Psychologist Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning, in which he attempts to make sense of the Holocaust, has been optioned as a film. The Guardian reports,
Frankl, a contemporary of Freud, lost his whole family during the Nazi’s attempted extermination of the Jews. He developed his theory of “healing through meaning”, known as logotherapy, while a prisoner in the Auschwitz and Kaufering concentration camps. He counselled his fellow prisoners, many of whom were suicidal, with a philosophy that argued that striving for meaning, not pleasure nor power, is what keeps us alive.
The book is being adapted for film by screenwriter Adam Gibgot.
The talk is titled Toward a Global History of Trauma, by featured speaker Mark Micale out of the Dept of History, University of Illinois. Editor of the (2001) volume Traumatic Pasts: History, Psychiatry, and Trauma in the Modern Age, 1870–1930, Micale will argue that trauma scholarship is largely derived from a small number of purely Euro-American catastrophic events which serve as historical and psychological paradigms, and scholars need now to look beyond the West toward a new, more genuinely global perspective on the history of trauma. He focuses in particular on new research being done about Asia.
Find out more about this session, as well as an archive of past sessions, here.
Ontario has become the first Canadian province to legislate a bill that renders such so-called therapies for children illegal, and prevents medical practitioners of adult treatments from billing the provincial health care system. The Toronto Star reports:
The legislation proposed by New Democrat MPP Cheri DiNovo won unanimous support from all three parties at Queen’s Park on Thursday, in time for Pride week, which begins June 19.
It’s the first law of its kind in Canada and goes further than conversion therapy bans in several U.S. states by including protection for the transgender community.
“We’re sending an incredibly strong message . . . there’s absolutely no room in an inclusive society for trying to change somebody’s sexual identity or their gender expression or their gender identity,” DiNovo told the Star.
Thanks to a $3.5 million dollar gift from Drs. Nicholas and Dorothy Cummings, the renamed Cummings Center will include a substantial renovation of the museum, a new library and offices for visiting scholars, as well as an endowment for an associate director. Currently, the museum only displays a small fraction of the holdings that have been donated to the center, a situation which will be rectified through its expansion from 1,800 to 8,500 square feet.
We are highly anticipating these exciting developments! Also, if you have immediate need to access the Center’s materials for your research, be certain to do so during the summer before their temporary closure!
Find out more about the Center’s reconstruction plans and the Cummings’ donation here from the article on Ohio.com
AHP‘s very own contributor Jennifer Bazar has curated a fascinating online historical archive and exhibit on the Oak Ridge forensic mental health division of the Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care in Penetanguishene, Ontario. Find the exhibit here.
Established in 1933 and closed last year (2014), the Oak Ridge division at Waypoint was Ontario’s only maximum security forensic hospital served by both the provincial criminal justice and mental health systems. The exhibit opens the locked doors of its eighty one year history “to dispel the misconceptions and stereotypes that surround forensic mental health care centres and their clients,” and compellingly tells its unique story by sharing artefacts, photographs, and archival documents “to demonstrate how treatment practices, security restrictions, and individual experiences both changed and remained consistent” throughout the institute’s existence. Exhibit sections include: Origins, Building, Legislation, Treatment, Daily Life, Patients, Staff, Research, and Community.
You can also browse through the exhibit content here (400+ items total: photos, docs, artefacts, audio, video), and please look forward to further additions to the collection over the next year including “personal experiences from patient case records, interviews, and oral histories with former staff members of the Oak Ridge division.”
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 June 2015 issue of History of Psychiatry is now online. The issue includes articles on the symptoms of schizophrenia, British colonial lunatic asylums, and “senile dementia” in the decades before 1979. Also in the issue is a classic text on symptoms in psychiatry by Hans W. Gruhle (right). Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.
“First rank symptoms of schizophrenia: their nature and origin,” by J. Cutting. The abstract reads,
Kurt Schneider’s insight nearly 80 years ago that schizophrenia could be demarcated from other psychoses by a small set of particular delusions and hallucinations powerfully influenced diagnostic practice. The theoretical status of such ‘first rank symptoms’ as a whole, however, has rarely been addressed. But if they are sensitive and specific to the condition, it is about time that their essential nature and potential origin be considered. This is the purpose of the present paper. I argue that these psychopathological phenomena are indeed relatively sensitive and specific to the condition, that their nature can be formulated within a Schelerian model of what constitutes a human being, and that their origin fits anthropological and neuropsychological notions of the make-up of contemporary human beings.
David Aaronovitch of The Times traces the powerful intellectual influences behind what he sees as one of the most important cultural shifts of the past 40 years: from a society in which accusations of sexual abuse were wrongly ignored to one in which the falsely accused were crushed by a system where the mantra was “victims must be believed”.
In the first of two programmes, Aaronovitch will examine the role played by unproven psychoanalytic theories which, from the 1980s, spread from the world of therapists in Canada and the USA to social work, medicine and then to law enforcement in Britain.
From the NSPCC to academia it was believed that children were being sexually abused in group Satanic rituals, which involved murder and animal sacrifice. The programme will explore how these bizarre ideas took hold, how they were related to mistaken psychotherapeutic practices, and how they resonate still.
The programme will look at the influences of four books which played a key role in influencing the intellectual and cultural climate. These are Sybil, Michelle Remembers, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and The Courage to Heal.
In the second of two programmes, Aaronovitch re-examines the role played by unproven psychoanalytic theories which, from the 1980s, spread from the world of therapists in Canada and the USA to social work, medicine and then to law enforcement in Britain.
The programme explores the parallels between the belief in ritual abuse with some of the claims being made today about VIP paedophile rings and group murder.
Some of the mistakes of the past – such as the false accusations made against parents in the Orkneys and Rochdale of satanic abuse – have been acknowledged. But, Aaronovitch argues, without a profound understanding of how and why such moral panics arise we are unlikely to avoid similar mistakes in the future. And when such mistakes recur we risk an over-reaction and a return to a culture of denial.
Episode one can be heard online here and episode two can be heard here.
The April 2015 issue of History of the Human Sciences is dedicated to “Vygotsky in His, Our and Future Times.” Guest edited by Gordana Jovanovic, the special issue includes a set of introductory reflections from Jerome Bruner on “The Uneasy Relation of Culture and Mind.” A further 10 articles explore various aspects of Vygotsky’s life and work, including the role of history in his work, an examination of the ban on his works in Russia, and his time as a theatre critic. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.
Guest editorial: “Vygotsky in his, our and future times,” by Gordana Jovanovic. No abstract provided.
Introductory Reflections: “The uneasy relation of culture and mind,” by Jerome Bruner. No abstract provided.
“Vicissitudes of history in Vygotsky’s cultural-historical theory,” by Gordana Jovanovic. The abstract reads,
The aim of this article is to explore the ways and forms in which history is present, represented and used in Vygotsky’s theorizing. Given the fact that Vygotsky’s theory is usually described as a cultural-historical theory, the issue of history is necessarily implicated in the theory itself. However, there is still a gap between history as implicated in the theory and an explicit theorizing of history – both in Vygotsky’s writings and in Vygotskian scholarship. Therefore it is expected that it would be fruitful to shed light on some possible pathways that can bridge this gap. The prevailing theoretical role of history in Vygotsky’s theory is to serve as a general framework which provides tools for the development of higher psychic functions. Thus, history is recognized as a formative context of psychic life. Further, history appears in Vygotsky’s writings also as a projected better future. All these uses of history presuppose an idea of history as linear progress. But Vygotsky also argues for a stronger epistemological claim – that history is the most powerful explanatory principle. After conceptual and theoretical reflection on history, some limitations of Vygotsky’s historicizing of the history of psychic development will be pointed out and related to general epistemological problems of historicizing. Finally, Vygotsky’s cultural-historical theory, an edifice built up in the 1930s but relying on the rich philosophical and psychological legacy available up to that time, will be positioned against the pluralistic, postmodern and hermeneutic turn in contemporary social and human sciences.
Using a 2013 PNAS article titled Sex Differences in the Structural Connectome of the Human Brain as case study, the authors “tracked the journey of the PNAS research from its initial scientific publication, through a university-issued press release, into its reception in the traditional news media, online reader comments and blog entries.” Acccording to the abstract, their analysese “suggested that scientific research on sex difference offers an opportunity to rehearse abiding cultural understandings of gender. In both scientific and popular contexts, traditional gender stereotypes were projected onto the novel scientific information, which was harnessed to demonstrate the factual truth and normative legitimacy of these beliefs.”