New JHBS: Palladino, Binet’s Instruments, Textbooks, & More

Palladino séance

The summer 2016 issue of Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences is now online. Articles in this issue explore investigations of Palladino’s mediumship, Alfred Binet’s collaboration with instrument makers, the historiography of psychology textbooks, and central figures in psychological and philosophical associations at the turn of the twentieth century. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“DISCOVERING PALLADINO’S MEDIUMSHIP. OTERO ACEVEDO, LOMBROSO AND THE QUEST FOR AUTHORITY,” by ANDREA GRAUS. The abstract reads,

In 1888, the spiritist Ercole Chiaia challenged Cesare Lombroso to go to Naples and study a brilliant though still unknown medium: Eusapia Palladino. At that time Lombroso turned down the challenge. However, in 1891 he became fascinated by the medium’s phenomena. Despite the abundant literature on Palladino, there is still an episode that needs to be explored: in 1888, the Spanish doctor Manuel Otero Acevedo accepted the challenge rejected by Lombroso, spent three months in Naples studying the medium and invited the Italian psychiatrist to join his investigations. This unexplored episode serves to examine the role of scientific authority, testimony, and material evidence in the legitimization of mediumistic phenomena. The use Otero Acevedo made of the evidence he obtained in Naples reveals his desire to proclaim himself an authority on psychical research before other experts, such as Lombroso, Richet, and Aksakof.

“THE IMPORTANCE OF INSTRUMENT MAKERS FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY: THE CASE OF ALFRED BINET AT THE SORBONNE LABORATORY,” by SERGE NICOLAS. The abstract reads,

The importance of instrument firms in the development of psychology, and science in general, should not be underestimated since it would not have been possible for various leading psychologists at the turn of the twentieth century to conduct certain experiments without the assistance of instrument makers, as is often the case today. To illustrate the historical perspective introduced here, the example of Alfred Binet is taken, as he is an interesting case of a psychologist working in close collaboration with various French instrument designers of the time. The objective of this article is twofold: (1) to show the considerable activity carried out by early psychologists to finalize new laboratory instruments in order to develop their research projects; (2) to reassess the work of a major figure in French psychology through his activity as a designer of precision instruments. The development of these new instruments would certainly have been difficult without the presence in Paris of numerous precision instrument manufacturers such as Charles Verdin, Otto Lund, Henri Collin, and Lucien Korsten, on whom Binet successively called in order to develop his projects in the field of experimental psychology.

“INSTRUCTIONAL MANUALS OF BOUNDARY-WORK: PSYCHOLOGY TEXTBOOKS, STUDENT SUBJECTIVITIES, AND DISCIPLINARY HISTORIOGRAPHIES,” by IVAN FLIS. The abstract reads,

This article aims to provide an overview of the historiography of psychology textbooks. In the overview, I identify and describe in detail two strands of writing histories of introductory textbooks of psychology and juxtapose them to provide an integrated historiography of textbooks in psychology. One strand is developed by teachers of psychology—first as a general approach for investigating textbooks in a pedagogical setting, and then later upgraded into a full history of psychology textbooks in America. The other strand follows a more familiar perspective of historians of science and historians of psychology who build on various post-Kuhnian and post-Foucauldian perspectives on textbooks. I make an argument for integrating these two views for a more comprehensive historiography of textbooks in psychology, recasting textbooks as objects of research and sources that are interesting sui generis for historians of psychology in their investigations.

“BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATERS? THE MOST “CENTRAL” MEMBERS OF PSYCHOLOGY AND PHILOSOPHY ASSOCIATIONS CA. 1900,” by CHRISTOPHER D. GREEN, CRYSTAL HEIDARI, DANIEL CHIACCHIA and SHANE M. MARTIN. The abstract reads,

There are many different ways to assess the significance of historical figures. Often we look at the influence of their writings, or at the important offices they held with disciplinary institutions such as universities, journals, and scholarly societies. In this study, however, we took a novel approach: we took the complete memberships, ca. 1900, of four organizations—the American Psychological Association, the Western Philosophical Association, the American Philosophical Association, and the Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology—and visualized them as a network. We then identified individuals who “bridged” between two or more of these groups and considered what might be termed their “centrality” to the psychological-philosophical community of their time. First, we examined these figures qualitatively, briefly describing their lives and careers. Then we approached the problem mathematically, considering several alternative technical realizations of “centrality” and then explaining our reasons for choosing eigenvector centrality as the best for our purposes. We found a great deal of overlap among the results of the qualitative and quantitative approaches, but also some telling differences. J. Mark Baldwin, Edward Buchner, Christine Ladd Franklin, and Frank Thilly consistently emerged as highly central figures. Some more marginal figures such as Max Meyer, and Frederick J. E. Woodbridge, Edward A. Pace, Edward H. Griffin played interesting roles as well.

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About Jacy Young

Jacy Young recently completed a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Surrey in the UK. She earned her doctorate in the History and Theory of Psychology at York University in 2014.

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