Tag Archives: emotion

25 Years of History of Psychiatry & A New Issue

The journal History of Psychiatry is celebrating its 25th anniversary. A special issue marking the occasion has just been released. Among the articles in the issue are ones addressing the history of nostalgia, the treatment of shell shock at the Maudsley Hospital, masculinity in Victorian asylums in New Zealand and Australian, the distinction between passion and emotion, and much more. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

Editorial: “The first 25 years of History of Psychiatry,” by German E Berrios.

“Some reflections on madness and culture in the post-war world,” by Andrew Scull. The abstract reads,

This article examines the treatment of madness as a theme in drama, opera and films, concentrating its attention for the most part on the period between World War II and the 1980s. These were the years in which psychoanalysis dominated psychiatry in the USA, and so Freud’s influence in the broader culture forms the central though not the sole focus of the analysis.

“Nostalgia: A conceptual history,” by Filiberto Fuentenebro de Diego and Carmen Valiente Ots. The abstract reads, Continue reading 25 Years of History of Psychiatry & A New Issue

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JHBS: Darwin, Freud, & Psychiatric Legitimacy

The Fall 2011 issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences has just been released online. Included in this issue are three articles that may be of interest to historians of psychology. In her article “The naturalist and the nuances,” which won the 2009 John C. Burnham Early Career Award from the Forum of the History of Human Sciences, Stéphanie Dupouy situates Darwin’s investigation of emotional expression within the context of previous scientific investigations on the subject. Articles by Anthony Kauders and Gerald Grob move into the twentieth century and discuss, respectively, Freud’s reception in Germany in the mid-twentieth century and challenges to psychiatric authority in the 1960s.

“The naturalist and the nuances: Sentimentalism, moral values, and emotional expression in Darwin and the anatomists,” by Stéphanie Dupouy. The abstract reads,

Comparing Charles Darwin’s account of emotional expression to previous nineteenth-century scientific studies on the same subject, this article intends to locate the exact nature of Darwin’s break in his 1872 book (as well as in his earlier notebooks). In contrast to a standard view that approaches this question in the framework of the creationism/evolutionism dichotomy, I argue that Darwin’s account distinguishes itself primarily by its distance toward the sentimentalist values and moral hierarchies that were traditionally linked with the study of expression—an attitude that is not an inevitable ingredient of the theory of evolution. However, Darwin’s approach also reintroduces another kind of hierarchy in human expression, but one based on attenuation and self-restraint in the exhibition of expressive signs.

“’Psychoanalysis is good, synthesis is better’: The German reception of Freud, 1930 and 1956,” by Anthony D. Kauders. The abstract reads, Continue reading JHBS: Darwin, Freud, & Psychiatric Legitimacy

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Early Wundt on Emotion

Wilhelm WundtThe April 2009 issue of the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences includes an article by Claudia Wassmann (U. Paris I) entitled “Physiological Optics, Cognition and Emotion: A Novel Look at the Early Work of Wilhelm Wundt.” Although most historical attention has focused on Wundt’s 1874 textbook (Principles of Physiological Psychology) and his later work at Leipzig, Wassman shines a light on his earlier (still untranslated)* book, Lectures on Human and Animal Psychology, written when he was still an assistant in the Heidelberg physiological laboratory of Helmholtz and Du Bois Reymond. There, he discussed a theory of emotion that, Wassman argues, grounded the debate that led up to William James’ famous 1884 theory of emotion. The abstract of the article is below. Continue reading Early Wundt on Emotion

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History of Technology, Emotion, and Film

MalinThe history of psychology has a presence in the most recent issue of Technology and Culture. In “Mediating Emotion: Technology, Social Science, and Emotion in the Payne Fund Motion-Picture Studies” Brenton J. Malin, Assistant Professor in Media Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, explores the complex relationship between technology and emotion in 1920s and 1930s America.

The research of University of Iowa psychologists Wendell Dysinger and Christian Ruckmick is at the centre of Malin’s discussion of emotion and technology during this period. The emphasis on technological measurement emotion, rather than introspection, is described in terms of the objective qualities of the former method. As emotion was both an object of study and a subject of concern, technology was employed to ameliorate the potential influence of the researcher’s own emotional state. In Dysinger and Ruckmick’s case a concern with objectivity led to the use of the psycho-galvanometer to gauge children’s emotional response to motion pictures.

Malin contends that research on emotional responses to motion pictures was of interest at the time due to the increasing presence of entertainment-oriented technology in society, as well as an emerging view that excessive emotion had the potential to harm. Continue reading History of Technology, Emotion, and Film

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Historiographic essay: “Whither history?”

In her presidential address to the American Historical Association, Gabrielle Spiegel (pictured right) equated the problematic ungroundedness of postmodern histories with the psychological impossibility of feeling grounded following the Holocaust:

Both for those who survived and for those who came after, the Holocaust appears to exceed the representational capacity of language, and thus to cast suspicion on the ability of words to convey reality. And for the second generation [those who inherited the wound but did not experience its infliction], the question is not even how to speak but, more profoundly, if one has a right to speak, a delegitimation of the speaking self that, turned outward, interrogates the authority, the privilege of all speech. (Spiegel, 2009, p. 7)

It is for this reason, Spiegel suggests, that the historians who came of age in the 1970s and 1980s became suspicious of their ability to represent truth. Not only were the events of the Holocaust fundamentally indescribable to any adequate degree, but the language itself seemed stricken to silence. There were simply no words to describe the reality. Only grammars — conjugations of understood essences — retained their capacity to convey; to construct meaning.

Pretensions of intellectual objectivity died at Auschwitz. Or rather, argues Spiegel, they died following innumerable failed attempts to describe what it was like to have been there. And this had a fundamental impact on what it meant to do history.

the emergence of poststructuralism under the sign of the linguistic turn bespoke the end of the confident, optimistic era of European Enlightenment with its faith in the continual progress of human history under the aegis of scientific learning and methods and, not least among them, scientific history. (Spiegel, 2009, p. 8 )

A new call was thus raised; rather than celebrating individual events or actors, context became king. For thirty years, social and cultural histories reigned.

But there has recently been some disgruntlement.  Analyses of language and its constructions are beginning to sound hollow. Continue reading Historiographic essay: “Whither history?”

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Early Wundt & Harlem Mental Health in JHMAS

The most recent issue of the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences contains two articles that will be of interest to historians of psychology.

“’A Fine New Child’: The Lafargue Mental Hygiene Clinic and Harlem’s African American Communities, 1946–1958″ by Dennis Doyle and “Physiological Optics, Cognition and Emotion: A Novel Look at the Early Work of Wilhelm Wundt” by Claudia Wassmann.  Abstracts for both are below.

“’A Fine New Child’: The Lafargue Mental Hygiene Clinic and Harlem’s African American Communities, 1946–1958″ by Dennis Doyle

Dennis DoyleIn 1946, the Lafargue Mental Hygiene Clinic, a small outpatient facility run by volunteers, opened in Central Harlem. Lafargue lasted for almost thirteen years, providing the underserved black Harlemites with what might be later termed community mental health care. This article explores what the clinic meant to the African Americans who created, supported, and made use of its community-based services. While white humanitarianism often played a large role in creating such institutions, this clinic would not have existed without the help and support of both Harlem’s black left and the increasingly activist African American church of the “long civil rights era.” Not only did St. Philip’s Church provide a physical home for the clinic, it also helped to integrate it into black Harlem, creating a patient community. Continue reading Early Wundt & Harlem Mental Health in JHMAS

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Alexander Crichton on the Passions

Louis C. CharlandIn a recent issue of History of Psychiatry, 19(3), Louis C. Charland (pictured right) presented the first systematic exegesis of Alexander Crichton‘s (1763-1856) contributions to the medical theory of the passions.

The present article explores four themes in Crichton’s work on the passions: (1) the role of irritability in the physiology of the passions; (2) the manner in which irritability and sensibility contribute to the valence, or polarity, of the passions; (3) the elaboration of a psychopathology of the passions that emphasizes their physiological form rather than meaningful content or connections; and (4) the insistence that medical science ought to ignore ethical and other ‘moral’ psychological and social aspects of the passions. [here]

A classic text by Crichton, “Mind in General” (1798), was also recently reprinted in the same journal.

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Social Psychologist Robert Zajonc Dies

Robert ZajoncRobert Zajonc’s was probably best known for his work finding situations in which emotion, rather than cognition, seems to lead behavior. Sometimes the effect was entirely unknown to the person engaged in the behavior. For instance, there was the “mere exposure effect,” in which people prefer objects they have previously seen, often so fleetingly that they cannot consciously recall having seen them. He also demonstrated a small relationship between birth order and IQ; and he found that experts are facilitated by the presence of onlookers, but novices are hindered by them; and he controversially theorized that emotional facial expressions actually control the flow of blood to regions of the brain responsible for emotional feeling. Continue reading Social Psychologist Robert Zajonc Dies

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