Tag Archives: psychiatry

History and the Hoffman Report: A Round-Up

Chances are you, like us, have been following the fall out from the American Psychological Association’s Hoffman Report, which details how the organization colluded with the United States government to ensure psychologists remained part of its torture program. While there are a ton of opinion pieces floating around in the wake of the report, we thought we’d highlight a few pieces that take a particularly historical view on the current situation.

Over on the Hidden Persuaders blog, part of a project on Cold War era brainwashing efforts, Marcia Holmes has written “What we’re reading now: The APA report.” Holmes details the events leading up to the Hoffman Report and situates psychology’s involvement in torture in relation to the emergence of “operational psychology.” The fundamental tension between “operational psychology” and ethics, Holmes argues, may never be resolved. Read the full piece online here.

BBC Radio program Witness has produced an episode on “CIA Mind Control Experiments” in the 1950s. While this piece is not directly about the Hoffman Report, it documents  the long history of relations between psychology and the CIA:

In the 1950s the CIA started attempting to brainwash psychiatric patients. They wanted to develop methods which could be used against enemies in the Cold War. Hear from one man whose father was experimented on in a Canadian psychiatric hospital.

The full 10-minute episode can be heard online here.

Finally historian Laura Stark, writing in Inside Higher Ed, explains “Why Ethics Codes Fail.” Stark, having previously written about the first ethics code adopted by the APA in 1973, argues that,

The APA’s current ethics mess is a problem inherent to its method of setting professional ethics policy and a problem that faces professional organizations more broadly. Professions’ codes of ethics are made to seem anonymous, dropped into the world by some higher moral authority. But ethics codes have authors. In the long term, the APA’s problems will not be solved by repeating the same process that empowers a select elite to write ethics policy, then removes their connection to it.

All ethics codes have authors who work to erase the appearance of their influence. Personal interests are inevitable, if not unmanageable, and it may be best for the APA — and other professional groups — to keep the link between an ethics policy and its authors. Take a new lesson from the Hippocratic oath by observing its name. The APA should make its ethics policies like most other papers that scientists write: give the code of ethics a byline.

Read the full piece online here.

If there are other historically focused responses to the Hoffman Report that we’ve missed please feel free to add them in the comments!

Share on Facebook

Special Issue of Medical History on Skill in Medicine & Science

MDHThe new issue of Medical History  (guest edited by Nicholas Whitfield and Thomas Schlich at the Social Studies of Medicine program at McGill) is focused on the theme of skill in the history of medicine and science. The editorial is historiographically interesting as a survey of skill as an historical category (among many relevant to both the histories of medicine and psychology, including the history of observation, objectivity, emotion, and the senses).

Additionally, articles of interest include those about: Adolf Meyer’s influence on 20th century psychiatric clinical skills; the “discourse of skills” used to establish post-War British neuropathology; the norms of conduct within the first generation of neurosurgeons 1900-1930; and the debates between animal behaviorists and molecular biologists on best practices in the experimental manipulation of mouse DNA  (and the interpretation thereof). There are also a number of pertinent reviews on books about: insanity and colonialism in post-emancipation Caribbean; gender and class in turn of the 20th century British asylums; and the analysis of Nazi psychology at Nuremberg.

 

Selected abstracts read as follows: Continue reading Special Issue of Medical History on Skill in Medicine & Science

Share on Facebook

Resource: Online Guide to Medical Humanities Dissertations

Margaret DeLacy over at the H-Scholar network has linked to a resource that could be of interest to our readership: a large collection of ProQuest info for dissertations from subject areas within the umbrella of the ‘medical humanities’ that has been compiled by the University of Pittsburgh’s History of Medicine Librarian, John Erlen.

Find the main list of subjects here.

Erlen has been contributing to the collection on a monthly basis since 2001, and when you click on each topic of interest it takes you to his most recent addition. However at the top of each page there is also the option to “browse all available months for this topic,” which takes you to the full sub-list for the subject area (e.g. Psychiatry/Psychology and History).

 

Share on Facebook

Remembering Oak Ridge: A Digital Exhibit

Mental Health Centre Penetanguishene (circa 2000s). Aerial photograph of Oak Ridge. In J. L. Bazar (Ed.), Remembering Oak Ridge digital archive and exhibit
Mental Health Centre Penetanguishene (circa 2000s). Aerial photograph of Oak Ridge. In J. L. Bazar (Ed.), Remembering Oak Ridge digital archive and exhibit

AHP‘s very own contributor Jennifer Bazar  has curated a fascinating online historical archive and exhibit on the Oak Ridge forensic mental health division of the Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care in Penetanguishene, Ontario. Find the exhibit here.

Established in 1933 and closed last year (2014), the Oak Ridge division at Waypoint was Ontario’s only maximum security forensic hospital served by both the provincial criminal justice and mental health systems. The exhibit opens the locked doors of its eighty one year history “to dispel the misconceptions and stereotypes that surround forensic mental health care centres and their clients,” and compellingly tells its unique story by sharing artefacts, photographs, and archival documents “to demonstrate how treatment practices, security restrictions, and individual experiences both changed and remained consistent” throughout the institute’s existence. Exhibit sections include: Origins, Building, Legislation, Treatment, Daily Life, Patients, Staff, Research, and Community.

You can also browse through the exhibit content here (400+ items total: photos, docs, artefacts, audio, video), and please look forward to further additions to the collection over the next year including “personal experiences from patient case records, interviews, and oral histories with former staff members of the Oak Ridge division.”

 

Share on Facebook

New Books in STS Interview: Matthew Heaton’s Black Skin, White Coats

New Books in Science, Technology, and Society, part of the New Books Network, has posted an interview with Matthew Heaton about his recent book Black Skin, White Coats: Nigerian Psychiatrists, Decolonization, and the Globalization of Psychiatry

As described on the publisher’s website,

Black Skin, White Coats is a history of psychiatry in Nigeria from the 1950s to the 1980s. Working in the contexts of decolonization and anticolonial nationalism, Nigerian psychiatrists sought to replace racist colonial psychiatric theories about the psychological inferiority of Africans with a universal and egalitarian model focusing on broad psychological similarities across cultural and racial boundaries. Particular emphasis is placed on Dr. T. Adeoye Lambo, the first indigenous Nigerian to earn a specialty degree in psychiatry in the United Kingdom in 1954. Lambo returned to Nigeria to become the medical superintendent of the newly founded Aro Mental Hospital in Abeokuta, Nigeria’s first “modern” mental hospital. At Aro, Lambo began to revolutionize psychiatric research and clinical practice in Nigeria, working to integrate “modern” western medical theory and technologies with “traditional” cultural understandings of mental illness. Lambo’s research focused on deracializing psychiatric thinking and redefining mental illness in terms of a model of universal human similarities that crossed racial and cultural divides.

Black Skin, White Coats is the first work to focus primarily on black Africans as producers of psychiatric knowledge and as definers of mental illness in their own right. By examining the ways that Nigerian psychiatrists worked to integrate their psychiatric training with their indigenous backgrounds and cultural and civic nationalisms, Black Skin, White Coats provides a foil to Frantz Fanon’s widely publicized reactionary articulations of the relationship between colonialism and psychiatry. Black Skin, White Coats is also on the cutting edge of histories of psychiatry that are increasingly drawing connections between local and national developments in late-colonial and postcolonial settings and international scientific networks. Heaton argues that Nigerian psychiatrists were intimately aware of the need to engage in international discourses as part and parcel of the transformation of psychiatry at home.

The full interview can be heard online here.

Share on Facebook

The Anatomist, The Alienist, The Artist & changing expressions of madness in Victorian Britain

JHN physiognomy comparison article
Left: Bell’s ‘The Maniac,’ 1806. Right: detail of Dadd’s ‘Agony– Raving Madness,’ 1854. Depictions contrasted in the article.

The Journal of the History of the Neurosciences has published an article online by S. Huddleston and G. A. Russell (out of the Department of Humanities in Medicine, Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine) on the 19th century case of painter and murderer Richard Dadd.

The authors employ examples of Dadd’s art (the majority of which created during his incarceration at Bethlem and Broadmoor hospitals) as a lens to explore the shifting social politics of theories of physiognomy in clinical practice and public perception.  The idiosyncratic and atypical subjects of Dadd’s works defied both the early and over-determined categories of mad facial features championed by the renowned anatomist Charles Bell, and the nondistinctive challenge thereto by alienist Alexander Morison. In doing so, the authors argue, Dadd’s interpretation forshadowed more modern approaches to physiognomic diagnostics.

Find the abstract and full text here.

 

Share on Facebook

Mediating Shell Shock: The 1918 Film ‘War Neuroses’ as Clinical Controversy

sgt-bissettBPS’ May volume of The Psychologist includes an insightful historical piece by Edgar Jones (out of the Institute for Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience at King’s College London). His article, Filming Trauma, assesses the influence and controversy in Britain surrounding the clinical research of Arthur Hurst on treatment of shell shock as a medical emergency within their military forces.

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.

An engaging read! Find it as pdf, or post.

Share on Facebook

Seminar Series @ Oxford History of Medicine Wellcome Unit

The Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine‘s current series of seminars is on “Medicine & Modern Warfare.” Two talks may be of particular interest to the AHP community:

April 27:                                                                                                                                                                  ‘Culture, politics or biology? How does American PTSD relate to European war trauma?’        Speaker: Ben Shephard, Bristol.

June 8:                                                                                                                                                                            ‘“It would frighten you to see the people sent to this place”: Why did the emotional and nervous states of women factory workers provoke such concern in Britain in the Second World War?’                                                                                                                                                               Speaker: Hazel Croft, University of London

Find the full lineup of dates here.

Share on Facebook

Special Issue: “Ordering the Social: History of the Human Sciences in Modern China”

The March 2015 issue of the journal History of Science is a special issue on “Ordering the Social: History of the Human Sciences in Modern China.” Guest edited by Howard Chiang (right), the issue includes several articles that may be of interest to AHP readers. Among these articles are ones on Pavlovianism during the Maoist era, the origins of zaolian (early love) as a form of juvenile delinquency, and debates over koro. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

Editorial: “Ordering the Social: History of the Human Sciences in Modern China,” by Howard Chiang. No abstract.

“Disciplining China with the scientific study of the state: Lu Zhengxiang and the Chinese Social and Political Science,” by John H. Feng. The abstract reads,

This paper discusses the Chinese Social and Political Science Association and its impact on China’s inclination to Wilsonianism. The CSPSA was founded in Beijing in 1915. Two primary supporters were Lu Zhengxiang (China’s Foreign Minister) and Paul S. Reinsch (American Minister to China during the Wilson administration). It chose English as its official language in order to have dialogues with American scholars. The CSPSA had strong interests in constitutionalism, international relations and international law. As it pondered how to discipline China, it demonstrated its inclination to the American scientific study of the state. Epistemologically, this led to the political converge between China and the US during the Great War.

“From palaeoanthropology in China to Chinese palaeoanthropology: Science, imperialism and nationalism in North China, 1920–1939,” by Hsiao-pei Yen. The abstract reads,

Before the establishment of the Cenozoic Research Laboratory (Xinshengdai yanjiushi) in 1929, paleoanthropological research in China was mainly in the hands of foreigners, individual explorers as well as organized teams. This paper describes the development of paleoanthropology in China in the 1920s and 1930s and its transformation from the international phase to an indigenized one. It focuses on the international elite scientist network in metropolitan Beijing whose activities and discoveries led to such transformation. The bond between members of the network was built on shared scientific devotion, joint field experience, and social activities. However, such scientific internationalism was not immune from imperialistic and nationalistic interests and competition as most members of the network also belonged to institutions of the dominant hegemonic powers, such as the French Paleontological Mission and the American Museum of Natural History, operating by the logic of international system of imperialism. While these foreign institutions enjoyed relatively unrestricted access to the Chinese frontier and Mongolia in the early 20th century to discover and collect for the establishment of what they saw as universal scientific knowledge, in the late 1920s rising Chinese and Mongolian nationalisms began to interpret these activities as violations to their national sovereignty. The idea of establishing a “Chinese” institute to carry out paleoanthropological research in China took shape in such milieu. This paper highlights the entanglement between scientific internationalism, imperialism, nationalism in China in the early 20th century and the complicated process of knowledge formation at various national and personal levels.

“Pavlovianism in China: Politics and differentiation across scientific disciplines in the Maoist era,” by Zhipeng Gao. The abstract reads, Continue reading Special Issue: “Ordering the Social: History of the Human Sciences in Modern China”

Share on Facebook

BBC Radio Free Thinking Series: Madness in Civilisation

free thinking

The March 17 2015 episode of BBC 3’s Free Thinking with Matthew Sweet featured authors Andrew Scull and Lisa Appignanesi, who discussed the history of madness within Western contexts–the reflexive relations between how it has been conceptualized and experienced, philosophical and theoretical changes in how it has been studied academically and professionally, and the shifting social politics of how it is apprehended and engaged with by the publics at large.

Listen to the full piece here.

Works cited in the interview:                                                                                                                 Andrew Scull, (April, 2015) Madness in Civilization: A Cultural History of Insanity, from the Bible to Freud, from the Madhouse to Modern Medicine.                                                                          Lisa Appignanesi, (2009) Mad, Bad and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors from 1800 to the Present.

 

Share on Facebook