“Finding Sarah: 49-Year Reunion With the Chimpanzee of David Premack’s Language Studies”

Forthcoming in the Review of General Psychology is a piece describing some of the earlylanguage research with the chimpanzee Sarah (above) in the late-1960s and an effort to locate Sarah today. Details below.

“Finding Sarah: 49-Year Reunion With the Chimpanzee of David Premack’s Language Studies,” by James N. Olson & Linda M. Montgomery. Abstract:

Sarah the chimpanzee was the primary participant in David Premack’s language studies initiated at University of California at Santa Barbara in 1967. The first author was an undergraduate assistant training Sarah from 1967 to 1969. This article describes some of the early work with Sarah and our recent search for her. Sarah’s whereabouts during the intervening years, and subsequent reunion with her in 2016 at Chimp Haven, a chimpanzee sanctuary in Louisiana, are described. It was found that despite her illness, Sarah engaged with the first author and demonstrated that she remembered him and the mechanics of the communication procedure that served as the foundation for testing Sarah’s cognitive reasoning abilities as they pertained to language. There was no evidence she remembered any of the 5 symbolic nouns that were presented during a matching-to-sample procedure. The authors expressed their gratitude to the staff at Chimp Haven for the excellent care of Sarah.

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New Articles: Washburn’s Cognitivism and Boring in the AJP

The Summer 2017 issue of The American Journal of Psychology is now available and includes two articles that may interest AHP readers. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Margaret F. Washburn in The American Journal of Psychology: A Cognitive Precursor?,” by José T. Boyano. The abstract reads,

In the early 20th century, Margaret F. Washburn (1871–1939) produced numerous studies on perception, affective value of stimulus, memory, emotions, and consciousness. This experimental work was published in The American Journal of Psychology. The purpose of this article is to analyze the temporal evolution of these kinds of experiments and relate them to Washburn’s theoretical production. Contrary to other views, Washburn’s experimental evolution follows a logical sequence and has a strong inner coherence. Among other reasons, the lack of a scientific and social framework to the study of the mind has tended to overshadow large areas of Washburn’s thought. However, both the work published in AJP and the methods used in experiments provide reasons to consider Washburn one of the precursors of contemporary cognitive psychology.

“Edwin G. Boring: The Historian’s Path in the Pages of The American Journal of Psychology,” by Shawn P. Gallagher. The abstract reads, Continue reading New Articles: Washburn’s Cognitivism and Boring in the AJP

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UCL/BPS Talks: Eghighian on “From Crackpots to Survivors: How Contact With Aliens Was Pathologised”

The British Psychological Society‘s History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, has announced the next talk in its summer seminar series. On Monday May 8th Greg Eghighian (right) will be speaking on “From Crackpots to Survivors: How Contact With Aliens Was Pathologised.” Full details follow below.

Monday 8th May
Professor Greg Eghighian (Penn State University) – NASA/American Historical Association Fellow in Aerospace History

From Crackpots to Survivors: How Contact With Aliens Was Pathologised

While the first reports of flying saucer sightings appeared in 1947, it was not until the 1950s that witnesses began claiming to have encountered extraterrestrial visitors. Throughout the fifties and sixties, the reports of “contactees” tended to emphasize the shyness and benign nature of extraterrestrials. Over the course of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, however, the stories increasingly revolved around terrifying encounters with coercive aliens engaged in performing human experiments. And as the tales became more gruesome, psychiatrists and psychotherapists began playing a growing role in analyzing and counseling self-professed “abductees.” In this talk, I will discuss how and why this happened and some of the consequences it has had for contactees, clinicians, and critics.

Location:
SELCS Common Room (G24)
Foster Court
Malet Place
University College London

Time: 18:00-19:30

Tickets/registration: https://aliencontact.eventbrite.co.uk

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NBN Interview: The Dancing Bees: Karl von Frisch & the Discovery of the Honeybee Language

The New Books Network (NBN) of podcasts has just released an interview with Tania Munz on her new book The Dancing Bees: Karl von Frisch and the Discovery of the Honeybee Language. As NBN describes,

Tania Munz‘s new book is a dual biography: both of Austrian-born experimental physiologist Karl von Frisch, and of the honeybees he worked with as experimental, communicating creatures. The Dancing Bees: Karl von Frisch and the Discovery of the Honeybee Language (University of Chicago Press, 2016) alternates between chapters that take us into the work and life of a fascinating scientist amid the Nazi rise to power, and bee vignettes that chart the transformations of bees in the popular and scientific imagination over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Readers follow von Frisch from his early intimate connection with a small Brazilian parakeet that lived with the family while von Frisch was a boy, to his work on the sensory powers of fish and bees, to his work on bee communication and beyond. Munz introduces us not just to von Frisch’s texts, lectures, and experiments, but also to his work making films and his struggles to live and work under Nazi power. Munz’s book is both compellingly argued and a pleasure to read!

The full interview can be heard online here.

The University of Chicago Press describes Munz’s book as follows: Continue reading NBN Interview: The Dancing Bees: Karl von Frisch & the Discovery of the Honeybee Language

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New Article: Publish & Perish: Psychology’s Most Prolific Authors Are Not Always the Ones We Remember

Now in print in the Spring 2017 issue of the American Journal of Psychology is the most recent digital history piece by Christopher Green (left): “Publish and Perish: Psychology’s Most Prolific Authors Are Not Always the Ones We Remember.” The abstract reads,

What is the relationship between being highly prolific in the realm of publication and being remembered as a great psychologist of the past? In this study, the PsycINFO database was used to identify the historical figures who wrote the most journal articles during the half-century from 1890 to 1939. Although a number of the 10 most prolific authors are widely remembered for their influence on the discipline today—E. L. Thorndike, Karl Pearson, E. B. Titchener, Henri Piéron—the majority are mostly forgotten. The data were also separated into the 5 distinct decades. Once again, a mixture of eminent and obscure individuals made appearances. Most striking, perhaps, was the great increase in articles published over the course of the half-century—approximately doubling each decade—and the enormous turnover in who was most prolific, decade over decade. In total, 100 distinct individuals appeared across just 5 lists of about 25 names each.

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Workshop: Folk Psychology and Descriptive Psychology – in the Contexts of Historicism, Relativism and Naturalism

A workshop on “Folk Psychology and Descriptive Psychology – in the Contexts of Historicism, Relativism and Naturalism” will take place at the University of Vienna April 26th through 28th. Full details below.

Folk Psychology and Descriptive Psychology – in the Contexts of Historicism, Relativism and Naturalism /Völkerpsychologie und beschreibende Psychologie – im Kontext von Historismus, Relativismus und Naturalismus.

Workshop / Tagung
Wednesday April 26 – Friday April 28, 2017

Vienna, University Campus, Alte Kapelle.

Organizers:
Christian Damböck, Uljana Feest, Martin Kusch, Hartwig Wiedebach

Hosts:
Institute Vienna Circle,
ERC project 339382 “The Emergence of Relativism”,
FWF project P27733 “Early Carnap in Context”
Faculty for Philosophy and Education, University of Vienna

Conference languages are English and German

Late 19th-century German language philosophy and humanities saw the emergence of two important (related) approaches: Folk Psychology (Völkerpsychologie) and Descriptive Psychology (beschreibende Psychologie). The main representatives of these currents were Chaim H. Steinthal and Wilhelm Dilthey, as well as many of their pupils and followers. One could mention here Hermann Cohen, Moritz Lazarus, Gustav Glogau, Georg Simmel, Wilhelm Wundt, Karl Mannheim, Paul Natorp, Rudolf Carnap, and Georg Spranger. Although Folk and Descriptive Psychology were highly influential for some time, they were quickly forgotten in the 20th century. Until recently, histories of psychology, sociology and philosophy have paid little attention to these developments. Indeed, even in key figures such as Steinthal, Dilthey, or Cohen, their involvement with Folk and Descriptive Psychology is often ignored. The aim of this workshop is to invite scholars working on the history of psychology, of sociology, of the humanities, and of philosophy to reconsider historiographical and philosophical aspects of this important current. Topics of the conference will be: (1) an exegesis of the key contributions of Steinthal and Dilthey; (2) historical analyses of positive receptions of Folk Psychology and Descriptive Psychology; (3) historical analyses of negative responses to Folk Psychology and Descriptive Psychology, e.g. in phenomenology, experimental psychology, and various currents of (Neo )Kantianism; (4) philosophical investigations of the current relevance of Folk and Descriptive Psychologies.

PROGRAME / PROGRAMM Continue reading Workshop: Folk Psychology and Descriptive Psychology – in the Contexts of Historicism, Relativism and Naturalism

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HHS Special Issue: Psychotherapy in Historical Perspective

Sarah Marks

The April 2017 issue of History of the Human Sciences is now online. Guest edited by Sarah Marks, this special issue explores “Psychotherapy in Historical Perspective.” Titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Psychotherapy in historical perspective,” by Sarah Marks. Abstract:

This article will briefly explore some of the ways in which the past has been used as a means to talk about psychotherapy as a practice and as a profession, its impact on individuals and society, and the ethical debates at stake. It will show how, despite the multiple and competing claims about psychotherapy’s history and its meanings, historians themselves have, to a large degree, not attended to the intellectual and cultural development of many therapeutic approaches. This absence has the potential consequence of implying that therapies have emerged as value-free techniques, outside of a social, economic and political context. The relative neglect of psychotherapy, by contrast with the attention historians have paid to other professions, particularly psychiatry, has also underplayed its societal impact. This article will foreground some of the instances where psychotherapy has become an object of emerging historical interest, including the new research that forms the substance of this special issue of History of the Human Sciences.

“The action of the imagination: Daniel Hack Tuke and late Victorian psycho-therapeutics,” by Sarah Chaney. Abstract:

Histories of dynamic psychotherapy in the late 19th century have focused on practitioners in continental Europe, and interest in psychological therapies within British asylum psychiatry has been largely overlooked. Yet Daniel Hack Tuke (1827–95) is acknowledged as one of the earliest authors to use the term ‘psycho-therapeutics’, including a chapter on the topic in his 1872 volume, Illustrations of the Influence of the Mind upon the Body in Health and Disease. But what did Tuke mean by this concept, and what impact did his ideas have on the practice of asylum psychiatry? At present, there is little consensus on this topic. Through in-depth examination of what psycho-therapeutics meant to Tuke, this article argues that late-19th-century asylum psychiatry cannot be easily separated into somatic and psychological strands. Tuke’s understanding of psycho-therapeutics was extremely broad, encompassing the entire field of medical practice (not only psychiatry). The universal force that he adopted to explain psychological therapies, ‘the Imagination’, was purported to show the power of the mind over the body, implying that techniques like hypnotism and suggestion might have an effect on any kind of symptom or illness. Acknowledging this aspect of Tuke’s work, I conclude, can help us better understand late-19th-century psychiatry – and medicine more generally – by acknowledging the lack of distinction between psychological and somatic in ‘psychological’ therapies.

“‘Subordination, authority, psychotherapy’: Psychotherapy and politics in inter-war Vienna,” by David Freis. Abstract: Continue reading HHS Special Issue: Psychotherapy in Historical Perspective

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NBN Interview with Susanna Blumenthal on Law and the Modern Mind

New Books Network (NBN) has released an interview with legal historian Susanna L. Blumenthal on her recent book, Law and the Modern Mind: Consciousness and Responsibility in American Legal Culture. As  NBN describes,

Blumenthal offers a historical examination of the jurisprudence of insanity, legal capacity, and accountability from post-revolutionary America through the nineteenth century. Americans struggling to set the boundaries of ordered liberty turned to Common Sense philosophy that held to divinely given rational faculties of intellect, volition, and moral sense. Republican citizenship assumed that a reasonable man, as a legal person, would act accordingly. The market economy of self-made men, the new field of medical psychology, will and contract challenges over wealth and property, tort law and increased liability claims exposed the inadequacy of social and political norms in defining human fallibility, and the limits of responsibility. Litigants, lawyers, judges, and medical experts struggled to find a reliable way to settle issues of mental competency and define the bounds of freedom. The incapacity of married women, children, and slaves provided a means of comparison for the male citizen involving metaphysical, political, social, and economic ideas wrapped up in the concept of self-government. Blumenthal has produced a remarkable piece of intellectual and legal history situated in the rapidly changing market environment of a young republic.

The full interview can be heard online here.

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Lobotomy on Retro Report: First, Do No Harm

The New York Times‘s Retro Report has produced a new video on the history of lobotomy, First, Do No Harm. As Retro Report describes,

For centuries scientists have studied the brain and still our understanding, particularly when it comes to the treatment for those suffering with severe, often untreatable mental illness, remains elusive. As scientists around the world are beginning ambitious programs to study the human brain in unprecedented ways, Retro Report explores the evolution of the surgical and biological treatments over the decades. From the brutal, but once considered mainstream treatment of lobotomy to biological cocktails, to the beginnings of what many hope will be a more elegant understanding of the brain through technology.

More details here.

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New NBN Podcast: Governing Habits: Treating Alcoholism in the Post-Soviet Clinic

The New Books Network (NBN) has just released an interview with anthropologist Eugene Raikhel on his recently released monograph Governing Habits: Treating Alcoholism in the Post-Soviet ClinicAs NBN describes,

Alcoholism is a strange thing. That it exists, no one seriously doubts. But it’s not entirely clear (diagnostically speaking) what it is, who has it, how they get it, or how to treat it. The answers to these questions depend, apparently, on where you are, which is to say what culture you were born and raise in. Alcoholism and treatments for it in Country A might be very different from alcoholism and treatments for it in countries B, C, and D. Alcoholism is, well, relative.

This is one of the many thing I learned from reading Eugene Raikhel‘s fascinating book Governing Habits: Treating Alcoholism in the Post-Soviet Clinic (Cornell University Press, 2016). An anthropologist, Raikhel tells us the tale of how the Soviet discipline of “narcology”–the diagnosis and treatment of addiction– evolved during Soviet times and how it adapted after the USSR fell. I won’t spoil the story for you, but suffice it to say that Russians treated and continue to treat alcoholism quite differently that we do in the U.S., though that’s changing (AA has arrived in Russia, something we also discuss).

Listen to the full interview here.

Cornell University Press describes Raikhel’s book on its site follows: Continue reading New NBN Podcast: Governing Habits: Treating Alcoholism in the Post-Soviet Clinic

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