Category Archives: Events

Mar. 24th Talk! Over the Edge: William Sargant and the Battle for the Mind

The British Psychological Society’History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, has announced the next talk as part of the BPS History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series. UCL’s Mike Jay will be speaking on “Over the Edge: William Sargant and the Battle for the Mind.” Full details, including abstract, follow below.

British Psychological Society History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series
Sponsored by the British Psychological Society. Open to the public.

Date: Monday 24th March
Time: 6pm to 7.30pm
Location: Arts and Humanities Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet Place, University College London.

Over the Edge: William Sargant and the Battle for the Mind
Mike Jay

In his bestselling book of 1957, Battle for the Mind, the psychiatrist William Sargant revealed to the public the secret techniques that had been used to manipulate humanity, in his words, ‘from the Stone Age to Hitler’. His ideas were adopted by public intellectuals including Robert Graves, Aldous Huxley and Bertrand Russell.

Sargant’s theory was perhaps the most potent manifestation of postwar psychiatry in British popular culture, both drawing on and contributing to its aura of power and expertise. He presented a stark image of a modern world that had outgrown religious consolation but was not yet rational enough to resist the forms of control that were replacing it.

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Jan. 27th Talk! – BPS History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series

The British Psychological Society’History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, has announced the next talk as part of the BPS History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series. On Monday January 27th Heather Wolffram of the University of Canterbury, New Zealand will be speaking on Hans Gross and the Birth of the Witness.  Full details, including an abstract, follow below.

British Psychological Society History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series
Sponsored by the British Psychological Society. Open to the public.

Date: Monday 27th January
Time: 6pm to 7.30pm
Location: Arts and Humanities Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet Place, University College London.

Hans Gross and the Birth of the Witness
Dr Heather Wolffram (University of Canterbury, New Zealand)

We are by now familiar with historical narratives that relate the emergence of the criminal as an object of scientific study during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. We have excellent studies in a wide range of national contexts about the struggle between sociological and biological models of criminality, as well as about the tangible and sometimes terrible effects that such theories had on penal policy, policing and institutions, including prisons and asylums. We also have an increasingly clear idea of the manner in which such ideas provided a vehicle for the professionalisation of fields like psychiatry and the evolution of fields such as law.

Emerging more recently and in response to our own society’s fascination with forensic technologies have been attempts to look at the early history of criminalistics and police science. Such histories, like those which focus on the criminal, have identified a late-19th-century desire to make detection as scientific as possible, not only as a means of capturing and punishing criminals, and protecting society, but also as a means of professionalising policing.

These works have provided us with a much better understanding of policing, criminology and forensics, but perhaps do not fully reflect the more holistic view of crime that late-19th-century criminalists sometimes took. The Austrian investigating judge Hans Gross, for example, believed that as well as forensic expertise the criminalist required a psychological understanding of all those involved in crime, its investigation and prosecution. Although Gross was concerned with the psychology of criminals, police investigators, experts and judges, he was perhaps most focused on the figure of the witness. Using Gross’s book Criminal Psychology this paper will explore how and why the witness became an object of scientific study during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

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New Exhibit! Mind Maps: Stories from Psychology at London’s Science Museum

London’s Science Museum is now exhibiting Mind Maps: Stories from Psychology. Supported by the British Psychological Society (BPS), the exhibit is on display until August 12, 2014 and is free for all visitors. The video above provides a quick look behind the scenes of the exhibit and a number of items from the exhibit are further highlighted on the Science Museum’s website here. The exhibit, the brain child (pun intended) of the Science Museum’s BPS Curator of Psychology Phil Loring,

explores how mental health conditions have been diagnosed and treated over the past 250 years.

Divided into four episodes between 1780 and 2014, this exhibition looks at key breakthroughs in scientists’ understanding of the mind and the tools and methods of treatment that have been developed, from Mesmerism to Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) bringing visitors up to date with the latest cutting edge research and its applications.

Bringing together psychology, other related sciences, medicine and human stories, the exhibition is illustrated through a rich array of historical and contemporary objects, artworks and archive images.

Updated: Much more on the exhibit on both BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio 4, the latter featuring an interview by Claudia Hammond with curator Phil Loring and the music of the glass harmonica. Reviews of Mind Maps: Stories from Psychology can also be found at the Huffington Post and The Telegraph.

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Nov. 25th Talk! BPS History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series

The British Psychological Society’History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, has announced the next talk as part of the BPS History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series. On Monday, November 25th Andreas Sommer, postdoctoral fellow at the University of Cambridge and the blogger behind Forbidden Histories, will be speaking on “The last Romantic? Carl du Prel (1839-1899) and the Formation of German Experimental Psychology.” Full details follow below.

British Psychological Society History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series
Sponsored by the British Psychological Society. Open to the public.

Date: Monday 25th November
Time: 6pm to 7.30pm
Location: Arts and Humanities Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet Place, University College London.

The last Romantic? Carl du Prel (1839-1899) and the Formation of German Experimental Psychology
Dr. Andreas Sommer (University of Cambridge) (UCL)

Although the philosopher Carl du Prel was arguably the most popular German-language theorist of the unconscious mind immediately preceding Sigmund Freud, his work has received remarkably little attention in histories of the mind sciences. Revered by artists such as Rilke and Kandinsky, du Prel was read by psychologists like William James, Frederic W. H. Myers, Carl Gustav Jung and Freud, who referred to the philosopher in ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’ as “that brilliant mystic”. Taken up and advanced by Frederic W. H. Myers and Edmund Gurney in England, du Prel’s integrative psychological research programme became a competing brand of German physiological psychology and significantly informed the psychological methodologies of William James in the US and Théodore Flournoy in Switzerland. Sketching the formation and reception of du Prel’s ideas, this talk will reconstruct the hardening of epistemological and methodological boundaries of German experimental psychology, partly in response to his radical research programme. Through a discussion of the cultural and political backdrop of late-nineteenth century German science, it also hopes to shed light on factors for the curious neglect of du Prel and his ideas in conventional histories of psychology.

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Nov. 11th Talk, BPS History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series

The British Psychological Society’History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, has organized the BPS History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series. On Monday, November 11th University College London professor Sushrut Jadhav (right) will be speaking on “Seminal Matters: Historical Erasures and Category Errors Concerning Semen Regulation.” Full seminar details follow below.

British Psychological Society History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series
Sponsored by the British Psychological Society. Open to the public.

Organiser: Professor Sonu Shamdasani (UCL)

Monday 11th November
Seminal Matters: Historical Erasures and Category Errors Concerning Semen Regulation

Dr. Sushrut Jadhav (UCL)
This seminar is in two parts:

The first part will present evidence to argue that the history of semen related disorders, currently classified as an unique and exotic mental condition amongst South Asians, is deeply flawed as it erases a significant body of western literature. As a result, the phenomena of semen loss is classified it as a South Asian Culture Bound Mental Disorder in the International Classification of Diseases (F48.8, ICD-10).

The second part will demonstrate findings from an experiment that reveals how such diagnoses can be equally constructed amongst White Britons in London. The seminar will conclude by 1) arguing these are key concerns glossed over by global mental health models that abstract local explanations of suffering to the level of a psychopathology, and 2) proposing the term ‘cultural iatrogenesis’ as a new category to be included in the classification of mental disorders.

Time: 6pm to 7.30pm

Location: Arts and Humanities Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet Place, University College London.

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Toronto Talk Oct. 30th: Testing Temperament at Work

Our Toronto area readers may be interested in an upcoming talk at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs. Kira Lussier (right), a graduate student at the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology at the University of Toronto, will be speaking on “Testing Temperament at Work: Human Relations, Labour Relations, and Industrial Psychology in Interwar America” on Wednesday, October 30th at 4pm. The event is free to the public, but advanced registration is required. Full details follow below.

Testing Temperament at Work: Human Relations, Labour Relations, and Industrial Psychology in Interwar America

Date: Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Time: 4:00PM – 6:00PM
Location: 208N, North House, Munk School of Global Affairs 1 Devonshire Place

Industrial psychologists in interwar America sought to convince corporate personnel departments that the insights of the human sciences, applied at work, would result in a more efficient, harmonious, and productive workforce. The defining methodology of these industrial psychologists was the pencil-and-paper psychological test, which they claimed could reveal a worker’s social and emotional disposition to predict behavior at work. One of the most widely-adopted tests of this kind was the Humm-Wadsworth Temperament Scale, first published in 1935; unlike other psychological instruments, this test was specifically created with industrial use in mind. Its creators—an industrial psychologist and a personnel manager — appealed to extant corporate concerns and drew on the ideology of “human relations,” to market their test as a scientific tool that would result in more harmonious labor relations. This paper argues that the legacy of this temperament testing was to forge a connection between workers’ affective disposition and the large-scale labor relations of the workplace: in selling their test to corporate clients, psychologists claimed that the psychological maladjustment of workers was one cause of labor unrest. These assumptions came under increasing attack by cultural critics like Daniel Bell, who identified personality tests as a particularly egregious management strategy to deflect attention from the broader socioeconomic structure of American capitalism. By unpacking this debate between the creators and critics of temperament testing, this paper explores the intersection of the politics of labor, the ideology of human relations and the practice of industrial psychology in interwar America.

Kira Lussier is a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto’s Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, and a Junior Fellow at the Jackman Humanities Institute. With an undergraduate degree in History from McGill University, her research interests lie at the intersection of the history of the human sciences and American social history. Her dissertation traces the history of personality testing and its critics in North American workplaces from the First World War to the Cold War. She has presented her research at the International Congress for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine, and Cheiron: The International Society for the History of Behavioral and Social Sciences.

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Toronto Talk, Oct. 9th: Permanent Present Tense: The Unforgettable Life of the Amnesic Patient, HM

For anyone in the Toronto area, an upcoming talk at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) may be of interest. On October 9th, at 6pm, Dr. Suzanne Corkin will be speaking on her recent book, Permanent Present Tense: The Unforgettable Life of the Amnesic Patient, HM. Corkin spent decades studying the patient popularly known as H.M., who was revealed to be Henry Molaison after his death in 2008. (See  AHP’s previous post on the fate of H.M.’s brain here.) Research with H.M., who was unable to form longterm memories following extensive brain surgery for epilepsy, was central to psychological work on how longterm memories are formed.

The event – sponsored by the Faculty of Health, York University, the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest, and the Department of Psychology, University of Toronto – is free to attend but pre-registration is required. The Permanent Present Tense lecture is described as follows,

Dr. Suzanne Corkin is an esteemed memory expert and Professor Emerita of Neuroscience in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT (Cambridge, MA). Dr. Corkin is best known for her work with one of the most famous cases in medical history, the amnesic patient Henry Gustave Molaison. In her lecture, Dr. Corkin will speak about their nearly 50-year research partnership, which taught us much of what we know today about memory. Her lecture will be followed by a signing of her recent book, Permanent Present Tense, which documents the incredible story of H.M. and his groundbreaking contributions to the science of memory.

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BPS ‘Stories of Psychology’ Symposium, October 2013

The British Psychological Society‘s History of Psychology Centre is hosting its third annual history of psychology symposium October 15, 2013. This year’s event, “Stories of Psychology,” looks at the history of psychology and the arts and how each field has influenced the other. The day’s events are hosted by Alan Collins of Lancaster University. Full program details follow below.

‘Stories of Psychology’ Symposium
Psychology and the Arts
The third annual history of psychology symposium

Tuesday 15 October 2013 at the Chancellor’s Hall, Senate House, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

10.30am-4pm (including buffet lunch)

Convened by Dr Alan Collins (Lancaster University)

This year’s theme will reflect some of the many ways that the arts (music, literature, visual arts) have influenced the development of psychological understanding and vice versa.

Speakers:
Dr Alexandra Lewis (University of Aberdeen)
‘Psychology and the novel: Trauma and memory in the 19th century’

Professor Nicholas Wade (University of Dundee)
‘Toying with perception: Philosophical toys and the simulation of motion in early 19th-century London’

Dr James Kennaway (University of Newcastle)
‘Musical mind control: The history of an idea’

Dr Greg Tate (University of Surrey)
‘John Keats’s principled feeling: Knowledge and emotion in Romantic poetry, medicine and psychology’

Dr Nick Lambert (Birkbeck, University of London)
‘The computer in the cave’

This is a public event and all are welcome. The programme has been designed to have general appeal as well as academic validity for historians of psychology. 

Cost (including lunch): £12 (£10 BPS members)

To register click here 

For more information, e-mail hopc@bps.org.uk or call Peter Dillon Hooper on 0116 252 9528.

This event is supported by Senate House Library, home of the British Psychological Society’s library collection.

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New Talk! History of Possession, June 26th

The History of the Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series, organized by the British Psychological Society’s History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, has just announced a new talk. Craig E. Stephenson will be speaking about the seventeenth century possessions in Loudun, France and the recent reintroduction of the term possession into psychiatric discourse. The event will be held in London Wednesday, June 26th. Full event details, including the presentation abstract, follow below.

Date: Wednesday 26 June, 2013

Location: UCL Institute of the Americas, Room 105, 51 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PN

Time: 6pm-7.30pm

Speaker: Dr Craig E. Stephenson (AGAP/CPA/CAPT/IAAP)

Seminar Title: ‘The possessions at Loudun: Their significance in the history of the science of mind’

Abstract: This seminar focuses on the seventeenth-century possessions at Loudun, France and presents how the events of this famous case played out at the time and how theorizing about possession and obsession changed over almost four centuries of writing about them. For instance, in his definition of demonism for the Schweizer Lexikon (1945) C.G. Jung referred to the debate about Loudun, as did Gilles de la Tourette, Michel Foucault, Michel de Certeau, and Jacques Lacan.

Eventually, psychopathology co-opted the word ‘obsession’, stripped of its religious connotation, and left the word ‘possession’ outside medical discourse. Then, in 1992, the American Psychiatric Association attempted to introduce ‘possession’ into its diagnostic manual (DSM-IV) as a mental disorder. Revisiting the history of Loudun provides a means for situating the APA’s recent interest in possession within a medical and intellectual continuum.

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New: June 5th BPS Hist. of Psych. Disciplines Talk!

The History of the Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series, organized by the British Psychological Society’s History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, has just announced a new talk. The event will take place in London on June 5th. Full event details, including the presentation abstract, follow below.

Date: Wednesday 5 June 2013

Location: South Wing G12 Council Room, UCL

Speaker: Dr Jelena Martinovic (Institut Universitaire d’Histoire de la Médecine et de la Santé Publique, University of Lausanne)

Seminar title: Psychiatry and Near Death (1960–1970)

Abstract: The presentation discusses the factors explaining the emergence of the near-death experience (NDE) as a research topic in the United States. The study of a key actor, the psychiatrist Russell Noyes, helps to demonstrate how the experience of near-death became clinically relevant through the work of psychiatrists and psychologists, and more generally to retrace the academic foundations of research on death during the 1960s and 1970s. Central to the presentation is the methodological question concerning the use of a research biography as a vector for historical analysis.

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