Tag Archives: popular psychology

New HHS: Brainwashing, Scientific Expertise and the Politics of Emotion, & More!

The July 2017 issue of History of the Human Sciences is now online. Articles in this issue explore cinematic representations of brainwashing, scientific expertise and the politics of emotion, and more. Full details below.

“Brainwashing the cybernetic spectator: The Ipcress File, 1960s cinematic spectacle and the sciences of mind,” by Marcia Holmes. Abstract:

This article argues that the mid-1960s saw a dramatic shift in how ‘brainwashing’ was popularly imagined, reflecting Anglo-American developments in the sciences of mind as well as shifts in mass media culture. The 1965 British film The Ipcress File (dir. Sidney J. Furie, starr. Michael Caine) provides a rich case for exploring these interconnections between mind control, mind science and media, as it exemplifies the era’s innovations for depicting ‘brainwashing’ on screen: the film’s protagonist is subjected to flashing lights and electronic music, pulsating to the ‘rhythm of brainwaves’. This article describes the making of The Ipcress File’s brainwashing sequence and shows how its quest for cinematic spectacle drew on developments in cybernetic science, multimedia design and modernist architecture (developments that were also influencing the 1960s psychedelic counter-culture). I argue that often interposed between the disparate endeavours of 1960s mind control, psychological science and media was a vision of the human mind as a ‘cybernetic spectator’: a subject who scrutinizes how media and other demands on her sensory perception can affect consciousness, and seeks to consciously participate in this mental conditioning and guide its effects.

“Scientific expertise and the politics of emotions in the 1902 trial of Giuseppe Musolino,” by Daphne Rozenblatt. Abstract: Continue reading New HHS: Brainwashing, Scientific Expertise and the Politics of Emotion, & More!

Share on Facebook

FHHS Sponsored Session: “Human Science Fictionalized: A Novel, a Visual Narrative and an Indie Film”

This November’s History of Science Society (HSS) meeting features a session sponsored by HSS’s special interest group the Forum for History of Human Science (FHHS). The HSS meeting runs November 3rd through 6th in Atlanta, Georgia. The session “Human Science Fictionalized: A Novel, a Visual Narrative and an Indie Film,” organized by Ben Harris (right), will take place on the morning of Sunday November 6th. Full details follow below.

Sunday Nov. 6, 9-11 am
Session 87. Human Science Fictionalized: A Novel, a Visual Narrative and an Indie Film
Chair(s): John Carson, University of Michigan
Commentator(s): Nadine Weidman, Harvard University
Organizer(s): Ben Harris, University of New Hampshire

A Novelist’s Perspective, Andromeda Romano-Lax, Independent Scholar
An Artist’s Perspective, Matteo Farinella, Independent Scholar and Columbia University
Putting Stanley Milgram on Film, Gina Perry, University of Melbourne

Summary:

In studies of science popularization the focus is usually on non-fiction. But what about fictionalized portraits of science? This session looks at three attempts to bring the human and neuro- sciences to the public through fiction. Among the questions explored are: how is the fact/fiction boundary negotiated? how do a “fact writer” and a “fiction writer” think about popularization differently? What are the different relationships that they have to their sources, or that they envision with their audiences? Andromeda Romano-Lax is a successful novelist whose most recent work, Behave (2016), dramatizes the life and career of Rosalie Rayner, wife and former student of behaviorist John Watson. Matteo Farinella is an illustrator and artist with a doctorate in neuroscience. His visual narrative, Neurocomic (2013, co-authored with Hana Roz), portrays the history of neuroscience through a young man’s a voyage of discovery in a land of giant neurons and encounters with famous scientists. Gina Perry is an Australian journalist who used her investigative and narrative skills to write a Behind the Shock Machine (2013), a history of Stanley Milgram’s obedience studies. Now a doctoral student in psychology, she will review Experimenter, Michael Almereyda’s 2016 film about Milgram and his work. Our commentator is Nadine Weidman, a historian of science at Harvard University known for her work on public controversy and popularization in the twentieth century human sciences. Our Chair is John Carson, a historian at the University of Michigan and Director of Undergraduate Studies for its Program in Science, Technology, and Society.

Come back tomorrow for a roundup of all the history of human science related programming at HSS!

Share on Facebook

History of Popular Psychology, Now at the CHP

Are you a fan of popular psychology? What about the history of popular psychology? If so, you’ll want to check out a recent post on the Center for the History of Psychology (CHP) blog (the image above is taken from that post). The post discusses the Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. Popular Psychology Magazine Collection now housed at the CHP, which includes more than 1600 pieces of popular psychology literature. Among some of the magazines in the collection are copies of Mesmeric Magazine, Success: The New Psychology Magazine, and The Psychogram: A Magazine of Christian and Practical Psychology. (More information about these items can be found online here.) As you might guess, these magazines were donated to the CHP by psychologist and historian of psychology Ludy Benjamin, Jr.

The CHP blog post also includes audio of an interview with Benjamin, wherein he discusses his collection and the development of popular psychology in the United States in the first half of the twentieth century. That interview can be heard online here.

Share on Facebook

Psychology’s Radio Days in the APA Monitor

The March issue of the American Psychological Association’s Monitor on Psychology has been released online. The Time Capsule section of this issue features an article by Ben Harris on psychology’s radio presence in the late 1920s and 1930s. Titled “Psychology’s Radio Days: APA’s first foray into mass media began in 1931 with “Psychology Today” — no, not the magazine”, the piece explores the various ways American psychologists were involved with radio in the first half of the twentieth century. This included the creation of popular psychology programming for the air waves. As Harris asserts,

Today, no one would propose that professors could run a national radio program. But in the early years of radio, educators shaped the medium more than businessmen and corporate sponsors….From the start, radio offered a mixture of programs related to science and health. Some offered quack advice, such as The Medical Question Box of John R. Brinkley, a physician who claimed to cure impotency with goat prostate gland transplants.

Rather than offering accurate health education, this was part of what former APA President Joseph Jastrow called “cultist America,” a land of superstition and commercial exploitation. But other radio programs were more legitimate, and were given free air-time by local stations and networks and not required to carry advertising. Starting in 1925, for example, the Child Study Association of America sponsored talks on children by authorities such as Helen T. Woolley of Columbia University’s Teachers College. In 1929, journalist Albert Wiggam brought popular psychology to the nation on Friday afternoons with “Your Mind,” a show based on his 1928 book “Exploring Your Mind with the Psychologists.”

The full article on psychology’s role in early American radio can be found here.

Share on Facebook