Tag Archives: Centre for the History of Psychological Disciplines

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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Nov. 11th 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 organized the BPS History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series. On Monday, November 11th University College London professor Sushrut Jadhav (right) will be speaking on “Seminal Matters: Historical Erasures and Category Errors Concerning Semen Regulation.” Full seminar details follow below.

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

Organiser: Professor Sonu Shamdasani (UCL)

Monday 11th November
Seminal Matters: Historical Erasures and Category Errors Concerning Semen Regulation

Dr. Sushrut Jadhav (UCL)
This seminar is in two parts:

The first part will present evidence to argue that the history of semen related disorders, currently classified as an unique and exotic mental condition amongst South Asians, is deeply flawed as it erases a significant body of western literature. As a result, the phenomena of semen loss is classified it as a South Asian Culture Bound Mental Disorder in the International Classification of Diseases (F48.8, ICD-10).

The second part will demonstrate findings from an experiment that reveals how such diagnoses can be equally constructed amongst White Britons in London. The seminar will conclude by 1) arguing these are key concerns glossed over by global mental health models that abstract local explanations of suffering to the level of a psychopathology, and 2) proposing the term ‘cultural iatrogenesis’ as a new category to be included in the classification of mental disorders.

Time: 6pm to 7.30pm

Location: Arts and Humanities Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet Place, University College London.

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New Talk! History of Possession, June 26th

The History of the Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series, organized by the British Psychological Society’s History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, has just announced a new talk. Craig E. Stephenson will be speaking about the seventeenth century possessions in Loudun, France and the recent reintroduction of the term possession into psychiatric discourse. The event will be held in London Wednesday, June 26th. Full event details, including the presentation abstract, follow below.

Date: Wednesday 26 June, 2013

Location: UCL Institute of the Americas, Room 105, 51 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PN

Time: 6pm-7.30pm

Speaker: Dr Craig E. Stephenson (AGAP/CPA/CAPT/IAAP)

Seminar Title: ‘The possessions at Loudun: Their significance in the history of the science of mind’

Abstract: This seminar focuses on the seventeenth-century possessions at Loudun, France and presents how the events of this famous case played out at the time and how theorizing about possession and obsession changed over almost four centuries of writing about them. For instance, in his definition of demonism for the Schweizer Lexikon (1945) C.G. Jung referred to the debate about Loudun, as did Gilles de la Tourette, Michel Foucault, Michel de Certeau, and Jacques Lacan.

Eventually, psychopathology co-opted the word ‘obsession’, stripped of its religious connotation, and left the word ‘possession’ outside medical discourse. Then, in 1992, the American Psychiatric Association attempted to introduce ‘possession’ into its diagnostic manual (DSM-IV) as a mental disorder. Revisiting the history of Loudun provides a means for situating the APA’s recent interest in possession within a medical and intellectual continuum.

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New: June 5th BPS Hist. of Psych. Disciplines Talk!

The History of the Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series, organized by the British Psychological Society’s History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, has just announced a new talk. The event will take place in London on June 5th. Full event details, including the presentation abstract, follow below.

Date: Wednesday 5 June 2013

Location: South Wing G12 Council Room, UCL

Speaker: Dr Jelena Martinovic (Institut Universitaire d’Histoire de la Médecine et de la Santé Publique, University of Lausanne)

Seminar title: Psychiatry and Near Death (1960–1970)

Abstract: The presentation discusses the factors explaining the emergence of the near-death experience (NDE) as a research topic in the United States. The study of a key actor, the psychiatrist Russell Noyes, helps to demonstrate how the experience of near-death became clinically relevant through the work of psychiatrists and psychologists, and more generally to retrace the academic foundations of research on death during the 1960s and 1970s. Central to the presentation is the methodological question concerning the use of a research biography as a vector for historical analysis.

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New: May 17 BPS Hist. of Psych. Disciplines Talk!

The next presentation as part of British Psychological Society’s History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological DisciplinesHistory of the Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series will take place in London next week. On Friday, May 17th Fabio De Sio and Chantal Marazia will present on, “The Psychic Hans effect: Experimental animal psi from Karl Krall to the present.” Full details, including the presentation abstract, follow below.

Location: UCL Institute of the Americas, Room 105, 51 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PN

Time: 6pm-7.30pm, Friday 17 May

Dr Fabio De Sio (Heinrich Heine Universität Düsseldorf) and Dr Chantal Marazia (Europa-Universität Viadrina), ‘The Psychic Hans effect: Experimental animal psi from Karl Krall to the present’

This paper explores the issue of animal psi experimentation in the 20th century (ca.
1920s–1970s). The passage from what has been called the ‘anecdotal phase’ of animal
psychology to the experimental phase had a rather precise parallel in psi research. From
sources of marvel and anecdotal evidence of paranormal phenomena, in the course of the 20th century animals progressively became elements of a specific experimental setting. More specifically, rigorous animal experimentation was seen as a way of overcoming a number of problems and strictures deriving from the very nature of psi experiences.

Animals were seen as a source of ‘genuine’ instances of psychic phenomena, unaltered
by human culture and communication, as well as standardisable research material, allowing to overcome the scarcity and ephemerality of human cases. Nevertheless, the need to develop animal-specific paradigms raised as many problems as it was supposed to resolve. Making the animal (either in the wild or in the lab) the centre of experimental psychic research entailed the definition of a number of issues that were common to psychic research, animal psychology, physiology and zoology: the issue of animal subjectivity and individuality; that of the evolutionary stand of psychic powers (at what level of the evolutionary ladder were they supposed to belong, their correlation with the evolution of the nervous system, etc.); finally, that of the human–animal relation in the experimental setting (whether the process of bonding between animals and humans was to be considered part of the procedure or a source of confusion). By considering different examples of psi research on animals (both observational and experimental), we explore the ambiguous roles and meanings given to animals in experimental research.

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CFP: From Moral Treatment to Psychological Therapies

CFP: From Moral Treatment to Psychological Therapies: Histories of Psychotherapeutics from the York Retreat to the Present Day.

Centre for the History of Psychological Disciplines, UCL
11-13th October 2013

Whilst the history of psychiatry has become a well developed field of scholarship, there remain few examinations of psychotherapeutic treatments beyond histories of psychoanalytic approaches. This conference will bring together recent historical research on therapeutic treatments for mental distress and disorder, from the 18th century up to the present. It seeks to explore how such therapies were developed, their institutional and intellectual contexts, and the debates and controversies which may surround their use. ‘Psychotherapeutics’ is defined in its broadest terms, and is intended to include approaches that have been accepted by the medical or state establishments, as well as those practiced outside official institutional settings. Such modes of therapy could include moral treatment, mesmerism, mental healing, ‘talking’ therapies with a wide variety of theoretical bases, from psychoanalysis to cognitive therapy, as well as professional interventions such as those from psychiatric nursing, mental health social work, occupational therapy, play therapy and art therapy.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

• The philosophical basis of therapies, such as existential, gestalt or behavioural approaches etc.
• Connections between the generation of therapeutic methods and their orginators’ biographies.
• Institutional, economic and political influences on the development of therapeutic practice.
• Psychotherapeutics in the health services.
• The professionalization and regulation of psychotherapeutic practice.
• The relationship between psychotherapeutic methods and other fields of knowledge, e.g. pedagogy, criminology, the neurosciences etc.
• Debates and controversies about psychotherapeutic approaches.
• The development of specific approaches for different age groups.
• Psychotherapeutic concepts in popular culture and the media.

Abstracts of up to 500 words for 20 minute papers should be sent to Sarah Marks at sarah.marks@ucl.ac.uk. Proposals for themed panels with a maximum of four participants are also welcome. The deadline for individual papers and panel proposals is the 10th June 2013. Participants will be notified whether their papers have been accepted by 20th June 2013.

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