Category Archives: Other

The Psychologist: Madness from the Outside In

The December 2015 issue of The Psychologist, the British Psychological Society‘s flagship magazine, is now online. This month’s “Looking Back” column, written by Gail Hornstein, explores artistic depictions of madness, among them Agnes’ jacket (pictured above). As Hornstein notes,

Since at least the 13th century, artists have been fascinated by insanity. There are literally hundreds of images, most stylised and stereotypic, of ‘madness’ and ‘the madman’ (or woman). When asylums spread across 19th-century Europe, providing a captive population of mad people, artists began to use actual patients as models for their drawings and paintings. These images are often less extreme than earlier portraits, but their typically grotesque emotionality is just as dehumanising.

Patients are treated as specimens, devoid of any context, like tumour cells in a pathology manual. Even in the works of progressive physicians like Pinel or Esquirol, madness is depicted as brutality or as generalised deterioration. Esquirol’s particular interest in pathological types influenced the thinking of generations of psychiatrists and reduced the patient’s whole life to one main symptom (e.g. mania). Of course, today we take this idea far more literally than Esquirol did in the 1830s – current images of madness don’t even show the person, just their hypothesised brain defect.

Share on Facebook

Masculinity in Mid-20th Psychology in the New Osiris

The 2015 volume of special topic publication Osiris is now available and dedicated to the theme of “Scientific Masculinities.” Among the plethora of interesting pieces in the issue, is one specifically on the history of psychology: “Maintaining Masculinity in Mid-Twentieth-Century American Psychology: Edwin Boring, Scientific Eminence, and the ‘Woman Problem'” by Alexandra Rutherford. The abstract reads,

Using mid-twentieth-century American psychology as my focus, I explore how scientific psychology was constructed as a distinctly masculine enterprise and was navigated by those who did not conform easily to this masculine ideal. I show how women emerged as problems for science through the vigorous gatekeeping activities and personal and professional writings of disciplinary figurehead Edwin G. Boring. I trace Boring’s intellectual and professional socialization into masculine science and his efforts to understand women’s apparent lack of scientific eminence, efforts that were clearly undergirded by preexisting and widely shared assumptions about men’s and women’s capacities and preferences.

Share on Facebook

Dafne Almazán Anaya, 13 year old Psychologist

dafne-almazan-1_655x438-400x267In honour of Ada Lovelace day, a quick feature of Dafne Almazán–who at the age of thirteen has been awarded a degree in psychology this month by the prestigious Mexican university Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey! This past summer, Almazán was named on Forbes’ list of the 50 most powerful women in Mexico, and she is now being lauded by international outlets as the world’s youngest psychologist (a title to which, as far as we know, the addendum “of all time” could be added!?).

Dafne has expressed interest in researching bullying, but has also asserted that any professional practice she undertakes in psychology will have to wait as she’s intending to pursue graduate work in education.

Her impressive achievement of an advanced degree as a minor is only one of a variety of accomplishments including being an active pianist, practicing Taekwondo, and holding a teaching level proficiency in Mandarin. Go Dafne!!

Share on Facebook

CfP: Special Issue of HoP on History of Psychotherapy in North and South America

A call for papers has been issued for a special issue of History of Psychology on the history of psychotherapy in North and South America. Guest edited by Rachael Rosner, the issue will be released in parallel with a special issue of History of the Human Sciences on the history psychotherapy in Europe (guest edited by Sarah Marks). The deadline for submissions is January 1st, 2016. The full call for papers follows below.

The history of psychotherapy is a topic that cuts across disciplines and cultures. In North America, psychotherapy pre-dates Freud in the faith healing and liberal protestant movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Throughout the 20th century and into the 21st century, even as Freud took the limelight, the practice passed through many professions including neuropathology, psychiatry, social work, the ministry and clinical psychology, as well as marriage and family counseling, nursing, and a host of others. Psychotherapy also became the darling of cinema and literature. And yet, psychotherapy has never been a licensed profession. Anyone can hang out a shingle as a “psychotherapist.” Psychotherapy has thus been both a staple of, and a lens onto, medicine, science and culture for nearly 125 years.

How can we make sense of this ubiquitous and yet historically elusive practice? This special issue of HOP opens up the conversation to historians from a broad spectrum of specialties. We welcome contributions on any aspect of the subject in North or South America, but ask contributors to keep within the time-frame of late 19th century (when the term “psychotherapy” originated) to the present. Continue reading CfP: Special Issue of HoP on History of Psychotherapy in North and South America

Share on Facebook

The New Yorker: “The Real Lesson of the Stanford Prison Experiment”

The New Yorker has just posted an article on “The Real Lesson of the Stanford Prison Experiment.” A new feature film The Stanford Prison Experiment, starring Billy Crudup as psychologist Philip Zimbardo, provides the impetus for the piece.

On the morning of August 17, 1971, nine young men in the Palo Alto area received visits from local police officers. While their neighbors looked on, the men were arrested for violating Penal Codes 211 and 459 (armed robbery and burglary), searched, handcuffed, and led into the rear of a waiting police car. The cars took them to a Palo Alto police station, where the men were booked, fingerprinted, moved to a holding cell, and blindfolded. Finally, they were transported to the Stanford County Prison—also known as the Stanford University psychology department.

They were willing participants in the Stanford Prison Experiment, one of the most controversial studies in the history of social psychology. (It’s the subject of a new film of the same name—a drama, not a documentary—starring Billy Crudup, of “Almost Famous,” as the lead investigator, Philip Zimbardo.) The study subjects, middle-class college students, had answered a questionnaire about their family backgrounds, physical- and mental-health histories, and social behavior, and had been deemed “normal”; a coin flip divided them into prisoners and guards. According to the lore that’s grown up around the experiment, the guards, with little to no instruction, began humiliating and psychologically abusing the prisoners within twenty-four hours of the study’s start. The prisoners, in turn, became submissive and depersonalized, taking the abuse and saying little in protest. The behavior of all involved was so extreme that the experiment, which was meant to last two weeks, was terminated after six days.

Read the piece online here.

Share on Facebook

Contribute to The Psychologist’s “Looking Back” Column!

The British Psychological Society’s magazine, The Psychologist, is looking for brief contributions for its regular history column “Looking Back.” Previous articles from the column are largely open access and can be read online here.

If you are interested in contributing a piece of 1800-3000 words, on the history of psychology or the psychology of history, get in touch with Managing Editor Jon Sutton at or engage with the magazine on Twitter @psychmag.


Share on Facebook

Community Announcement: Cummings Center for the History of Psychology Expansion

The Center for the History of Psychology at The University of Akron, which houses the Archives of the History of American Psychology, a Museum of Psychology and hosts public chp_building_full_coloreducation and outreach programs, will be closing to all researchers from September 1, 2015 through September 1, 2016 to undergo major reconstruction.

Thanks to a $3.5 million dollar gift from Drs. Nicholas and Dorothy Cummings, the renamed Cummings Center will include a substantial renovation of the museum, a new library and offices for visiting scholars, as well as an endowment for an associate director. Currently, the museum only displays a small fraction of the holdings that have been donated to the center, a situation which will be rectified through its expansion from 1,800 to 8,500 square feet.

We are highly anticipating these exciting developments! Also, if you have immediate need to access the Center’s materials for your research, be certain to do so during the summer before their temporary closure!

Find out more about the Center’s reconstruction plans and the Cummings’ donation here from the article on

Share on Facebook

TPR: Andrew Scull’s “Madness and meaning: Depictions of insanity through history”

The Paris Review currently features a beautifully illustrated piece from historian Andrew Scull. In “Madness and Meaning” Scull discusses the many depictions of mental illness – religious, medical, pharmaceutical – produced through history. Read the full piece, and see all the evocative images, online here.

Share on Facebook

Call for Participation: Interviews with Archival Researchers

Humanites_Numeriques-550x300Here at AHP, we’re interested in fostering conversation about historiographic theory and methods, and as we have access to such a vibrant community of historians and allied researchers, I thought I’d forward this query posted on the H-Public discussions section of H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online. 

Alexandra Chassanoff from the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, is looking for assistance with her doctoral research in the form of participation by “individuals who have used digitized photographs in their scholarly activities (teaching, publications, presentations, or related research pursuits). ”

Here are further details:

The interview should take approximately one hour and can be conducted in person, over the telephone, or online using Go2Meeting.  Your responses to these questions will be kept confidential.  There is no compensation for participating in this study; however, I am confident that your participation will contribute significantly to this emerging area of research.

If you are willing to participate, please send an email to: to confirm your interest. I am happy to answer any questions for you as well.

Historians of science (and other academic or professional disciplines) are used to studying how other people conduct research, but rarely have the spotlight turned on their own work. It is always beneficial to be be given the opportunity to take a look at your methodological ‘black box’ and reflect on those processes. If interested, please contact Alexandra.

Share on Facebook

Bibliography: Laboratories, Instruments, and the Material Culture of Psychology

Harvard Psychological Laboratory, 1892. via the Virtual Laboratory.

For anyone interested in exploring the history of laboratories, instruments, and the material culture of psychology more generally, I have put together the following bibliography. Sources have been organized into the following categories: Laboratories, Instruments, Online Resources, Instrument Collections, and Introductory Material Culture Readings. For the purposes of this bibliography, “material culture” has been interpreted quite broadly. Rather than focus solely on writings narrowly confined to this field, a variety of sources that touch on the history of material objects – especially those related to the history of science – have been included here. Other items included in the bibliography also look at unconventional instruments, including paper tools, tests, and organisms as instruments. A number of reference works, photographic collections, and online resources are also provided. The bibliography is by no means complete and suggested additions are welcome and appreciated. And don’t forget to check out the full list of our bibliographies on our Resources page. Happy reading!

Update: The post now includes a section of sources, provided by Ryan Tweney, on instruments, experiments, and replication. Additional readings suggested by Rodrigo Miranda – including many in French, Portuguese, and Spanish – have also been added, as has a reading suggested by Gabriel Ruiz. Our thanks to them all.

Bibliography: Laboratories, Instruments, and the Material Culture of Psychology


General Discussion

Benjamin, Jr., L. T. (2000). The psychology laboratory at the turn of the 20th century. American Psychologist, 55(3), 318–321. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.55.3.318

Capshew, J. H. (1992). Psychologists on site: A reconnaissance of the historiography of the laboratory. American Psychologist, 47(2), 132–142. doi: 10.1037//0003-066X.47.2.132

Garvey, C. R. (1929). List of American psychology laboratories. Psychological Bulletin, 26, 652-660. doi:10.1037/h0075811

Specific Laboratories

Brooks, J. I. (1993). Philosophy and psychology at the Sorbonne, 1885–1913. Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 29(2), 123–145. doi:10.1002/1520-6696(199304)29:2<123::AID-JHBS2300290204>3.0.CO;2-C

Cirino, S. D., Miranda, R. L., & da Cruz, R. N. (2012). The beginnings of behavior analysis laboratories in Brazil: A pedagogical view. History of Psychology, 15(3), 263–272. doi: 10.1037/a0026306

Green, C. D. (2010). Scientific objectivity and E. B. Titchener’s experimental psychology. Isis, 101(4), 697–721. doi:10.1086/657473

Koutstaal, W. (1992). Skirting the abyss: A history of experimental explorations of automatic writing in psychology. Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 28(1), 5–27. doi:10.1002/1520-6696(199201)28:1<5::AID-JHBS2300280102>3.0.CO;2-X

Lachapelle, S. (2008). From the stage to the laboratory: Magicians, psychologists, and the science of illusion. Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 44(4), 319–334. doi:10.1002/jhbs.20327 Continue reading Bibliography: Laboratories, Instruments, and the Material Culture of Psychology

Share on Facebook