In case you missed it yesterday, the Center for the History of Psychology (CHP) has posted on their blog a 8 minute clip of a home movie by psychologists Harry and Leta Stetter Hollingworth. The clip is narrated by CHP Reference Archivist Lizette Royer Barton, who reads from Harry Hollingworth’s autobiography over the course of the film (below).
The Center is currently collaborating with the University of Akron Press and will release Harry Hollingworth’s two volume memoir – Roots in the Great Plains: The Applied Psychology of Harry Hollingworth (Vol. I) and From Coca-Cola to Chewing Gum: The Applied Psychology of Harry Hollingworth (Vol. II) – in the new year.
This Sunday October 30th, just in time for Halloween, the Discovery Channel is airing a special episode of their series Curiosity. The series itself is described on Discovery’s website as
an adventure of discovery, an expedition to uncover the truths behind life’s most challenging questions. With an insatiable thirst for answers and experiences, we’re prepared to do anything, go anywhere and ask anyone to get to the heart of the matter. Whether it’s jumping out of an airplane to confront fear, having neuroscientists implant false memories, or donating tissue to test the possibility of regeneration, there is nothing stopping us as we embark on a global journey of learning and surprises.
Curiosity asks and answers the most fundamental questions facing the world today. Each episode of Curiosity will focus on a single enduring question in science, technology, and society. As is always the case, one single question cascades into several more, making each episode of Curiosity a rich and textured experience. From the micro to the macro, we tackle provocative and insightful questions. Is there a Creator? Is it likely there’s an alternate universe? Could you find out exactly how you are going to die and would you want to know? Are some people genetically prone to violence? Is time travel really possible? Why is it that we dream? What don’t we know about gravity and does it hold the secret for exploring the universe?
Sunday’s episode tackles the question of evil. How Evil Are You?, hosted by horror film director Eli Roth, explores the nature of evil. And, of course, the Milgram obedience to authority experiments are front and center. As has been done a number of times in the last several years, the program attempts to replicate Milgram’s experiment to see if his finding – that ordinary people can be pushed to do horrible things – still holds. The episode is described as follows
Actor/Director Eli Roth is no stranger to exploring the nature of evil. As a master of horror with films like Inglorious Basterds and Hostel, Roth turns his lens to research possibly the most horrifying monster of them all – the average American. In CURIOSITY’s “How Evil are You?”, Roth sets out to recreate the infamous Milgram experiment to see how, or if, the results have changed. Roth himself even undergoes tests and scans to see if he carries what researchers dub “the evil gene.” So does Hollywood’s famous horror director have a little extra ‘edge’ in his craft?…
The video above offers a brief introduction to the program, much of which is focused on the Milgram replication, while the clip below is specifically of the show’s obedience to authority segment. Tune in Sunday at 9pm EST to see what you think of this latest recreation of Milgram’s now infamous experiments.
You can find AHP’s previous coverage of Milgram’s obedience to authority experiments here.
Interested in learning more about history of scientific views on human instincts? Marga Vicedo (whose work has been featured on AHP here and here) discusses this history in the video above, focusing especially on the history of views on maternal instincts. Vicedo is currently at work on a manuscript entitled “Human Nature and Mother Love: The Search for the Maternal Instinct,” in which she explores evolving views on human instincts from the nineteenth century to the present. Among those whose work Vicedo discusses in the video are ethologist Konrad Lorenz, psychologist Harry Harlow, and psychoanalyst John Bowlby. It is the work of such individuals on attachment theory that has been used as a basis for the idea that individuals have an innate need for mother love. Vicedo argues that the idea that there is an innate need for mother love has been largely accepted by society, with important social consequences.
In 1975, William Shatner, best known for his role as Captain James T. Kirk in the original Star Trek television series, took on the starring role in a now largely forgotten television movie: The Tenth Level. Broadcast on CBS, the TV movie featured Shatner as the Stanley Milgram-esque psychologist Stephen Turner, conducting research into the ability of individuals to “just follow orders.” While the movie is not a cinematic masterpiece, it is a fun watch for fans of Shatner and historians of psychology alike. The full movie, though not available for purchase, has been posted online on YouTube in 13 parts:
In this video from the University of Surrey, social psychologist and historian of psychology Peter Hegarty discusses his work on visuality in psychological science. The first research project Hegarty discusses is his historical research on the categorization of homosexuality as a mental illness, including the inclusion of homosexuality in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association from 1952 to 1973. Hegarty’s interest is in how the rise and fall of the Rorschach test as a psychological instrument related to efforts to detect and diagnose homosexuality as a mental illness during this period. He briefly charts the growing psychoanalytic influence post-WWII on the use of the Rorschach test, in conjunction with the rise of clinical psychology, as well as increasing skepticism about Rorschach test from experimental psychologists in ensuing years. Here, Hegarty recounts the story of Evelyn Hooker’s doubleblind study on the use of the Rorschach to diagnose homosexuality (previously discussed on AHP here), as part of changing standards of evidence within the discipline.
The second research project Hegarty discusses is not specifically historical, but also deals with the nature of evidence in psychology: the psychology of how people draw graphs. In this research, Hegarty investigated the composition and interpretation of graphs depicting gender differences. His review of 40 years worth of graphs of gender differences found that 75% of the time data about males was presented first and data on females presented second. This finding led Hegarty to undertake further research into how gender stereotypes might be effecting the scientific record. The full story of his findings on this subject can watched in the second half of the above video.
The Genovese case is traditionally presented as the failure 38 neighbours to act while a young woman was murdered in New York City. It has attained mythic proportions in social psychology as an exemplar of the bystander effect and diffusion of responsibility. The veracity of the original report of Kitty Genovese case, in particular the inaction of her neighbours during her murder, was previously questioned in a 2007 American Psychologistarticle.
The Open Culture post on Kitty Genovese was prompted a recent news story about a teenager who was severely beaten in a Baltimore McDonald’s while employees not only failed to intervene, but videotaped the incidence. The post also points to a NPR interview with Joseph De May on the Genovese case, which may be of interest to AHP readers. (The interview is available as both an audio clip and a transcript.)
AHP‘s previous posts on Kitty Genovese and the bystander effect can be found here, here, here, and here.
I noticed via several Twitter announcements today that the Wellcome Trust has posted 218 of their historical films online on the Internet Archive website. AHP has previously posted about the Wellcome film collection when we highlighted their 1930 Pavlovian conditioning film that was available through their catalog. This is the only film among the 218 on Internet Archive listed under the keyword “Psychology” but is certainly not the only film in the set related to the history of psychology. A few of the highlights that caught my attention: Continue reading →
As many AHP readers might know, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) hosts a free online screening room with nearly 1500 film clips, documentaries, animations, experimental films, and fictional films. A colleague recently directed me to a 2002 film by Canadian filmmaker Connie Littlefield that may be of interest to some AHP readers. Hoffmann’s Potion is a 56 minute film covering the early years of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) research by Swiss scientist Albert Hoffmann. Unlike similar documentaries by the BBC (also this 1997 film), Hoffmann’s Potion is not centered around American activist Timothy Leary. Instead, it looks at the spread of LSD research from Hoffmann’s lab in 1938 to psychiatric facilities in Canada, Czechoslovakia, Great Britain, and the United States in the 1940s and 50s.
The NFB offers this synopsis:
This documentary offers a compassionate, open-minded look at LSD and how it fits into our world. Long before Timothy Leary urged a generation to “tune in, turn on and drop out,” the drug was hailed as a way to treat forms of addiction and mental illness. At the same time, it was being touted as a powerful tool for mental exploration and self-understanding. Featuring interviews with LSD pioneers, beautiful music and stunning cinematography, this is much more than a simple chronicle of LSD’s early days. It’s an alternative way of looking at the drug… and our world.
Littlefield alternates between original documentary footage from the laboratories and new interviews with LSD researchers including: American psychiatrist Myron J. Stolaroff, Czechoslovakian transpersonal psychologist Stanislav Grof, and British psychiatrist Humphry Osmond. Osmond worked at the now demolished Weyburn Mental Hospital in Weyburn Saskatchewan. His work with Canadian schizophrenia specialist Abram Hoffer applied LSD both to better understand the lives of schizophrenics, and to treat addiction.
I just came across some interesting history resources available on the all-about-psychology.com website related to the psychoanalysis of Adolf Hitler. The profile was constructed by Walter Langer and his team in just five months. Without access to the man himself, interviews were conducted with individuals who knew Hitler personally and 1000+ pages from the so-called Hitler Source Book were consulted.
The site has added a short write-up of the Office of Strategic Services’ (OSS) 1943 project to construct a psychological profile of the Nazi leader, embedded video of the BBC documentary: Inside the Mind of Adolf Hitler (in five parts), and a link to the text of Walter Langer’s original text that is available for Kindle.
Langer was, of course, not the only psychologist recruited by the OSS to compile a profile of Hitler: Harvard psychologist Henry Murray prepared a similar report a year earlier in 1943. A write-up focusing on Murray’s project by Martyn Housden of the University of Bradford is available in pdf here.
I have spent the past month enthralled with my Monday night TV options: TVO (the public television channel in Ontario) has been airing the 4-part series “Victorian Pharmacy” that originally aired on the BBC this past summer.
A quick synopsis: In episode one, set in 1837, the group explored some early treatments: including the use of leeches, an oil compound made of earthworm, the bronchial kettle, and the discovery of Indian tonic water. Episode two progressed to the mid-nineteenth century and explored “cure-alls” and disinfectants. Episode three faced the new regulations that were established for pharmacists in 1868 and portrayed the cast taking the examinations (which included the practical test of creating a suppository) – they also discussed the loophole in the legislation that allowed women to emerge in the developing field of pharmaceuticals. Finally, episode four, set at the end of the Victorian era, featured new techniques in dentistry (including a foot-pedal drill), the creation of condoms out of sheep intestines, and the latest developments in photography. What made Victorian Pharmacy so engaging, to me at least, was not only the discussion of various developments in the history of the pharmacy and medical treatments, but that the cast prepared and tried out these treatments.
I can’t help but wonder what it would be like to recreate psychology’s early labs – perhaps looking first to Wilhelm Wundt’s lab and then moving to the United States to compare how their labs were both similar and different. We may not have an open air museum like Blists Hill to draw on, but there is still a fair amount of apparatus hanging around from the “Brass & Glass” era with enough photos to help recreate what the labs would have looked like…..