Tag Archives: Graham Richards

June Talks – 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 two talks as part of the BPS History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series. On Monday June  16th Graham Richards will be speaking on Some Psychological Facets of Creationism. Two weeks later Sarah Chaney (right) will be speaking on ‘A Perversion of Self-feeling’: The Emergence of Self-harm in Victorian Asylum Psychiatry. Full details, including abstracts, follow below.

The British Psychological Society History of Psychology Centre in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines

Location: UCL Arts and Humanities Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet Place, London WC1E 7JG
Time: 6pm-7.30pm

Monday 16 June: Dr Graham Richards (UCL), Some Psychological Facets of Creationism. The abstract reads,

This presentation explores the psychological aspects of the debates around Creationism. It explores the psychological character of the ‘Argument from Design’ and how this has changed over time from Ray, via Paley to current Intelligent Design theorists, the underlying motivations of Creationists, and the relevance to these debates of Paul Tillich’s discussion of ‘types of anxiety,’ and the history of ‘literal’ biblical fundamentalism. It signposts how psychology has the potential to illuminate the Creationism/Intelligent Design issue in ways which might break what is currently a log-jam of ritualised argument and counter-argument.

Monday 30 June: Dr Sarah Chaney (UCL), ‘A Perversion of Self-feeling’: The Emergence of Self-harm in Victorian Asylum Psychiatry. The abstract reads,

This paper explores the emergence of self-harm as a specific category of abnormal individual behaviour in the second half of the 19th century, when ‘self-mutilation’ was defined within asylum psychiatry. I will briefly explain the background of the asylum system and psychiatric profession in Western Europe and the USA in this period, and describe how ‘self- mutilation’ emerged from the interest clinicians had in classifying and defining ‘insane’ behaviour. In particular, this was associated with the widespread publicity given to the increasing decision to regard suicidal acts as evidence of mental illness. While it is often assumed today that Victorian writers made no distinction between suicidal and non-suicidal self-injury, I argue that this was not the case. Psychiatrists in the 19th century frequently claimed that self-mutilation was not carried out for suicidal reasons, although they differed in their method of applying alternative meaning to such acts.

Finally, I will explore why it was that this distinction was made in this particular period, and what led psychiatrists to draw parallels between different kinds of self-inflicted injury to create a universal category. The concept of self-harm today is often used to refer to an act of injury; this application, I argue, emerged from late 19th-century asylum psychiatry. While people had certainly harmed themselves in a variety of ways prior to this period, the late 19th century was the first time these diverse acts – from skin-picking to amputation – became regarded as equivalent behaviours. Combining them under the umbrella term ‘self-mutilation’ prompted the idea that some form of universal meaning might also be discoverable. Self-harm became viewed as an act that had meaning beyond the physical nature of any wounds inflicted or the immediate sensations caused; an act that revealed something of the character of an individual; and, in addition, an act that might help to explain the relationship between individual and society.

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Congrats Society for the History of Psych Award Winners!

Congratulations to the Society for the History of Psychology‘s 2013 award winners: Saulo de Freitas Araujo (left), Joshua Clegg (right), Jill Morawski (centre), and Graham Richards! Freitas Araujo and Clegg have been awarded the Society’s Early Career Award, while Morawski and Richards are recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award. The awards will be officially conferred during the Society’s programming at the American Psychological Association‘s Annual Convention in Honolulu, Hawaii, July 31st-August 4th. The Society’s convention programming can be found online here.

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BPS Symposium: Stories of Psychology

The British Psychological Society‘s History of Psychology Centre is hosting a free history of psychology symposium on October 11, 2011. The symposium, Stories of Psychology: Archives, Histories and What They Tell Us, has been organized by prominent historians of psychology Alan Collins (right) and Geoff Bunn and will take place at the Wellcome Collection Conference Centre in London. Full symposium details can be found on the History of Psychology Centre’s website and are listed below.



History of Psychology Symposium
Tuesday 11 October 2011 at the Wellcome Collection Conference Centre, Euston Road, London NW1 2BE
Stories of Psychology: Archives, Histories and What They Tell Us
1.45pm-5.30pm

Convened by Dr Alan Collins (University of Lancaster) and Dr Geoff Bunn (Manchester Metropolitan University)

Speakers:

Professor Richard Bentall (University of Liverpool)
How we have changed the way we think about madness

Professor Michael Billig (Loughborough University)
Archival knowledge versus personal reminiscence: The case of the social psychologist Henri Tajfel

Dr Rhodri Hayward (Queen Mary, University of London)
Psychological knowledge and the making of the modern state

Graham Richards (Independent scholar and former Director of the History of Psychology Centre)
The psychology of archives – especially archives of psychology

Professor Sally Shuttleworth (St Anne’s College, Oxford)
Studying the child in the nineteenth century

The symposium will be followed by a reception in the Wellcome Library Reading Room to celebrate the collaboration between the Wellcome Library and the British Psychological Society and to mark the transfer to the Library of the main BPS archives.

Advance free registration is essential – register here

For more information, e-mail hopc@bps.org.uk or call Peter Dillon Hooper on 0116 252 9528.

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History of Psychology in The Psychologist

The just released December 2010 special issue of the British Psychological Society‘s general interest publication, The Psychologist, is dedicated to 150 years of experimental psychology, as this year marks the 150th anniversary of Gustav Fechner’s Psychophysics (see AHP‘s previous post on this anniversary here). Included in this issue are a number of short pieces by prominent scholars in the history of psychology, as well an interview with AHP‘s own Christopher Green. Authors, titles, and abstracts follow below.

“The experimental psychologist’s fallacy.” Geoff Bunn introduces a special issue marking the 150th Anniversary of Gustav Fechner’s Elements of Psychophysics. The abstract reads:

Considered by some psychologists to be the ‘founding father’ of experimental psychology, Gustav Fechner (1801–1887) was, to some extent, an uncompromisingly hardnosed materialist. Yet there was also a more conciliatory and spiritual side to his thinking. In 1835, for example, in his Little Book on Life After Death, Fechner argued that consciousness can be sustained by different ontological systems. The work of many of the great psychologists has subsequently incorporated similarly antagonistic dualisms. But these ineradicable tensions are ultimately a function not of the idiosyncrasies of individual biography but of the highly ambiguous nature of psychological knowledge itself. Continue reading

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