Monthly Archives: January 2008

Audio and Video On Lobotomy

Howard Dully's lobotomyIn 1960, a 12-year-old boy named Howard Dully was lobotomized by Walter Freeman in order to “cure” bad behavior that was alleged by his step-mother. Astonishingly, no psychosis or other serious mental illness was present in Dully, or even alleged, just bad behavior. Dully was just one of 18,000 Americans who were lobotomized over a 20 year period beginning after World War II. Freeman performed more than 2,500 of those lobotomies himself. Some 45 years later, Dully decided to find out everything he could about the procedure in general, and about his operation in particular. Among other things, he found a photograph of his lobotomy being performed, which is linked here to the right. The result was a fascinating and moving radio program Continue reading Audio and Video On Lobotomy

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Tracing the History of Syphilis

15syph1901.jpgIs Columbus responsible for bringing Syphilis to Europe?

According to an article that appeared in yesterday’s New York Times (“Genetic Study Bolsters Genetic Link to Syphilis“), a researcher team at Emory University believes they have found “the strongest evidence yet linking the first European explorers of the New World to the origin of sexually transmitted syphilis.”

The study was published in the online journal: Neglected Tropical Diseases (published by the Public Library of Science) this past Monday. In a summary of their methodology and principal findings, the authors write that:

Continue reading Tracing the History of Syphilis

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PBS Documentary on Chief American Lobotomist

The PBS series “American Experience” will broadcast an episode about America’s leading lobotomist, Walter J. Freeman, on Monday, January 21 at 9:00 pm. After that, the show will be made available on-line.

Freeman developed the transorbital lobotomy (often called the “ice-pick” lobotomy) in the 1930s at George Washington University as a “cure” for many types mental illness. He then relentlessly promoted his procedure, which was inflicted on nearly 3,000 people up into the 1960s. Continue reading PBS Documentary on Chief American Lobotomist

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The Future of the “Looking Back” Section

Following up on yesterday’s post, I have found out a little more about the new “Looking Back” section of The Psychologist. The editor, Julie Perks of Staffordshire University, tells me that it will be a regular monthly feature in the journal from now on. She goes on to say:

Next month Ian Deary and Mark Lawn will be talking about their work following up the Scottish national Intelligence surveys (1932 & 1947) the article is called “A Hotbed of Intelligence.” I will have a little piece in about a popular psychology magazine also called The Psychologist Continue reading The Future of the “Looking Back” Section

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The “Other Woman” of British Psychology

Elizabeth ValentineThe most recent issue of the The Psychologist, the flagship journal of the British Psychological Society, marked the launch of a new historical column, “Looking Back,” edited by Julie Perks of Staffordshire University.

The first of the new columns, by Elizabeth Valentine of Royal Holloway, University of London, focuses on the life and career of Nellie Carey, a student of Charles Spearman’s at University College London during the 1910s. In a series of articles in the British Journal of Psychology between 1914 and 1916 Carey explored aspects of color perception, mental imagery, school subjects, and intelligence. She abruptly withdrew from UCL in 1920 and disappeared from the membership roles of the BPS in 1925. Valentine’s article explores what became of so promising a student. Continue reading The “Other Woman” of British Psychology

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Michel Foucault online

FoucaultI recently came across the Michel Foucault Archives website, created and hosted by IMEC (the Institute of Contemporary Publishing Archives or l’Institut Mémoires de l’édition contemporaine).

IMEC “manages archives and studies linked to different actors of the XXth Century writing and book world : publishers, writers, intellectuals, artists, book traders, journal editors, journalists, critics, literary agents, translators, printers, graphic designers” and “opens private papers to research within the frameworks of a public service with controlled access.” For a list of their holdings, click here.

Offline, IMEC is located in l’Abbaye d’Ardenne, a medieval abbey in Caen, in the region of Normandy, France.

Back to the Foucault Archives:

Continue reading Michel Foucault online

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A Brief History of Modern Psychology

In the December issue of Isis, 98(4), Cathy Faye reviews Ludy Benjamin’s A Brief History of Modern Psychology.  She recommends it for general audiences and, if supplemented with other primary and secondary readings, for use in undergraduate courses as well.

By far the most interesting and informative chapters are those that deal with the rise of applied and professional psychology in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A full discussion of a range of applied psychologies is provided, including clinical, industrial-organizational, school, counseling, and engineering psychology. Benjamin nicely illustrates the growth of psychology as both a science and a practice and demonstrates the tensions that arose between these two paths in the course of the discipline’s development. One of the unique aspects of the book is Continue reading A Brief History of Modern Psychology

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“Triune Brain” Theorist Dies

Paul D. MacLeanThe New York Times reports that Paul D. MacLean, a neuroscientist who developed the theory that the brain is divided into three broad areas that developed during different phylogentic phases of evolution, died on December 26 at the age of 94. According to Jeremy Pearce, who wrote the Times‘ obituary:

In the 1960s, Dr. MacLean enlarged his theory to address the human brain’s overall structure and divided its evolution into three parts, an idea that he termed the triune brain. In addition to identifying the [mamalian] limbic system, he pointed to a more primitive brain called the R-complex, related to reptiles, which controls basic functions like muscle movement and breathing. The third part, the neocortex, controls speech and reasoning and is the most recent evolutionary arrival.

Although the “triune” theory of the brain was never fully accepted in the scientific community, it became a standard scheme in neuroscience and psychology textbooks in the last quarter of the 20th century.

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First Psychology Laboratory in the British Empire

University College, TorontoOn this day in 1890, the first experimental psychology laboratory in the British Empire opened, at the University of Toronto in Canada. It was the brainchild of James Mark Baldwin, who had been hired just a few months earlier in the face of immense public opposition by those who believed the school should hire Canadians only. The controversy was settled when the Premier of Ontario agreed to hire a Canadian at the same time, James Gibson Hume (see Green, 2004). Continue reading First Psychology Laboratory in the British Empire

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Animation of 17th-Century Skull Surgery Tool

Elevatorium biploidum at Boerhaave MuseumA Dutch reader of the neuroscience blog Retrospectacle recently wrote in to say that he had created an animation of the use of a 17th-century surgical instrument called the Elevatorium biploidum. The instrument was used to raise an indented portion of the skull, as from the wound produced by the low-velocity guns of the day. (The instrument was not actually used for trepanation, as the Retrospectacle article says.) The was invented by the Hague surgeon Cornelis Solingen (1641-1687), and written up in his book, Manuale Operatien der Chirurgien (1684?). Continue reading Animation of 17th-Century Skull Surgery Tool

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