AHP readers may be interested in a new open-access book Creativity: Process and Personality by Larry Gross. The book was originally Gross’s undergraduate thesis at Brandeis, where he worked with Abraham Maslow, and includes autobiographical interviews of Maslow, Jerome Bruner, Herbert Simon, B. F. Skinner, David McClelland, and Milton Rokeach, on the topic of (their) creativity. Creativity: Process and Personality can be found online here.
The First Resort: The History of Social Psychiatry in the United States
A new book from Columbia University Press may interest AHP readers: The First Resort: The History of Social Psychiatry in the United States by Matthew Smith.
Social psychiatry was a mid-twentieth-century approach to mental health that stressed the prevention of mental illness rather than its treatment. Its proponents developed environmental explanations of mental health, arguing that socioeconomic problems such as poverty, inequality, and social isolation were the underlying causes of mental illness. The influence of social psychiatry contributed to the closure of psychiatric hospitals and the emergence of community mental health care during the 1960s. By the 1980s, however, social psychiatry was in decline, having lost ground to biological psychiatry and its emphasis on genetics, neurology, and psychopharmacology.
The First Resort is a history of the rise and fall of social psychiatry that also explores the lessons this largely forgotten movement has to offer today. Matthew Smith examines four ambitious projects that investigated the relationship between socioeconomic factors and mental illness in Chicago, New Haven, New York City, and Nova Scotia. He contends that social psychiatry waned not because of flaws in its preventive approach to mental health but rather because the economic and political crises of the 1970s and the shift to the right during the 1980s foreclosed the social changes required to create a more mentally healthy society. Smith also argues that social psychiatry provides timely insights about how progressive social policies, such as a universal basic income, can help stem rising rates of mental illness in the present day.
Introduction: The Magic Years
1. The Origins of Social Psychiatry
2. From Hobohemia to the Gold Coast
3. Swamp Yankees and Proper New Haveners
4. Madness in the Metropolis
5. From Cove to Woodlot
6. The Decline of Social Psychiatry
Epilogue: Social Psychiatry and Universal Basic Income
Remedies for the housewife’s nervousness: Life advice in Abraham Myerson’s popular self-help texts, 1920–1930
A new open-access piece in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences will interest AHP readers: “Remedies for the housewife’s nervousness: Life advice in Abraham Myerson’s popular self-help texts, 1920–1930,” by Matthew J. McLaughlin. Abstract:
In 1920, the psychiatrist Abraham Myerson published a self-help book titled The Nervous Housewife. In his book, he argued that the living conditions in urban-industrial America were responsible for a significant increase in the number of housewives who suffered from nervous symptoms. He also warned that women were consequently becoming increasingly discontent with the role and were beginning to desire a life outside motherhood and housewifery. Accordingly, The Nervous Housewife offered housewives and their husbands directions on how to improve her living conditions. This would allow readers to manage and prevent the emergence of nervous symptoms so that women would continue to desire a life as housewife and mother. Throughout the 1920s, Myerson would continue to publish health advice for housewives on how they could manage and eliminate their nervous symptoms. This article analyzes how Myerson connected the everyday experiences and conditions of the housewife’s life to her nervousness in his texts and reveals how his motivation was to keep women satisfied with what he deemed was their proper societal role, that of housewife and mother. In doing so, it will also compare his work to other self-help texts on nervousness to illuminate how his how-to guide was innovative, while examining both scholarly and popular reviews of his book to reveal what his peers and readers perceived as the benefits of his advice.
Online Event, Mar. 8: Princess Marie Bonaparte: Friendship, Psychoanalysis, and Feminism
An online, pay-what-you-can event hosted by the Freud Museum will interest AHP readers. The event, “Princess Marie Bonaparte: Friendship, Psychoanalysis, and Feminism,” is described as follows:
Princess Marie Bonaparte (1882-1962), the great-grandniece of the French emperor, devoted her life and her vast resources to psychoanalysis and to securing Sigmund Freud’s intellectual legacy. Initially Freud’s patient, Bonaparte eventually helped secure the Freud family’s escape and exile to London just as the Nazis closed in on Vienna. Despite the outsized role “the last Bonaparte” played in the history of psychoanalysis, too few are aware of her significant contributions.
Bonaparte was a fierce and influential intellectual in her own right. She wrote prolifically about female sexuality and she also authored a 900-page book on Edgar Allan Poe, works of creative writing, and numerous translations of Freud’s essays. She helped found and fund the major Parisian psychoanalytic institutes where numerous male luminaries, such as Jacques Lacan, would launch their careers. More intimately, Bonaparte devoted her energies to the scientific exploration of women’s orgasms. She submitted herself to three experimental surgeries to alter her sexual organs in order to resolve her “frigidity” and experience orgasm.
In 2020, Bonaparte’s vast correspondence with Freud was finally made available to the public and a French edition of the letters, edited by Rémy Amouroux, was published in 2022.
This panel discussion, moderated by Professor Shilyh Warren, brings together experts to help celebrate Bonaparte’s notable contributions to psychoanalysis, feminism, and the science of sexuality.
Rémy Amouroux is a professor of the history of psychology at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. He is currently a Visiting Scholar in the Department of History of Science at Harvard University. He has published several works on Marie Bonaparte including Marie Bonaparte entre biologie et freudisme (2012) and Correspondance intégrale: 1925-1939 (2022), the correspondence between Sigmund Freud and Marie Bonaparte.
Lisa Appignanesi OBE is a prize-winning writer, novelist, broadcaster and cultural commentator. She is a former Chair of the Royal Society of Literature, a former President of English PEN and former Chair of the Freud Museum London. Her award-winning books include Everyday Madness: On Grief, Anger, Loss and Love; Mad, Bad, and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors, Trials of Passion: In the Name of Love and Madness and Freud’s Women (with John Forrester).
Dany Nobus is Professor of Psychoanalytic Psychology at Brunel University London, Founding Scholar of the British Psychoanalytic Council, and former Chair and Fellow of the Freud Museum London. He has published numerous books and papers on the history, theory and practice of psychoanalysis, the history of psychiatry, and the history of ideas, most recently Critique of Psychoanalytic Reason: Studies in Lacanian Theory and Practice (2022), Thresholds and Pathways Between Jung and Lacan: On the Blazing Sublime (edited with Ann Casement and Phil Goss) (2021), and The Law of Desire: On Lacan’s ‘Kant with Sade’ (2017). In 2017, he was the recipient of the Sarton Medal of the University of Ghent for his outstanding contributions to the historiography of psychoanalysis.
Shilyh Warren is a US-based professor and researcher at the University of Texas at Dallas. In the summer of 2022, Warren was a Writer in Residence at the Freud Museum where she explored Bonaparte’s extensive correspondence with various members of the Freud family. Her psychoanalytic research focuses on the politics of sexuality and film theory, which she writes about in “Revolution is Another Climax,” Women & Language (2021) and “Sexuality and Discourses of Care in Feminist Documentary,” Feminist Media Histories (2023). She is also the author of Subject to Reality: Women and Documentary (2019).
Full details, including registration link, are available here.
Charlotte Bühler and her emigration to the United States: A clarifying note regarding the loss of a professorship at Fordham University
AHP readers will be interested in a new piece in History of Psychology: “Charlotte Bühler and her emigration to the United States: A clarifying note regarding the loss of a professorship at Fordham University,” by Schneider, W., & Stock, A. Abstract:
Although Charlotte Bühler (1893–1974) was one of the most prominent female psychologists during the first half of the last century, she never received a full professorship in a psychology department. In this paper, we discuss possible reasons for this failure and focus on problems related to an offer from Fordham University in 1938 that never materialized. Our analysis based on unpublished documents indicates that Charlotte Bühler provided incorrect reasons for the failure in her autobiography. Moreover, we found no evidence that Karl Bühler ever received an offer from Fordham University. Overall, our reconstruction of events indicates that Charlotte Bühler came very close to her goal of receiving a full professorship at a research university, but unfavorable political developments and her suboptimal decisions were involved in the unfortunate outcome.
‘Picture imperfect’: the motives and uses of patient photography in the asylum
AHP readers may be interested in a new piece in History of Psychiatry: “‘Picture imperfect’: the motives and uses of patient photography in the asylum,” by Caroline Dahlquist and Peter Kinderman. Abstract:
In the nineteenth century, photography became common in psychiatric asylums. Although patient photographs were produced in large numbers, their original purpose and use are unclear. Journals, newspaper archives and Medical Superintendents’ notes from the period 1845–1920 were analysed to understand the reasons behind the practice. This revealed: (1) empathic motivation: using photography to understand the mental condition and aid treatment; (2) therapeutic focus on biological processes: using photography to detect biological pathologies or phenotypes; and (3) eugenics: using photography to recognise hereditary insanity, aimed at preventing transmission to future generations. This reveals a conceptual move from empathic intentions and psychosocial understandings to largely biological and genetic explanations, providing context for contemporary psychiatry and the study of heredity.
‘Malaria Has Spoilt It’: Malaria, Neuropsychiatric Complications, and Insanity in ex-Servicemen in Post-First World War Britain
AHP readers may be interested in a new open-access piece in Social History of Medicine: “‘Malaria Has Spoilt It’: Malaria, Neuropsychiatric Complications, and Insanity in ex-Servicemen in Post-First World War Britain,” Justin Fantauzzo. Abstract:
This article focuses on the cases of two British ex-servicemen who contracted malaria during or immediately after the First World War, were charged with murder in the 1920s, and pled insanity due to their malaria and long-term neuropsychiatric complications. One was found ‘guilty but insane’ and committed to Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum in June 1923, while the other was convicted and hanged in July 1927. It argues that, at a time when the medical community sought out the causes of mental disease in the physical body, medico-legal arguments about malaria and insanity were received inconsistently by inter-war British courts. Class, education, social status, institutional support and the nature of the crime all mattered, as they had in the diagnoses, treatment and trials of other ex-servicemen with psychiatric illnesses.
Sounding the Archival Silence: Searching for Music in the Nineteenth-Century English Asylum
A new open-access piece in Social History of Medicine may interest AHP readers: “Sounding the Archival Silence: Searching for Music in the Nineteenth-Century English Asylum,” Rosemary Golding. Abstract:
The music of the nineteenth-century English asylum provides a rare insight into the place of music within the structure of a medical institution during this period. Yet with archives literally ‘silent’, how far can the sound and experience of music be retrieved and reconstructed? Drawing on critical archive theory and the idea of the soundscape as well as musicological and historical practice, this article questions how we can investigate asylum soundscapes through the silences of the archive, and how we can use the resulting processes to deepen our relationship with the archive and enrichen other aspects of historical and archive studies. I argue that in drawing attention to new forms of evidence in order to address the literal ‘silence’ of the nineteenth-century asylum, new approaches to metaphorical ‘silences’ can be found.
The New Yorker: Why Everyone Feels Like They’re Faking It
A piece in the New Yorker that explores the history of imposter syndrome may interest AHP readers: “Why Everyone Feels Like They’re Faking It,” by Leslie Jamison. As Jamison writes:
At first, the paper kept getting rejected. “Weirdly, we didn’t get impostor feelings about that,” Clance told me, when I visited her at her home, in Atlanta. “We believed in what we were trying to say.” It was eventually published in 1978, in the journal Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, and Practice. The paper spread like an underground zine. People kept writing to Clance to ask for copies, and she sent out so many that the person working the copy machine in her department asked, “What are you doing with all these?” For decades, Clance and Imes saw their concept steadily gaining traction—in 1985, Clance published a book, “The Impostor Phenomenon,” and also released an official “I.P. scale” for researchers to license for use in their own studies—but it wasn’t until the rise of social media that the idea, by now rebranded as “impostor syndrome,” truly exploded.
Illustrating insanity: Allan McLane Hamilton, Types of Insanity, and physiognomy in late nineteenth-century American medicine
AHP readers may be interested in a new piece in Journal of the History of the Neurosciences: “Illustrating insanity: Allan McLane Hamilton, Types of Insanity, and physiognomy in late nineteenth-century American medicine,” by Sebastian C. Galbo Icon & Keith C. Mages. Abstract:
This article examines the divisive reception history of American psychiatrist and neurologist Alexander McLane Hamilton’s physiognomy publication, Types of Insanity (1883). By analyzing 23 book reviews published in late-nineteenth-century medical journals, the authors present a bibliographic case study that traces the mixed professional reactions to Hamilton’s work, thus revealing the fraught nature of physiognomy in the American medical community. In effect, the authors argue that the interprofessional disagreements that emerged among journal reviewers indicate the nascent efforts of psychiatrists and neurologists to oppose physiognomy in the interest of professionalization. By extension, the authors emphasize the historical value of book reviews and reception literature. Often overlooked as ephemera, book reviews register the shifting ideologies, temperaments, and attitudes of an era’s readership.