AHP is pleased to announce the launch of a rich new web resource: the Museu de História das Neurociências Comportamentais [the History Museum of Behavioral Neuroscience]. The site features a digital collection of scientific instruments connected to the history of neuroscience, particularly behavioral neuroscience, in Brazil. It likewise highlights several key researchers who contributed to the development of behavioral neuroscience in Brazil.
The Museu de História das Neurociências Comportamentais will be of particular interest to those interested in scientific instrument collections and will make for a great online resource for both historians of psychology and their students alike. If your Portuguese is on the weak side, do not despair! You can use your browser settings to translate the pages to your language of choice (Google Chrome makes this particularly easy – see instructions here).
The Museu de História das Neurociências Comportamentais has plans to continue growing and contributions to the site are welcomed. To submit a photograph of an instrument, laboratory space, or researcher connected to the history of behavioral neuroscience in Brazil, contact email@example.com with a description of the person or object featured in the image, the name of the institution to which it is connected, and any references or links you would want included with the entry (You can download the contribution form here).
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or engage with the magazine on Twitter @psychmag.
Psychologist Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning, in which he attempts to make sense of the Holocaust, has been optioned as a film. The Guardian reports,
Frankl, a contemporary of Freud, lost his whole family during the Nazi’s attempted extermination of the Jews. He developed his theory of “healing through meaning”, known as logotherapy, while a prisoner in the Auschwitz and Kaufering concentration camps. He counselled his fellow prisoners, many of whom were suicidal, with a philosophy that argued that striving for meaning, not pleasure nor power, is what keeps us alive.
The book is being adapted for film by screenwriter Adam Gibgot.
Ontario has become the first Canadian province to legislate a bill that renders such so-called therapies for children illegal, and prevents medical practitioners of adult treatments from billing the provincial health care system. The Toronto Star reports:
The legislation proposed by New Democrat MPP Cheri DiNovo won unanimous support from all three parties at Queen’s Park on Thursday, in time for Pride week, which begins June 19.
It’s the first law of its kind in Canada and goes further than conversion therapy bans in several U.S. states by including protection for the transgender community.
“We’re sending an incredibly strong message . . . there’s absolutely no room in an inclusive society for trying to change somebody’s sexual identity or their gender expression or their gender identity,” DiNovo told the Star.
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 Ohio.com
The Washington Post recently featured a piece on the resurgence of “excited delirium” as cause of death for a number of individuals held in police custody. Amnesty International estimates that as many as 75 of more than 300 deaths in police custody between 2001 and 2008, following the use of a Taser, have been attributed to “excited delirium.”
Some trace the condition – which includes wild bursts of violent behaviour, insensitivity to pain, and is often associated with stimulant use – as far back as the mid-nineteenth century. Despite these kinds of claims to historical standing, the condition is not among those in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders leading many to argue that the condition is being invoked as a means diverting attention away from the excessive use of force by police. As the Post describes,
Police, medical examiners and some doctors say the condition is real and frightening. Influenced by mental illness or the use of such stimulants as cocaine and methamphetamine, those in its grip often have extraordinary strength, are impervious to pain and act wildly or violently. Then, suddenly, some die.
Other medical experts and civil libertarians have questioned the existence of excited delirium and its frequent citation in cases that involve violent encounters between police and members of the public. Some say it is a cover for the use of excessive force by law enforcement.
Continuing the theme of the history of madness that has organically cropped up in our posts as of late, the Finnish University of Oulu‘s Department of the History of Science and Ideas has launched a new forum for scholars of madness as a substantive topic with a geographic focus on the Nordic region specifically, Europe at large, but with a global scope.
Their mission statement is as follows:
The main purpose of Madness Studies is to provide a useful platform for communication, cooperation and collaboration across national borders and disciplinary boundaries. At this early stage, the primary goal is to compile data about scholars, doctoral students and research groups involved in research activities, as well as inform about conferences, journals, books and primary sources. Potential future forms of activities include a founding of a society and organization of meetings devoted to the multidisciplinary aspects of madness.
Current projects include: modern depression and contemporary culture in Finland, a history of the life and conditions of Danish children and adults who were taken into public care during the period 1945–1980, mental health, medicine and social engineering in 20th century Finland, and perspectives on current forms of social vulnerabilities in contemporary Finnish society.
Current scholars range from Finland, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, the UK, and Spain in Europe, to Canada, the US, Argentina, and Australia.
Find further details here. Apply to join the network here!
April 27: ‘Culture, politics or biology? How does American PTSD relate to European war trauma?’ Speaker: Ben Shephard, Bristol.
June 8: ‘“It would frighten you to see the people sent to this place”: Why did the emotional and nervous states of women factory workers provoke such concern in Britain in the Second World War?’ Speaker: Hazel Croft, University of London