Category Archives: News

A Recent Resurgence of “Excited Delirium”?

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.

The full piece can be read online here.

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Nordic Network for Madness Studies

madness studies cropContinuing 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!

 

 

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Seminar Series @ Oxford History of Medicine Wellcome Unit

The Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine‘s current series of seminars is on “Medicine & Modern Warfare.” Two talks may be of particular interest to the AHP community:

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

Find the full lineup of dates here.

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History of Psychology 101 Outstanding Academic Title of 2014

Congratulations to David Devonis whose History of Psychology 101 has been named Outstanding Academic Title of 2014!

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New Editorship of History of the Human Sciences

History of the Human Sciences will be under new editorship as of January 2015. Full details on the journal, and its new editors, follow below.

HISTORY OF THE HUMAN SCIENCES aims to expand our understanding of the human world through a broad interdisciplinary approach. The journal publishes articles from a wide range of fields – including sociology, psychology, anthropology, geography, political science, philosophy, literary theory and criticism, critical theory, art history, linguistics, and the law – that engage with the histories of these disciplines and the interactions between them.  The journal is especially concerned with research that reflexively examines its own historical origins and interdisciplinary influences in an effort to review current practice and to develop new research directions.

James Good, the editor of History of the Human Sciences for 15 years, will be stepping down at the end of 2014. The incoming editors are: Dr Felicity Callard (Durham University) [Editor-in-Chief], Dr Rhodri Hayward  (Queen Mary University of London), Dr Angus Nicholls (Queen Mary University of London). They have assumed responsibility for new submissions since 1 July 2014.  Dr Chris Millard   (Queen Mary University of London) takes over as the new Book Reviews Editor. The journal also welcomes the following new members to the Advisory Editorial Board: Dr Sabine Arnaud, Prof Cornelius Borck, Prof Jamie Cohen-Cole, Prof Stefanos Geroulanos, Prof Sarah Igo, Prof Junko Kitanaka, Prof Rebecca Lemov, Prof Michael Pettit, Dr Chris Renwick, Dr Sadiah Qureshi, Prof Barbara Herrnstein Smith, Prof Marianne Sommer, Prof John Tresch, and Dr Neil Vickers.
 
Each editor is based in a different discipline – geography, history, and literary studies / critical theory – and all have strong cross-disciplinary interests. They look forward to continuing the journal’s rigorous interdisciplinary investigation of the human condition.

 

REGULAR SPECIAL ISSUES

The journal provides comprehensive coverage of a range of themes across the human sciences. Special issues and sections have been devoted to:

  • Historians in the Archive
  • Inventing the Psychosocial
  • Foucault Across the Disciplines
  • Neuroscience, Power and Culture
  • Reflexivity in the Human Sciences
  • The New Art History
  • Rhetoric and Science
  • New Developments in the History of Psychology
  • Writing as a Human Science
  • Hans Blumenberg
  • Constructing the Social
  • Identity, Self and Subject
  • Making Sense of Science
  • Identity, Memory and History
  • Who Speaks? The Voice in the Human Sciences

 The new editors welcome any enquiries about the journal and suggestions for special issues. Please write to:

Felicity Callard felicity.callard@durham.ac.uk

Rhodri Hayward r.hayward@qmul.ac.uk

 
More information is available at the journal’s website (http://hhs.sagepub.com).
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Congrats Center for the History of Psychology!

A big congratulations to the Center for the History of Psychology, which has secured a donation of $3.5 million. With the gift the Center will now be known as the Drs. Nicholas and Dorothy Cummings Center for the History of Psychology. The Cummings’s generosity comes in the wake of a previous donation of $1.5 million to the Center. With the funds the Cummings Center plans “to expand its museum and construct a dedicated research space and offices for visiting scholars and staff, as well as to fund an endowment to support a full-time associate director position.” 

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Galton Papers Now Online!

UCL Special Collections and the Wellcome Trust have collaborated to make available online the papers of Francis Galton. This is part of a larger Wellcome Library endeavour Codebreakers: Makers of Modern Genetics, which includes digitized papers from a number of important figures in the development of genetics. The full Galton papers can be explored online here.

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Latest on Little Albert: Not Neurologically Impaired After All?

Now available via  History of Psychology‘s OnlineFirst option is the latest in the ongoing saga over the identity of John Watson and Rosalie Rayner’s Little Albert. Forthcoming in History of Psychology is an article from Nancy Digdon, Russell A. Powell, and Ben Harris challenging the recent depiction of Albert as a neurologically impaired child. Full article details, including abstract, follow below.

“Little Albert’s Alleged Neurological Impairment: Watson, Rayner, and Historical Revision,” by Nancy Digdon, Russell A. Powell, and Ben Harris. The abstract reads,

In 2012, Fridlund, Beck, Goldie, and Irons (2012) announced that “Little Albert”—the infant that Watson and Rayner used in their 1920 study of conditioned fear (Watson & Rayner, 1920)—was not the healthy child the researchers described him to be, but was neurologically impaired almost from birth. Fridlund et al. also alleged that Watson had committed serious ethical breaches in regard to this research. Our article reexamines the evidentiary bases for these claims and arrives at an alternative interpretation of Albert as a normal infant. In order to set the stage for our interpretation, we first briefly describe the historical context for the Albert study, as well as how the study has been construed and revised since 1920. We then discuss the evidentiary issues in some detail, focusing on Fridlund et al.’s analysis of the film footage of Albert, and on the context within which Watson and Rayner conducted their study. In closing, we return to historical matters to speculate about why historiographical disputes matter and what the story of neurologically impaired Albert might be telling us about the discipline of psychology today.

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Who Was Little Albert? The Story Continues…

Little Albert and a rat.
Little Albert and a rat. Source: http://hopkins. typepad.com/guest/images/2007/11/03/tanya8.jpg

For generations, psychology students have been asking the question, “Whatever happened to Little Albert?”, the baby who John B Watson and Rosalie Rayner conditioned to fear furry things back in 1919. Five years ago, it seemed that the question had finally been answered when Hall Beck of Appalachian State University in North Carolina and his colleagues published the results of some intensive archive-snooping. They declared that “Albert B.” (as the baby was called in the original report) had actually been Douglas Merritte, a child who died of hydrocephaly just a few years after the experiment. Now, however, two psychologists in Alberta are disputing that claim, and The Chronicle of Higher Education has just published an article on the matter. Continue reading Who Was Little Albert? The Story Continues…

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Recent Book: The Psychology of Personhood

AHP readers may be interested to know about the recently published book, The Psychology of Personhood: Philosophical, Historical, Social-Developmental, and Narrative Perspectives, edited by Jack Martin and Mark H. Bickhard.

As described by the book’s title, the included essays cover a range of aspects, and are meant to provide “both an introduction to the psychology of personhood, and an invitation to participate in it” (p. 16). Of particular interest to AHP readers is the “Historical Perspectives” section, including essays by Kurt Danziger, Jeff Sugarman, and James T. Lamiell. With topics from ‘critical personalism’, to ‘historical ontology’, to ‘identity and narrative’, this collection of essays will please historians, theorists, and those in between who have any interest in a psychology of persons that is neither fixated on traits nor statistical methods.

Now available on Amazon.

 

 

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