The topic of this year’s symposium was chosen as a curtain raiser for the start of the 50th anniversary year of the BPS Division of Clinical Psychology (DCP) in 2016. It looks forward to the Golden Anniversary by looking back at the development of clinical psychology as a profession, a history that reaches back beyond the foundation of the DCP in 1966.
The four main speakers are all contributors to “Clinical Psychology in Britain: Historical Perspectives” edited by John Hall, Graham Turpin and David Pilgrim, which is due to be published by the History of Psychology Centre in December 2015.
Find out more about the featured speakers, session topics and registration details from the event flyer, or on the Centre’s website.
During the period 1860–1880, a number of physicists and mathematicians, including Maxwell, Stewart, Cournot and Boussinesq, used theories formulated in terms of physics to argue that the mind, the soul or a vital principle could have an impact on the body. This paper shows that what was primarily at stake for these authors was a concern about the irreducibility of life and the mind to physics, and that their theories can be regarded primarily as reactions to the law of conservation of energy, which was used among others by Helmholtz and Du Bois-Reymond as an argument against the possibility of vital and mental causes in physiology. In light of this development, Maxwell, Stewart, Cournot and Boussinesq showed that it was still possible to argue for the irreducibility of life and the mind to physics, through an appeal to instability or indeterminism in physics: if the body is an unstable or physically indeterministic system, an immaterial principle can act through triggering or directing motions in the body, without violating the laws of physics.
Erich Weidenhammer, a graduate of the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology at the University of Toronto, has recently remade a Farbenmisch-Apparat nach Kirschmann (“Colour mixing apparatus after Kirschmann’s design”) via 3D printing. This colour mixing apparatus was designed by August Kirschmann, a German-born psychologist who trained with Wilhelm Wundt. Kirschmann succeeded James Mark Baldwin as head of the Psychological Laboratory at the University of Toronto in the late-nineteenth century. He also designed several laboratory instruments.
Weidenhammer set out to recreate Kirschmann’s instrument and fortunately discovered a colour mixing apparatusamong the psychology instruments stored at the University of Toronto (now a part of the University of Toronto Scientific Instruments Collection). The full process of recreation, and the significance of this kind of colour research during Kirschmann’s time, is discussed in detail in a recent blog post by Weidenhammer. The recreated Farbenmisch-Apparat nach Kirschmann can be seen in action in the video above.
The new issue of Medical History (guest edited by Nicholas Whitfield and Thomas Schlich at the Social Studies of Medicine program at McGill) is focused on the theme of skill in the history of medicine and science. The editorial is historiographically interesting as a survey of skill as an historical category (among many relevant to both the histories of medicine and psychology, including the history of observation, objectivity, emotion, and the senses).
Additionally, articles of interest include those about: Adolf Meyer’s influence on 20th century psychiatric clinical skills; the “discourse of skills” used to establish post-War British neuropathology; the norms of conduct within the first generation of neurosurgeons 1900-1930; and the debates between animal behaviorists and molecular biologists on best practices in the experimental manipulation of mouse DNA (and the interpretation thereof). There are also a number of pertinent reviews on books about: insanity and colonialism in post-emancipation Caribbean; gender and class in turn of the 20th century British asylums; and the analysis of Nazi psychology at Nuremberg.
The July 2015 issue of History of the Human Sciences is now online. Among the articles in this issue are one’s on Durkheim’s followers, psychologist Mark May’s influence on the Institute of Human Relations at Yale University, and the relationship between neurofeedback and the self. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.
“On equal temperament: Tuning, modernity and compromise,” by Michael Halewood. The abstract reads,
In this article, I use Stengers’ (2010) concepts of ‘factish’, ‘requirements’ and ‘obligations’, as well as Latour’s (1993) critique of modernity, to interrogate the rise of Equal Temperament as the dominant system of tuning for western music. I argue that Equal Temperament is founded on an unacknowledged compromise which undermines its claims to rationality and universality. This compromise rests on the standardization which is the hallmark of the tuning system of Equal Temperament, and, in this way, it is emblematic of Latour’s definition of modernity. I further argue that the problem of the tuning of musical instruments is one which epitomizes the modern distinction between the natural and the social. In turn, this bears witness to what Whitehead calls the ‘bifurcation of nature’. Throughout this article, using the work of Stengers and Latour, I seek to use tuning as a case study which allows social research to talk both of the natural and of the social aspects of music and tuning, without recourse to essentialism or simple social construction. In this way, my argument seeks to avoid bifurcating nature.
One hundred years ago World War One set the course for the twentieth century; for the countries that took part nothing would be the same again. In this worldwide series of events with the British Council, we look at the impact of the war from around the world.
The third debate of the series comes from The Imperial War Museum in London as we explore the psychology of war. What drove men to volunteer for the war? What drove them to the edge of sanity when they got there?
Historian and broadcaster Amanda Vickery is joined by a panel of experts and a live audience to explore the mental impact of fighting the war at home and abroad. World War One experts Dan Todman (Queen Mary, University of London) and Michael Roper (University of Essex) are joined by the celebrated cultural historian, Joanna Bourke (Birkbeck, University of London), who presents her specially commissioned essay, Shell Shock and the Shock of Shells.
You can listen to this episode here and explore other episodes in the series here. You can also enrol in the Open University’s accompanying free online course, “World War 1: Trauma and Memory,” here.
The British Psychological Society History of Psychology Centre in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines
Location: UCL Arts and Humanities Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet Place, London WC1E 7JG
Monday 13 July 2015 Professor Robert Segal (University of Aberdeen), The Course of Modern Psychoanalysing About Myth
This talk will trace the history of psychoanalysing about myth through the major figures: Freud, Rank, Roheim, Arlow, Bettelheim, Jung. and Campbell. Myth has never been just an unconscious expression of the Oedipus complex and over the years has become much more.
Robert Segal is the author of The Poimandres as Myth: Scholarly Theory and Gnostic Meaning, Religion and the Social Sciences: Essays on the Confrontation, Joseph Campbell: An Introduction. Explaining and Interpreting Religion, Theorizing about Myth and Myth: A Very Short Introduction, among other works.
AHP is pleased to announce the launch of a rich new web resource: the Museu de História das Neurociências Comportamentais [the History Museum of Behavioral Neuroscience]. The site features a digital collection of scientific instruments connected to the history of neuroscience, particularly behavioral neuroscience, in Brazil. It likewise highlights several key researchers who contributed to the development of behavioral neuroscience in Brazil.
The Museu de História das Neurociências Comportamentais will be of particular interest to those interested in scientific instrument collections and will make for a great online resource for both historians of psychology and their students alike. If your Portuguese is on the weak side, do not despair! You can use your browser settings to translate the pages to your language of choice (Google Chrome makes this particularly easy – see instructions here).
The Museu de História das Neurociências Comportamentais has plans to continue growing and contributions to the site are welcomed. To submit a photograph of an instrument, laboratory space, or researcher connected to the history of behavioral neuroscience in Brazil, contact firstname.lastname@example.org with a description of the person or object featured in the image, the name of the institution to which it is connected, and any references or links you would want included with the entry (You can download the contribution form here).
The May 2015 issue of History of Psychology (vol 18, issue 2) is now available (find online here), and is chock-full of interesting content. From analyses exploring the materiality of psychological and psychiatric instruments (including the Cattell Infant Intelligence Scale, the ‘Utica Crib,’ and the controversial transorbital ice pick lobotomy instrument introduced by Walter Freeman), to historiographic discussions (about how to further internationalize the practice of the history of psychology in North America, and about the necessity of attention to multiple temporalities and contexts within the history of psychology in Brazil), there’s a little something for everyone.
The abstracts read as follows:
Test or toy? Materiality and the measurement of infant intelligence.
By: Young, Jacy L.
Adopting a material culture perspective, this article interrogates the composition of the copy of the Cattell Infant Intelligence Scale housed at the University of Toronto Scientific Instruments Collection. As a deliberately assembled collection of toys, the Cattell Scale makes clear the indefinite boundary between test and toy in 20th-century American psychology. Consideration of the current condition of some of the material constituents of this particular Cattell Scale provides valuable insight into some of the elusive practices of intelligence testers in situ and highlights the dynamic nature of the testing process. At the same time, attending to the materiality of this intelligence test reveals some of the more general assumptions about the nature of intelligence inherent in tests for young children. The scale and others like it, I argue, exposes psychologists’ often-uncritical equation of childhood intelligence with appropriate play undertaken with an appropriate toy, an approach complicit in, and fostered by, midcentury efforts to cultivate particular forms of selfhood. This analysis serves as an example of the kind of work that may be done on the history of intelligence testing when the material objects that were (and are) inherently a part of the testing process are included in historical scholarship.