Franz Joseph Gall on God and religion: “Dieu et Cerveau, rien que Dieu et cerveau!”

AHP readers will be interested in a new open access piece in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences: “Franz Joseph Gall on God and religion: “Dieu et Cerveau, rien que Dieu et cerveau!”” by Paul Eling and Stanley Finger. Abstract:

Franz Joseph Gall’s (1758–1828) doctrine of many faculties of mind with corresponding cortical organs led him to be accused of materialism, fatalism, and even atheism. Yet little has been written about the specific charges he felt forced to respond to in Vienna, while visiting the German States, or in Paris, where he published his books. This article examines these accusations and Gall’s responses. It also looks at what Gall wrote about a cortical faculty for God and religion and seeing intelligent design in the functional organization of the brain. Additionally, it presents what can be gleaned about his private thoughts on God and organized religion. We conclude that Gall was sincere in his admiration for and belief in God the Creator, but that as an enlightened scientist was recognizing the need to separate metaphysics from the laws of nature when presenting his new science of man.

Diagnosing the “master mechanism of the universe” in interwar and war-era America

A new piece in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences will be of interest to AHP readers: “Diagnosing the “master mechanism of the universe” in interwar and war-era America,” by Heather Murray. Abstract:

Drawing on personal testimonials and questions addressed to psychiatric hospital officials, this article explores how patients and their loved ones engaged with the idea of diagnosis in interwar and war-era America. I argue that diagnosis had synergies with intellectual sensibilities of American modernity, among them an enthusiasm for science and newness, a modernist sense of time that could be both forward- and backward-looking, and a knowable, interpreted self. While self-understanding and the creation of life narratives were more often considered the bailiwick of psychoanalysis in this period, understanding subjectivity and self-interpretation were not solely expressed in its conceptual vocabulary. Patient and family dialogs with diagnosis and psychiatric authorities allow for an illumination of the interaction between domestic intuitions, common sense, and folk wisdom, on the one hand, and institutional taxonomy, categorization, and scientific terminology on the other, or more broadly, between dispositions that are ostensibly antimodern and more modern ideas. I suggest that the protean and wide-ranging intellectual origins of the discipline of psychiatry, along with the inherent ambiguity of psychiatric diagnosis during the early 20th century, allowed patients to participate in their own medicalization in the most capacious way possible: by combining biology with diagnostic narrative capacities, as well as broader perceptions of morality and character. In the concluding reflection, I speculate about why it is that late 20th-century American critics and activists have tended to view diagnosis and medicalization as coercive and threatening, in contrast to earlier 20th-century patients and their intimate observers

The problematic legacy of victim specimens from the Nazi era: Identifying the persons behind the specimens at the Max Planck Institutes for Brain Research and of Psychiatry

A new open access article in Journal of the History of the Neurosciences may interest AHP readers: “The problematic legacy of victim specimens from the Nazi era: Identifying the persons behind the specimens at the Max Planck Institutes for Brain Research and of Psychiatry” by Paul Weindling, Gerrit Hohendorf, Axel C. Hüntelmann, Jasmin Kindel, Annemarie Kinzelbach, Aleksandra Loewenau, Stephanie Neuner, Micha? Adam Palacz, Marion Zingler & Herwig Czech. Abstract:

Although 75 years have passed since the end of World War II, the Max Planck Society (Max-Planck Gesellschaft, MPG), successor to the Kaiser Wilhelm Society (Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft, KWG), still must grapple with how two of its foremost institutes—the KWI of Psychiatry in Munich and the KWI for Brain Research in Berlin-Buch—amassed collections of brains from victims of Nazi crimes, and how these human remains were retained for postwar research. Initial efforts to deal with victim specimens during the 1980s met with denial and, subsequently, rapid disposal in 1989/1990. Despite the decision of the MPG’s president to retain documentation for historical purposes, there are gaps in the available sources. This article provides preliminary results of a research program initiated in 2017 (to be completed by October 2023) to provide victim identifications and the circumstances of deaths.

Disciplining the Akratic user: Constructing digital (un)wellness

AHP readers may be interested in a new piece in Mobile Media & Communication: “Disciplining the Akratic user: Constructing digital (un)wellness,” by Chad J. Valasek. Abstract:

Contemporary discourse around digital well-being tends to focus on self-control when it comes to “addicting” social media apps and digital devices. By acting on behalf of users, designers and engineers promote various self-regulating products and services in order for users to “fix” the distractible brains of typical users. This paper explores the role of the history of psychology on user-experience thinking and engineering and provides a critical genealogy of digital well-being discourse and persuasive technology. In particular, I expand on the role of dual-process models in human–computer interaction and health behavior change from the 1980s to today. By exploring the social construction of the distracted, impulsive, “primitive” animal brain (system 1), I find that it is this part of the mind that the engineer wishes to “treat,” via app design. In order to tame this “primitive” brain, researchers and engineers have turned to behavioral science, hoping to better structure user options and encourage users to manage their own time and normalize screen habits. I argue that normality discourses like this are founded upon ideas of time management and delay of gratification, whereas abnormality is tied to ideas of immediate gratification and time wasting. This dichotomy is not simply to enforce social norms around time wasting, but reinforces social and econoimc inequities. Therefore, unlike some other approaches to digital well-being, I urge future scholarship on the subject to examine the taken-for-granted social-cultural context, which will lead not only to a more politically nuanced understanding of the subject but may also lead to further discussions over how digital well-being could be conceived otherwise.

Symonds on fear and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

A forthcoming piece in History of Psychiatry may interest AHP readers: “Symonds on fear and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)” by AD (Sandy) Macleod. Abstract:

Prominent English neurologist Sir Charles Symonds, during World War II service with the Royal Air Force, published a series of articles emphasizing the role of fear initiating psychological breakdown in combat airmen (termed Lack of Moral Fibre). Having served in a medical capacity in the previous war, Symonds re-presented the phylogenetic conceptualizations formed by his colleagues addressing ‘shell shock’. In 2013, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5) re-classified Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), removing the diagnosis from the category of Anxiety Disorders. This was the view introduced a century ago by the trench doctors of World War I and affirmed by Symonds’ clinical experience and studies in World War II.

CFP: Seventh Annual Conference on the History of Recent Social Science (HISRESS)

Call for Papers: Seventh Annual Conference on the History of Recent Social Science
(HISRESS)
Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology

University of Toronto
17-18 June 2022

After a two-year pandemic delay, this two-day conference of the Society for the History of Recent Social Science (HISRESS) will bring together researchers working on the history of post-World War II social science (HISRESS; https://hisress.org) will bring together researchers working on the history of post-World War II social science. It will provide a forum for the latest research on the cross-disciplinary history of the post-war social sciences, including but not limited to anthropology, economics, psychology, political science, and sociology as well as related fields like area studies, communication studies, history, international relations, law, and linguistics. The conference aims to build upon the recent emergence of work and conversation on cross-disciplinary themes in the postwar history of the social sciences. 

Submissions are welcome in such areas including, but not restricted to:

  • The interchange of social science concepts and figures among the academy and wider intellectual and popular spheres
  • Comparative institutional histories of departments and programs
  • Border disputes and boundary work between disciplines as well as academic cultures
  • Themes and concepts developed in the history and sociology of natural and physical science, reconceptualized for the social science context
  • Professional and applied training programs and schools, and the quasi-disciplinary fields (like business administration) that typically housed them
  • The role of social science in post-colonial state-building governance
  • Social science adaptations to the changing media landscape
  • The role and prominence of disciplinary memory in a comparative context
  • Engagements with matters of gender, sexuality, race, religion, nationality, disability and other markers of identity and difference

The two-day conference will be organized as a series of one-hour, single-paper sessions attended by all participants. Ample time will be set aside for intellectual exchange between presenters and attendees, as all participants are expected to read pre-circulated papers in advance.

Proposals should contain no more than 1000 words, indicating the originality of the paper. The deadline for receipt of abstracts is February 4, 2022. Final notification will be given in early March 2022 after proposals have been reviewed. Completed papers will be expected by May 13, 2022.

The organizing committee consists of Jamie Cohen-Cole (George Washington University), Philippe Fontaine (École normale supérieure Paris-Saclay), Jeff Pooley (Muhlenberg College), Mark Solovey (University of Toronto), and Marga Vicedo (University of Toronto).
All proposals and requests for information should be sent to submissions@hisress.org.

Eugenics, social reform, and psychology: The careers of Isabelle Kendig

Isabelle Kendig (Courtesy of Ben Harris)

A forthcoming piece in History of Psychology will be of interest to AHP readers: “Eugenics, social reform, and psychology: The careers of Isabelle Kendig” by Ben Harris. Abstract:

The psychologist Isabelle Kendig had two careers before earning her doctorate and rising to the position of chief psychologist at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, DC. She began as a eugenic field worker in 1912, focusing on Shutesbury, Massachusetts, where she administered intelligence tests to the locals, collected gossip about their character, and created genealogical charts. When she presented her research to Charles Davenport and other social scientists concerned with social defect, Kendig dissented from eugenics orthodoxy. She was shunned by Davenport, who, in turn, falsified her findings to fit his beliefs. She was then hired by Massachusetts and New Hampshire to survey intellectual disability in each state. Following her work in eugenics, Kendig was briefly a leading figure in feminist and antimilitarist campaigns, including the National Women’s Party and the 1924 presidential campaign of Senator Robert La Follette. In 1933, she earned a PhD in clinical psychology from Radcliffe and went on to help guide the field’s post-WWII expansion. True to her feminist ideals and with the help of her husband, she juggled marriage, her three careers, and the parenting of four children. She thus serves as a noteworthy member of the second generation of women in psychology in the United States. Using unpublished correspondence between Kendig, her parents, and her future husband, this article offers a rare glimpse of a young feminist struggling to build a career and a life unconstrained by patriarchal norms. 

History of the Human Sciences – Early Career Prize, 2021-22

AHP readers may be interested in the History of the Human Sciences Early Career Prize. The entry deadline is January 31st 2021. Full details below.

History of the Human Sciences – the international journal of peer-reviewed research, which provides the leading forum for work in the social sciences, humanities, human psychology and biology that reflexively examines its own historical origins and interdisciplinary influences – is delighted to announce details of its prize for early career scholars. The intention of the annual award is to recognise a researcher whose work best represents the journal’s aim to critically examine traditional assumptions and preoccupations about human beings, their societies and their histories in light of developments that cut across disciplinary boundaries. In the pursuit of these goals, History of the Human Sciences publishes traditional humanistic studies as well work in the social sciences, including the fields of sociology, psychology, political science, the history and philosophy of science, anthropology, classical studies, and literary theory. Scholars working in any of these fields are encouraged to apply.

Guidelines for the Award

Scholars who wish to be considered for the award are asked to submit an up-to-date two-page CV (including a statement that confirms eligibility for the award) and an essay that is a maximum of 12,000 words long (including notes and references). The essay should be unpublished and not under consideration elsewhere, based on original research, written in English, and follow History of the Human Science’s style guide. Scholars are advised to read the journal’s description of its aims and scope, as well as its submission guidelines.

Entries will be judged by a panel drawn from the journal’s editorial team and board. They will identify the essay that best fits the journal’s aims and scope.

Eligibility

Scholars of any nationality who have either not yet been awarded a PhD or are no more than five years from its award are welcome to apply. The judging panel will use the definition of “active years”, with time away from academia for parental leave, health problems, or other relevant reasons being disregarded in the calculation.

Prize

The winning scholar will be awarded £250 and have their essay published in History of the Human Sciences (subject to the essay passing through the journal’s peer review process). The intention is to award the prize to a single entrant but the judging panel may choose to recognise more than one essay in the event of a particularly strong field.

Deadlines

Entries should be made by Friday 31st January 2022. The panel aims to make a decision by Friday 29th April 2022. The winning entry will be submitted for peer review automatically. The article, clearly identified as the winner of the History of the Human Sciences Early Career Prize, will then be published in the journal as soon as the production schedule allows. The winning scholar and article will also be promoted by History of the Human Sciences, including on its website, which hosts content separate to the journal.

Previous Winners

2020-21: Liana Glew (Penn State), “Documenting insanity: Paperwork and patient narratives in psychiatric history”, and Simon Torracinta (Yale), “Maps of desire: Edward Tolman’s Drive Theory of Wants”. Special commendation: Erik Baker (Harvard), “The ultimate think tank: The rise of the Santa Fe Institute Libertarian”.

2019-20: Danielle Carr (Columbia), “Ghastly Marionettes and the political metaphysics of cognitive liberalism: Anti-behaviourism, language, and The Origins of Totalitarianism”. Special commendation: Katie Joice (Birkbeck), “Mothering in the Frame: cinematic microanalysis and the pathogenic mother, 1945-67”.

You can read more about these essays in interviews with the authors on the journal’s website.

To Apply

Entrants should e-mail an anonymised copy of their essay, along with an up-to-date CV, to hhs@histhum.com

Further Enquiries

If you have any questions about the prize, or anything relating to the journal, please email hhs@histhum.com

From class origins to individual psychopathology: Spousal murder according to state socialist Czechoslovak criminology

AHP readers may be interested in a new piece in History of the Human Sciences: “From class origins to individual psychopathology: Spousal murder according to state socialist Czechoslovak criminology,” Kate?ina Lišková, Lucia Moravanská. Abstract:

Over the course of 40 years of state socialism, the explanation that Czechoslovak criminologists gave for spousal murder changed significantly. Initially attributing offences to the perpetrator’s class origins, remnants of his bourgeois way of life, and the lack of positive influence from the collective in the long 1950s, criminologists then refocused their attention solely on the individual’s psychopathology during the period known as ‘Normalization’, which encompassed the last two decades of state socialism. Based on an analysis of archival sources, including scholarly journals and expert reports, and following Ian Hacking’s insight that ‘kinds of people come into being’ through the realignment of systems of knowledge, this article shows how new kinds of spousal murderer emerged as a result of shifting criminological expertise. We explain the change as the result of the psychiatrization of criminology that occurred in Czechoslovakia at a time when the regime needed to consolidate after the upheavals of the Prague Spring of 1968. The criminological framing of spousal murder as belonging squarely in the individualized realm of the private sphere reflected the contemporaneous effort of the regime to enclose the private as a sphere of relative state non-interference.

Kiær and the rebirth of the representative method: A case-study in controversy management at the International Statistical Institute (1895–1903)

A new piece in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences will interest AHP readers: “Kiær and the rebirth of the representative method: A case-study in controversy management at the International Statistical Institute (1895–1903),” by Dominic Lusinchi. Abstract:

Anders N. Kiær (1838–1919), the director of Norway’s Central Bureau of Statistics between 1877 and 1913, was the foremost promoter, at the turn of the 20th century, of the rebirth of what came to be known as the “representative method” or sample survey. His advocacy of a methodology that had been abandoned at the beginning of the 19th century in favor of complete enumeration (the census) provoked a controversy at the International Statistical Institute (ISI) when he first presented it in 1895. Yet, it was “recommended” in fairly short order, by 1903. This was the result of a convergence of factors that prevented the dispute from degenerating into a full-blown conflict and facilitated continuing the discussion while preventing a potential break-up of the association. To understand how this came about, the paper examines (1) the role of the historical background from which the ISI emerged; (2) the epistemic beliefs that informed the ISI members in their daily professional practice; (3) the social structure of the ISI and its “ethos”; (4) the professional standing Kiær enjoyed within the international statistical community. This is a case-study in the sociology of how and why some scientific practices initially seen as “dangerous” gain acceptance and become part of science’s lore.