AHP readers may be interested in a forthcoming article in Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A. The article, now available online, explores Scottish philosopher Thomas Brown’s associationism and recasts the associationist tradition in psychology. Full details follow below.
“Associationism without associative links: Thomas Brown and the associationist project,” by Mike Dacey. The abstract reads,
There are two roles that association played in 18th–19th century associationism. The first dominates modern understanding of the history of the concept: association is a causal link posited to explain why ideas come in the sequence they do. The second has been ignored: association is merely regularity in the trains of thought, and the target of explanation. The view of association as regularity arose in several forms throughout the tradition, but Thomas Brown (1778–1820) makes the distinction explicit. He argues that there is no associative link, and association is mere sequence. I trace this view of association through the tradition, and consider its implications: Brown’s views, in particular, motivate a rethinking of the associationist tradition in psychology. Associationism was a project united by a shared explanandum phenomenon, rather than a theory united by a shared theoretical posit.
The Constitution of Man by George Combe (1828) was probably the most influential phrenological work of the nineteenth century. It not only offered an exposition of the phrenological theory of the mind, but also presented Combe’s vision of universal human progress through the inheritance of acquired mental attributes. In the decades before the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species, the Constitution was probably the single most important vehicle for the dissemination of naturalistic progressivism in the English-speaking world. Although there is a significant literature on the social and cultural context of phrenology, the role of heredity in Combe’s thought has been less thoroughly explored, although both John van Wyhe and Victor L. Hilts have linked Combe’s views on heredity with the transformist theories of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck. In this paper I examine the origin, nature and significance of his ideas and argue that Combe’s hereditarianism was not directly related to Lamarckian transformism but formed part of a wider discourse on heredity in the early nineteenth century.
The September issue of Science in Context includes an article by Henning Schmidgen as part of a topical section on “Surfaces in the History of Modern Science: Inscribing, Separating, Enclosing.” In his piece Schmidgen explores the importance of Hermann Helmholtz’s graphic recordings of the speed of nerve transmissions. Full details follow below.
“Leviathan and the Myograph: Hermann Helmholtz’s “Second Note” on the Propagation Speed of Nervous Stimulations,” by Henning Schmidgen. The abstract reads,
In the winter of 1849–1850 in Königsberg, German physiologist Hermann von Helmholtz (1821–1894) conducted pioneering measurements concerning the propagation speed of stimulations in the living nerve. While recent historians of science have paid considerable attention to Helmholtz’s uses of the graphic method, in particular his construction of an instrument called “myographion,” this paper draws attention to the inscription surfaces that he used in effective ways for capturing and transmitting his findings. Against the background of recent archival findings, I show that Helmholtz used isinglass copies of his graphical recordings in order to communicate the basic principle of previous measurements to the academic public. As the correspondence with his Berlin-based friend and colleague Emil du Bois-Reymond (1818–1896) and the subsequent development of the myographion make clear, these curves were not meant as measurements but functioned as demonstrations. In other words, Helmholtz’s curves did provide “images of precision” (Olesko and Holmes 1993) – but they were not precise images.
In our introduction to this special issue on the histories of feminism, gender, sexuality, and the psy-disciplines, we propose the tripartite framework of “feminism and/in/as psychology” to conceptualize the dynamics of their conjoined trajectories and relationship to gender and sexuality from the late 19th through the late 20th centuries. “Feminism and psychology” highlights the tensions between a political movement and a scientific discipline and the efforts of participants in each to problematize the other. “Feminism in psychology” refers to those historical moments when self-identified feminists intervened in psychology to alter its content, methodologies, and populations. We propose, as have others, that these interventions predate the 1970s, the period most commonly associated with the “founding” of feminist psychology. Finally, “feminism as psychology/psychology as feminism” explores the shared ground between psychology and feminism—the conceptual, methodological, and (more rarely) epistemological moments when psychology and feminism made common cause. We suggest that the traffic between feminism and psychology has been persistent, continuous, and productive, despite taking different historically and geographically contingent forms.
Full titles, authors, and abstracts for articles in this special issue follow below.
The September 2015 issue of History of Psychiatry is now online. Among the articles in this issue are ones on Carl Jung (above) and his investigation of his cousin’s mediumship, the epistemological problems of incorporating possession into the DSM, a case study of a museum of mental health care history, and much more. Full titles, authors, and abstract follow below.
“The epistemological significance of possession entering the DSM,” by Craig Stephenson. The abstract reads,
The discourse of the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM reflects the inherently dialogic or contradictory nature of its stated mandate to demonstrate both ‘nosological completeness’ and cultural ‘inclusiveness’. Psychiatry employs the dialogic discourse of the DSM in a one-sided, positivistic manner by identifying what it considers universal mental disease entities stripped of their cultural context. In 1992 the editors of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders proposed to introduce possession into their revisions. A survey of the discussions about introducing ‘possession’ as a dissociative disorder to be listed in the DSM-IV indicates a missed epistemological break. Subsequently the editors of the DSM-5 politically ‘recuperated’ possession into its official discourse, without acknowledging the anarchic challenges that possession presents to psychiatry as a cultural practice.
The latest issue of Theory & Psychology has been posted online and contains many compelling pieces, including works on Situated and Embodied Social Psychology, a critical Wittgensteinian investigation of methodological plurality, and a cultural-historical standpoint on subjectivity and Social Representation theory. We’ve compiled the abstracts here for your convenience:
Rethinking situated and embodied social psychology
Wim T. J. L. Pouw, & Huib Looren de Jong
This article aims to explore the scope of a Situated and Embodied Social Psychology (ESP). At first sight, social cognition seems embodied cognition par excellence. Social cognition is first and foremost a supra-individual, interactive, and dynamic process (Semin & Smith, 2013). Radical approaches in Situated/Embodied Cognitive Science (Enactivism) claim that social cognition consists in an emergent pattern of interaction between a continuously coupled organism and the (social) environment; it rejects representationalist accounts of cognition (Hutto & Myin, 2013). However, mainstream ESP (Barsalou, 1999, 2008) still takes a rather representation-friendly approach that construes embodiment in terms of specific bodily formatted representations used (activated) in social cognition. We argue that mainstream ESP suffers from vestiges of theoretical solipsism, which may be resolved by going beyond internalistic spirit that haunts mainstream ESP today.
The American Journal of Psychology (AJP) was the first academic journal in the united states dedicated to the “new” scientific form of the discipline. But where did the journal’s founding owner/editor, G. Stanley Hall, find the “psychologists” he needed to fill the pages of such a venture 1887, when he was still virtually the only professor of psychology in the country? To investigate this question we used the substantive vocabularies of every full article published in AJP’s first 14 volumes to generate networks of verbally similar articles. These networks reveal the variety of research communities that hall drew on to launch and support the journal. three separate networks, corresponding to 3 successive time blocks, show how hall’s constellation of participating research communities changed over AJP’s first 17 years. Many of these communities started with rather nebulous boundaries but soon began to differentiate into groups of more distinct specialties. some topics declined over time, but new ones regularly appeared to replace them. We sketch a quasievolutionary model to describe the intellectual ecology of AJP’s early years.
By Michael Billig a piece titled The myth of Kurt Lewin and the rhetoric of collective memory in social psychology textbooks. A rhetorical analysis is conducted in order to elucidate how texts have employed reductive tropes in a manner that mythologizes Lewin’s role in psychology rather than providing a historically accurate handling of his work and theory. A compelling assessment, which could be translated to ascertain other “fathers” of psychological subdisciplines have been caricatured.
Another work, by Ian Parker, Politics and “Applied Psychology”? Theoretical concepts that question the disciplinary community elucidates the practices by which psychology is substantiated as producer of concepts that get applied to the “real world” through political psychological movements, and inverts the acceptance thereof by applying political theoretical concepts to psychology as the object of inquiry. Continue reading Theory & Psychology Online Firsts July 2015→
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→
The summer issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences is now online. Articles in this issue explore the relationships of scientists who disagreed over the nature of race, the origins of Mary Ainsworth’s Strange Situation Procedure, Alfred Binet’s role as editorial director of a French publishing house, and more. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.
“Race relationships: Collegiality and demarcation in physical anthropology,” by Peter Sachs Collopy. The abstract reads,
In 1962, anthropologist Carleton Coon argued in The Origin of Races that some human races had evolved further than others. Among his most vocal critics were geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky and anthropologist Ashley Montagu, each of whom had known Coon for decades. I use this episode, and the long relationships between scientists that preceded it, to argue that scientific research on race was intertwined not only with political projects to conserve or reform race relations, but also with the relationships scientists shared as colleagues. Demarcation between science and pseudoscience, between legitimate research and scientific racism, involved emotional as well as intellectual labor.