied psychology in health care.

Contents:

Preface and acknowledgements

About the contributors

Guide to structure of the book

Part 1: Background

  • Chapter 1 – Introduction
    John Hall, David Pilgrim & Graham Turpin
  • Chapter 2 – Engaging with the views and needs of users of psychological services
    Juliet Foster

Part 2: Contexts

Continue reading New Book: Clinical Psychology in Britain: Historical Perspectives

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New Book: The Corrigible and the Incorrigible by Greg Eghigian

The University of Michigan Press has recently published Greg Eghigian’s The Corrigible and the Incorrigible: Science, Medicine, and the Convict in Twentieth-Century Germany. As the publisher describes,

The Corrigible and the Incorrigible explores the surprising history of efforts aimed at rehabilitating convicts in 20th-century Germany, efforts founded not out of an unbridled optimism about the capacity of people to change, but arising from a chronic anxiety about the potential threats posed by others. Since the 1970s, criminal justice systems on both sides of the Atlantic have increasingly emphasized security, surveillance, and atonement, an approach that contrasts with earlier efforts aimed at scientifically understanding, therapeutically correcting, and socially reintegrating convicts. And while a distinction is often drawn between American and European ways of punishment, the contrast reinforces the longstanding impression that modern punishment has played out as a choice between punitive retribution and correctional rehabilitation. Focusing on developments in Nazi, East, and West Germany, The Corrigible and the Incorrigible shows that rehabilitation was considered an extension of, rather than a counterweight to, the hardline emphasis on punishment and security by providing the means to divide those incarcerated into those capable of reform and the irredeemable.

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New Book: Saulo de Freitas Araujo’s Wundt and the Philosophical Foundations of Psychology

Wundt and the Philosophical Foundations of Psychology: A Reappraisal is now available from Springer. Written by Saulo de Freitas Araujo (right), the book

reassesses the seminal work of Wilhelm Wundt by discussing the history and philosophy of psychology. It traces the pioneering theorist’s intellectual development and the evolution of psychology throughout his career. The author draws on little-known sources to situate psychological concepts in Wundt’s philosophical thought and address common myths and misconceptions relating to Wundt’s ideas. The ideas presented in this book show why Wundt’s work remains relevant in this era of ongoing mind/brain debate and interest continues in the links between psychology and philosophy.

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New Book: Rethinking Interdisciplinarity across the Social Sciences and Neurosciences

AHP readers may be interested in a new open access monograph, Rethinking Interdisciplinarity across the Social Sciences and Neurosciences. The book is a product of the research collective Hubbub, the inaugural resident of the Wellcome Collection’s interdisciplinary research space The Hub. Written by Felicity Callard and Des Fitzgerald, Rethinking Interdisciplinarity across the Social Sciences and Neurosciences

offers a provocative account of interdisciplinary research across the neurosciences, social sciences and humanities. Setting itself against standard accounts of interdisciplinary ‘integration,’ and rooting itself in the authors’ own experiences, the book establishes a radical agenda for collaboration across these disciplines. Rethinking Interdisciplinarity does not merely advocate interdisciplinary research, but attends to the hitherto tacit pragmatics, affects, power dynamics, and spatial logics in which that research is enfolded. Understanding the complex relationships between brains, minds, and environments requires a delicate, playful and genuinely experimental interdisciplinarity, and this book shows us how it can be done.

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