Introduction: “Cinema and Neuroscience: Development and Application of Cinematography in the Field of the Neurosciences,” by Geneviève Aubert. No abstract.
“Capturing Motion and Depth Before Cinematography,” by Nicholas J. Wade. The abstract reads,
Visual representations of biological states have traditionally faced two problems: they lacked motion and depth. Attempts were made to supply these wants over many centuries, but the major advances were made in the early-nineteenth century. Motion was synthesized by sequences of slightly different images presented in rapid succession and depth was added by presenting slightly different images to each eye. Apparent motion and depth were combined some years later, but they tended to be applied separately. The major figures in this early period were Wheatstone, Plateau, Horner, Duboscq, Claudet, and Purkinje. Others later in the century, like Marey and Muybridge, were stimulated to extend the uses to which apparent motion and photography could be applied to examining body movements. These developments occurred before the birth of cinematography, and significant insights were derived from attempts to combine motion and depth.
Jones identifies Hurst’s provocative footage of disordered movement as having lasting historical impact on our comprehension of how shell shock presented itself and was understood by contemporaries of the first World War; he then asserts the film was a non-representative and highly mediated rendition of the condition as experienced by the soldiers in that context. Jones goes on to elucidate the skeptical response of other psychiatric professionals to Hurst’s methods and claims to unprecedented and outstanding therapeutic efficacy, for which Hurst provided little explanation or followup.
“Efficacy and Enlightenment: LSD Psychotherapy and the Drug Amendments of 1962,” by Matthew Oram. The abstract reads,
The decline in therapeutic research with lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) in the United States over the course of the 1960s has commonly been attributed to the growing controversy surrounding its recreational use. However, research difficulties played an equal role in LSD psychotherapy’s demise, as they frustrated researchers’ efforts to clearly establish the efficacy of treatment. Once the Kefauver Harris Drug Amendments of 1962 introduced the requirement that proof of efficacy be established through controlled clinical trials before a drug could be approved to market, the value of clinical research became increasingly dependent on the scientific rigor of the trial’s design. LSD psychotherapy’s complex method of utilizing drug effects to catalyze a psychological treatment clashed with the controlled trial methodology on both theoretical and practical levels, making proof of efficacy difficult to obtain. Through a close examination of clinical trials performed after 1962, this article explores how the new emphasis on controlled clinical trials frustrated the progress of LSD psychotherapy research by focusing researchers’ attention on trial design to the detriment of their therapeutic method. This analysis provides a new perspective on the death of LSD psychotherapy and explores the implications of the Drug Amendments of 1962.
“Neuro Psychiatry 1943: The Role of Documentary Film in the Dissemination of Medical Knowledge and Promotion of the U.K. Psychiatric Profession,” by Edgar Jones. The abstract reads,
In 1943, Basil Wright produced a documentary film about the treatment of servicemen and civilians with psychological disorders at Mill Hill Emergency Medical Service Hospital. Funded by the Ministry of Information, Neuro Psychiatry was shot to convince influential clinicians and policy makers in North America that the British had developed expertise in the management of psychiatric casualties. By emphasizing novel and apparently effective interventions and excluding severe or intractable cases from the film, Wright encouraged an optimistic sense of achievement. Filmed at a time when victory was considered an eventual outcome, the picture presented a health service to which all had access without charge. Children and unemployed women, two groups excluded under the 1911 National Insurance Act, had been required to pay for healthcare in the prewar period and were shown receiving free treatment from the Emergency Medical Service. However, the therapeutic optimism presented in the film proved premature. Most U.K. battle casualties arose in the latter half of the conflict and follow-up studies failed to confirm the positive outcome statistics reported in the film. Aubrey Lewis, clinical director of the hospital, criticized research projects conducted at Mill Hill for a lack of rigor. The cinematographic skills of Wright and director Michael Hankinson, together with their reformist agenda, created a clinical presentation that emphasized achievements without acknowledging the limitations not only of the therapies offered by doctors but also the resources available to a nation at war.
“The Cost of War—Then and Now: Commentary on ‘Neuro Psychiatry 1943’,” by Heiner Fangerau. The abstract reads,
In his essay “Neuro Psychiatry 1943: The Role of Documentary Film in the Dissemination of Medical Knowledge and Promotion of the U.K. Psychiatric Profession” Edgar Jones provides a detailed case study of a single movie that was made under unusual wartime conditions. From this case, he builds a general analysis of the interpretation and portrayal of scientific expertise that shaped the production, distribution, and reception of this genre of documentary. The paper provides a fresh perspective for the historical analysis of film documentaries, while remaining highly topical and germane to present-day issues in medicine and health care.
The film that Jones studied was produced in a British hospital where war victims (mostly soldiers) were treated for war neuroses. The filmmakers documented the therapies employed and the apparently successful posttreatment reintroduction of patients into military service and civilian work. They hoped to convince informed audiences, especially those outside Britain in the United States and Canada, about the effectiveness of the British Health Care Service in …
YouTube’s CreativeCommonsTV has posted a clip of University of Oregon psychologist Lester F. Beck’s Photographic Studies in Hypnosis. The footage from 1938 is described as,
This silent film shows a woman being hypnotized and includes both pre and post hypnosis scenes. The hypnotist demonstrates how a patient’s mind can be manipulated as he pinpricks and burns his patient with controlled and suggestive reactions. This unrehearsed session of hypnosis features two students whom are given false memories. The pair are then tested about their memories and are given some basic psychological tests to see the effects of the hypnosis.
The July 2012 issue of the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences is now online. Included in this issue are two articles that tackle the history of mental health. The first article describes the work of Arthur Hurst who filmed soldiers suffering from shell shock post World War I. Further films by Hurst were used to convey the message that these soldiers could be “cured” with relative ease. The second mental health related article in this issue explores the relationship between mentally ill smokers and the tobacco industry, including efforts to cast smoking as an activity with positive effects for the mentally ill. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.
“War Neuroses and Arthur Hurst: A Pioneering Medical Film about the Treatment of Psychiatric Battle Casualties,” by Edgar Jones. The abstract reads,
From 1917 to 1918, Major Arthur Hurst filmed shell-shocked patients home from the war in France. Funded by the Medical Research Committee, and using Pathé cameramen, he recorded soldiers who suffered from intractable movement disorders as they underwent treatment at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Netley and undertook programs of occupational therapy at Seale Hayne in Devon. As one of the earliest UK medical films, Hurst’s efforts may have drawn inspiration from the official documentary of the Battle of the Somme and films made in 1916 by French Army neurologists. Although initially motivated to make use of a novel medium to illustrate lectures, Hurst was alert to the wider appeal of the motion picture and saw an opportunity to position himself in the postwar medical hierarchy. Some “before treatment” shots were reenacted for the camera. Hurst, like some other shell shock doctors, openly used deception as a therapeutic measure. On the basis that the ends justified the means, they defended this procedure as ethical. Clinicians also took advantage of changes in military regulations to address functional symptoms. Claims made of “cures” in the film and associated publications by Hurst were challenged by other doctors treating shell shock. The absence of follow-up data and evidence from war pension files suggested that Hurst may have overstated the effectiveness of his methods. Nevertheless, the message conveyed in the film that chronic cases could be treated in a single session had a powerful resonance for ambitious or charismatic doctors and was revived in World War II.
The May issue of the American Psychological Association’s Monitor on Psychology is now online. Included in this month’s Time Capsule section is a piece from AHP’s own Arlie Belliveau on the early uses of film in psychology. In particular, Belliveau describes the work of husband and wife team of engineer Frank Gilbreth and industrial psychologist Lillian Moller Gilbreth (both pictured above), who worked in the field of scientific management. The Gilbreths created what were called micromotion films, which aimed to record the minute details of the motions required to perform the highly repetitive work done within factories. (You can view one of their micromotion films online here.) As Belliveau describes,
The first instance of this form of micromotion study occurred in 1912 at the NEBC factory. The Gilbreths set up their camera in a second-floor laboratory in which the walls and floorboards were painted white with a black grid overlay to optimize light reflection and provide a reference to scale. Individual braiding machines and pieces of office equipment were brought upstairs to be filmed under the natural lights of the windows. Factory workers were enlisted to participate as the stars and experts of the films. Each factory task was filmed, and then viewed frame by frame, breaking each motion sequence into individual parts called “Therbligs” (an anagram of “Gilbreths”). The micromotion team (made up of the Gilbreths and cooperating workers) then evaluated the work process to find ways to make it safer, simpler, faster and more ergonomically correct. They developed and filmed these new procedures and used those films to retrain the factory workers.
….Workers reportedly loved seeing themselves projected onto the big screen, and the Gilbreths set up an exhibition room to periodically screen the films. Lillian believed that these screenings improved morale and output while promoting a unification phenomenon she called “happiness minutes.” Happiness minutes were the total amount of time each day that workers felt satisfied with their jobs. Lillian believed this to be an essential element of efficiency, although they only gauged employee happiness through subjective methods (such as their suggestion box system and general impressions obtained from talking to the workers), and never conducted formal psychological surveys. With this in mind, she and Frank adapted later films taken at the Ball Brothers Mason Jar factory in 1918 to include shots of workers smiling at the camera with their names and even nicknames written at the bottom of the screen.
Read the full article, “Psychology’s First Forays into Film,” online here.
Historian Alison Winter, of the University of Chicago, and her colleague Tom Gunning of Art History, Cinema and Media Studies have collaborated on an online library of the films that populate the history of the human sciences. Their project, Motion Pictures in the Human Sciences, is described as
an online library and discussion forum relating to the history of the use of motion pictures in psychology, psychiatry, the neurosciences, and related fields.
The site is the online extension of a new collaboration between film historians and historians of science at the University of Chicago, to study the relationship between the history of the human sciences and the history of film. Our online library contains a growing number of films and related material. Some of the films you can view here have never before been digitized. The site also serves a curatorial role: we have tracked down films available in disparate locations on the web, and have imbedded them here, to make them easier to find, document, and discuss. As this pilot site grows and matures, some of our material will be available for download, and our collection will become more fully searchable.
Among the videos currently available on the site are the very early motion studies of Eadweard Muybridge and Etienne Jules Marey. Other films featured on the site include John Watson’s Little Albert experiment, Arnold Gesell’s “Life with Baby,” some of the films of motion study pioneer Frank Gilbreth, and a United States military film on combat fatigue, to list only a few examples. A work in progress, more films will to be added to the site in the future. Serving as both a forum for discussion on films and their function in the history of the human sciences, as well as a centralized resource for such films themselves, Motion Pictures in the Human Sciences is sure to be an invaluable resource.
The Center for the History of Psychology (CHP) in Akron, Ohio has just begun a new blog project. The blog will be written by CHP staff, students, and interns and posts will include information on interesting items recently uncovered in the Center’s collections, the experiences of those working with the collections, and CHP events, projects, and initiatives.
The blog’s most recent post was contributed by CHP intern (and AHP contributor) Arlie Belliveau. In this post, she writes of her initial efforts at preserving and digitizing some of the thousands of films housed at the CHP (right). She writes,
After all the paperwork, my passport is stamped, I’ve crossed the border and started my Student Internship with the Center for the History of Psychology in Akron, Ohio. During my one-month internship, I will be working with the CHP’s Moving Image collection, which includes more than 5,000 titles. I find the prospect incredibly exciting, as my Masters thesis research centered around the Micromotion films of scientific managers and industrial psychologists Frank and Dr. Lillian Gilbreth. I was able to work with a selection of their film collection, which had been digitized in 2006 by the National Film Preservation Foundation. That research would not have been possible without that digitization effort. And so, my plan at CHP is to assess the film collection, preserve the canisters at greatest risk of deterioration, and digitize (and make publicly available) whatever I can.
You can read the rest of this blog entry here and subscribe to the CHP blog here.
This post is written by Arlie Belliveau, York University and is part of a special series of bibliographies on topics in the history of psychology.
For an overall history and discussion of psychological films I suggest the following reading list:
1. Beck, L.F. (1938). A review of sixteen-millimeter films in psychology and allied sciences. Psychological Bulletin, 35(3), 127-169.
In the 1938 paper “Sixteen-Millimeter Films in Psychology” Beck collected 324 psychological films offering readers brief descriptions of the footage. He categorized the films under the following headings: films of psychologists; development of behavior; the response mechanism; animal and human learning; perception; emotional reactions; action, motor skills and fatigue; personality, guidance and educational problems; abnormal behavior; naturalistic films of plant and animal behavior; and miscellaneous films.
2. Valentine, W.L. (1938). Report of a survey conducted by the motion picture committee. Psychological Bulletin, 35(7), 423-429. doi: 10.1037/h0061142
By the 1930s the APA experienced an influx of filmed materials. Conference presentations were increasingly paired with film footage, much of which was poorly edited. The Motion Picture Committee of the APA was organized to gather data on film use in the APA and at US universities. They sent out a questionnaire to APA members, as well as to 156 different institutions, inquiring as to whether or not universities were equipped to make use of the new films, if they planned to purchase film equipment in the future, obstacles that could arise from film use in the classroom, and opinions regarding the overall effectiveness of films in the classroom. The report summarized those findings and led to a committee that would seek to regulate film production by members of the APA in much the same way as the APA Publication Manual regulates written publications. Continue reading Bibliography: Psychologist-made Films→