Tag Archives: Wundt

New HoP: Italian Social Psych, Postwar College Counselling Centers, & Psych’s Vocabulary

The February 2014 issue of History of Psychology is now online.  Included in this issue are articles on the creation of college counseling centers in postwar America, a comparison of psychology’s vocabulary with that of other disciplines, and the establishment of Italian social psychology. Other historiographical pieces explore archival sources for Wundt scholarship, as well as the state of work on Soviet psychology. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Great aspirations: The postwar American college counseling center,” by Tom McCarthy. The abstract reads,

In the decade after World War II, psychologists, eager to bring the benefits of counseling to larger numbers, convinced hundreds of American colleges and universities to establish counseling centers. Inspired by the educational-vocational counseling center founded by psychologists at the University of Minnesota in 1932, Carl R. Rogers’s “client-centered” methods of personal adjustment counseling, and the 400-plus college counseling centers created by the Veterans Administration to provide the educational-vocational counseling benefit promised to returning World War II servicemen under the 1944 GI Bill, these counseling psychologists created a new place to practice where important currents in psychology, higher education, and federal policy converged and where they attempted to integrate educational-vocational counseling with personal adjustment counseling based on techniques from psychotherapy. By the mid-1960s, half of America’s colleges and universities had established counseling centers, and more than 90% offered students educational, vocational, and psychological counseling services, a great achievement of the first generation of counseling psychologists.

“Patterns of similarity and difference between the vocabularies of psychology and other subjects,” by John G. Benjafield. The abstract reads, Continue reading

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New HoP: Milgram, Murray, Nostalgia, and More!

The August 2013 issue of History of Psychology is now online. Included in this issues are articles that look at the history of the concept of nostalgia, the contingencies surrounding the voice-feedback condition in Stanley Milgram’s obedience to authority experiments, a translation of Wilhelm Wundt’s (above) Psychology’s Struggle for Existence (Die Psychologie im Kampf ums Dasein) by James Lamiell, and the correspondence between American psychologist Henry Murray and Chinese psychologist Siegen K. Chou. Other items in this issue explore strategies in writing books in the history of psychology and developments in history and philsophy of psychology in Brazil. Full titles, authors and abstracts follow below.

“Nostalgia: The bittersweet history of a psychological concept,” by Krystine Irene Batcho. The abstract reads,

The concept of nostalgia has changed substantially both denotatively and connotatively over the span of its 300-year history. This article traces the evolution of the concept from its origins as a medical disease to its contemporary understanding as a psychological construct. The difficulty of tracing a construct through history is highlighted. Attention is paid to roles played first by the medical context, and then by the psychiatric, psychoanalytic, and psychological approaches. Emphasis is given to shifts in the designation of nostalgic valence from bitter to sweet to bittersweet, and the processes of semantic drift and depathologization are explored. Because the sense of nostalgia was constructed and reconstructed within social, cultural, and historical contexts, its meaning changed along with the words used to describe and connect it to other entities. Nostalgia’s past illustrates the influence of language, social-cultural context, and discipline perspectives on how a construct is defined, researched, and applied.

““The last possible resort”: A forgotten prod and the in situ standardization of Stanley Milgram’s voice-feedback condition,” Stephen Gibson. The abstract reads, Continue reading

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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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Jan. 22: BPS History of Psych Disciplines Talk!

A further event in the continuing British Psychological Society’s History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, History of the Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series will take place in London next week. Saulo de Feitas Araujo (left), of the newly established history and philosophy of psychology graduate program at Universidade de Federal de Juiz de Fora in Brazil, will speak on “The role of philosophy in Wundtian psychology: Towards a new interpretation of Wundt’s psychological project.” Further seminars for the Spring 2013 term remain tba. Full details follow below.

Location: UCL Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, Room 544,* 5th Floor, 1-19 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HJ (map)

Time: 6pm-7.30pm

Tuesday 22 January Professor Saulo de Freitas Araujo (Universidade de Federal de Juiz de Fora, Brazil), The role of philosophy in Wundtian psychology: Towards a new interpretation of Wundt’s psychological project.

Despite the numerous and important contributions brought by Wundt scholarship in recent decades, some aspects of his work remain unclear and poorly understood. The aim of this talk is to explore one of these aspects; namely, the relationship between philosophy and psychology in Wundt’s thought. To this end, we shall discuss an important yet neglected moment in Wundtian psychology, which remains unexplained to date: why did Wundt abandon his early theory of the unconscious? According to the interpretation offered here, this can only be adequately explained by his intense philosophical studies in the period preceding the publication of the Grundzu?ge in 1874, especially in relation to Kant. Finally, we will point out some implications of this analysis to the general interpretation of Wundt’s psychological project.

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New HoP Program: Interview w/ Saulo de Freitas Araujo

The Department of Psychology at the Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora (Department of Psychology, Federal University of Juiz de Fora) recently began a new History and Philosophy of Psychology graduate program. Faculty member Saulo de Freitas Araujo, who recently published a book on Wilhelm Wundt’s psychology (left), was nice enough to grant AHP an interview. In this interview Araujo addresses the program’s faculty and student composition, its aims, and its future plans. The full text of the interview follows below.

AHP: Can you tell AHP’s readers about the new history of psychology program at the Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora? What is the aim of the new program and when did it begin?

SFA: First of all, we created, in 2010, the NUHFIP (Center for the History and Philosophy of Psychology), which inaugurated a new space for doing research on history and philosophy of psychology in Brazil. Then in 2011, the Graduate Program in Psychology at the Federal University of Juiz de Fora created a new area, namely, History and Philosophy of Psychology. It is the first psychology graduate program in Brazil to offer an official program in this area, including specific training in disciplines like history of science and psychology, philosophy of science and psychology, etc. In the two year program, the students have to attend courses in some of these disciplines and to defend a master thesis at the end. Our main purpose is to encourage and support investigations and discussions on the historical and philosophical foundations of psychology, which can contribute to a better understanding of contemporary psychological theory and practice. With that goal in mind, we expect to receive three kinds of students: a) those who want to become scholars in the field; b) those who want to teach history and philosophy of psychology in undergraduate courses; c) those who have practical interests and are looking for a better understanding of his or her own professional activity. For the moment, we can only offer a Master degree, but we will soon be able to offer a PhD, too.

AHP: In addition to yourself, who are the faculty members associated with the new program and what are their research interests or current projects?

SFA: Our new program has four faculty members. Three of them belong to the Psychology Department (Saulo de Freitas Araujo, Fátima Caropreso and Richard Simanke) and one to Philosophy Department (Gustavo Castañon). Our research interests can be summarized as follows: Continue reading

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More Talks! BPS Hist. of Psych. Seminar Series

As previously discussed on AHP (here, here, and here) the British Psychological Society’s History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, has organized a seminar series. Two more talks in this series will be held next month. On March 6th, Egbert Klautke of University College London will be speaking on the French reception of German Völkerpsychologie before 1914. At the end of the month, Elizabeth Valentine (left) will speak of psychologists involvement with psychical research in Britain between the wars. Full seminar details, including titles, speakers, dates, and abstracts follow below.

“The French Reception of Völkerpsychologie and the Origins of the Social Sciences,” to be presented by Egbert Klautke on Tuesday 6 March, 2012. The abstract reads,

In this talk, I will focus on French readings, criticism and adaptations of German Völkerpsychologie (Lazarus/Steinthal, Wundt) before the First World War. I will show how Théodule Ribot, Emile Durkheim, Ernest Renan and Alfred Fouillée used arguments found in the writings of their German contemporaries, and present this cultural transfer as an important chapter in the making of a ‘social science’.

“Spooks and Spoofs: Relations Between Psychical Research and Academic Psychology in Britain in the Inter-war Period,” to be presented by Elizabeth Valentine on Monday 26 March, 2012 [Date updated]. The abstract reads,

The close connections between psychologists and the Society for Psychical Research in the late nineteenth century have been duly acknowledged. What is less well known is that senior academic psychologists were involved in psychical research in the early to mid-twentieth century. William McDougall and William Brown attended a number of séances arranged by Harry Price; J.C. Flugel, Cyril Burt, C. Alec Mace and Francis Aveling were members of his ‘University of London Council for Psychical Investigation’ and supported psychical research in various ways. This paper describes some of their antics and ask how reputable psychologists (and the University of London) could have collaborated with someone the Economist described as ‘a rogue, a falsifier, and a manufacturer of evidence’. Personal, metaphysical and socio-historical factors in their collaboration are discussed. It is suggested that the main reason for their mutual attraction was their common engagement in a delicate balancing act between courting popular appeal on the one hand and the assertion of scientific expertise and authority on the other. Their interaction is typical of the boundary work performed at this transitional stage in the development of psychology as a discipline.

Update: Elizabeth Valentine’s talk will now take place on Monday 26 March, 2012 (rather than the March 21st as originally scheduled).

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New Issue: History of Psychology

The February 2012 issue of History of Psychology has just been released online and is chock full of new articles. Included in this issue are articles on the origins of the therapeutic theories of Aaron Beck (right) and Carl Rogers, respectively. Other articles address developments in historical methods, including one on transcending “Great Man” histories and another on the new neurohistory. Further articles recount how Wundt’s philosophical studies influenced his early theory of the unconscious and describe the development of anglophone psychology’s vocabulary. The issue ends with a short piece on the fate of John Dillingham Dodson, the co-creator of the Yerkes-Dodson law. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Aaron T. Beck’s drawings and the psychoanalytic origin story of cognitive therapy,” by Rachael I. Rosner. The abstract reads,

In this essay the author challenges the standard origin story of cognitive therapy, namely, that its founder Aaron T. Beck broke with psychoanalysis to pursue a more pragmatic, parsimonious, and experimentalist cognitive model. It is true that Beck broke with psychoanalysis in large measure as a result of his experimental disconfirmation of key psychoanalytic ideas. His new school of cognitive therapy brought the experimental ethos into every corner of psychological life, extending outward into the largest multisite randomized controlled studies of psychotherapy ever attempted and inward into the deepest recesses of our private worlds. But newly discovered hand-sketched drawings from 1964 of the schema, a conceptual centerpiece of cognitive therapy, as well as unpublished personal correspondence show that Beck continued to think psychoanalytically even after he broke with psychoanalysis. The drawings urge us to consider an origin story much more complex than the one of inherited tradition. This new, multifaceted origin story of cognitive therapy reaches beyond sectarian disagreements and speaks to a broader understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of cognitive therapy.

“The Roosevelt years: Crucial milieu for Carl Rogers’ innovation,” by Godfrey T. Barrett-Lennard. The abstract reads, Continue reading

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In the Days Before PowerPoint…

The November issue of the American Psychological Association‘s Monitor on Psychology is now online. This month’s Time Capsule section looks at the use of the magic lantern in psychology courses in the late-nineteenth century. As author Laurence Smith informs us,

Prominent among the historical precursors of today’s PowerPoint presentations is the “magic lantern,” which came into wide use in classrooms of the late 19th century. An early sort of slide projector dating to the 17th century, the magic lantern contained a light source (a gas flame or electric bulb) that transilluminated large glass slides bearing images that were projected through lenses onto large cloth screens. Some versions, such as the “episcope,” could project laboratory instruments such as kymographs and other opaque objects onto screens, thus allowing instructors to present live scientific phenomena to large audiences.

Smith goes on to describe the use of the magic lantern by such early luminaries as Wilhelm Wundt, E. B. Titchener, and Edward Scripture. He writes,

By the time the new psychology reached American shores in the late 1800s, college students had developed a strong appetite for image-driven science. These students had many attractive options for sciences to pursue, and psychology professors recognized that their new and still-marginal discipline needed to match the pedagogical flair of the older sciences. In 1897, Scripture wrote that “comparisons are constantly drawn between the various departments, and merely as a matter of self-preservation the psychological laboratory must offer courses equal in attractiveness and value to those of physics, chemistry and biology. A lecture room with at least a single lantern … should be provided. … The students are no longer a ‘class’ to be taught; they are an ‘audience’ that must be led.”

Thus the magic lantern, which arrived from Germany in tandem with scientific psychology, was seen as a crucial means of attracting the student following that would help psychology survive against the competition of entrenched sciences.

The full article, “Multimedia 1890s,” can be read online here.

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Space. The final frontier…for psychologists?

It turns out that asteroid “635 Vundtia” was named for none other than psychology’s own Wilhelm Wundt, a man perhaps best known among students in History of Psychology for his opening of a psychological laboratory at the University of Leipzig in 1879. 635 Vundtia was discovered in 1907 and named by Karl Lohnert – an astronomer AND an experimental psychologist.

A paper by Lutz D. Schmadel and Susanne Guski-Leinwand in Acta Historica Astronomiae (vol. 43, pp. 335-350) provides a biography of Lohert and his discovery. The abstract reads:

Karl Julius Lohnert (1885-1944) with his double biography as astronomer and psychologist is hardly known in both fields. As a student of astronomy in Heidelberg, Lohnert discovered a couple of minor planets and he dedicated one to his PhD supervisor, the famous Leipzig professor for philosophy, Wilhelm Wundt. This connection is discussed for the first time almost one century after the naming of (635) Vundtia. The paper elucidates some biographical stations of Lohnert.

The news that an asteroid had been named for Wundt (my thanks to Ludy Benjamin of Texas A&M University for this info!) made me wonder what else in the sky was named for psychologists – turns out there are several others who have been commemorated in the same way:

  • 11518 Adler is named for Alfred Adler
  • 4343 Freud is named for Sigmund Freud
  • 1007 Pawlowia is named for Ivan Pavlov
  • Wikipedia actually has a great list by discipline of the names of those for whom minor planets have been named that can be found here (although I note that psychology is lumped under “other science”)
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New Translation of Lange on Classics

A new English translation of Ludwig Lange’s important German language work “Neue Experimente über den Vorgang der einfachen Reaction auf Sinneseindrücke” has been posted to the “Classics in the History of Psychology” website. It was in this work that the distinction between sensory and muscular reections was first proposed, eventually leading to much debate among American psychologists over the veracity of mental types. Christopher Green, the administer of the “Classics” website, writes,

I am very pleased to announce that I have recently posted to the “Classics in the History of Psychology” website a new English translation, by David D. Lee, of Ludwig Lange’s 1888 article “Neue Experimente über den Vorgang der einfachen Reaction auf Sinneseindrücke” [New experiments on the process of the simple reaction to sensory impressions], first published in Philosophische Studien, 4, 479-510.

This particular article, by Wundt’s future assistant, is significant because it attempted to resolve apparent anomalies in the reaction time data then being generated in Wundt’s Leipzig laboratory by claiming the discovery of  distinct “sensory” and “muscular” types of reaction.  In doing so, Lange unintentionally set off a debate among Cattell, Baldwin, Titchener, Angell and others that ultimately led to the founding of the American school of Functionalism.

David kindly provided his considerable translation skills gratis for this project, and I am deeply indebted to him for this generous contribution. It extends further the aim of “Classics” project, which was to make primary source material easily and freely available to the many students and researchers working on the psychology’s history.

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