Beyond the asylum and before the ‘care in the community’ model: exploring an overlooked early NHS mental health facility

Fair Mile Hospital (via Wikipedia)

AHP readers may be interested in a piece now in press at History of Psychiatry: “Beyond the asylum and before the ‘care in the community’ model: exploring an overlooked early NHS mental health facility” by Christina Malathouni. Abstract:

This article discusses the Admission and Treatment Unit at Fair Mile Hospital, in Cholsey, near Wallingford, Berkshire (now Oxfordshire). This was the first new hospital to be completed in England following the launch of the National Health Service. The building was designed by Powell and Moya, one of the most important post-war English architectural practices, and was completed in 1956, but demolished in 2003. The article relates the commission of the building to landmark policy changes and argues for its historic significance in the context of the NHS and of the evolution of mental health care models and policies. It also argues for the need for further study of those early NHS facilities in view of current developments in mental health provision.

First Issue! Awry, Journal of Critical Psychology

AHP readers may be interested in a new journal that has just released its first issue: Awry, Journal of Critical Psychology. Awry is an “open-access, peer reviewed academic journal that provides an interdisciplinary forum for critical scholars dedicated to interrogating the economic, social, political, and environmental dimensions of psychological research and practice.” Details below.

“Critical Psychology in an Age of Uncertainty,” Michael Arfken.

“Psychology Through Critical Auto-Ethnography: Instituting Education,” Ian Parker.

“Disrupting Androcentrism in Social Psychology Textbooks : A Call for Critical Reflexivity,” Meghan George, Susannah Mulvale, Tal Davidson, Jacy Young, Alexandra Rutherford.

“The Reproduction of Compliant Labour Power Through (Re)Constitution of the Child and Adult Subject: Critical Knowledge-Work,” David Fryer, Charles Marley, Rose Stambe.

“Understanding and Theorizing the Pursuit of Intersubjective Recognition,” Peiwei Li, Tyler Banks.

“The Influence of Critical Consciousness-Based Education on Identity Content and Perceptions of Sexism,” Nia Phillips.

“What Do Young Brazilian Students Think About Socialism? Class-Consciousness Past, Present and Future,” Antonio Euzébios Filho, Raquel Souza Lobo Guzzo.

Reviews: “Psychology Through Critical Auto-Ethnography: Academic Discipline, Professional Practice and Reflexive History by Ian Parker,” Emese Ilyes.

Position Opening: Assistant Director, Cummings Center for the History of Psychology

The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, located in Akron Ohio, is accepting applications for an Assistant Director. Working with the Director, the Assistant Director: helps to manage and supervise the daily operations of the Center; works with Center staff in collections development and management; leads and contributes to grant-writing, exhibit curation, teaching, and educational and community outreach efforts; serves as the resident “expert” on the history of psychology and related human sciences; and serves as a liaison to the larger history of the human sciences community.  

Required Qualifications: Master’s degree in the history of psychology or related field; experience with archival research or management; record of successful engagement with the history of psychology or related human sciences community; Ph.D. preferred.

Full details and the application are available at:

(Job ID: 12395)

Review of applications will begin September 3 and will continue until the position is filled.

About the Center

The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology is an archives, museum, and research center that cares for, provides access to, and interprets the historical record of psychology and related human sciences. It is comprised of the Archives of the History of American Psychology, the National Museum of Psychology, and the Institute for Human Science and Culture. The vision of the Cummings Center is to promote and explore the understanding of what it means to be human.

The goals of the Center are:

  • To generate awareness and understanding of the history of psychology and related human sciences
  • To collect, preserve, and provide access to the historical record of the human sciences
  • To promote the use of primary source materials in the examination of the history of psychology and related human sciences, and the role of contextual factors in that history
  • To develop the Center as a resource where past and present intersect
  • To offer public lectures, workshops, conferences and interactive exhibits that promote teaching and learning
  • To promote the care of archival materials and special collections.

Visit the website at  for further information about the Center.

PsychSessions: Invisible Pioneers: Adding Forgotten Psychologists to Psychology Course Content with Leslie Cramblet Alvarez and Nikki Jones

AHP readers may be interested in a recent episode of the PsychSession podcast, “Invisible Pioneers: Adding Forgotten Psychologists to Psychology Course Content with Leslie Cramblet Alvarez and Nikki Jones.”

In this SoTL PsychSessions episode, Anna Ropp interviews Leslie Cramblet Alvarez from the University of Denver and Nikki Jones from Colorado Mesa University about their content analysis of History of Psychology textbooks, including who is missing from these texts. Nikki and Leslie also give tips on how to incorporate these invisible pioneers into all psychology courses. A link to their journal article can be found at

The unexpected American origins of sexology and sexual science: Elizabeth Osgood Goodrich Willard, Orson Squire Fowler, and the scientification of sex

AHP readers will be interested in a forthcoming piece in History of the Human Sciences, now available online: “The unexpected American origins of sexology and sexual science: Elizabeth Osgood Goodrich Willard, Orson Squire Fowler, and the scientification of sex,” Benjamin Kahan. Abstract:

In spite of the fact that the term ‘sexology’ was popularized in the United States by Elizabeth Osgood Goodrich Willard and that the term ‘sexual science’—which is usually attributed to Iwan Bloch as ‘Sexualwissenschaft’—was actually coined by the American phrenologist Orson Squire Fowler in 1852, the archives of American sexology have received scant attention in the period prior to Alfred Kinsey. In my article, I explore the role of Transcendentalism and phrenology in the production and development of American sexology and sexual science. In particular, I argue that shifting the origins of sexology and sexual science away from Karl Heinrich Ulrichs and Karl-Maria Kertbeny and the more familiar narratives of the German invention of sexuality furnishes a radically different account of early sexology and sexual science. Rather than the unevenly homophilic sympathies of early German activists, their American counterparts promote marital, reproductive, loving sex and vilify prostitution, polygamy, masturbation, contraception, sex for pleasure, and, if they think to mention it, sodomy. In addition to this less progressive story, however, I argue that early American sexologists provide the first theories of gender and help to provide a fuller description of the politics of sexology and sexual science.

New History of Science: Race Science, the Sexological Research Questionnaire

Two pieces in the September 2020 issue of History of Science may interest AHP readers. Details below.

“William Frédéric Edwards and the study of human races in France, from the Restoration to the July Monarchy,” Ian B. Stewart. Abstract:

Scholars of the nineteenth-century race sciences have tended to identify the period from c.1820–c.1850 as a phase of transition from philologically to physically focused study. In France, the physiologist William Frédéric Edwards (1776–1842) is normally placed near the center of this transformation. A reconsideration of Edwards’ oeuvre in the context of his larger biography shows that it is impossible to see a clear-cut philological to physical “paradigm shift.” Although he has been remembered almost solely for his principle of the permanency of physical “types,” Edwards was also committed to what he recognized as the new science of “linguistique” and proposed a new branch of comparative philology based on pronunciation. Bearing Edwards’ attention to linguistics in mind, this article reconstructs his racial theories in their intellectual contexts and suggests that at a time of emergent disciplinary specialization, Edwards tried to hold discrete fields together and mold them into a new “natural history of man.”

“The evolution of the questionnaire in German sexual science: A methodological narrative,” Douglas Pretsell. Abstract:

The sexological research questionnaire, which became a central research tool in twentieth-century sexology, has a methodological-developmental history stretching back into mid-nineteenth century Germany. It was the product of a prolonged, disruptive encounter between sexual scientists constructing sexual case studies along with newly assertive homosexual men supplying self-penned sexual autobiographies. Homosexual autobiographies were intensely interesting to these men of science but lacked the brevity, structure, and discipline of a formal clinical case study. In the closing decades of the century, efforts to harness and regularize this self-penned material resulted in a series of methodological adaptations. By the turn of the century this process had resulted in the first use of a formal sexual research questionnaire.

Social sciences, modernization, and late colonialism: The Centro de Estudos da Guiné Portuguesa

AHP readers may be interested in a forthcoming piece in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences: “Social sciences, modernization, and late colonialism: The Centro de Estudos da Guiné Portuguesa,” Frederico Ágoas. Abstract:

In Portugal, studies of transformations since the mid?1950s in colonial social research have focused on the colonial school in Lisbon or other bodies directly under the supervision of the metropolitan administration. Nonmetropolitan initiatives have been neglected and the social?scientific undertakings of the Centro de Estudos da Guiné Portuguesa (CEGP), in particular, have been only marginally dealt with. This article maps CEGP’s creation in Bissau, in 1945, and its social?scientific activity not only to establish its precedence but also to highlight local colonial enterprise and to specify its imprint upon developments in the metropole. It addresses CEGP’s immediate context and main actors, institutional setting, research activities, publications, and other scientific outlets, to then put forward some concluding remarks regarding the epistemic reach of overseas governmental measures and the practical effects, in metropolitan colonial policies and scientific research, of peripheral imperial bureaucratic knowledge.

Online First in HoP: Critical Thinking, Minimal Group Paradigm, and More

A number of pieces forthcoming in History of Psychology, and now available online, may be of interest to AHP readers. Full details below.

The origins of the minimal group paradigm,” Brown, Rupert. Abstract:

The minimal group paradigm, published by Henri Tajfel and his colleagues in the early 1970s, is a widely used experimental technique for studying intergroup perceptions and behavior. In its original form, it involved the assignment of participants to one of two meaningless categories and asking them to make allocations of rewards to other (anonymous) members of those groups. Typically, discrimination in favor of the ingroup is observed in those reward allocations. In this article, I examine the historical origins of this paradigm, noting that it was first mooted by another social psychologist, Jaap Rabbie, in the 1960s, although he is seldom credited with this fact. The intellectual disagreements between Rabbie, Tajfel, and Turner over the nature and interpretation of the paradigm are also discussed.

From ecstasy to divine somnambulism: Henri Delacroix’s studies in the history and psychology of mysticism,” Iagher, Matei. Abstract:

This article aims at placing Henri Delacroix’s (1908) book on the psychology of mysticism in the context of debates in the psychology of religion in the earlier part of the 20th century. I argue that Delacroix’s work was authored as part of a wider debate that Delacroix maintained with the American school of the psychology of religion regarding the role of emotions in religious experience. As I show, Delacroix sought to counter the primacy of the affective in religious experience, which the Americans maintained, and to introduce the notion of a developmental logic into the mystical life. In addition, Delacroix also tried to disengage mysticism from an exclusive focus on ecstasy, as well as to offer an account of the value of mysticism based on the existence of a specific mental state that underscored it.

The rise and fall of behaviorism: The narrative and the numbers,” Braat, Michiel; Engelen, Jan; van Gemert, Ties; Verhaegh, Sander. Abstract:

The history of 20th-century American psychology is often depicted as a history of the rise and fall of behaviorism. Although historians disagree about the theoretical and social factors that have contributed to the development of experimental psychology, there is widespread consensus about the growing and (later) declining influence of behaviorism between approximately 1920 and 1970. Because such wide-scope claims about the development of American psychology are typically based on small and unrepresentative samples of historical data, however, the question arises to what extent the received view is justified. This article aims to answer this question in two ways. First, we use advanced scientometric tools (e.g., bibliometric mapping, cocitation analysis, and term co-occurrence analysis) to quantitatively analyze the metadata of 119,278 articles published in American journals between 1920 and 1970. We reconstruct the development and structure of American psychology using cocitation and co-occurrence networks and argue that the standard story needs reappraising. Second, we argue that the question whether behaviorism was the “dominant” school of American psychology is historically misleading to begin with. Using the results of our bibliometric analyses, we argue that questions about the development of American psychology deserve more fine-grained answers.

The construction of “critical thinking”: Between how we think and what we believe,” Lamont, Peter. Abstract:

“Critical thinking” is widely regarded as important, but difficult to define. This article provides an historical perspective by describing how “critical thinking” emerged as an object of psychological study, how the forms it took were shaped by practical and social concerns, and how these related to “critical thinking” as something that results in certain conclusions, rather than as a process of coming to conclusions. “Critical thinking” became a scientific object when psychologists attempted to measure it. The original measurement treated “critical thinking” as both an ability and an attitude. It measured logical abilities, and consistency and extremity of views, but it avoided making assumptions about the correctness of specific real-world beliefs. The correctness of such beliefs was, as problems with other related tests showed, open to dispute. Subsequent tests increasingly focused on logical abilities, and attempted to minimize further the relevance of what people believed about the real world, though they continued to depend on there being correct answers to test items, which privileged the outcome over the process. While “critical thinking” was primarily the domain of philosophers, there was renewed psychological interest in the topic in the 1980s, which increasingly presented “critical thinking” as incompatible with certain real-world (“unscientific”) beliefs. Such a view more explicitly privileged the outcome over the process. It is argued that a more reflective approach, though it may be more difficult to measure, is essential if we wish to understand not only what critical thinking has been, but also what it is now.

Histories of sexology today: Reimagining the boundaries of scientia sexualis

A piece now available in History of the Human Sciences may interest AHP readers: “Histories of sexology today: Reimagining the boundaries of scientia sexualis,” Kirsten Leng, Katie Sutton. Abstract:

The historiography of sexology is young. It is also expanding at a remarkable pace, both in terms of the volume of publications and, more notably, in terms of its geographical, disciplinary, and intersectional reach. This special issue takes stock of these new directions, while offering new research contributions that expand our understanding of the interdisciplinary and transnational formation of this field from the late 19th through to the mid 20th century. The five articles that make up this special issue stage historiographical interventions by challenging the tendency within sexological history to focus on the medical, the homosexual, the human, and the Western European at the expense of other disciplines, diagnoses, non-human subjects, and geographical locations. A particular strength of these contributions is their focus on mapping conversations among and between sexologists on both sides of the Atlantic in the early to mid 20th century – particularly in Germany, Britain, and the US – and between East and West in the early Cold War era.

April 2020 JHMAS: Certification of Insanity, Student Mental Health, and Physiognomy of Mental Diseases

The April 2020 issue of Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences includes several articles of interest to AHP readers. Full details below.

“Just the Basic Facts: The Certification of Insanity in the Era of the Form K,” Filippo Maria Sposini. Abstract:

This paper investigates the certification of insanity through a standardized template called Form K which was used in Ontario between 1873 and 1883. My main thesis is that the introduction of the Form K had profound and long-lasting effects on the determination of insanity. In particular, it created a unique case in the history of certification, it grounded civil confinement on a strategy of consensus, and it informed mental health documentation for more than a century. As the result of a transnational mediation from Victorian England, the Form K prescribed an examination setting which involved a high number of participants, including three physicians and several witnesses. By comparing this case with other jurisdictions of the time, this paper shows how Ontario became a distinctive case worldwide. In order to get a closer look at this medico-legal procedure, I consider the archival records of the Toronto asylum and conclude that the certification of insanity relied on a strategy of consensus. While the Form K proved quite successful in preventing legal actions, it produced financial, logistic, and bureaucratic issues. The Form K was thus discontinued after a decade, yet its structure influenced Ontario’s mental health documentation throughout the twentieth century. This paper shows the relevance of the certification of insanity for transnational history and for understanding contemporary issues of involuntary confinement and stigma in mental health.

“Strange Cases: Jekyll & Hyde Narratives as Rhetorical Strategy in Sir Alexander Morison’s Physiognomy of Mental Diseases,” Madeline Bourque Kearin. Abstract:

Sir Alexander Morison’s Physiognomy of Mental Diseases (1838) was created as a didactic tool for physicians, depicting lunatics in both the active and dormant states of disease. Through the act of juxtaposition, Morison constituted his subjects as their own Jekylls and Hydes, capable of radical transformation. In doing so, he marshaled artistic and clinical, visual and textual approaches in order to pose a particular argument about madness as a temporally manifested, visually distinguishable state defined by its contrast with reason. This argument served a crucial function in legitimizing the emergent discipline of psychiatry by applying biomedical methodologies to the observation and classification of distinctly physical symptoms. Robert Louis Stevenson’s “quintessentially Victorian parable” serves as a metaphor for the way 19th-century alienists conceptualized insanity, while the theme of duality at the core of Stevenson’s story serves as a framework for conceptualizing both psychiatry and the subjects it generates. It was (and is) a discipline formulated around narrative as the primary organizing structure for its particular set of paradoxes, and specifically, narratives of the self as a fluid, dynamic, and contradictory entity.

“Historicising the “Crisis” in Undergraduate Mental Health: British Universities and Student Mental Illness, 1944–1968,” Sarah Crook. Abstract:

This article explores how and why student mental health became an issue of concern in British universities between 1944 and 1968. It argues that two factors drew student mental health to the attention of medical professionals across this period: first, it argues that the post-war interest in mental illness drew attention to students, who were seen to be the luminaries of the future, investing their wellbeing with particular social importance. Second, it argues that the development of university health services made students increasingly visible, endorsing the view that higher education posed distinctive yet shared mental challenges to young people. The article charts the expansion of services and maps the implications of the visibility of student mental distress for post-war British universities. It suggests that claims that British higher education is currently in the midst of an unprecedented mental health “crisis” should be seen within this broader historical context, for while the contours of the debates around student mental health have shifted substantially, evidence that there was anxiety around student mental wellbeing in the immediate post-war years undermines accusations that contemporary students constitute a unique “snowflake generation.”