Tag Archives: Centre for the History of Psychological Disciplines

UCL/BPS Talk Dec 12: Arthur Eaton “History Telling: Writing a Biography of Psychohistory”

The British Psychological Society‘s History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, has announced the next talk in its autumn seminar series. On Monday December 12th Arthur Eaton (left) will be speaking on “History telling: writing a biography of psychohistory.” Full details follow below.

Monday 12 December 2016

Location: SELCS Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet Place, University College London

Time: 18:00-19:30

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.

 

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UCL/BPS Talk Nov 21: Elizabeth Lunbeck on “Narcissism in the Age of Trump”

The British Psychological Society‘s History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, has announced the next talk in its autumn term. On Monday November 21st Elizabeth Lunbeck (left) will speak on “Narcissism in the Age of Trump.” Full details follow below.

Monday 21 November 2016

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

Time: 6-7:30pm

Registration is not required and for more information contact Professor Sonu Shamdasani at UCL (020 7679 8154).

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UCL/BPS Talk July 18th: Fabio de Sio on J. C. Eccles and the Dawn of Neuroscience in Britain

J. C. Eccles

The British Psychological Society‘s History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, has announced the next talk in the Summer term. On Monday July 18th Fabio de Sio will be speaking on “The title is misleading: J.C. Eccles, the Waynflete Lectures and the dawn of the neurosciences in Britain (1945–1954).” Full details follow below.

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

Time: 6-7:30pm

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.

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UCL/BPS Talk July 11th: Martyn Pickersgill “On Infrastructure and Ontology”

The British Psychological Society‘s History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, has announced the next talk in the Summer term. On Monday July 11th Martyn Pickersgill (right) will be speaking on ‘On infrastructure and ontology: Shifting dynamics of knowledge production and application in mental health.’ Details follow below.

Monday 11th July
Dr Martyn Pickersgill (Usher Institute for Population Health Studies and Informatics, Edinburgh Medical School): ‘On infrastructure and ontology: Shifting dynamics of knowledge production and application in mental health’

Infrastructures proliferate within mental health. Services are developed and instantiated both through and as particular socio-material configurations. These are underpinned by diverse kinds of infrastructure, as well as serving as the underpinning for therapeutic encounters. The knowledge drawn upon, ignored or un-encountered by psychological therapists is itself produced through a range of infrastructural arrangements, which are impacted and directed by research funders in varying ways. In this talk, I take considerations of infrastructure as a departure point for discussing two Wellcome Trust-funded projects on the sociology of mental health. The first represents an analysis of the social dimensions of initiatives to enhance access to psychological therapy in England and Scotland; the second is a new study interrogating innovation in psychiatric diagnosis across the US and the UK. I will discuss the forms of normativity that (are claimed to) structure both of the cases I explore, and consider the infrastructural arrangements my respondents imagine and enact in response to these. In turn, I want to reflect on what (drives to develop) infrastructures do to the ontologies of pathologies, patients and professionals working in mental health research and practice.

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

Time: 6-7:30pm

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.

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UCL/BPS Talk June 14th: “Mediumistic Art and the Problems of Interpretation”

The British Psychological Society‘s History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, has announced the next talk in the Summer term. On Tuesday June 14th Marco Pasi will be speaking on “Mediumistic art and the problems of interpretation: The case of Georgina Houghton (1814–1884).” Full details, including abstract, follow below.

Date: Tuesday 14 June 2016
Location: Arts and Humanities Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet Place, University
College London
Speaker: Dr Marco Pasi (University of Amsterdam)
Seminar title: Mediumistic art and the problems of interpretation: The case of Georgina Houghton (1814–1884)

In this talk, I take up the work of the British mediumistic artist Georgiana Houghton (1814–1884), whose works feature in a new exhibition at the Courtauld Gallery. Houghton became interested in spiritualism in the early 1860s and began to practise as a medium. A trained artist, she produced a series of drawings that she claimed were done under the direct influence of spiritual entities. These works were almost exclusively non-figurative and seem to anticipate abstraction by at least 40 years. Her story presents some similarities with the the Swedish painter Hilma af Klint (1862–1944), who also began to develop an abstract style of painting as a medium under the perceived guidance of spiritual entities, a few years before Wassily Kandinsky and Piet Mondrian. How should we understand Georgiana Houghton’s (and Hilma af Klint’s) art? The context in which mediumistic art was first appreciated was psychical research, especially in the works of F.W.H. Myers. Myers presented a psychological approach to the problem of artistic genius, referring to automatic drawing as an example of the ‘subliminal uprush’. For Myers, artistic genius manifested itself when an artist was able to combine the inspiration coming from the ‘subliminal uprush’ with their ‘supraliminal stream of thought’. Myers’s theories were significant for psychologists and artists who tried to make sense of the phenomenon of mediumistic art throughout the 20th century.

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

Time: 6-7:30pm

Directions: From the Torrington Place entrance to UCL, enter the campus on Malet Place.  After fifty metres, you wind 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.

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UCL/BPS Talk May 31: “Psychiatrists, Psychiatry and the Colonial State in the first half of Twentieth Century India”

The British Psychological Society‘s History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, has announced the next talk in their 2016 seminar series. On Monday May 30th, Shilpi Rajpal will be speaking on “Psychiatrists, Psychiatry and the Colonial State in the first half of Twentieth Century India.” Full details follow below.

UCL/British Psychological Society History of the Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series

Monday 30 May 2016

Dr. Shilpi Rajpal (Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali)

“Psychiatrists, Psychiatry and the Colonial State in the first half of Twentieth Century India” 

By the mid twentieth century some psychiatrists were performing important roles in transforming the nature of psychiatry in India. Wider exposure to international trends was an important feature of the twentieth century psychiatry in India as its enthusiastic practitioners not only travelled widely but also experimented with new methods of treatment. These efforts were frequently confined to individuals and cannot be generalized. The colonial state maintained an apathetic attitude towards the mentally ill and mental illness. Nonetheless, the concept of a specialist emerged in this period. Some of these specialists dedicated their lives to the cause of studying insanity and some of the central asylums became hubs for psychiatric deliberations. These deliberations were among these individuals and the colonial state. These negotiations were sometimes successful but at other times failed. What should be kept in mind is that innovation and interest depended entirely on the zeal of the superintendent-in-charge. His motivation was his own as the government did not have much stake in the process. The change also included bringing psychiatry in India in line with international developments in the field. These changes however should not be understood in terms of teleological growth. The paper attempts to analyze the novelties in terms of psychoanalysis and other international factors such as the mental hygiene movement.  It focuses on debates in the official circles, and juxtaposes these individual efforts to governmental attempts to revamp the psychiatric infrastructure.

Organiser: Professor Sonu Shamdasani (UCL)

Time: 6pm to 7.30 pm.

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

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.

UPDATE: The date of this talk has now changed to Tuesday 31st May. The time and place remain the same.

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UCL/BPS Talks Feb 29 & Mar 7: Science of Religion & Freud’s Analysis of Haizmann

Johann Christoph Haizmann’s votive painting

The British Psychological Society‘s History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, has announced the next two talks in their 2016 seminar series. Full details follow below.

Monday 29 February 2016
Matei Iagher (UCL), “Psychology and the quest for a science of religion in the late 19th and early 20th centuries”

Towards the end of the nineteenth century, a new intellectual discipline emerged in academic departments in the United States and Western Europe: the psychology of religion. Championed by figures like William James, Théodore Flournoy, Pierre Janet, and later C.G. Jung, the psychology of religion claimed to offer a novel science of religion, based on an equally new revalorization of individual religious experience. The psychology of religion drew on the affective definition of religion propounded by Friedrich Schleiermacher in the earlier part of the nineteenth century and placed itself in continuity (and sometimes in opposition) with projects to found a science of religion, which were drawn up by scholars like Max Müller or C. P. Tiele in the Victorian period. This paper will offer a brief overview of some of the key points of the psychology of religion, as it was practiced in the United States, France and Switzerland, and will place the movement within the context of wider debates about the nature and function of the science(s) of religion(s) at the turn of the century.

Monday 7 March 2016
Dr David Lederer (Maynooth University, Ireland/Queen Mary University of London), “‘A demonological neurosis’? Psychiatry, psychoanalysis and demonic possession in Freud’s analysis of Haizmann” Continue reading UCL/BPS Talks Feb 29 & Mar 7: Science of Religion & Freud’s Analysis of Haizmann

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UCL/BPS Talk Feb 15: “‘The apostolic function’: Michael Balint and the postwar GP”

Enid and Michael Balint

The British Psychological Society‘s History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, has announced the another talk in their 2016 seminar series. On Monday February 15th Shaul Bar-Heim will speak on “‘The apostolic function’: Michael Balint and the postwar GP.” Full details follow below.

Dr. Shaul Bar-Heim (Birbeck): “‘The apostolic function’: Michael Balint and the postwar GP”

What started in the early 1950s as a small informal peer-group of GPs, based in the Tavistock Clinic, became by the 1960s one of the most influential medical movements of the postwar era: the Balint movement. Named after the British-Hungarian psychoanalyst, Michael Balint, the theoretical assumption behind Balint Groups was that many doctors – and especially family doctors – do not know yet how to use one of the most important medical tools, namely, what Balint described as the ‘drug doctor.’. This was particularly true, he believed, in psychosomatic illnesses and medical cases with a clear psychosocial nature.

This paper will contextualize the emergence of the Balint movement within the heyday of welfarist ideology, where GPs were encouraged to take a parental role in running the emotional economy of domestic lives in their communities. Thus, patients and doctors were invited to adopt a psychoanalytical language which focuses on internal feelings, emotions, and unconscious behavior of the individual. At the same time, however, a new kind of medical authority emerged – one which played a crucial role as a social and ethical guidance in the postwar British welfare society.

Organiser: Professor Sonu Shamdasani (UCL)

Time: 6pm to 7.30 pm.

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

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.

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UCL/BPS Talk Feb 1: “Kinaesthesia and the Avant-garde”

The British Psychological Society‘s History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, has announced the another talk in their 2016 seminar series. On Monday February 1st Irina Sirotkina (right) will speak on “Kinaesthesia and the Avant-garde.” Full details follow below.

UCL/British Psychological Society History of the Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series

Monday 1 February 2016

Dr. Irina Sirotkina (Russian Academy of Sciences, Institute for the History of Science and Technology, Moscow)

Kinaesthesia and the Avant-garde

With a project as much anthropological as artistic, the re-creation of the human being and the renewal of human feelings, the avant-garde could not and did not ignore kinaesthesia. Filipo Marinetti conceived of a new art of touch — ‘tactilism’; with the futurist artist Benedetta Cappa, he created palpable ‘tables for the travelling hand.’ Avant-garde artists reassessed the ideas of theosophy and anthroposophy about ‘higher sensitivity’ — an unmediated access through feelings to the other, higher world. Vassily Kandinsky wrote on ‘fine sensitivity’ as a direct perception of ‘abstraction’ and on ‘abstract motion’ and dance, and Mikhail Matiushin experimented with ‘enlarged vision’ which included kinaesthesia and other feelings.
Many of the avant-garde artists were athletic and adroit, danced, played in theatre and cinema, fought and engaged in sport. They were eager to use kinaesthesia as a creative resource: Vladimir Mayakovsky, for example, insisted on composing verses in motion.

The avant-garde stressed practical ‘know how,’ the skill, the art of doing, in opposition to theoretical ‘knowing what.’ For making such knowledge, kinaesthesia is indispensable. In Russia, the post-Revolutionary cult of labour, the production art (proizvodstvennoe iskusstvo) and constructivism facilitated the growth of such knowledge, an alternative to academic forms. Yet it was initiated earlier, by the Russian Formalists, who adored dance, sport, theatre and the circus. By questioning the traditional hierarchy in which practice is inferior to theory, the avant-garde artists contemplated a “kinaesthetic turn” in the humanities. A century later, on the way to legitimating this new kind of knowledge, the avant-garde artists are still in the avant-garde.

Organiser: Professor Sonu Shamdasani (UCL)

Time: 6pm to 7.30 pm.

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

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.

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UCL/BPS Talk Jan 25th: “Disordered in Morals and Mind: Prisoners and Mental Illness Late 19th c. England”

The British Psychological Society‘s History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, has announced the first talk in their 2016 seminar series. On Monday January 25th Hilary Marland will speak on “Disordered in morals and mind: prisoners and mental illness late nineteenth-century England.” Full details follow below.

Monday 25th January

UCL/British Psychological Society History of the Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series

Professor Hilary Marland (University of Warwick)

“Disordered in morals and mind: prisoners and mental illness late nineteenth-century England”

From the early nineteenth century to the current day reformers, policy makers, prison governors and medical officers have grappled with relentlessly high levels of mental illness in prisons. Since the creation of ‘modern’ and specialised prisons and prison regimes, prison regimes and conditions – the separate system, solitary confinement and overcrowding – were criticised for their impact on the mental wellbeing of their inmates. This paper explores the management of mentally ill prisoners in the late nineteenth century, paying particular attention to Liverpool Borough Prison. Managing mentally ill prisoners – male and female – became a significant part of the prison surgeons’ workload and a drain on the prison’s resources. Drawing on underexploited prison archives, official papers, medical literature, and asylum casebooks, this paper examines the efforts of prison officers to cope with mental illness among prison populations, and how these drew on, reflected and reinforced late nineteenth-century preoccupations with the criminal mind.

Time: 6pm to 7.30 pm.

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

From the Torrington Place entrance to UCL, enter the campus on Malet Place. After fifty metres, you will find Foster 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.

Organiser: Prof Sonu Shamdasani, UCL

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