As part of the Smithsonian’s Museum Day Live! events on March 12th – National Girl Scout Day – a special pop-up museum exploring the contributions of women of colour in psychology will be launched. The pop-up museum, I Am Psyched!, is a collaboration between the American Psychological Association, The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology (a Smithsonian Affiliate), and Psychology’s Feminist Voices. In a recent blog post on the Smithsonian Affiliate blog, the project is described as focusing
on illuminating the past, present, and future of women of color in the field of psychology. Historically, psychology has been dominated by white men. However, the period following World War II and the Civil Rights Movement, women of color entered the field in greater numbers, leaving inspirational stories and paving the way for a more diverse and inclusive psychology.
I Am Psyched! explores these stories and celebrates the legacies of these women through a pop-up museum exhibit, a live-streamed conversation hour with groundbreaking women psychologists, and on-site and virtual learning activities.
The pop-up exhibit, to be installed at the American Psychological Association’s Capitol View Conference Center in Washington, DC, will feature film, sound recordings, images, artifacts, and letters that tell the fascinating story of how women of color have and continue to contribute to psychology.
Well it’s been a long haul, but it’s official. The Pentagon has ended their use of psychologists in the Guantánamo Bay prison.
The post-Hoffman Report AGM in Toronto this past summer saw the association executive taken to task by the membership for ongoing failure to enforce increased ethical requirements initiated in 2008’s Petition Resolution.
The media should be praised for contributing external pressure through exposure of the association’s collusion with American governmental agencies in ways that violate international human rights agreements as established by the UN, including interrogation programs run by the CIA under the Bush administration. As reported in the NY Times, a FBI-led High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group, founded under the Obama admin, is the only part of the current government to have expressed concern over the APA’s new adherence to their own policies. Here’s hoping that doesn’t prove to be cause for real concern moving forward.
The Times’ piece also succinctly covers the association’s internal climate re. this most recent turn of events:
Some current and former military psychologists have been critical of the A.P.A. ban, saying it is so broadly written that it could make it difficult for them to work professionally in almost any national security setting. But advocates of the ban say it had to be written in a way that would close what they believe were longstanding loopholes in the organization’s ethics guidance.
Below please find a reverse chronology of our extensive APA torture coverage from throughout the era in which these developments occurred (It is our sincere wish to be able to end the series with this post):
The Society for the History of Psychology (SHP), Division 26 of the American Psychological Association, has issued a reminder of the submission deadline for their 2016 meeting. SHP will meet as part of the 2016 annual convention of the American Psychological Association, which will be held in Denver, Colorado, August 4-7, 2016. The full details follow below.
We welcome inclusive proposals for symposia, individual papers, posters, and conversation hours related to the history or historiography of psychology, or to the human sciences more generally. An award is given for best student paper.
Dr. James Lamiell’s Presidential Theme this year highlights the problem of the diminishing profile of graduate-level coursework in history and philosophy of psychology within the overall education of our Ph.D.s. Critical discussion of this state of affairs is encouraged (but not required).
Chances are you, like us, have been following the fall out from the American Psychological Association’s Hoffman Report, which details how the organization colluded with the United States government to ensure psychologists remained part of its torture program. While there are a ton of opinion pieces floating around in the wake of the report, we thought we’d highlight a few pieces that take a particularly historical view on the current situation.
Over on the Hidden Persuaders blog, part of a project on Cold War era brainwashing efforts, Marcia Holmes has written “What we’re reading now: The APA report.” Holmes details the events leading up to the Hoffman Report and situates psychology’s involvement in torture in relation to the emergence of “operational psychology.” The fundamental tension between “operational psychology” and ethics, Holmes argues, may never be resolved. Read the full piece online here.
BBC Radio program Witness has produced an episode on “CIA Mind Control Experiments” in the 1950s. While this piece is not directly about the Hoffman Report, it documents the long history of relations between psychology and the CIA:
In the 1950s the CIA started attempting to brainwash psychiatric patients. They wanted to develop methods which could be used against enemies in the Cold War. Hear from one man whose father was experimented on in a Canadian psychiatric hospital.
The full 10-minute episode can be heard online here.
The APA’s current ethics mess is a problem inherent to its method of setting professional ethics policy and a problem that faces professional organizations more broadly. Professions’ codes of ethics are made to seem anonymous, dropped into the world by some higher moral authority. But ethics codes have authors. In the long term, the APA’s problems will not be solved by repeating the same process that empowers a select elite to write ethics policy, then removes their connection to it.
All ethics codes have authors who work to erase the appearance of their influence. Personal interests are inevitable, if not unmanageable, and it may be best for the APA — and other professional groups — to keep the link between an ethics policy and its authors. Take a new lesson from the Hippocratic oath by observing its name. The APA should make its ethics policies like most other papers that scientists write: give the code of ethics a byline.
“The American Psychological Association’s Committee on Women in Psychology: 40 Years of Contributions to the Transformation of Psychology,” by Joan C. Chrisler, Cynthia de las Fuentes, Ramani S. Durvasula, Edna M. Esnil, Maureen C. McHugh, Shari E. Miles-Cohen, Julie L. Williams, and Jennifer P. Wisdom. The abstract reads,
The Committee on Women in Psychology (CWP) of the American Psychological Association was founded in 1973 in response to the report of the Task Force on the Status of Women in Psychology. In this article, we set the context for the founding of the task force and committee and briefly describe the history of feminist critique of, and activism within, organized psychology in the United States. From its inception to the present day, CWP has been known as an activist group. We review some of the major contributions CWP has made over four decades in service of the feminist transformation of psychology. We also review the committee’s major contributions to psychology in the public interest, especially to the physical and mental health and well-being of women.
Thoughts on having read (half of) Stanley Fish’s 2011 book, How to Write a Sentence:
Long ago, in order to seem more “scientific,” the discipline of psychology decided to adopt (and rigorously enforce) a staccato, just-the-facts writing style. We drill it into our students in nearly every course, using a multi-hundred-page writing manual that everyone is expected to own and use. Indeed, in some courses, knowledge of APA style seems to loom more important even than knowledge of the psychological topic (cognition, personality, social, etc.) that is supposedly being taught.
It was originally intended, I suspect, to be a kind of anti-style in which “things” would be the only persuasive factors at work, all rhetorical techniques having been banished to the not-entirely-trusted realm of “words,” so that the reader would not be confused by the eloquent flourishes of crafty belle-lettrists of times past (or of the humanities present). This justification is, of course, ridiculous. A spare, telegraphic writing style is every bit as much a style as an elaborately ornamented one; giving the appearance of reporting “just the facts” is every bit as much a rhetorical technique — viz., one intended to be persuasive beyond the mere quality of the content — as is one that displays erudition through the most startling verbal gymnastics.
My question, then, is what important insights has psychology, the discipline, made it difficult or impossible to express by cleaving so strictly to this particular style, rather than allowing a wider range of writing styles to exist side-by-side in the discipline?
Linda Beebe, the senior director of PsycINFO (the psychology search engine), has written a brief history describing the evolution of the world’s premiere resource for psychological literature. [Update: the original link is no longer accessible; see a cached version here.] It provides a fascinating look at a part of the discipline that we often take for granted.
PsycINFO began in 1967 with the first electronic publication of the bibliographic records included in that year’s print Psychological Abstracts. The ability to produce an electronic product so early in the computing revolution came about as a result of grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a Scientific Information Exchange Project.
In 1965 the APA Publications Board approved an experimental study of the feasibility of producing Psychological Abstracts by the Photon process, which would yield magnetic tapes that could be used for information retrieval.
The production process was crude by today’s standards, as the electronic output was the result of a long paper-and-pencil creation process. However, when implemented in 1966, it greatly changed nearly everything about the production of Psychological Abstracts….
With a monthly, rather than a bimonthly, publication schedule, lag times were cut dramatically from as much as 3 years to as little as 3 months. The quantity of abstracts published also increased, moving from 8,381 in 1963 to 13,622 in 1966; and by the end of the decade the annual output had risen to 18,068….
In 1980 PsycINFO published 31,764 abstracts in electronic form…. By 1989, the annual total had grown to 52,442 abstracts….
A digital archive of material related to an American Psychological Association questionnaire on research ethics issued between 1968 and 1970 has been launched online. This resource, the Wesleyan Digital Archive of Psychology has been put together under the leadership of Jill Morawski and Laura Stark, both of Wesleyan University. Although the material for the digital archive is still under development, several sample surveys are currently available on the site, both as transcriptions and as digital images (as pictured at left). The Wesleyan Digital Archive of Psychology is described as follows:
Between 1968 and 1970, more than 3,000 psychologists wrote to leaders of the American Psychological Association and described instances of ethically questionable research. The psychologists were responding to a questionnaire that the APA mailed to two-thirds of its members—19,000 psychologists in all. The organization used psychologists’ stories to update its ethics code in 1973.
The stories offer a vivid, panoramic view of American psychology in the decades after World War II from the perspectives of students, practitioners, and human subjects of research. The Wesleyan Digital Archive of Psychology is creating an electronic repository of the responses in two formats: as transcribed text documents, and as digital images. As of October 2010, transcription of the first wave of the questionnaire responses (comprising 1,000 responses) is complete. Continue reading Wesleyan Digital Archive of Psychology→
I think this counts as an event worthy of breaking AHP’s summer silence.
The American Psychological Association (APA) has come out in favor of stripping James Mitchell of his license to practice. Mitchell (pictured right) is one of the psychologists who worked for the CIA developing and applying controversial “enhanced” interrogation techniques that were used against terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay prison and other “black sites” that the CIA maintains around the world. An Associated Press article about the APA’s actions can be found here.
The is move surprising because the APA has been heavily criticized both from within its membership and without for being evasive in efforts to forbid its members from participating in such activities. First it issued directives with ambiguous wording. When the membership voted overwhelmingly in favor of a more direct statement against torture, the APA Board came under fire for dragging its feet in implementing the resolution.