Tag Archives: Freud

History of Psych on BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 4 is starting a new series on the history of psychology Monday. It is hosted by Martin Sixsmith and it is called “In Search of Ourselves: A History of Psychology and the Mind.” I don’t know anything else yet, except that you will be able to download it here.

Update: The series will include the following 5 episodes – Jacy Young.

High Anxieties
Duration: 15 minutes
First broadcast: Monday 21 April 2014

Psychology is as old as the human race. People have always sought to understand what makes us think, feel and act the way we do.

In Episode 1, Martin examines the government’s plan for a national ‘happiness index’ and traces our search for ourselves back to the ancients.

The term ‘psychology’ was first used in about 1600 and means, literally, ‘study of the soul’. But it was only in the late 19th century that psychology emerged as a separate science. Today it draws on the intellectual legacy of philosophy, physiology and, increasingly, neurobiology and social science.

The author and broadcaster Martin Sixsmith retrained as a psychologist in the last decade, following careers as a BBC correspondent and government adviser. Martin’s experience both studying applied psychology and as a recipient of therapy reflects the growing acceptance of psychological counselling in Britain and the lessening of the stigma attached to mental illness. There has been a growth of interest in the therapeutic aspects of psychology, but many of us still have a frustratingly incomplete knowledge of its history, techniques and broader applications.

This series taps into a defining aspect of modern existence and addresses the widespread desire to know more, charting the path from today’s democratisation of psychological care back to early beliefs, the birth of modern experimental psychology, the related ‘psy professions’ – psychiatry and psychotherapy – and the splits and controversies of the 20th century.

The Freudian Age
Duration: 15 minutes
First broadcast: Tuesday 22 April 2014

In Episode 2, Martin traces a line from current government interest in ‘talking cures’ back to the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, visiting Freud’s private apartments and also Europe’s oldest mental asylum, the Narrenturm – literally, the Tower of Fools – in Vienna.

It’s All about Sex
Duration: 15 minutes
First broadcast: Wednesday 23 April 2014

Freud’s development of a new psychological science, psychoanalysis, provoked controversy because of his focus on sexuality.

In episode 3, Martin examines Freud’s legacy, with audio archive of his one-time colleague then rival Carl Gustav Jung, his daughter Anna Freud and a new interview with Christopher Hampton, author of the play ‘The Talking Cure’.

Pavlov’s Bell
Duration: 15 minutes
First broadcast: Thursday 24 April 2014

Starting with the ‘conditioned reflex’ that the Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov famously identified while studying dogs, Martin explores the development of a significant alternative to the Freudian way of thinking, ‘behaviourism’ – including recordings of the controversial American psychologist BF Skinner and an interview with his daughter Deborah, who as a child was the subject of her father’s close scientific observations.

Talking Cures?
Duration: 15 minutes

Martin considers some of the therapies that combined the psychoanalytic principles of Freud and Jung with the behaviour modifying techniques of the mid-Twentieth Century’s other significant psychological movement ‘behaviourism’.

With reference to the ‘Gloria’ tapes that featured the same patient being treated by three different ‘talking cures’ – Albert Ellis’s Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy, Fritz Perls’s Gestalt Therapy and Carl Rogers’s Person Centred Therapy.

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New Issue! History of the Human Sciences

A new issue of History of the Human Sciences has just been released online. Included in this issue are articles on the history of Female Sexual Dyfunction as a diagnostic category, Freud’s social theory, the role of the brain in dementia, and more. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Contested psychiatric ontology and feminist critique: ‘Female Sexual Dysfunction’ and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual,” by Katherine Angel (above left). The abstract reads,

In this article I discuss the emergence of Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD) within American psychiatry and beyond in the postwar period, setting out what I believe to be important and suggestive questions neglected in existing scholarship. Tracing the nomenclature within successive editions of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), I consider the reification of the term ‘FSD’, and the activism and scholarship that the rise of the category has occasioned. I suggest that analysis of FSD benefits from scrutiny of a wider range of sources (especially since the popular and scientific cross-pollinate). I explore the multiplicity of FSD that emerges when one examines this wider range, but I also underscore a reinscribing of anxieties about psychogenic aetiologies. I then argue that what makes the FSD case additionally interesting, over and above other conditions with a contested status, is the historically complex relationship between psychiatry and feminism that is at work in contemporary debates. I suggest that existing literature on FSD has not yet posed some of the most important and salient questions at stake in writing about women’s sexual problems in this period, and can only do this when the relationship between ‘second-wave’ feminism, ‘post-feminism’, psychiatry and psychoanalysis becomes part of the terrain to be analysed, rather than the medium through which analysis is conducted. Continue reading

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New Book: After Freud Left

A new edited collection on the history of Freud in the United States, and the development of psychoanalysis in the country following his 1909 visit to Clark University, has just been released. After Freud Left: A Century of Psychoanalysis in America is edited by John Burnham and includes chapters from a number of prominent historians of psychoanalysis. The book is described as follows and includes the following chapters,

From August 29 to September 21, 1909, Sigmund Freud visited the United States, where he gave five lectures at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. This volume brings together a stunning gallery of leading historians of psychoanalysis and of American culture to consider the broad history of psychoanalysis in America and to reflect on what has happened to Freud’s legacy in the United States in the century since his visit.

There has been a flood of recent scholarship on Freud’s life and on the European and world history of psychoanalysis, but historians have produced relatively little on the proliferation of psychoanalytic thinking in the United States, where Freud’s work had monumental intellectual and social impact. The essays in After Freud Left provide readers with insights and perspectives to help them understand the uniqueness of Americans’ psychoanalytic thinking, as well as the forms in which the legacy of Freud remains active in the United States in the twenty-first century. After Freud Left will be essential reading for anyone interested in twentieth-century American history, general intellectual and cultural history, and psychology and psychiatry.

Contents:

Introduction

Part I: 1909 to the 1940s: Freud and the Psychoanalytic Movement Cross the Atlantic

Introduction to Part I: Transnationalizing

Sonu Shamdasani
Psychotherapy, 1909: Notes on a Vintage Continue reading

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The Idea of Censorship in Freud’s Psychoanalysis

The June 2012 issue of the British Journal for the History of Science is now online. A special issue on the topic of scientific secrecy, the issue includes a piece on Sigmund Freud that may be of interest to AHP readers. In “Blacked-Out Spaces: Freud, Censorship and the Re-Territorialization of Mind,” historian of science Peter Galison discusses the idea of censorship within Freud’s work. The abstract reads,

Freud’s analogies were legion: hydraulic pipes, military recruitment, magic writing pads. These and some three hundred others took features of the mind and bound them to far-off scenes – the id only very partially resembles an uncontrollable horse, as Freud took pains to note. But there was one relation between psychic and public act that Freud did not delimit in this way: censorship, the process that checked memories and dreams on their way to the conscious. (Freud dubbed the relation between internal and external censorship a ‘parallel’ rather than a limited analogy.) At first, Freud likened this suppression to the blacking out of texts at the Russian frontier. During the First World War, he suffered, and spoke of suffering under, Viennese postal and newspaper censorship – Freud was forced to leave his envelopes unsealed, and to recode or delete content. Over and over, he registered the power of both internal and public censorship in shared form: distortion, anticipatory deletion, softenings, even revision to hide suppression. Political censorship left its mark as the conflict reshaped his view of the psyche into a society on a war footing, with homunculus-like border guards sifting messages as they made their way – or did not – across a topography of mind.

Also included within this issue is a review of Fernando Vidal‘s interesting recent history of psychology, The Science of the Soul: The Early Modern Origins of Psychology.

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New Issue: Psychologia Latina

The May 2012 issue of Psychologia Latina is now online. Included in this issue are four new articles on the history of psychology. In the issue’s three Spanish language articles the work of William James (right) on brain plasticity and habit is explored, the founding of the Interamerican Society of Psychology in the mid-twentieth century is described, and the history of the Freudian concept of “track switch” is discussed. In an English language article, the 1903 meeting at which both Pavlov introduced conditioned reflexes and Ramón y Cajal introduced the neuron theory is discussed. Full titles, authors, and abstracts, in both Spanish and English, follow below.

“Plasticidad Cerebral y Hábito en William James: un Antecedente para la Neurociencia Social,” (or, “Brain Plasticity and Habit in William James: an Antecedent for Social Neuroscience”) by Carlos María Alcover and Fernando Rodríguez Mazo. The abstract reads,

William James, in the chapter on the habits of “The Principles of Psychology” (1890) introduced as a key concept of plasticity of brain and nervous system. James could not study this phenomenon experimentally, but his proposal was derived from the results of contemporary research in different fields of Biology and Physiology. Plasticity refers to how learning, skill acquisition, interpersonal and social influences and other contextual variables can influence on the physical structure of the brain, modifying and establishing new relationships and neural circuits that in turn can impair their functioning. This concept was studied experimentally in the late Twentieth Century, and it’s a key concept in the current Social Neuroscience, a discipline that seeks to combine and integrate different conceptual and methodological elements from Neuroscience and Social Psychology. This analysis has allowed us, first, to emphasize the meaning and value that James gave to the concept of plasticity in its analysis of habit, and second, to review the meaning of this concept in modern Social Neuroscience, stressing background of the James’ hypotheses in the current concept of brain plasticity. Continue reading

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BBC Radio4: Writing Madness

Currently streaming on BBC Radio4 for the next 6 days is a program exploring the influence of psychiatric ideas on literature and vice versa. In Writing Madness, literary works by Virginia Woolf (above), F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Charles Dickens are discussed in terms of the development of psychoanalysis and the rise of psychotherapy. As described on the program’s website,

Vivienne Parry takes her diagnoses of literary heroines into the 20th century and the age of Freud, the Great War and the explosion of the ‘sciences of the mind’ focusing on three great works of fiction, mixing contemporary psychiatric and literary insight.

How did modern literary and psychiatric ideas meet and how did each shape the other? Do these heroines show literature of the period to be a critical – and even emancipating – force…or is fiction really medicine’s stooge? Novels on the couch include Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night and Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway….interestingly with both novels there’s a tendency to base the heroines on real people – Nicole Diver is based on the case history of Fitzgerald’s own wife Zelda, whereas Woolf’s Mrs.Dalloway comes very close in literary terms to what Freud calls ‘self-analysis’ – one difference is that Woolf sometimes believed ‘madness’ was necessary to be creative, while Scott Fitzgerald depicted it as disastrous drain on creativity (ie. his). And both novels have the dynamic and lucrative new industry of psychotherapy in their sights. Vivienne compares fiction in the age of Freud to literary ideas of mental health in the Victorian age and in Dickens specifically, using Great Expectations’ Miss Havisham as a case study.

Contributors include psychotherapist and essayist Adam Philips, leading psychiatrist Simon Wessely, cultural historian Lisa Appignanesi and Chris Thompson, psychiatrist and medical director of The Priory

Listen to the full 30-minute program online here.

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Dramatizations of Freud’s Dora & the Wolf Man

BBC Radio 4 has produced dramatizations of two of Freud’s most famous cases: Dora and the Wolf Man. Only the audio of the former is available online for the next 5 days. The Wolf Man dramatization will air this Saturday, and should be available online afterwards. Descriptions of both programs from the Radio 4 website follow below.

Deborah Levy’s dramatisation of Sigmund Freud’s iconic case study ‘Dora’ translated by Shaun Whiteside.

1899 finds a father imploring Sigmund Freud to treat his daughter after discovering her intention to end her life. When Dora first comes to Freud she suffers from a loss of voice, a debilitating cough and a limp. Dream analysis is the key to unlocking the causes of Dora’s condition, and as Freud’s treatment continues, secrets, seduction and betrayal are uncovered.

Deborah Levy’s dramatisation of Sigmund Freud’s iconic case study ‘The Wolf Man- The History of an Infantile Neurosis’ translated by Shaun Whiteside.

It is 1910 when the depressed son of a wealthy Russian landowner arrives in Vienna. Sergei Pankejeff, 24 years old, is suffering from debilitating fears and phobias. Freud’s treatment of Pankejeff is centred around an enigmatic dream his patient had as a very young child; a dream of white wolves. Freud invites Sergei to return to his childhood as a means of understanding his current depression. Analysing the child inside the man Freud unlocks the meaning of the wolves that haunt Sergei’s dreams.

Go have a listen before it’s too late!

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New Journal: History of the Present

The recently released second issue of a new journal, History of the Present: A Journal of Critical History, contains a number of articles relevant to the history of psychology. In particular, three articles deal with the history of psychoanalysis. Of these, one uses material culture to interrogate the case work of Jung and Freud, and two others address aspects of the recent history of neuropsychoanalysis. A further article traces the history of addiction, from its initial status as a moral disorder in the late-nineteenth century to its contemporary casting as a disease of the brain. Titles, authors, and brief excerpts follow below.

“‘I suffer in an unknown manner that is hieroglyphical’: Jung and Babette en route to Freud and Schreber,” by Angela Woods. (See photo, left.) The article begins,

To begin: two fragments. The first is an embroidered jacket. It belonged to a woman called Agnes Richter who lived in an Austrian asylum in the late 1890s. In the words of artist Renée Turner, the jacket is “embroidered so intensively that reading is impossible in certain areas. . . . Words appear and disappear into seams and under layers of thread. There is no beginning or end, just spirals of intersecting fragmentary narratives. She is declarative: ‘I,’ ‘mine,’ ‘my jacket,’ ‘my white stockings. . . .’, ‘I am in the Hubert-us-burg / ground floor,’ ‘children,’ ‘sister’ and ‘cook.’ In the inside she has written ’1894 I am / I today woman.’” Re-embroidering the laundry number printed on her jacket, “something institutional and distant” is transformed “into something intimate, obsessive and possessive.” She transcribes herself. This is “hypertext”; this is “untamed writing.”

“Another Neurological Scene,” by Elizabeth A. Wilson. The article begins, Continue reading

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New Issue: Psychologia Latina

The November 2011 issue of Psychologia Latina has just been released online. Included in this issue are five all new Spanish language articles on prison psychology in Spain, Radical Behaviorism, the unconscious, and the work of a student of Luis Simarro (left). Full titles, authors, and abstracts, in both Spanish and English, follow below.

“El Psicólogo de Prisiones en España” (“The Prison Psychologist in Spain,”) by Francisco Pérez Fernández, Joanne Mampaso Desbrow, and Nereida Bueno Guerra.

In this article, we make an analysis by historical and political landmarks of the various laws and regulations that have affected, modulated and modified the psychologists’ participation in Spanish jails and other similar facilities since the General Prison Law 1/1979 was approved. In this way, we will provide a historical overview of their activities, functions, their role in the field of legal penitentiary psychology and the value of their social contribution over the last thirty years.

En este artículo se procede a un análisis por hitos históricos y políticos de las diferentes legislaciones y reglamentos que han afectado, modulado y modificado la participación del psicólogo en las cárceles españolas y otros centros de cumplimiento de condena partir de la aprobación de la Ley Orgánica General Penitenciaria 1/1979. De este modo, ofreceremos una panorámica histórica de su actividad, sus funciones, su papel en el ámbito de la psicología jurídico-penitenciaria y el valor de su aportación social a lo largo de los últimos treinta años.

“El Conductismo en la Historia de la Psicología: Una Crítica de la Filosofía del Conductismo Radical” (“Behaviorism in the History of Psychology: A Critique of the Radical Behaviorism Philosophy”,) by Juan Bautista Fuentes. Continue reading

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Egocentrism in Piaget’s theory

New Ideas in Psychology

A valuable new article will appear in the December issue of New Ideas in Psychology: “The concept of egocentrism in the context of Piaget’s theory,” by Thomas Kesselring and Ulrich Müller.  As a hybrid serving both historical and contemporary interests, it is very nearly perfect.  And it makes some incredibly valuable contributions.

The gist: the term “egocentrism” is a hold-over from Jean Piaget’s postdoc in psychoanalysis.  But what he meant by its use has been badly misunderstood.  Really, it ought to be conceptualized in terms of a process of “decentering.”  This claim is supported by appealing to an apology by Piaget—he explained that his choice of terms was “unfortunate”—and by a deep and thorough reading of the relevant primary sources (in both English and French).

We don’t know much, in English, about Piaget’s postdoctoral training (but in French see Ducret, 1984).  The article lays out some of that background: “The roots of the concept of egocentrism can be traced back to Freud’s influence” (p. 328).  This then situates what follows: the article’s focus is on how Piaget’s empirical work led him away from psychoanalysis toward something new.  It also engages the subsequent misunderstandings that emerged as a result of the uneven translation of Piaget’s writings into English.

In this connection, I would like to draw particular attention to the article’s new translation of a short passage from a lecture delivered in 1920.  This has never before been available in English:

Autistic thinking that forms personal symbols remains with us throughout our lives. However, its role changes with age. In the child, autism is everything. Later, reason develops at the expense of autism but can reason ever completely shed itself of autistic thinking? It does not appear this way. The task is therefore to create… a psychology in order to determine in each individual the exact relations between the level of intelligence and the level of autistic or unconscious life (Piaget, 1920, p. 57; trans by Kesselring & Müller, 2011, p. 328).

This paragraph provides the basis for everything that follows: egocentrism, as a concept, sits midway between self-focussed thought (autism) and self-transcendent thought (logical, scientific thinking).  It is important to note, however, that this use of “autism” is different from what we mean today by applying that label.  And the authors, quite helpfully, note this.

This leads Kesselring and Müller to reference some of Piaget’s early comments on the importance of social interaction in decentering the child from overly-narrow thinking: “Social interaction and the becoming aware of the self lead to a mediation of the child’s own point of view by other perspectives and, as a consequence, a universe of relations gradually replaces the universe of absolute substances” (p. 329; citing Piaget, 1927/1930, p. 250).  These claims are critically important for a proper understanding of Piaget’s theory, but so often missed.  Related ideas can also be found in Sociological Studies, which includes reprints of two articles from that period (1928 [pp. 184-214] & 1933 [pp. 215-247]).

There are lots of other wonderful insights (e.g., regarding the replacement of “imitation” with “accommodation” and his replies to Vygotsky), but my purpose here is not to provide highlights.  The article is too valuable to allow it to be glossed over.  It is, simply, an excellent example of a project that uses history to serve science.

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