Tag Archives: Alexandra Rutherford

Masculinity in Mid-20th Psychology in the New Osiris

The 2015 volume of special topic publication Osiris is now available and dedicated to the theme of “Scientific Masculinities.” Among the plethora of interesting pieces in the issue, is one specifically on the history of psychology: “Maintaining Masculinity in Mid-Twentieth-Century American Psychology: Edwin Boring, Scientific Eminence, and the ‘Woman Problem'” by Alexandra Rutherford. The abstract reads,

Using mid-twentieth-century American psychology as my focus, I explore how scientific psychology was constructed as a distinctly masculine enterprise and was navigated by those who did not conform easily to this masculine ideal. I show how women emerged as problems for science through the vigorous gatekeeping activities and personal and professional writings of disciplinary figurehead Edwin G. Boring. I trace Boring’s intellectual and professional socialization into masculine science and his efforts to understand women’s apparent lack of scientific eminence, efforts that were clearly undergirded by preexisting and widely shared assumptions about men’s and women’s capacities and preferences.

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Special Issue: “Feminism and/in/as Psychology: The Public Sciences of Sex and Gender”

Feminists form Division 35 of the American Psychological Association in 1973, now the Society for the Psychology of Women.

The August issue of History of Psychology is now online. Guest edited by Alexandra Rutherford and Michael Pettit, this special issue explores “Feminism and/in/as psychology: The public sciences of sex and gender.” As Rutherford and Pettit write in their abstract,

In our introduction to this special issue on the histories of feminism, gender, sexuality, and the psy-disciplines, we propose the tripartite framework of “feminism and/in/as psychology” to conceptualize the dynamics of their conjoined trajectories and relationship to gender and sexuality from the late 19th through the late 20th centuries. “Feminism and psychology” highlights the tensions between a political movement and a scientific discipline and the efforts of participants in each to problematize the other. “Feminism in psychology” refers to those historical moments when self-identified feminists intervened in psychology to alter its content, methodologies, and populations. We propose, as have others, that these interventions predate the 1970s, the period most commonly associated with the “founding” of feminist psychology. Finally, “feminism as psychology/psychology as feminism” explores the shared ground between psychology and feminism—the conceptual, methodological, and (more rarely) epistemological moments when psychology and feminism made common cause. We suggest that the traffic between feminism and psychology has been persistent, continuous, and productive, despite taking different historically and geographically contingent forms.

Full titles, authors, and abstracts for articles in this special issue follow below.

“The personal is scientific: Women, gender, and the production of sexological knowledge in Germany and Austria, 1900–1931,” Kirsten Leng. The abstract reads, Continue reading Special Issue: “Feminism and/in/as Psychology: The Public Sciences of Sex and Gender”

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History of Psychology at EPA, Mar. 13-16th Boston

The Eastern Psychological Association‘s Annual meeting will take place in Boston March 13-16th. Yesterday we highlighted the PsyBorg’s Digital History symposium at the conference (for details on that session see here). Today we bring you the rest of the history programming at the conference. Below you’ll find all the details about the talks, including a keynote address from Alexandra Rutherford:  Women “Ought Not to Have Any Sex, But They Do”: And Other Tales of Gender in Science. 

 

Symposium: International Perspectives
Saturday, March 15
9:00-10:20, Winthrop
Chair: David B. Baker (University of Akron)

This invited symposium on the history of psychology brings together the diverse perspectives of Uwe Gielen, Professor of Psychology at St. Francis College and Executive Director of the Institute for International and Cross-Cultural Psychology, Fabian Agiurgioaei Boie, School Psychologist and formerly of the Albert Ellis Institute, and David B. Baker, Professor of Psychology and Margaret Clark Morgan Executive Director at the Center for the History of Psychology, University of Akron.

Presentations

Magazin der Erfahrungsseelenkunde (1783 – 1793): The World’s First Psychology Journal, by Uwe Gielen, St. Francis College

Psychology in Romania: The Myth of Phoenix, by Fabian Agiurgioaei Boie, St. John’s University

Discussant(s): David B. Baker, University of Akron

History Invited Keynote Address: Alexandra Rutherford
Saturday, March 15, 2014
1:30 PM – 2:50 PM, Terrace
Chair: Claire Etaugh (Bradley University)

Women “Ought Not to Have Any Sex, But They Do”: And Other Tales of Gender in Science, by Alexandra Rutherford (York University) Continue reading History of Psychology at EPA, Mar. 13-16th Boston

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August HoP: Sex, Mesmerism, Addiction, & More

The August 2012 issue of History of Psychology is now online. Included in this issue is a Special Section: Beyond Kinsey, Sex and American Psychology, which examines some of the psychological research funded by the Committee for Research in Problems of Sex. Stay tuned to AHP later in the week for a special interview with Peter Hegarty, Michael Pettit, and David Serlin, the authors whose articles make up this section.

In addition to the Special Section: Beyond Kinsey, Sex and American Psychology, the issue includes article that address the history of addiction interventions, the roots of psychology in Italy, behavior analysis in Brazil and its pedagogical connections, Lurena Brackett and mesmerism in the nineteenth century United States, and Jean Piaget’s psychological factory. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

Special Section: Beyond Kinsey, Sex and American Psychology.

“Beyond Kinsey: The committee for research on problems of sex and American psychology,” by Peter Hegarty. The abstract reads,

This introduction to the Special Section of History of Psychology argues for greater attention to psychological research on sex in the decades before the publication of the Kinsey volumes. Drawing on scholarship by Adele Clarke, Donna Haraway and Wade Pickren, this introduction argues for the centrality of the psychological research projects funded by the Committee for Research on Problems of Sex (CRPS), chaired by psychologist Robert Yerkes after 1921. The three individual papers all speak to opposition to the functionalist approach to sex often attributed to Yerkes’ CRPS.

“Getting miles away from Terman: Did the CRPS fund Catharine Cox Miles’s unsilenced psychology of sex?” by Peter  Hegarty. The abstract reads, Continue reading August HoP: Sex, Mesmerism, Addiction, & More

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New Issue! History of Psychology

The May 2012 issue of History of Psychology is now online. Included in this issue are a number of all new articles, including pieces on the history of postpartum depression, a late-nineteenth century nerve training controversy, and the use of psychology by American ministers in the mid-twentieth century. Other items in this issue include an interview with Philip Zimbardo on the 40th anniversary of the Stanford Prison Experiment, the incorporation of cross-cultural examples in teaching, and a look back at the Holocaust interviews conducted by psychologist David Boder in the 1940s. Additionally, Frances Cherry, Rhoda Unger, and Andrew Winston comment on an earlier article by William Woodward on Jewish émigré psychologists and Woodward responds. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Can’t a mother sing the blues? Postpartum depression and the construction of motherhood in late 20th-century America,” by Lisa Held & Alexandra Rutherford. The abstract reads,

Popular depictions of 20th-century American motherhood have typically emphasized the joy and fulfillment that a new mother can expect to experience on her child’s arrival. But starting in the 1950s, discussions of the “baby blues” began to appear in the popular press. How did articles about the baby blues, and then postpartum depression, challenge these rosy depictions? In this article, we examine portrayals of postpartum distress in popular magazines and advice books during the second half of the 20th century to examine how the unsettling pairing of distress and motherhood was culturally negotiated in these decades. We show that these portrayals revealed a persistent reluctance to situate motherhood itself as the cause of serious emotional distress and a consistent focus on changing mothers to adapt to their role rather than changing the parameters of the role itself. Regardless of whether these messages actually helped or hindered new mothers themselves, we suggest that they reflected the rarely challenged assumption that motherhood and distress should not mix.

“Delsartean hypnosis for girls’ bodies and minds: Annie Payson Call and the Lasell Seminary nerve training controversy,” by John M. Andrick. The abstract reads Continue reading New Issue! History of Psychology

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APA Monitor: SPSSI’s 75th Anniversary

The June issue of the American Psychological Association’s Monitor on Psychology includes a piece on the 75th anniversary of SPSSI. SPSSI, the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, is division 9 of the APA. As Alexandra Rutherford describes,

SPSSI was born on Sept. 1, 1936, at New Hampshire’s Dartmouth College. It was conceived and delivered by a dynamic group of concerned social scientists who felt that organized psychology was not acting on the pressing social and economic problems of the 1930s. As one founder, Walter Lurie, put it, “we believed the study of psychology must have some relevance to economic and political problems, if it had any human worth at all.”

In its first year, SPSSI welcomed 17 percent of APA’s members into its ranks.

In the article, Rutherford also describes Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech as part of SPSSI’s 1967 APA convention programming. The full piece on SPSSI’s history can be read online here.

AHP’s readers may also want to check out SPSSI’s 75th anniversary gala August 3rd, during the APA convention in Washington, DC.

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Bibliography: History of Feminist Psychology

This post is written by Alexandra Rutherford, York University and is part of a special series of bibliographies on topics in the history of psychology.

I have included four sections in this reading list. All are limited to the North American context. The first section includes works that review and/or historically analyze the history of feminist psychology, psychology of women, and psychology of gender in North America. The second brief section includes a few resources on the history of feminist organizing/organizations in North American psychology. The last two sections I have called Feminist Psychology Classics I and II to refer to primary works pre-second wave feminism, and second wave and beyond, respectively. I have intentionally refrained from including the body of work on psychoanalysis and feminism, and have used fairly internalist inclusion criteria, that is, I have included works written by psychologists, generated within the disciplinary framework of organized psychology. Clearly, there are many classic works of feminist psychology that fall outside these boundaries.

I. History of Feminist Psychology/Psychology of Women/Psychology of Gender:

Brodsky, A. M. (1980). A decade of feminist influence on psychotherapy. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 4, 331-344.

Crawford, M. & Marecek, J. (1989). Psychology reconstructs the female, 1968-1988. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 13, 147-165.

Denmark, F. L., & Fernandez, L. C. (1993). Historical development of the psychology of women. In F. L. Denmark & M. A. Paludi (Eds.), Psychology of women: A handbook of issues and theories (pp. 4-22). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Harris, B. J. (1984). The power of the past: History and the psychology of women. In M. Lewin (Ed.), In the shadow of the past: Psychology portrays the sexes (pp. 1-25). New York: Columbia University Press. Continue reading Bibliography: History of Feminist Psychology

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Interview: Psychology’s Feminist Voices

AHP has the pleasure of presenting an interview with Alexandra Rutherford (right) on the ongoing online archive project Psychology’s Feminist Voices. Directed by Rutherford, Psychology’s Feminist Voices documents the contributions of female psychologists to the discipline, both past and present.

Rutherford is a faculty member in the History and Theory of Psychology graduate program at York University, a fellow of the American Psychological Association’s Society for the History of Psychology, the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, and the Society for the Psychology of Women and she was kind enough to grant AHP’s request for an interview.

AHP: Briefly, what is Psychology’s Feminist Voices?

AR: Psychology’s Feminist Voices is an Oral History and On-Line Archive Project that I launched in 2004. Although it started small, it has developed over the past 7 years into a multi-component collaborative initiative to document and preserve the voices and stories of feminist psychologists both for the historical record, and for feminist scholarship, teaching, and advocacy in psychology. To date, we have conducted over 100 interviews with self-identified feminist psychologists across North America and Europe. In 2010, we launched the Psychology’s Feminist Voices multimedia internet archive – http://www.feministvoices.com – at the American Psychological Association (APA) convention in San Diego, California. At that time, the site was officially endorsed by the Society for the Psychology of Women, Division 35 of the APA.

The internet archive features profiles of many of the participants in the oral history project, full transcripts and video excerpts from their interviews, and a 40-minute original documentary about the history of feminist psychology in the United States. And this is only half of it! The other half features profiles of women in the history of psychology who may or may not have identified as feminists, but who nonetheless made important contributions that need to be highlighted in our history. Continue reading Interview: Psychology’s Feminist Voices

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History of Feminist Psychology in PWQ

The most recent issue of the Psychology of Women Quarterly (PWQ), includes two articles on the history of feminist psychology. In “Responsible Opposition, Disruptive Voices: Science, Social Change, and the History of Feminist Psychology” Alexandra Rutherford (left), Kelli Vaughn-Blount, and Laura C. Ball explore the complex relationship between psychologists’ positivist scientific ideals and feminist political projects. The other historically minded article in this issue of PWQ, “Feminism and Women Leaders in SPSSI: Social Networks, Ideology, and Generational Change,” explores the lives of female leaders of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. Title, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Responsible Opposition, Disruptive Voices: Science, Social Change, and the History of Feminist Psychology” by Alexandra Rutherford, Kelli Vaughn-Blount, and Laura C. Ball. The abstract reads:

Feminist psychology began as an avowedly political project with an explicit social change agenda. However, over the last two decades, a number of critics have argued that feminist psychology has become mired in an epistemological impasse where positivist commitments effectively mute its political project, rendering the field acceptable to mainstream psychology yet shorn of its transformative vision. In this article, we explore the complexity of allying positivism with a transformative project using two illustrative examples from feminist psychology’s history. Both Naomi Weisstein, whose work was catalytic in the creation of feminist psychology in the 1970s, and Ethel Tobach, who has consistently fought against sexism, racism, and other forms of injustice as both scientist and citizen, have remained committed to the scientific ideal without losing sight of their political projects. Continue reading History of Feminist Psychology in PWQ

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