Filmmaker Ted Kennedy is using footage from B. F. Skinner’s life to produce an audio-visual portrait that is loyal to the psychologist’s own theoretical propositions.
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For centuries scientists have studied the brain and still our understanding, particularly when it comes to the treatment for those suffering with severe, often untreatable mental illness, remains elusive. As scientists around the world are beginning ambitious programs to study the human brain in unprecedented ways, Retro Report explores the evolution of the surgical and biological treatments over the decades. From the brutal, but once considered mainstream treatment of lobotomy to biological cocktails, to the beginnings of what many hope will be a more elegant understanding of the brain through technology.
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The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology continues its series 5 Minute History Lession with Episode 6: David Boder. The Center recently recovered Boder’s lost recordings of songs of the Holocaust, which he recorded during the summer of 1946 while interviewing individuals in refugee camps. Learn more about Boder and his work in the video above.Share on Facebook
The I Am Psyched! exhibit, first launched as part of the Smithsonian Institute’s Museum Day Live in 2016, is hitting the road! The pop-up exhibit will be at Howard University tomorrow through Thursday, February 23rd, in celebration of both Howard University’s 150th anniversary and the American Psychological Association’s 125th anniversary. Kick off events tomorrow February 21st will be followed by three live interviews on APA’s Facebook page starting at1:15 PM (ET):
1:15 PM – Drs. Jessica Henderson Daniel and Shari Miles-Cohen will discuss Dr. Henderson Daniel’s storied career and how she made history by being elected as the first African American woman to lead the Association.
1:45 PM – Drs. Nicole Monteiro and Carlota Ocampo will discuss their research, what inspired them to go into psychology, and words of wisdom for the next generation of women of color psychologists.
2:15 PM – The winner and runners-up of the “I am Psyched” student poster session competition will discuss their winning posters and what has inspired them to pursue careers in psychology.
The exhibit is a collaboration between the APA’ Public Interest Directorate’s Women’s Programs Office, the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, and Psychology’s Feminist Voices. The exhibit is described as follows:
The I am Psyched! National Tour launches on Feb. 21, 2017 with a three-day installation at Howard University (HU) in Washington, D.C., celebrating both APA’s 125th anniversary and HU’s 150th anniversary. The opening includes remarks from APA President-elect Jessica Henderson Daniel, PhD, ABPP, and members of HU’s senior administration, followed by round tables of women psychologists discussing how they have used psychology to make positive social change. Bringing full circle the past, present and future of women of color in psychology, the program will conclude with the grand opening of the I am Psyched! at Howard University exhibit and a juried poster session of empirical research by or about women of color conducted by HU graduate students. APA and HU are grateful to the National Black Employees Association and our other funders for helping to defray the cost of this event.
The second stop on the national tour is Drexel University, in Philedelphia from Feb. 27 through March 10. Dorothy Charbonnier, PhD, chair of the department of psychology, will host an opening reception with Drexel University President John Anderson Fry and other high level administrators, trustees and donors in attendance.
The I Am Psyched! exhibit will also be making the following stops on its national tour:
Howard University, Washington, D.C. Feb, 21-23, 2017
Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pa. Feb, 27-March 10, 2017
St. John’s University, Queens, N.Y. March 14-17, 2017
Pace University, New York, N.Y. (tentative) March 20-21, 2017
University of Memphis, Memphis, Tenn. April 5-8, 2017
Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. April 28-30, 2017
Follow the full tour on Twitter with the hashtag
New from the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology is the fifth episode of 5 Minute History Lesson: A Love Story of Academic Proportions. Written and narrated by Ludy Benjamin, Jr. the video describes the lives and work of psychologists Harry and Leta Stetter Hollingworth. Enjoy!Share on Facebook
The New York Times has just reviewed the newly released documentary The Witness. The film traces the efforts of Bill Genovese – younger brother of Kitty Genovese – to get to the bottom of the infamous death of his sister in 1964. As the Times reports within the documentary
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A “Rashomon” emerges: questionable reporting, widely disseminated, based on police claims; an outlandish alternate history that Mr. Moseley, who died this March, sent Mr. Genovese from prison; a neighbor who recalls holding Ms. Genovese in her final moments.
Ultimately, the murder is eclipsed by Mr. Genovese’s own struggles — how his obsession exasperates family members, and how the perceived public apathy inspired him to fight in Vietnam, where he lost his legs. A re-creation of the night, with an actress playing the screaming victim while Mr. Genovese observes, is harrowing. You pray he has at last found peace.
The H-Word blog over at The Guardian has just published a piece on the influence of rat experiments on the novel High Rise, the basis for a newly released film of the same name. As author Jesse Olszynko-Gryn notes in his post,
the most influential example of “pathological togetherness” lifted from the animal kingdom was not a bird. It was a rodent and, in particular, the laboratory experiments performed on rats in the 1960s by ethologist John B. Calhoun at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland.
Calhoun built a “rat city” in which everything a rat could need was provided, except space. The result was a population explosion followed by pathological overcrowding, then extinction. Well before the rats reached the maximum possible density predicted by Calhoun, however, they began to display a range of “deviant” behaviours: mothers neglected their young; dominant males became unusually aggressive; subordinates withdrew psychologically; others became hypersexual; the living cannibalized the dead. Calhoun’s “rat utopia” became a living hell.
Calhoun published the early results of his experiments in 1962 in the now-classic Scientific American article, “Population Density and Social Pathology”. As historians Edmund Ramsden and Jon Adams have shown, Calhoun’s rats circulated widely as “scientific evidence” of the dangers of urban overcrowding in human society. His concept of the “behavioural sink” chimed with despairing journalistic reports of “sink estates” and “sink schools” in 1970s Britain.
The full piece can be read online here.Share on Facebook
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has just aired a piece on the controversial history of Oak Ridge, the forensic mental health division of the Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care in Penetanguishene, Ontario. (The Oak Ridge building officially closed in 2014, but Waypoint continues to house Ontario’s only maximum security forensic hospital.) “The Secrets of Oak Ridge” aired March 1st, 2016 as part of the CBC’s national news program The National and is described simply as: “Allegations of treatment with LSD, sleep deprivation, torture. The painful legacy of an Ontario psychiatric facility. Reg Sherren reports.”
The 15-minute piece, driven by the narrative of one man’s experiences in the institution in the 1970s, describes some of the treatment practices at the institution at this time and questions the ethics of those involved. A provocative indictment of the institution and its doctors, the segment unfortunately lacks any counterpoint regarding the ethics of the therapeutic practices employed at the hospital. Absent any discussion of the greater context of psychiatry at this time, the treatment of patients at Oak Ridge is presented as unequivocally cruel, unusual, and unethical. This is certainly the experience of the former patient featured in “The Secrets of Oak Ridge.”
And from our present-day vantage point we may well feel similarly. Taking the context of 1960s and 70s psychiatry into account, however, the ethics, or lack thereof, of the program are less clearcut. At the time, Oak Ridge’s use of LSD and other psychopharmaceuticals – alongside other therapies – was seen as a positive form of treatment and a promising advance in the field. Where the CBC segment is most successful is in presenting the patient’s voice, as he recounts his experiences at the hospital. Respecting this patient’s experience, while putting that experience into historical context is a fine balancing act, one, unfortunately, “The Secrets of Oak Ridge” does not attempt. Contextualizing these treatment practices does not mean invalidating the experiences of this or any other patient, but it is necessary for a more complete understanding of what transpired at this hospital in this moment in time.
As we’ve reported previously on AHP, the recently launched Remembering Oak Ridge Digital Archive and Exhibit produced by former AHP contributor Jennifer Bazar, is an excellent and under-utilized source for this much needed information. Details and fuller context for the social therapy program discussed in the CBC segment can be found on this page of the site. (It should also be noted that a class action lawsuit against the hospital and the program’s doctors, on behalf several patients, is as yet undecided.)Share on Facebook
Way back in the Spring of 2013 we brought you news that author Andromeda Romano-Lax was working on a fictionalized account of the life of psychologist Rosalie Rayner Watson. That book, now titled Behave, has just been published by SoHo Press. A trailer for the book is featured above and a recent Kirkus review of Behave can be found here.
The book is described on the publishers website:
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“The mother begins to destroy the child the moment it’s born,” wrote the founder of behaviorist psychology, John B. Watson, whose 1928 parenting guide was revered as the child-rearing bible. For their dangerous and “mawkish” impulses to kiss and hug their child, “most mothers should be indicted for psychological murder.” Behave is the story of Rosalie Rayner, Watson’s ambitious young wife and the mother of two of his children.
In 1920, when she graduated from Vassar College, Rayner was ready to make her mark on the world. Intelligent, beautiful, and unflappable, she won a coveted research position at Johns Hopkins assisting the charismatic celebrity psychologist John B. Watson. Together, Watson and Rayner conducted controversial experiments on hundreds of babies to prove behaviorist principles. They also embarked on a scandalous affair that cost them both their jobs — and recast the sparkling young Rosalie Rayner, scientist and thinker, as Mrs. John Watson, wife and conflicted, maligned mother, just another “woman behind a great man.”
With Behave, Andromeda Romano-Lax offers a provocative fictional biography of Rosalie Rayner Watson, a woman whose work influenced generations of Americans, and whose legacy has been lost in the shadow of her husband’s. In turns moving and horrifying, Behave is a richly nuanced and disturbing novel about science, progress, love, marriage, motherhood, and what all those things cost a passionate, promising young woman.
The British Psychological Society‘s History of Psychology Centre held their now annual Stories of Psychology Symposium last month. Video from the symposium, which this year was dedicated to the subject of “Clinically Applied: Origins of a Profession,” is now online. The first of five videos from the symposium is featured above. Full details on the event follow below.
2015 – Clinically Applied: Origins of a Profession
Held on Wednesday 14 October 2015 at the Chancellor’s Hall, Senate House, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU
Convened by Professor John Hall (Oxford Brookes University)
The topic of this year’s symposium was chosen as a curtain raiser for the start of the 50th anniversary year of the BPS Division of Clinical Psychology (DCP) in 2016. It looks forward to the Golden Anniversary by looking back at the development of clinical psychology as a profession, a history that reaches back beyond the foundation of the DCP in 1966.
The four main speakers are all contributors to Clinical Psychology in Britain: Historical Perspectives edited by John Hall, Graham Turpin and David Pilgrim, which is due to be published by the History of Psychology Centre in December 2015.
Emeritus Professor Bill Yule (Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London)
‘Clinical Psychology: The Early Days, 1939-1963’
Dr Jennifer Clegg (University of Nottingham)
‘Four Lensmakers: Jack Tizard, Ann and Alan Clark, Peter Mittler’
Dr Anne Richardson (formerly of University College London and Department of Health)
‘Growing Pains and Pleasures: Psychology, Government and the Profession’s Health’
Professor Bob Woods (Bangor University)
‘Dementia in the 20th Century: Discovering the Person Behind the Label’
Dr Saima Lofgren (Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust) will make a short presentation on the emergence of cultural concerns in clinical psychology.
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