Tag Archives: britain

New JHBS: Psychiatry & Religion, Magnétisme, & More

The Fall 2015 issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioural Sciences is now online. Articles in this issue explore psychiatry and religion in the mid-twentieth century, continuities from magnétisme in late-nineteenth century discourse on hypnotism, and more. Titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“THE POLITICS OF PSYCHIATRY AND THE VICISSITUDES OF FAITH CIRCA 1950: KARL STERN’S PSYCHIATRIC NOVEL,” by Daniel Burston. The abstract reads,

Karl Stern, MD (1906–1975) was the author of The Pillar of Fire (1951) and three nonfiction books on psychiatry, psychoanalysis, and religion. His novel, Through Dooms of Love (1960), written with the assistance of his friend and admirer Graham Greene, covers a number of topics that were to psychiatric theory, treatment, and research at mid-century, and reflects several features of his own personal and professional vicissitudes.

“IMPERCEPTIBLE SIGNS: REMNANTS OF MAGNÉTISME IN SCIENTIFIC DISCOURSES ON HYPNOTISM IN LATE NINETEENTH-CENTURY FRANCE,” by KIM M. HAJEK. The abstract reads,

In 1880s France, hypnotism enjoyed unique medico-scientific legitimacy. This was in striking contrast to preceding decades when its precursor, magnétisme animal, was rejected by the medical/academic establishment as a disreputable, supernaturally tinged practice. Did the legitimation of hypnotism result from researchers repudiating any reference to the wondrous? Or did strands of magnetic thinking persist? This article interrogates the relations among hypnotism, magnétisme, and the domain of the wondrous through close analysis of scientific texts on hypnotism. In question is the notion that somnambulist subjects possessed hyperacute senses, enabling them to perceive usually imperceptible signs, and thus inadvertently to denature researchers’ experiments (a phenomenon known as unconscious suggestion). The article explores researchers’ uncritical and unanimous acceptance of these ideas, arguing that they originate in a holdover from magnétisme. This complicates our understanding of the continuities and discontinuities between science and a precursor “pseudo-science,” and, more narrowly, of the notorious Salpêtrière-Nancy “battle” over hypnotism.

“KNOWLEDGE ECOLOGIES, “SUPPLE” OBJECTS, AND DIFFERENT PRIORITIES ACROSS WOMEN’S AND GENDER STUDIES PROGRAMS AND DEPARTMENTS IN THE UNITED STATES, 1970–2010,” by Christine Virginia Wood. The abstract reads, Continue reading New JHBS: Psychiatry & Religion, Magnétisme, & More

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Mar. 24th Talk! Over the Edge: William Sargant and the Battle for the Mind

The British Psychological Society’History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, has announced the next talk as part of the BPS History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series. UCL’s Mike Jay will be speaking on “Over the Edge: William Sargant and the Battle for the Mind.” Full details, including abstract, follow below.

British Psychological Society History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series
Sponsored by the British Psychological Society. Open to the public.

Date: Monday 24th March
Time: 6pm to 7.30pm
Location: Arts and Humanities Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet Place, University College London.

Over the Edge: William Sargant and the Battle for the Mind
Mike Jay

In his bestselling book of 1957, Battle for the Mind, the psychiatrist William Sargant revealed to the public the secret techniques that had been used to manipulate humanity, in his words, ‘from the Stone Age to Hitler’. His ideas were adopted by public intellectuals including Robert Graves, Aldous Huxley and Bertrand Russell.

Sargant’s theory was perhaps the most potent manifestation of postwar psychiatry in British popular culture, both drawing on and contributing to its aura of power and expertise. He presented a stark image of a modern world that had outgrown religious consolation but was not yet rational enough to resist the forms of control that were replacing it.

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HoP in the November 2013 issue of Social History of Medicine

The November 2013 issue of Social History of Medicine includes two articles that may be of interest to AHP readers. In the first of these articles, Rob Ellis discusses the role of politics in the management of the insane at London County Council’s asylums near Epsom. In a further article, Vicky Long examines the treatment of those with chronic mental disorders in Britain during the post-war period. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“‘A constant irritation to the townspeople’? Local, Regional and National Politics and London’s County Asylums at Epsom,” by Rob Ellis. The abstract reads,

In 1908, The Times described London County Council’s asylums near Epsom as ‘a constant irritation to the townspeople’. The article was specifically concerned with the patient walking parties that made their way into the town. This, and references to the site of the asylum, focused on the sense of imposition as local residents were forced to contend with London’s insane population. As the ‘townspeople’ negotiated the impact of the asylums, the Urban District Council and Lord Rosebery, a former Prime Minister, were to play central roles. The aim of this article is to uncover the motivations of the Council and Rosebery and the roles that first the asylums and then their patients played in the development of their views. Ultimately, it will be argued that although the Council and Rosebery operated outside the management structure of London Asylums, they were able to instigate changes to the ways in which patients were managed.

“Rethinking Post-war Mental Health Care: Industrial Therapy and the Chronic Mental Patient in Britain,” by Vicky Long. The abstract reads, Continue reading HoP in the November 2013 issue of Social History of Medicine

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New Issue: History of the Human Sciences

The July 2013 issue of History of the Human Sciences is now online. Included in this issue are articles on the development of the concept of autism in Britain, an interview with Holberg prize winning philosopher Ian Hacking (right), and Adam Smith’s views on animals, among others. Full title, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“How autism became autism: The radical transformation of a central concept of child development in Britain,” by Bonnie Evans. The abstract reads,

This article argues that the meaning of the word ‘autism’ experienced a radical shift in the early 1960s in Britain which was contemporaneous with a growth in epidemiological and statistical studies in child psychiatry. The first part of the article explores how ‘autism’ was used as a category to describe hallucinations and unconscious fantasy life in infants through the work of significant child psychologists and psychoanalysts such as Jean Piaget, Lauretta Bender, Leo Kanner and Elwyn James Anthony. Theories of autism were then associated both with schizophrenia in adults and with psychoanalytic styles of reasoning. The closure of institutions for ‘mental defectives’ and the growth in speech therapy services in the 1960s and 1970s encouraged new models for understanding autism in infants and children. The second half of the article explores how researchers such as Victor Lotter and Michael Rutter used the category of autism to reconceptualize psychological development in infants and children via epidemiological studies. These historical changes have influenced the form and function of later research into autism and related conditions.

“‘I am a philosopher of the particular case’: An interview with the 2009 Holberg prizewinner Ian Hacking,” by Ole Jacob Madsen, Johannes Servan, and Simen Andersen Øyen. The abstract reads, Continue reading New Issue: History of the Human Sciences

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New Book on History of British Educational Psych!

The British Psychological Society‘s History of Psychology Centre has begun a monograph series, and its first publication is now available: British Educational Psychology: The First Hundred Years. The volume is edited by Christopher Arnold and Julia Hardy. As described on the Centre’s website,

In 1913 the first applied psychologist took up his post with the London County Council. His job was to assess children for special educational programmes and develop tools to identify children who may need alternative kinds of education. With this post, the profession of educational psychology was born. The numbers of educational psychologists have steadily grown over the subsequent hundred years and the practices, roles and functions that they adopt have similarly developed.

This book outlines the development of the profession in the United Kingdom during its first century of existence. It describes a number of different themes that have emerged over time and documents key points in the profession’s development.

The book’s contents follow below,

Monograph No.1
British Educational Psychology: The First Hundred Years
Edited by Christopher Arnold & Julia Hardy

Chapter 1 Origins by Christopher Arnold
Vignette 1: Defining Psychology, British Journal of Psychology,January 1904, Vol 1 No1

Chapter 2 The rise of education by Christopher Arnold
Vignette 2: Part of Cyril Burt’s contract with the London County Council Continue reading New Book on History of British Educational Psych!

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New! Special Issue History of the Human Sciences

The April 2012 issue of History of the Human Sciences is now online. This month’s issue is a special issue, guest edited by Elizabeth Valentine, on the topic of parapsychology, occultism, and spiritualism. The eight all new articles in the issue explore the history of psychology’s relationship to spiritualism and other occult matters across the globe; most specifically in the Netherlands, the United States of America, Germany, Britain, France, Spain, Hungary, and Japan. (Pictured above is medium Eusapia Palladino, the subject of one of the issues articles, in a seance in 1898.) Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Psychical research and parapsychology interpreted: Suggestions from the international historiography of psychical research and parapsychology for investigating its history in the Netherlands,” by Ingrid Kloosterman. The abstract reads,

One of the reasons the history of parapsychology and its ancestor psychical research is intriguing is because it addresses a central issue: the boundaries of science. This article provides an overview of the historiography of parapsychology and presents an approach to investigate the Dutch history of parapsychology contributing to the understanding of this central theme. In the first section the historical accounts provided by psychical researchers and parapsychologists themselves are discussed; next those studies of sociologists and historians understanding parapsychology as deviant and even potentially revolutionary are dealt with; third, more contemporary studies are examined whereby enterprises such as parapsychology are understood as central to the culture in which they arose. On the basis of this analysis a new direction in the historiography of the subject is suggested in the fourth section, centred upon the relation between parapsychology and psychology in the Netherlands throughout the 20th century. In the Netherlands not only were pioneering psychologists such as Gerard Heymans (1857–1930) actively involved in experiments into telepathy, the first professor in parapsychology in the world – Wilhelm Tenhaeff (1894–1981) – was appointed in 1953 at Utrecht University and in the 1970s and 1980s parapsychology had its own research laboratory at Utrecht University in the division of psychology. This unique situation in the Netherlands deserves scholarly attention and makes an interesting case to investigate the much-neglected connections between the fields of psychology and parapsychology in the 20th century. The connections between psychology and parapsychology might help us to understand why parapsychology came to be regarded as a pseudoscience.

“Psychical research and the origins of American psychology: Hugo Münsterberg, William James and Eusapia Palladino,” by Andreas Sommer. The abstract reads, Continue reading New! Special Issue History of the Human Sciences

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More Talks! BPS Hist. of Psych. Seminar Series

As previously discussed on AHP (here, here, and here) the British Psychological Society’s History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, has organized a seminar series. Two more talks in this series will be held next month. On March 6th, Egbert Klautke of University College London will be speaking on the French reception of German Völkerpsychologie before 1914. At the end of the month, Elizabeth Valentine (left) will speak of psychologists involvement with psychical research in Britain between the wars. Full seminar details, including titles, speakers, dates, and abstracts follow below.

“The French Reception of Völkerpsychologie and the Origins of the Social Sciences,” to be presented by Egbert Klautke on Tuesday 6 March, 2012. The abstract reads,

In this talk, I will focus on French readings, criticism and adaptations of German Völkerpsychologie (Lazarus/Steinthal, Wundt) before the First World War. I will show how Théodule Ribot, Emile Durkheim, Ernest Renan and Alfred Fouillée used arguments found in the writings of their German contemporaries, and present this cultural transfer as an important chapter in the making of a ‘social science’.

“Spooks and Spoofs: Relations Between Psychical Research and Academic Psychology in Britain in the Inter-war Period,” to be presented by Elizabeth Valentine on Monday 26 March, 2012 [Date updated]. The abstract reads,

The close connections between psychologists and the Society for Psychical Research in the late nineteenth century have been duly acknowledged. What is less well known is that senior academic psychologists were involved in psychical research in the early to mid-twentieth century. William McDougall and William Brown attended a number of séances arranged by Harry Price; J.C. Flugel, Cyril Burt, C. Alec Mace and Francis Aveling were members of his ‘University of London Council for Psychical Investigation’ and supported psychical research in various ways. This paper describes some of their antics and ask how reputable psychologists (and the University of London) could have collaborated with someone the Economist described as ‘a rogue, a falsifier, and a manufacturer of evidence’. Personal, metaphysical and socio-historical factors in their collaboration are discussed. It is suggested that the main reason for their mutual attraction was their common engagement in a delicate balancing act between courting popular appeal on the one hand and the assertion of scientific expertise and authority on the other. Their interaction is typical of the boundary work performed at this transitional stage in the development of psychology as a discipline.

Update: Elizabeth Valentine’s talk will now take place on Monday 26 March, 2012 (rather than the March 21st as originally scheduled).

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