Tag Archives: Germany

New Books in STS Interview with Gabriel Finkelstein on Emil du Bois-Reymond

New Books in Science, Technology, and Society, part of the New Books Network, has released an audio interview with historian Gabriel Finkelstein on his recent book Emil du Bois-Reymond: Neuroscience, Self, and Society in Nineteenth-Century Germany. As described on the New Books in STS website,

Finkelstein considers how someone so famous and so important could end up so forgotten, and he does a masterful job in rectifying that situation. The book traces du Bois-Reymond’s life and work, from a childhood in Berlin, to an early life and schooling in Bonn, and then back to Berlin and beyond in the course of a mature career in laboratories and lecture halls. We meet the scientist as teacher, as writer, and as public and university intellectual, and follow his transformation from Romantic to Lucretian and his dual existence as simultaneously staunch individual and product of his class and culture. The chapters are beautifully written, and range from exploring diary pages and love letters to laboratory equipment, with stopovers to consider frog pistols and hopping dances of joy along the way. Whether du Bois-Reymond was accepting the advice of his friends (as offered above) or avoiding his underwear-proffering mother-in-law (of which you’ll hear more in the conversation), he emerges here as not just an important historical figure, but also a fascinating person who’s a joy to read about.

The full interview can be found online here.

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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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Treating Functional Somatic Disorders in WWI in JHMAS

The October 2013 issue of the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences is now online. Included in this issue is an open access article by Stefanie Caroline Linden and Edgar Jones, both of Kings College London, that may be of interest to AHP readers. In “German Battle Casualties: The Treatment of Functional Somatic Disorders during World War I” Linden and Jones describe treatment innovations that occurred in the face of neurological disorders with no discernible physical cause. The treatments developed for these disorders were influenced by work in animal learning and neurophysiology, tracked with quantitative outcome measures, and influenced therapeutic approaches for decades to come. Full article details follow below.

“German Battle Casualties: The Treatment of Functional Somatic Disorders during World War I,” by Stefanie Caroline Linden and Edgar Jones. The abstract reads,

World War I witnessed the admission of large numbers of German soldiers with neurological symptoms for which there was no obvious organic cause. This posed a considerable challenge for the military and medical authorities and resulted in an active discussion on the etiology and treatment of these disorders. Current historiography is reliant on published physician accounts, and this represents the first study of treatment approaches based on original case notes. We analyzed patient records from two leading departments of academic psychiatry in Germany, those at Berlin and Jena, in conjunction with the contemporaneous medical literature. Treatment, which can be broadly classified into reward and punishment, suggestion, affective shock, cognitive learning, and physiological methods, was developed in the context of the emerging fields of animal learning and neurophysiology. A further innovative feature was the use of quantitative methods to assess outcomes. These measures showed good response rates, though most cured patients were not sent back to battle because of their presumed psychopathic constitution. While some treatments appear unnecessarily harsh from today’s perspective and were also criticized by leading psychiatrists of the time, the concentration of effort and involvement of so many senior doctors led to the development of psychotherapeutic methods that were to influence the field of psychiatric therapy for decades to come.

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New Book: The Mind of the Nation: Völkerpsychologie in Germany, 1851-1955

Egbert Klautke, of University College London’s School of Slavonic and East European Studies, has written a book on the history of Völkerpsychologie. The Mind of the Nation: Völkerpsychologie in Germany, 1851-1955 recounts how Völkerpsychologie struggled to find a foothold in the German university system and its demise by the mid-twentieth century. As described on the publisher’s website,

Völkerpsychologie played an important role in establishing the social sciences, in Germany and abroad, via the works of such scholars as Georg Simmel, Emile Durkheim, Ernest Renan, Franz Boas, and Werner Sombart. In Germany, the intellectual history of “folk psychology” in Germany was represented by Moritz Lazarus, Heymann Steinthal, Wilhelm Wundt and Willy Hellpach. This book follows the invention of the discipline in the nineteenth century, its rise around the turn of the century, and its ultimate demise after the Second World War. In addition, it shows that despite the repudiation of “folk psychology” and its failed institutionalization, the discipline remains relevant as a precursor of contemporary studies of “national identity.”

The publisher’s website also includes an interview with Klauptke about the volume,

Berghahn Books: How would you define “Folk Psychology” and what drew you to the study of it?

Egbert Klautke: “Folk Psychology” is an awkward translation of the German term Völkerpsychologie. Originally, it referred to attempts to study the psychological make-up of nations, and as such is a forerunner of today’s social psychology. However, in today’s common understanding, Völkerpsychologie equals national prejudice: it is seen as a pseudo-science not worth considering seriously.

My first book dealt with perceptions of the U.S.A. in Germany and France, and much of these views could be described as Völkerpsychologie: clichés and stereotypes about a foreign nation, which were of a surprisingly coherent nature. Back then, my rather naïve idea was that there must be a general theory behind these perceptions, and I embarked on a study of Völkerpsychologie.

BB: Did any perceptions on the subject change from the time you started your research to the time you completed the book?

EK: When I started my research, I shared the general view of Völkerpsychologie as a flawed attempt to present national stereotypes as academic research, and was suspicious of its nationalist agenda and racist undertones. I also considered it typically German. Having completed the book, I have a much more sympathetic view of “folk psychology,” at least of the early attempts by (Moritz) Lazarus, (Heymann) Steinthal and (Wilhelm) Wundt. Despite its flaws and shortcomings, Völkerpsychologie was a serious and honorable attempt to introduce a social science to the university curriculum. As such, it influenced pioneers of the social sciences not only in Germany, but also around the world.

The full interview can be found here and The Mind of the Nation can be found on Amazon here.

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New History of Psychology: Reputation, Politics, and Archives

The May 2013 issue of History of Psychology is now online. Included in this issue are articles on the role of reputation in academic life via a study of psychologist Kenneth James William Craik, the intersection of science and politics in communist Germany, and the work of Italian Catholic psychologist Agostino Gemelli (left). Other pieces include a discussion of Gantt charts as a means of visually depicting history and a look at the Piaget Archives in Geneva, Switzerland. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“The reputation of Kenneth James William Craik,” by Alan F. Collins. The abstract reads,

Reputation is a familiar concept in everyday life and in a range of academic disciplines. There have been studies of its formation, its content, its management, its diffusion, and much else besides. This article explores the reputation of the Cambridge psychologist Kenneth Craik (1914–1945). Having examined something of Craik’s life and work and the content of his reputation, the article concentrates on the functions that Craik’s reputation has served, particularly for psychology and related disciplines. The major functions of that reputation are identified as being a legitimation and confirmation of disciplinary boundaries and discontinuities in the period shortly after World War II, an exemplification of how to be a modern scientist and of the values to embrace, a reinforcement of science as having a national dimension, an affirmation of psychology as a science that can serve national needs, and a creation of shared identities through commemoration. The article concludes that studies of reputations can illuminate the contexts in which they emerge and the values they endorse.

“Science in a communist country: The case of the XXIInd International Congress of Psychology in Leipzig (1980),” by Wolfgang Schönpflug & Gerd Lüer. The abstract reads, Continue reading New History of Psychology: Reputation, Politics, and Archives

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New JHBS: Ribot, German psych, & More!

The Winter 2013 issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences is now online. Included in this issue are articles on French psychologist Théodule Ribot’s (right) founding of the Revue Philosophique de la France et de l’Étranger and the founding of the German Gesellschaft für psychologische Forschung” (“Society for Psychological Research”), which was intended to be an outlet for non-Wundtian psychologies from France and Britain. Other articles in this issue look at the history of ethnographic research and Bayesian rationality in economics. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“‘A Big Piece of News': Théodule Ribot and the Founding of the Revue Philosophique de la France et de l’Etranger,” by Serge Nicolas. The abstract reads,

This paper describes the founding of the Revue Philosophique de la France et de l’Étranger by Théodule Ribot (1839–1916) in 1876. Like the English journal Mind, which was launched the same year, this journal introduced the new scientific psychology to France. Its founding increased Ribot’s scientific credibility in psychology and led him to be regarded as the most distinguished French specialist in the field. First, we review the state of French philosophy at the time of the journal’s founding, focusing on the three main French schools of thought in philosophy and on their relations with psychology. Second, after analyzing the preface written by Ribot in the first issue of the Revue Philosophique, we examine how the journal was received in French philosophical circles. Finally, we discuss its subsequent history, highlighting its founder’s promotion of new ideas in psychology.

“Normalizing the Supernormal: The Formation of the “Gesellschaft Für Psychologische Forschung” (“Society for Psychological Research”), c. 1886–1890,” by Andreas Sommer. The abstract reads, Continue reading New JHBS: Ribot, German psych, & More!

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June Issue of History of Psychiatry Now Online

The June 2012 issue of History of Psychiatry is now online. Include in this issue are articles on R.D. Laing’s (right) theological influences, psychiatric diagnosis at Maudsley Hospital during the interwar years, addiction and criminal responsibility in Germany, phenomenological and community psychiatry, the psychology of Antarctic exploration, and Russian forensic psychiatry. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“R.D. Laing’s theological hinterland: The contrast between mysticism and communion,” by Gavin Miller. The abstract reads,

Contrasting elements in R.D. Laing’s psychiatry can be traced to two kinds of Christian theology: mystical theology and corporate theology. On one hand, Laing’s mystical theology combined with psychoanalytic theory, to provide a New Age psychotherapeutic account of the recovery of authentic selfhood via metanoia. On the other, his incarnational, corporate theology promoted social inclusion of the mentally ill, particularly via therapeutic communities. For Laing, as for other post-war British Christians, a turn inwards, to mysticism and the sacralization of the self, and a turn outwards, to social and political activism, were ways of negotiating with the decline of traditional Christianity.

“Psychiatric case notes: Symptoms of mental illness and their attribution at the Maudsley Hospital, 1924–35,” by Edgar Jones, Shahina Rahman, and Brian Everitt. The abstract reads,

Case notes of patients treated at the Maudsley Hospital during the interwar period provided data about diagnosis, symptoms and beliefs about mental illness. Continue reading June Issue of History of Psychiatry Now Online

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New! Special Issue History of the Human Sciences

The April 2012 issue of History of the Human Sciences is now online. This month’s issue is a special issue, guest edited by Elizabeth Valentine, on the topic of parapsychology, occultism, and spiritualism. The eight all new articles in the issue explore the history of psychology’s relationship to spiritualism and other occult matters across the globe; most specifically in the Netherlands, the United States of America, Germany, Britain, France, Spain, Hungary, and Japan. (Pictured above is medium Eusapia Palladino, the subject of one of the issues articles, in a seance in 1898.) Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Psychical research and parapsychology interpreted: Suggestions from the international historiography of psychical research and parapsychology for investigating its history in the Netherlands,” by Ingrid Kloosterman. The abstract reads,

One of the reasons the history of parapsychology and its ancestor psychical research is intriguing is because it addresses a central issue: the boundaries of science. This article provides an overview of the historiography of parapsychology and presents an approach to investigate the Dutch history of parapsychology contributing to the understanding of this central theme. In the first section the historical accounts provided by psychical researchers and parapsychologists themselves are discussed; next those studies of sociologists and historians understanding parapsychology as deviant and even potentially revolutionary are dealt with; third, more contemporary studies are examined whereby enterprises such as parapsychology are understood as central to the culture in which they arose. On the basis of this analysis a new direction in the historiography of the subject is suggested in the fourth section, centred upon the relation between parapsychology and psychology in the Netherlands throughout the 20th century. In the Netherlands not only were pioneering psychologists such as Gerard Heymans (1857–1930) actively involved in experiments into telepathy, the first professor in parapsychology in the world – Wilhelm Tenhaeff (1894–1981) – was appointed in 1953 at Utrecht University and in the 1970s and 1980s parapsychology had its own research laboratory at Utrecht University in the division of psychology. This unique situation in the Netherlands deserves scholarly attention and makes an interesting case to investigate the much-neglected connections between the fields of psychology and parapsychology in the 20th century. The connections between psychology and parapsychology might help us to understand why parapsychology came to be regarded as a pseudoscience.

“Psychical research and the origins of American psychology: Hugo Münsterberg, William James and Eusapia Palladino,” by Andreas Sommer. The abstract reads, Continue reading New! Special Issue History of the Human Sciences

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New Issue: History of Medicine & Allied Sciences

The January 2012 issue of the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences has just been released online. Included in this issue are a number of articles that may be of interest to historians of psychology and related fields. A special issue devoted to recent developments in the intellectual history of medicine, the issue includes articles on sexual inversion, shell shock (right), koro as a culture-bound syndrome, and the rise of hypnosis in Germany, among other topics. Titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Recent Developments in the Intellectual History of Medicine: A Special Issue of the Journal of the History of Medicine,” by Chiara Beccalossi and Peter Cryle. An extract from this introduction to the special issue reads,

The history of medicine is probably best thought of as a wide range of different types of inquiry, rather than a single, well-defined field. It can involve, among other things, the history of institutions, technologies, and outstanding individuals. The articles gathered in this special issue are offered specifically as contributions to the intellectual history of medicine. Each shows, in its own way, how a particular disorder became conceptualized or how a particular set of difficulties was made into a topic of debate. Inquiry of this kind is not quite the same thing as a history of ideas—if by the latter one understands only the study of ideas as they traverse medical writing—since our concern is not with major ideas in the field of medicine, as such. One of our working assumptions is that intellectual history ought to be no grander an enterprise than social history at its most focused, or cultural history at its most closely bounded. We will simply examine ways of thinking that prevailed at given points in history, indicating the material consequences to which they gave rise. By seeking to articulate thought, writing, and professional practice, we are responding to the challenge Michel Foucault laid down for historians. But the histories offered here are not “Foucauldian” in the manner of histories that focus primarily on articulating epistemic “rupture” and unprecedented conceptual “invention.” The point of our contributions is to examine the contexts in which new kinds of thinking emerged gradually, and often unevenly. We seek, as Foucault did at his best, to highlight the circumstantial nature of thought and the intellectually productive nature of circumstance.

This special issue had its beginnings in a seminar series conducted in 2009 by the Center for the History of European Discourses at the University of Queensland…

“Female Same-sex Desires: Conceptualizing a Disease in Competing Medical Fields in Nineteenth-century Europe,” by Chiara Beccalossi. The abstract reads, Continue reading New Issue: History of Medicine & Allied Sciences

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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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