The May 2015 issue of History of Psychology (vol 18, issue 2) is now available (find online here), and is chock-full of interesting content. From analyses exploring the materiality of psychological and psychiatric instruments (including the Cattell Infant Intelligence Scale, the ‘Utica Crib,’ and the controversial transorbital ice pick lobotomy instrument introduced by Walter Freeman), to historiographic discussions (about how to further internationalize the practice of the history of psychology in North America, and about the necessity of attention to multiple temporalities and contexts within the history of psychology in Brazil), there’s a little something for everyone.
The abstracts read as follows:
Test or toy? Materiality and the measurement of infant intelligence.
By: Young, Jacy L.
Adopting a material culture perspective, this article interrogates the composition of the copy of the Cattell Infant Intelligence Scale housed at the University of Toronto Scientific Instruments Collection. As a deliberately assembled collection of toys, the Cattell Scale makes clear the indefinite boundary between test and toy in 20th-century American psychology. Consideration of the current condition of some of the material constituents of this particular Cattell Scale provides valuable insight into some of the elusive practices of intelligence testers in situ and highlights the dynamic nature of the testing process. At the same time, attending to the materiality of this intelligence test reveals some of the more general assumptions about the nature of intelligence inherent in tests for young children. The scale and others like it, I argue, exposes psychologists’ often-uncritical equation of childhood intelligence with appropriate play undertaken with an appropriate toy, an approach complicit in, and fostered by, midcentury efforts to cultivate particular forms of selfhood. This analysis serves as an example of the kind of work that may be done on the history of intelligence testing when the material objects that were (and are) inherently a part of the testing process are included in historical scholarship.
Continue reading New Issue of HoP Fresh off the Press!
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The December 2014 issue of Isis, the official journal of the History of Science Society, features on article on the work of psychiatrist Aaron Beck (above). Adopting a biographical approach, the article describes how Beck came to articulate his cognitive therapy as a new mode of psychotherapy. Full title, author, and abstract follow below.
“The “Splendid Isolation” of Aaron T. Beck,” by Rachael I. Rosner. The abstract reads,
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Aaron T. Beck’s Cognitive Therapy (CT) is a school of psychotherapy, conceived in the 1960s, that is celebrated by many clinicians for having provided the scientific antidote to all that was wrong with psychoanalysis. This essay situates the origins of CT in the crisis of legitimacy in psychiatry in the 1960s and 1970s, when, among many charges, psycho-analysts had to face the accusation that analysis was not adequately scientific. Beck actually began his career as both a psychoanalyst and an experimentalist. Contrary to common triumphalist accounts, Beck created CT to be a neutral space, not a partisan one, in turbulent times. Other notable psychoanalysts also sought compromise, rather than partisanship, to bridge the transition to biomedical science. The biographical approach of this essay to the origins of Beck’s CT both situates him historiographically and articulates the complex experiences of a generation of psychoanalysts otherwise opaque to standard narratives.
London’s Science Museum is now exhibiting Mind Maps: Stories from Psychology. Supported by the British Psychological Society (BPS), the exhibit is on display until August 12, 2014 and is free for all visitors. The video above provides a quick look behind the scenes of the exhibit and a number of items from the exhibit are further highlighted on the Science Museum’s website here. The exhibit, the brain child (pun intended) of the Science Museum’s BPS Curator of Psychology Phil Loring,
explores how mental health conditions have been diagnosed and treated over the past 250 years.
Divided into four episodes between 1780 and 2014, this exhibition looks at key breakthroughs in scientists’ understanding of the mind and the tools and methods of treatment that have been developed, from Mesmerism to Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) bringing visitors up to date with the latest cutting edge research and its applications.
Bringing together psychology, other related sciences, medicine and human stories, the exhibition is illustrated through a rich array of historical and contemporary objects, artworks and archive images.
Updated: Much more on the exhibit on both BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio 4, the latter featuring an interview by Claudia Hammond with curator Phil Loring and the music of the glass harmonica. Reviews of Mind Maps: Stories from Psychology can also be found at the Huffington Post and The Telegraph.
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In a recent issue of French Studies, 62(4), Simon Kemp examines the recent fictional works of Marie Darrieussecq. His discussion of her novels, starting with Naissance des fantômes, focusses on her use of models drawn from psychology.
Her fiction makes use of the discipline’s discourse with and against the grain, creating micro-narratives of the mind’s surface level and present moment which contrast sharply with more familiar psychoanalytic perspectives. Narrative form in Darrieussecq, I argue, can be characterized as a stream-of-consciousness, which, while failing to conform to the literary model set by Dujardin and Joyce, is in fact closer to the original psychological conception of the term. (p. 429)
The article’s literary aspects are interesting. What will ultimately be more important for the readers of AHP, however, is Kemp’s short discussion of a contemporary dispute in French psychological scholarship: CBT vs. psychoanalysis.
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…it is in this practical arena of psychotherapy that the disciplines’ disputes have come to public attention. In France this has sparked what L’Express has dubbed ‘la guerre des psys’, a cultural phenomenon which must now form the background against which Darrieussecq produces her fiction. Continue reading Fiction and ‘la guerre des psys’ in France