Dee McQuillan (UCL), “Excavating an English Psycho-Analyst: James Strachey’s Papers and Work 1909-1945”
To what extent can studying a psychologist’s private life and personality contribute to the understanding of their work? In sharp contrast to his contemporaries, such as Edward Glover, John Rickman or Joan Riviere, James Strachey left an enormous quantity of manuscripts, mostly in the form of personal letters. While Strachey was not an avid writer in his own right — Ernest Jones complained about his lack of productivity — excavating the wealth of personal paperwork that he left presents an ideal opportunity to explore this question.
Monday 5th June
Dr Ernst Falzeder (UCL) ‘How Jung Became the First President of the International Psychoanalytical Association’
It shocked Freud’s closest followers at the time that he wanted, in 1910, a Swiss gentile to become lifetime president of a new international organization of psychoanalysts. This talk sketches the background and repercussions of this “coup.”
SELCS Common Room (G24)
University College London
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.
SELCS Common Room (G24)
University College London
‘Disciplining Bergson: Cinematographs as Epistemic Devices, 1896-1922’
Henri Bergson’s use of the cinematograph as a metaphor for scientific epistemology had a major impact on twentieth-century conceptions of science: even today, many philosophers of science regard the relation between recording mechanisms and embodied observers as critical to our understanding of objective knowledge. Yet little is known about the extent to which Bergson’s characterization of cinematographs as epitomizing a pervasive ‘fragmentation’ of nature into lifeless ‘snapshots’ reflected actual scientific practice during the early twentieth century. This talk will address cinematographic experimentation by such contemporaries of Bergson as Charles Scott Sherrington, Hugo Münsterberg, and Max Wertheimer. In doing so, it will suggest that as well as expressing a broader trend towards the mechanical analysis of nature, cinematograph-centred experimentation contributed to a disciplinary divergence between psychological and physiological science during the first decades of the twentieth century. It will further highlight how this changing disciplinary structure came to haunt Bergson’s philosophy during the 1920s. Ironically, the prominence that Bergson gave to his to cinematographic metaphor prevented him from adapting his philosophy to a mode of scientific organization that grew up around the devices themselves.
‘C.G. Jung’s Interpretation of Girolamo Cardano’s Dreams’
Between 1936 and 1941, Carl Gustav Jung presented a seminar on children’s dreams and the historical literature on dream interpretation in Zurich. As part of the seminar Jung analysed twelve dreams of Girolamo Cardano. These sessions do not only give a peek into Jungian dream interpretation in practice, but also demonstrate how Jung used Cardano’s dream reports to corroborate his ideas about archetypes, the collective unconscious, synchronicity and the harmonization of opposites. In his book on dreams, titled Synesiorum somniorum omnis generis insomnia explicantes, libri IV (1562), Cardano defends the merits of dream interpretation and offers a philosophical explanation for his views. Central to his dream theory is the idea that the cosmos is a unified, harmonic and animated entity. The universal harmonic interrelations between all cosmic phenomena provide the basis for Cardano’s theory of dream interpretation. In this paper I will investigate how and why Jung used Cardano’s dream reports to revive the Renaissance notion of a unitary harmonic world as the eternal ground of all empirical being. Moreover, I will analyse why Jung was prepared to make a ‘salto mortale’ to appropriate Cardano’s dreams, while at the same time he considered him as ‘a free thinker who was more superstitious than primitives.’
Location: SELCS Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet Place, University College London
Speaker: Arthur Eaton (UCL)
Seminar title: History telling: A biography pf psychohistory
In June 1976 the American Psychiatric Association published a document entitled The Psychiatrist as Psychohistorian. In that report, a committee investigated the dangers – including the threat to United States national security – of a phenomenon called psychohistory. What is psychohistory? Why is it relatively unknown today? In this presentation, I will explore these questions and argue that psychohistory is best conceived of as an interdiscipline – born out of the marriage between two ‘parent’ disciplines: psychoanalysis and history. I will discuss the ‘rise and fall’ of the psychohistorical movement, highlight the conceptual difficulties of a hybrid discipline, and speak about my own search for psychohistory.
The Looking Back feature of The Psychologist is inviting submissions on the history of psychology and the psychology of history (i.e. psychological perspectives on history). Submissions need to be @1800 words and can include reflections on key figures/periods/theories/events, or indeed figures/theories/events that may have been lost and forgotten by psychology, but should not have been! Submissions should aim to be engaging and journalistic in writing style, and seek to engage as well as inform the reader. Articles, ideas for articles and questions can be emailed to the associate editor of the Looking Back feature Alison Torn email@example.com
Professor Elisabeth Lunbeck (Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts): “Narcissism in the Age of Trump”
How can we explain the improbable appeal of Donald Trump to a wide swath of the American populace? In this presentation, I propose that one explanation may be found in the ways in which he mobilises his narcissism – evident in his charisma and grandiosity as well as in a primitive inner world characterised by rage and envy – to connect to his followers and to effect their submission to him, holding out the promise of participating in his greatness. Drawing on psychoanalytic writings on malignant narcissism and on leadership, I offer a framework for beginning to understand his phenomenal rise.
Location: Institute of Advanced Studies, Common Ground, Ground Floor, South Wing, Wilkins Building, UCL, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT
Registration is not required and for more information contact Professor Sonu Shamdasani at UCL (020 7679 8154).
Monday 18th July
Dr Fabio de Sio (Heinrich Heine University, Düsseldorf): “The title is misleading: J.C. Eccles, the Waynflete Lectures and the dawn of the neurosciences in Britain (1945–1954).”
The history of the neurosciences is usually cast as a cumulative process of discovery and theoretical innovation, leading to a veritable cultural revolution. The latter is accounted for in terms of an unstoppable growth of the brain, at the expense of the mind (or the soul), and as a progressive obliteration of old and fuzzy problems and entities (free will, mind, soul), traditionally associated with the explanation of human action. As a consequence, the neurosciences have been widely marketed not simply as the new model of scientific rationality (incorporating and integrating the bio- and psycho-disciplines), but also as the most suitable candidate to the title of ‘next science of Man’. This is based on the conflation between the growth of specialised knowledge and its interpretation in a wholly materialistic, brain-centric framework. This paper points at a different interpretation of the neurosciences as a cultural programme, based not on scientific revolution, interdisciplinarity and brain-centrism, but rather on tradition, harmonic cooperation between distinct disciplines (physiology, philosophy, introspective psychology) and a strong, reductionistic focus on the neurone as the basic level of interpretation. Through an analysis of the scientific and cultural endeavours of the physiologist and Nobelist J.C. Eccles FRS (1903–1997), his 1952 Lectures, The Neurophysiological Bases of the Mind: the Principles of Neurophysiology, I show how the New Science of the Brain was criticised by Eccles as a materialistic heresy, rooted in cultural prejudices, rather than on sound experimentation and proper scientific method. In parallel, I will show how the special brand of neurosciences heralded by Eccles was almost universally ignored by its critics. Finally, I wish to point at a whole network of neuroscience-related specialists (physiologists, psychiatrists, psychologists) and engaged intellectuals, who took Eccles’ programme seriously, and tried to consolidate, in the following decades, an alternative science of the mind/brain.
Location: Arts and Humanities Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet Place, University College London
Directions: From the Torrington Place entrance to UCL, enter the campus on Malet Place. After fifty metres, you will find Foser Court on the right hand side. Turn right under the underpass, and enter via the second door on the right. The common room is straight ahead.
With Childhood in Mind
A BPS Flagship Event
In conjunction with BPS History & Philosophy of Psychology Section
Thursday 6 October 2016, 10.30am–4.30pm
Chancellor’s Hall, Senate House University of London Malet Street London WC1E 7HU Speakers:
Professor Matthew Smith (University of Strathclyde) The Nervous and Allergic Child: Psychosomatic Understanding of Allergy in Mid-Century USA
Professor Mathew Thomson (University of Warwick) Psychology and the Landscape of the Child in 20th-Century Britain: A Story of Lost Freedom?
Professor Ingrid Lunt (University of Oxford) The Child’s Place in the World: Evolving Rights and Responsibilities
Professor Vasu Reddy (University of Portsmouth) The Child as a Psychologist? – Shifting Assumptions and Changing Understandings
Plus a presentation of his PhD research by Andrew Burchell (University of Warwick) Mental Health in the ‘blackboard jungle’: Psychology and youth violence in post-war Britain
Professor John Stewart (Glasgow Caledonian University)
Professor John Hall (Oxford Brookes University)
Cost: £15: including welcome refreshments and light buffet lunch