Category Archives: Journals

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.

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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.

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New Hist. of Psychiatry: DSM-III, ECT, Veridical Hallucinations, & More

The December 2015 issue of History of Psychiatry is now online. Articles in this issue explore multiaxial assessment in the DSM-III, electroconvulsive therapy, and veridical hallucinations in France, among other topics. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Félix Voisin and the genesis of abnormals,” by Claude-Olivier Doron. The abstract reads,

This article traces the genealogy of the category of ‘abnormals’ in psychiatry. It focuses on the French alienist Felix Voisin (1794–1872) who played a decisive role in the creation of alienist knowledge and institutions for problem children, criminals, idiots and lunatics. After a presentation of the category of ‘abnormals’ as understood at the end of the nineteenth century, I identify in the works of Voisin a key moment in the concept’s evolution. I show how, based on concepts borrowed from phrenology and applied first to idiocy, Voisin allows alienism to establish links between the medico-legal (including penitentiary) and medical-educational fields (including difficult childhood). I stress the extent to which this enterprise is related to Voisin’s humanism, which claimed to remodel pedagogy and the right to punish on the anthropological particularities of individuals, in order to improve them.

“The nature of delusion: psychologically explicable? psychologically inexplicable? philosophically explicable? Part 1,” by J. Cutting and M. Musalek. The abstract reads, Continue reading New Hist. of Psychiatry: DSM-III, ECT, Veridical Hallucinations, & More

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New HoP: Instruments, Forensic Psychology in Germany, & More

The November 2015 issue of History of Psychology is now online.  Articles in this issue explore forensic psychology in Germany, phrenology in Gilded Age America, and much more. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Anthropophagy: A singular concept to understand Brazilian culture and psychology as specific knowledge,” by Arthur Arruda Leal Ferreira. The abstract reads,

The aim of this work is to present the singularity of the concept of anthropophagy in Brazilian culture. This article examines its use in the Modernist Movement of the 1920s and explores the possibilities it creates for thinking about Brazilian culture in nonidentitarian terms. We then use the concept of anthropophagy in a broader, practical sense to understand psychology as a kind of anthropophagical knowledge. We do so because in many ways the discipline of psychology is similar to Brazilian culture in its plurality and complexity.

““God save us from psychologists as expert witnesses”: The battle for forensic psychology in early twentieth-century Germany,” by Heather Wolffram. The abstract reads,

This article is focused on the jurisdictional battle between psychiatrists and psychologists over psychological expertise in legal contexts that took place during the first decades of the 20th century. Using, as an example, the debate between the psychologist William Stern, the psychiatrist Albert Moll, and the jurist Albert Hellwig, which occurred at the International Congress for Sexual Research held in Berlin in 1926, it aims to demonstrate the manner in which psychiatrists’ responses to psychologists’ attempts to gain admittance to Germany’s courtrooms were shaped not only by epistemological and methodological objections, but also by changes to expert witnessing that had already encroached on psychiatrists’ professional territory. Building upon recent work examining the relationship between psychologists and jurists prior to the First World War, this article also seeks to examine the role of judges and lawyers in the contest over forensic psychology in the mid-1920s, arguing that they ultimately became referees in the increasingly public disputes between psychiatrists and psychologists.

“Psychological testing and the German labor market, 1925 to 1965,” by David Meskill. The abstract reads, Continue reading New HoP: Instruments, Forensic Psychology in Germany, & More

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Theory & Psychology Special Issue: “Unplugging the Milgram Machine”

The October 2015 issue of Theory & Psychology is a special issue on “Unplugging the Milgram Machine.” Guest edited by Augustine Brannigan, Ian Nicholson, and Frances Cherry the issue includes a number of articles of interest to AHP readers. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Introduction to the special issue: Unplugging the Milgram machine,” by Augustine Brannigan, Ian Nicholson, and Frances Cherry. The abstract reads,

The current issue of Theory & Psychology is devoted to Stanley Milgram and his contribution to the study of obedience. It presents a decidedly critical evaluation of these well-known experiments that challenges their relevance to our understanding of events such as the Holocaust. It builds on recent investigations of the Milgram archive at Yale. The discipline’s adulation of the obedience research overlooks several critical factors: the palpable trauma experienced by many participants, and the stark skepticism of the deceptive cover-story experienced by many others, Milgram’s misrepresentation of the way in which the prods were undertaken to ensure standardization, and his failure to de-brief the vast majority of participants. There is also the cherry-picking of findings. The project was whitewashed in the film, Obedience, prepared by Milgram to popularize his conclusions. The articles contributed for this issue offer a more realistic assessment of Milgram’s contribution to knowledge.

“Coverage of recent criticisms of Milgram’s obedience experiments in introductory social psychology textbooks,” by Richard A. Griggs and George I. Whitehead III. The abstract reads, Continue reading Theory & Psychology Special Issue: “Unplugging the Milgram Machine”

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New Isis: Experimenters & Subjects, & Bounded Rationality

A new issue of Isis, the official journal of the History of Science Society, is now online. The issue includes an article by Jill Morawski (right) on the relationship between experimenters and subjects in postwar American psychology. A special focus section on “Bounded Rationality and the History of Science” also includes a couple of pieces that tackle the history of psychology. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Epistemological Dizziness in the Psychology Laboratory: Lively Subjects, Anxious Experimenters, and Experimental Relations, 1950–1970,” by Jill Morawski. The abstract reads,

Since the demise of introspective techniques in the early twentieth century, experimental psychology has largely assumed an administrative arrangement between experimenters and subjects wherein subjects respond to experimenters’ instructions and experimenters meticulously constrain that relationship through experimental controls. During the postwar era this standard arrangement came to be questioned, initiating reflections that resonated with Cold War anxieties about the nature of the subjects and the experimenters alike. Albeit relatively short lived, these interrogations of laboratory relationships gave rise to unconventional testimonies and critiques of experimental method and epistemology. Researchers voiced serious concerns about the honesty and normality of subjects, the politics of the laboratory, and their own experimental conduct. Their reflective commentaries record the intimacy of subject and experimenter relations and the plentiful cultural materials that constituted the experimental situation, revealing the permeable boundaries between laboratory and everyday life.

“Hypothesis Bound: Trial and Error in the Nineteenth Century,” by Henry M. Cowles. The abstract reads, Continue reading New Isis: Experimenters & Subjects, & Bounded Rationality

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Human Subjects & Migration and Madness in Social History of Medicine

The November 2015 issue of Social History of Medicine includes several pieces of interest to AHP readers. Articles in this issue include ones that explore the modern construction of human subjects, madness during voyages to New Zealand during the Victorian and Edwardian eras, and the use of case records of early 20th century Eastern European emigrants as sources. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Migration and Madness at Sea: The Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-century Voyage to New Zealand,” by Angela McCarthy.

This article draws on a range of sources—including surgeon superintendents’ reports as well as asylum records—to examine the mental health of migrants and crew on the voyage to New Zealand during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. It examines key themes such as relations between crew and passengers, the emotional dimensions of insanity, attempts to export the insane, and collaboration between doctors and relatives in adhering to mental health legislation in order to repatriate the insane, all of which facilitate assessment of wider debates about medical authority. While surgeon superintendents documented actions rather than causes for unusual behaviour, asylum doctors and family members were more likely to attempt to explain mental disturbance at sea. Additionally, this article examines the beliefs of medical officials who paradoxically argued that the voyage was beneficial, rather than detrimental, to health.

“Making up ‘Vulnerable’ People: Human Subjects and the Subjective Experience of Medical Experiment,” by Nancy D. Campbell and Laura Stark.

This paper explores how ‘the human subject’ was figured historically and expands the interpretive range available to historians for understanding the subjective experiences of people who have served in medical experiments in the past. We compare LSD studies on healthy ‘volunteers’ conducted in two experimental settings in the 1950s: the US National Institutes of Mental Health’s (NIMH) Addiction Research Center (ARC) Lexington, Kentucky and the NIH Clinical Center (NIHCC) in Bethesda, Maryland. Sources consist of oral history interviews, transcripts and archival documents including photographs and records. Political priorities and historical contingencies relevant for crystalising the expert domain of modern bioethics, especially the 1960s US Civil Rights movement, were central for producing the ‘vulnerability’ attributed to the modern figure of the ‘human subject’. Using Ian Hacking’s historical ontology approach, we suggest how this figure of the ‘vulnerable human subject’ affected historical actors’ self-understandings while foreclosing paths of historical inquiry and interpretation.

“‘Insane emigrants’ in transit. Psychiatric Patients’ Files as a Source for the History of Return Migration, c. 1910,” by Gemma Blok. Continue reading Human Subjects & Migration and Madness in Social History of Medicine

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BPS’s The Psychologist: “Psychology and the Great War, 1914–1918”

The November 2015 issue of The Psychologist includes a piece on “Psychology and the Great War, 1914–1918.” Written by Ben Shepard, the article explores psychology’s various involvements in World War One. As Shepard notes,

Many of those involved in the war, on both sides of the Atlantic, were pupils of Wundt. Indeed, the academic discipline of psychology in 1914 was itself essentially a German invention. Frederic Bartlett later recalled that the course taught at Cambridge before the war ‘was Germans, Germans all the way, and if we were going to stick to psychology then to Germany sooner or later we must all surely go’. Bartlett never went to Germany himself, but nearly everyone else did; many had fond memories of the ‘unstinted kindness and precious friendship’ of very many Germans and found it uncomfortable to be at war with them. Amongst the conflict-driven dreams Rivers recorded at Craiglockhart Hospital in 1917 was one in which he found himself back in the Heidelberg laboratory where he had worked two decades before. But divided loyalties were most powerfully played out at Harvard, where Hugo Münsterberg, the pioneer of applied psychology and a deeply patriotic German, found himself surrounded by anglophile New Englanders. Instead of returning to Germany, Münsterberg stood his ground but the strain took its toll, and in December 1916, while lecturing at Barnard College, he collapsed, fell from the podium and died.

The full piece can be read online here.

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New Issue of Revista de Historia de la Psychología

A new issue of Revista de Historia de la Psychología is now available online. Articles in this issue explore the work of Charles Richet (right), Gustav Ichheiser, José Ingenieros, and Rudolf Allers, as well as the history of pedology in Russia and Bulgaria. Titles, authors, and English-language abstracts follow below.

“El concepto de inteligencia inconsciente en la obra de Charles Richet (1850-1935),” by Manuel Sánchez de Miguel, Carlos Mª Alcover, and Izarne Lizaso. The abstract reads,

The phenomenon known as spiritualism reached its maximum popularity and expansion in the period from the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. The French physician and physiologist Charles Richet, Nobel Prize in physiology (1913) represents the attempt to consolidate a new experimental science known as metaphysics dedicated to the study of unknown phenomena as an alternative to spiritualistic theories. This multifaceted researcher advocates the rigorous study of the strange phenomena based on their knowledge of physiological psychology, a middle course of study located between the spiritualist called scientific medicine and scientific psychology. This paper analyses his biography and his work, the controversies raised by spiritualist current and orthodox medicine on the phenomenon of mediums, linking to the historical study of the genesis and evolution of the concept proposed by Richet, the unconscious intelligence, misunderstood term and relegated to historical oblivion.

“No hay nada malo en ser diferente: notas sobre la psicología crítica de Gustav Ichheiser,” by Eduardo Crespo. The abstract reads, Continue reading New Issue of Revista de Historia de la Psychología

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New Articles: Psychosomatic Illness, Crania Americana, & Hypnotism

A number of new articles of interest to AHP readers are now in print. Relevant articles from the most recent issues of Subjectivity, the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, and History of Science are listed below.


Psychosomatic feelings as memory practices,” by Elena Trivelli. The abstract reads,

I here explore the manifestation of problematic memories on a psychosomatic level, with a focus on the work of psychiatrist Franco Basaglia (1924–1980) in the Italian city of Gorizia. As Basaglia transformed the local asylum into a Therapeutic Community during the 1960s, the city became a nationally acclaimed pilot for alternative psychiatry. After he left in 1968, Gorizia’s characterisation in the media shifted from being a radical experiment to a failed revolution, and the city has since held an ambiguous relationship with this heritage. Using the data gathered through an ethnography conducted between 2011 and 2012, I suggest that the controversial vicissitudes of ‘the Basaglia experience’ and the attempts to erase their emotional weight in Gorizia have left traces that I frame as embodied remembering practices. In discussing psychosomatic expressions of social discomfort, I formulate a body that is both somatic and psychological, contributing to a field at the intersection between psychoanalysis, trauma and affect studies.

Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences

Panic and Culture: Hysterike Pnix in the Ancient Greek World,” by Susan P. Mattern. The abstract reads,

Starting perhaps in the second century BCE, and with Hippocratic precedent, ancient medical writers described a condition they called hysterike pnix or “uterine suffocation.” This paper argues that uterine suffocation was, in modern terms, a functional somatic syndrome characterized by chronic anxiety and panic attacks. Transcultural psychiatrists have identified and described a number of similar panic-type syndromes in modern populations, and a plausible theory of how they work has been advanced. These insights, applied to the ancient disease of hysterike pnix, demystify the condition and illuminate the experience of the women who suffered from it.

History of Science

The fear of simulation: Scientific authority in late 19th-century French disputes over hypnotism,” by Kim M. Hajek. The abstract reads,

This article interrogates the way/s in which rival schools studying hypnotism in late 19th-century France framed what counts as valid evidence for the purposes of science. Concern over the scientific reality of results is particularly situated in the notion of simulation (the faking of results); the respective approaches to simulation of the Salpêtrière and Nancy schools are analysed through close reading of key texts: Binet and Féré for the Salpêtrière, and Bernheim for Nancy. The article reveals a striking divergence between their scientific frames, which helps account for the bitterness of the schools’ disputes. It then explores Bernheim’s construction of scientific authority in more detail, for insights into the messiness entailed by theorizing hypnotism in psychical terms, while also attempting to retain scientific legitimacy. Indicative of this messiness, it is argued, is the way in which Bernheim’s (apparently inconsistent) approach draws on multiple epistemic frames.

National types: The transatlantic publication and reception of Crania Americana (1839),” by James Poskett. The abstract reads, Continue reading New Articles: Psychosomatic Illness, Crania Americana, & Hypnotism

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