Tag Archives: Centre for the History of Psychological Disciplines

April 20th Talk! Religion & Anti-psychiatry in Imperial Germany

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 its spring term BPS History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series. On April 20th Eric Engstrom (left) will be speaking on “Pastoral Psychiatry and Irrenseelsorge: Religious Aspects of the Anti-psychiatry Debates in Imperial Germany.” Full details follow below.

The British Psychological Society History of Psychology Centre in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines

Location: UCL Arts and Humanities Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet Place, London WC1E 7JG

Time: 6pm-7.30pm

Monday 20 April 2015
Dr Eric Engstrom (Humboldt University of Berlin), “Pastoral Psychiatry and Irrenseelsorge: Religious Aspects of the Anti-psychiatry Debates in Imperial Germany.” The abstract reads,

Historians of psychiatry have often enough interpreted the relationship between psychiatry and religion within narrative frameworks that focus on diagnoses and treatments (religious madness, exorcism) or that emphasise broader historical processes such as secularisation, medicalisation, and biologisation. While there is considerable merit to such frameworks, recent critiques of the secularisation paradigm have suggested a larger place for religion and spirituality in late 19th-century urban culture than is often assumed. The work of the American historian Edward R. Dickinson in particular has reminded us of the enduring influence and inertia of conservative Christian organisations in shaping moral discourse and social policy in the Kaiserreich.

My paper examines more closely the interdisciplinary topography between psychiatric and religious professionals, mapping out some of the common terrain on which they cooperated and/or disagreed with one another. In particular, I will examine debates about the place of religion in 19th-century asylum culture and the role of the so-called ‘Irrenseelsorger’. Against this backdrop and drawing especially on examples from Berlin, I will then explore efforts by religious organisations to expand their role in psychiatric after-/extramural care and show how those efforts contributed decisively to a nascent ‘anti-psychiatry’ movement in the years leading up to World War One.

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UCHPD Sonu Shamdasani Inaugural Lecture

V0011094ET A practictioner of Mesmerism using Animal Magnetism Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org A practitioner of mesmerism using animal magnetism on a woman who responds with convulsions. Wood engraving.  Mesmer, Franz Anton 1734-1815. Wood engraving c.1845 Published:  -  Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/On Tuesday, March 17 at 6:30 pm in the Wilkins Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre at University College London, Sonu Shamdasani will deliver a lecture entitled “Why Study the History of Psychotherapy?”

Shamdasani is the Philemon Professor of Jung History and directs the UCL Centre for the History of Psychological Disciplines. Previously he was the acting director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine. Find the full abstract for the talk here.

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UCL /BPS Seminar: Sarah Marks on the Historical Question of Communist Psychiatry

On February 23rd at 6-7:30, University College London’s Centre for the History of s200_sarah.marksPsychological Disciplines, in conjunction with the British Psychological Society, will be hosting a talk by Sarah Marks titled “Communist Psychiatries? Neurasthenia and Modernization in Czechoslovakia and East Germany.”

Marks will address mid-century traditions within Central European psychiatric disciplines that can be said to have accorded with Soviet ideology. Find the full abstract here. Organized by Professor Sonu Shamdasani. Located at Arts and Humanities Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet Place, University College London.

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Feb. 9 Talk! BPS History of Psych Disciplines Seminar Series

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 its spring term BPS History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series. On February 9, Ivan Crozier of the University of Sydney, “Culture-Bound Syndromes as Theory-Bound Objects: Koro, boundary working, and transcultural psychiatry.” Full details follow below.

The British Psychological Society History of Psychology Centre in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines

Location: UCL Arts and Humanities Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet Place, London WC1E 7JG (map)*

Time: 6pm-7.30pm

Monday 9 February 2015

Professor Ivan Crozier (University of Sydney), “Culture-Bound Syndromes as Theory-Bound Objects: Koro, boundary working, and transcultural psychiatry.” The abstract reads,

Transcultural psychiatry lies at the fringe of general western psychopathology. It embodies many of the commitments of the broader discipline, but because it deals with patients from non-western cultures, it has developed its own diagnostic categories to deal with the ‘new’ psychiatric syndromes ‘discovered’ within colonised populations since the end of the nineteenth century. These categories include koro, latah, and amok, the three exemplary syndromes evoked when discussing the central theoretical construct of transcultural psychiatry: culture-bound syndromes. How these non-western syndromes are understood changes over time, and the variations between conceptualisations of mental illnesses in non-western cultures can be used to show how the sub-field of transcultural psychiatry relates to the diagnostic criteria of general psychopathology, while at the same time carving out a space for itself as a semi-autonomous field with its own objects of study. That is, transcultural psychiatry uses boundary working to expand its remit by enveloping new objects from non-western cultures. It is not the same as general psychiatry, because it focuses on different psychiatric objects, uses different theories to understand these objects, and adapts the central concepts of general psychiatry to understand these objects. Transcultural psychiatry is at the forefront of the psychiatric expansion under global mental health strategies that a number of people have recently commented upon (eg. Miller, 2014).

The transcultural psychiatric syndrome examined in this paper is koro – the patient’s fear that their penis is shrinking, and if it retracts completely into the abdomen, that they will die. In Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic Medicine, koro is not specifically considered a mental illness, but is primarily a somatic illness. It was not until the end of the nineteenth century that it was articulated as a psychiatric syndrome. Since, it has been multiply understood; each time there is a major change in the central theoretical assumptions of general western psychiatry – from Emil Kraepelin to Psychoanalysis to the DSMIII – koro is rearticulated to fit with the new theory. This makes it an unstable “boundary object”.

This paper will examine these three important episodes in the history of koro to illustrate how major changes at the centre of psychiatric theory affect the transcultural psychiatry that is practices at the fringe of the discipline. The episodes are: (1) Kraepelin’s (1904) comparative psychiatry, which used koro as an exemplar of a mental illness found in another culture as a variation of a universal condition; (2) PM Yap and the construction of “culture-bound syndromes” (1965), where koro was used as a model for “culture-bound psychogenic illnesses” within a psychodynamic framework; (3) Gaw & Bernstein and the attempt to include culture-bound syndromes in the forthcoming DSMIV (1991), with their epidemiological rendering of koro that was a part of an ongoing process to draw a boundary between psychoanalysis (that had formerly dominated transcultural psychiatry) and transcultural psychiatric practices more aligned with the psychiatry of the DSMIII, which involved splitting koro into two forms (epidemic or “cultural”, and individual). In all of these cases, the psychiatrists had to reconstruct koro to fit their theoretical interests.

These episodes show how culture-bound syndromes are theory-bound objects in a constant flux of renegotiation depending on the dominant theoretical models used in psychiatry. Studying transcultural psychiatry allows us to question the limits of western psychiatric knowledge, because it considers the differences between general western psychiatric conditions, which are often thought to be universal (such as schizophrenia), and conditions in other cultures that are not (usually) found in western patients (such as koro). CBS are understood not as bound by the cultures in which they are manifest, but by the culture of psychiatry that is currently accepted. Studying the boundary objects of this discipline can help us understand how transcultural psychiatric knowledge is constructed.

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Dec. 1st Talk! BPS History of Psych Disciplines Seminar Series

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 its autumn BPS History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series. On December 1st, Marcia Holmes of Birkbeck College will be speaking on “Performing Proficiency: Psychological Experiments on Man-Machine Systems in the United States, 1950-1965.” Full details follow below.

The British Psychological Society History of Psychology Centre in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines

Location: UCL Arts and Humanities Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet Place, London WC1E 7JG
Time: 6pm-7.30pm

Monday 1 December

Dr Marcia Holmes (Birkbeck College), “Performing Proficiency: Psychological Experiments on Man-Machine Systems in the United States, 1950-1965″

Historians have traced American psychology’s ‘Cognitive Revolution’ – and its defining metaphor of the mind as information processor – to World War II, when the American and British militaries employed experimental psychologists to improve servicemen’s proficiency in operating the war’s complex electronics for communication, command and control. Yet the problem of matching men’s abilities to the design of machines not only encouraged the theorisation of cognition and information processing, it also motivated a new field of applied experimental psychological research, now known as human factors engineering. During the early years of the Cold War, this field of psychological engineering pioneered an elaborate form of behavioural experiment called ‘man–machine systems simulation.’ In this talk I will argue that interpreting these man–machine systems simulations through a cognitive or cybernetic lens, as some historians have done, misses their more direct, contemporary significance. For the psychologists conducting the experiments, these simulations performed the possibility of maintaining liberal-democratic sociability within the Cold War’s regimented networks of military command and control. Recognising the performative aspects of man–machine systems simulations, I argue, sheds new light on the political and epistemological stakes of the Cognitive Revolution in psychology.

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New Talk! BPS History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series

RD Laing

The British Psychological Society’History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, has announced the first of its autumn talks as part of the  BPS History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series. On September 22, Allan Beveridge, of Queen Margaret Hospital, Dunfermline, will be speaking on “Portrait of the Psychiatrist as a Young Man: The Early Writing and Work of RD Laing, 1927-1960″ Full details follow below.

The British Psychological Society History of Psychology Centre in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines

Location: UCL Arts and Humanities Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet Place, London WC1E 7JG
Time: 6pm-7.30pm

Monday 22 September
Dr Allan Beveridge (Queen Margaret Hospital, Dunfermline)

“Portrait of the Psychiatrist as a Young Man: The Early Writing and Work of RD Laing, 1927-1960″

For a period in the 1960s, Ronald Laing was the most famous psychiatrist in the world. His books sold in millions and were translated into many languages. In his most celebrated work, The Divided Self, published in 1960, he argued that madness was understandable. Laing’s reputation subsequently went into serious decline, but in recent years there has been renewed interest in him and a number of biographies and books have been published. This interest has been fuelled by a disenchantment with the claims of the neurosciences and an unease about biotechnology. Laing’s existential approach of treating the patient as a person rather than a malfunctioning mechanism has new-found appeal.

This paper will look at Laing’s early career up to the publication of his first book in 1960. It will begin by looking at the major influences on his work: psychiatric theory; existential analysis; religion; and the Arts. It will then examine Laing’s early clinical career, firstly in the British Army, followed by his time as a junior doctor at Gartnavel Royal Hospital and the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow, before his subsequent move to the Tavistock Clinic in London.

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June Talks – BPS History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series

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 two talks as part of the BPS History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series. On Monday June  16th Graham Richards will be speaking on Some Psychological Facets of Creationism. Two weeks later Sarah Chaney (right) will be speaking on ‘A Perversion of Self-feeling': The Emergence of Self-harm in Victorian Asylum Psychiatry. Full details, including abstracts, follow below.

The British Psychological Society History of Psychology Centre in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines

Location: UCL Arts and Humanities Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet Place, London WC1E 7JG
Time: 6pm-7.30pm

Monday 16 June: Dr Graham Richards (UCL), Some Psychological Facets of Creationism. The abstract reads,

This presentation explores the psychological aspects of the debates around Creationism. It explores the psychological character of the ‘Argument from Design’ and how this has changed over time from Ray, via Paley to current Intelligent Design theorists, the underlying motivations of Creationists, and the relevance to these debates of Paul Tillich’s discussion of ‘types of anxiety,’ and the history of ‘literal’ biblical fundamentalism. It signposts how psychology has the potential to illuminate the Creationism/Intelligent Design issue in ways which might break what is currently a log-jam of ritualised argument and counter-argument.

Monday 30 June: Dr Sarah Chaney (UCL), ‘A Perversion of Self-feeling': The Emergence of Self-harm in Victorian Asylum Psychiatry. The abstract reads,

This paper explores the emergence of self-harm as a specific category of abnormal individual behaviour in the second half of the 19th century, when ‘self-mutilation’ was defined within asylum psychiatry. I will briefly explain the background of the asylum system and psychiatric profession in Western Europe and the USA in this period, and describe how ‘self- mutilation’ emerged from the interest clinicians had in classifying and defining ‘insane’ behaviour. In particular, this was associated with the widespread publicity given to the increasing decision to regard suicidal acts as evidence of mental illness. While it is often assumed today that Victorian writers made no distinction between suicidal and non-suicidal self-injury, I argue that this was not the case. Psychiatrists in the 19th century frequently claimed that self-mutilation was not carried out for suicidal reasons, although they differed in their method of applying alternative meaning to such acts.

Finally, I will explore why it was that this distinction was made in this particular period, and what led psychiatrists to draw parallels between different kinds of self-inflicted injury to create a universal category. The concept of self-harm today is often used to refer to an act of injury; this application, I argue, emerged from late 19th-century asylum psychiatry. While people had certainly harmed themselves in a variety of ways prior to this period, the late 19th century was the first time these diverse acts – from skin-picking to amputation – became regarded as equivalent behaviours. Combining them under the umbrella term ‘self-mutilation’ prompted the idea that some form of universal meaning might also be discoverable. Self-harm became viewed as an act that had meaning beyond the physical nature of any wounds inflicted or the immediate sensations caused; an act that revealed something of the character of an individual; and, in addition, an act that might help to explain the relationship between individual and society.

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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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Jan. 27th Talk! – BPS History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series

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. On Monday January 27th Heather Wolffram of the University of Canterbury, New Zealand will be speaking on Hans Gross and the Birth of the Witness.  Full details, including an abstract, follow below.

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

Date: Monday 27th January
Time: 6pm to 7.30pm
Location: Arts and Humanities Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet Place, University College London.

Hans Gross and the Birth of the Witness
Dr Heather Wolffram (University of Canterbury, New Zealand)

We are by now familiar with historical narratives that relate the emergence of the criminal as an object of scientific study during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. We have excellent studies in a wide range of national contexts about the struggle between sociological and biological models of criminality, as well as about the tangible and sometimes terrible effects that such theories had on penal policy, policing and institutions, including prisons and asylums. We also have an increasingly clear idea of the manner in which such ideas provided a vehicle for the professionalisation of fields like psychiatry and the evolution of fields such as law.

Emerging more recently and in response to our own society’s fascination with forensic technologies have been attempts to look at the early history of criminalistics and police science. Such histories, like those which focus on the criminal, have identified a late-19th-century desire to make detection as scientific as possible, not only as a means of capturing and punishing criminals, and protecting society, but also as a means of professionalising policing.

These works have provided us with a much better understanding of policing, criminology and forensics, but perhaps do not fully reflect the more holistic view of crime that late-19th-century criminalists sometimes took. The Austrian investigating judge Hans Gross, for example, believed that as well as forensic expertise the criminalist required a psychological understanding of all those involved in crime, its investigation and prosecution. Although Gross was concerned with the psychology of criminals, police investigators, experts and judges, he was perhaps most focused on the figure of the witness. Using Gross’s book Criminal Psychology this paper will explore how and why the witness became an object of scientific study during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

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Nov. 25th Talk! BPS History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series

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. On Monday, November 25th Andreas Sommer, postdoctoral fellow at the University of Cambridge and the blogger behind Forbidden Histories, will be speaking on “The last Romantic? Carl du Prel (1839-1899) and the Formation of German Experimental Psychology.” Full details follow below.

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

Date: Monday 25th November
Time: 6pm to 7.30pm
Location: Arts and Humanities Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet Place, University College London.

The last Romantic? Carl du Prel (1839-1899) and the Formation of German Experimental Psychology
Dr. Andreas Sommer (University of Cambridge) (UCL)

Although the philosopher Carl du Prel was arguably the most popular German-language theorist of the unconscious mind immediately preceding Sigmund Freud, his work has received remarkably little attention in histories of the mind sciences. Revered by artists such as Rilke and Kandinsky, du Prel was read by psychologists like William James, Frederic W. H. Myers, Carl Gustav Jung and Freud, who referred to the philosopher in ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’ as “that brilliant mystic”. Taken up and advanced by Frederic W. H. Myers and Edmund Gurney in England, du Prel’s integrative psychological research programme became a competing brand of German physiological psychology and significantly informed the psychological methodologies of William James in the US and Théodore Flournoy in Switzerland. Sketching the formation and reception of du Prel’s ideas, this talk will reconstruct the hardening of epistemological and methodological boundaries of German experimental psychology, partly in response to his radical research programme. Through a discussion of the cultural and political backdrop of late-nineteenth century German science, it also hopes to shed light on factors for the curious neglect of du Prel and his ideas in conventional histories of psychology.

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