Reading the Archive after #metoo

The next session of the Virtual History of Psychology Workshop will take place on November 18th at 1pm EST. This month’s event explores “Reading the Archive after #metoo.” Those interested in attending can register for the event here.

Reading the Archive after #metoo
Virtual History of Psychology Workshop
November 18, 2020 1-2pm EST

In the fall of 2017 sexual harassment came to the forefront of public conversation. Accounts of harassment and its consequences soon proliferated under the banner of the #metoo movement, first organized by Tarana Burke more than a decade earlier. While ‘sexual harassment’ as a distinct term only emerged in the 1970s, unwanted sexual attention has long had a presence in, and impact on, people’s lives. As historians of the human sciences operating in the post-#metoo era, how might we read the archive for traces of sexual harassment in the lives of our historical actors? What challenges and opportunities present themselves by attending to sexual harassment’s presence in the archive? How can we productively engage with sexual harassment as both an experience and exercise of power? What kinds of sources lend themselves to revealing these kinds of stories? How might an awareness of sexual harassment and its dynamics inform understandings of who our historical actors were and the knowledge they produced? In this session, we will explore these questions and consider how sexual harassment may inform histories beyond those explicitly centred around gender.

Young, J. L., & Hegarty, P. (2019). Reasonable men: Sexual harassment and norms of conduct in social psychology. Feminism & Psychology, 29(4), 453–474.

Stanley, A. (2018, September 24). Writing the History of Sexual Assault in the Age of #MeToo. Perspectives on History, November 2018. /perspectives-on-history/november-2018/writing-the-history-of-sexual-assault-in-the-age-of-metoo

Kristof, N. (2019, May 27). It’s Taken 5 Decades to Get the Ph.D. Her Abusive Professor Denied Her. The New York Times.

Sexual abuse by superintending staff in the nineteenth-century lunatic asylum: Medical practice, complaint and risk

AHP readers may be interested in an open-access piece now in press at History of Psychiatry, “Sexual abuse by superintending staff in the nineteenth-century lunatic asylum: medical practice, complaint and risk” by Cara Dobbing and Alannah Tomkins. Abstract:

The nineteenth century witnessed a great shift in how insanity was regarded and treated. Well documented is the emergence of psychiatry as a medical specialization and the role of lunatic asylums in the West. Unclear are the relationships between the heads of institutions and the individuals treated within them. This article uses two cases at either end of the nineteenth century to demonstrate sexual misdemeanours in sites of mental health care, and particularly how they were dealt with, both legally and in the press. They illustrate issues around cultures of complaint and the consequences of these for medical careers. Far from being representative, they highlight the need for further research into the doctor–patient relationship within asylums, and what happened when the boundaries were blurred.

Call for Papers: Psychology From the Margins “A Look Back: What Historical Research Can Tell Us About Contemporary Problems.”

AHP readers may be interested in a call for papers issued by Psychology From the Margins, “a peer-reviewed, student-led, student-edited journal that provides an outlet for articles addressing the history of research, practice, and advocacy in psychology. The journal highlights stories that have been unrepresented or underrepresented by other historical narratives.  It features scholarly work addressing the history of psychology especially in areas related to social justice, social issues, and social change.” Full details below.

“A Look Back: What Historical Research Can Tell Us About Contemporary Problems.”

People around the world believe that history can tell us about who we are and how we got to where we are today. Many others believe that history can also give us some guidelines for the present. As we understand history and the lessons within it psychologists are well equipped to highlight stories that are unrepresented in the larger narrative and draw meaning from these stories to inform our modern problems.

We encourage contributions that draw attention to the impact of traditionally marginalized groups on the development of psychological research, practice, and advocacy. This includes narratives, biographies, commentary, and reviews related to traditionally marginalized groups and social justice issues throughout the history of psychology. Manuscripts should be between 20 to 40 pages in length (not including references). Additionally, issue three is welcoming articles that address the broad question Additionally, issue three is welcoming articles that address the broad question “A look back, lessons learned, what can historical research tell us

Possible Topics:

  • biographies of psychologists from underrepresented groups
  • historical contributions of marginalized psychologists
  • social justice and advocacy endeavors in the history of psychology
  • analyses of the impact of historical and contextual oppression on the development of psychology
  • explorations of the work of underrepresented groups in shaping psychology

Submission Guidelines: Interested authors are welcome to submit an abstract for feedback from the editorial board regarding the topic’s fit and focus for this issue. Completed manuscripts should be submitted through the Psychology from the Margins portal found at

Submissions Deadline Extended: November 22, 2020

The editorial team welcomes questions and correspondence, which may be directed to Nuha

Alshabani, M.A., ( and Samsara Soto M.A., (

An Organ of Murder: Crime, Violence, and Phrenology in Nineteenth-Century America

A forthcoming book on the history of phrenology may interest AHP readers. An Organ of Murder:
Crime, Violence, and Phrenology in Nineteenth-Century America
by Courtney E. Thompson is described as follows:

An Organ of Murder explores the origins of both popular and elite theories of criminality in the nineteenth-century United States, focusing in particular on the influence of phrenology. In the United States, phrenology shaped the production of medico-legal knowledge around crime, the treatment of the criminal within prisons and in public discourse, and sociocultural expectations about the causes of crime. The criminal was phrenology’s ideal research and demonstration subject, and the courtroom and the prison were essential spaces for the staging of scientific expertise. In particular, phrenology constructed ways of looking as well as a language for identifying, understanding, and analyzing criminals and their actions. This work traces the long-lasting influence of phrenological visual culture and language in American culture, law, and medicine, as well as the practical uses of phrenology in courts, prisons, and daily life.

Table of Contents
Introduction    Through a Mirror, Darkly
1                      Origins and Organs     
2                      Transatlantic Societies and Skulls
3                      Phrenology on Trial
4                      The Prison as Laboratory
5                      Policing the Self and the Stranger 
6                      A Victory for Phrenology?     
Epilogue          Phrenological Futures        

Measuring difference, numbering normal: Setting the standards for disability in the interwar period

AHP readers may be interested in a recently published open access book, Measuring difference, numbering normal: Setting the standards for disability in the interwar period by Coreen McGuire. The book is described as follows:

Measurements, and their manipulation, have been underestimated as crucial historical forces motivating and guiding the way we think about disability.

Using measurement technology as a lens, and examining in particular the measurement of hearing and breathing, this book draws together several existing discussions on disability, phenomenology, healthcare, medical practice, big data, embodiment, and emerging medical and scientific technologies around the turn of the twentieth century. These are popular topics of scholarly attention but have not, until now, been considered as interconnected topics within a single book. As such, this work connects several important, and usually separate academic subject areas and historical specialisms. The standards embedded in instrumentation created strict, but, ultimately arbitrary thresholds of what is categorised as normal and abnormal. Considering these standards from a long historical perspective reveals how these dividing lines shifted when pushed.

Table of Contents
1 Numbering normal
2 Measuring disability
3 The artificial ear and the disability data gap
4 The audiometer and the medicalization of hearing loss
5 The spirometer and the normal subjects
6 The respirator and the mechanization of normal breathing
7 Measuring ourselves

Psychoanalysis and the transformations of childhood in the articles and columns written by Clarice Lispector, 1952-1973

AHP readers may be interested in a recent piece published in História, Ciências, Saúde-Manguinhos: “Psychoanalysis and the transformations of childhood in the articles and columns written by Clarice Lispector, 1952-1973” by Alejandra Josiowiczi. The piece is free to access here. Abstract:

The article examines the role of psychology in how childhood was understood during the period spanning 1950 to 1970, focusing on articles and columns Clarice Lispector published in broadly circulating magazines and newspapers from 1952 to 1973. From these writings emerges a new paradigm considering children as psychological mysteries within the domestic sphere, in which childhood is understood as the core of the adult psyche, as well as object of maternal exploration and care. This biopsychological model combines hygienic concerns related to physical health with psychological attention to childhood subjectivity. This way, the middle-class child reveals a transformation of family models and the new centrality of the individual.

Forthcoming in JHBS: Public Opinion Research in West Germany, Psychoanalytic Influences in Argentinian Psychology

Two articles forthcoming in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences will interest AHP readers. Full details below.

Intersecting aims, divergent paths: The Allensbach Institute, the Institute for Social Research, and the making of public opinion research in 1950s West Germany,” Sonja G. Ostrow. Abstract:

After 1945, both the Western Allies in Germany and some German social scientists embraced empirical public opinion research. This article examines the rhetoric, practices, and collaborative professional efforts of two of the most significant institutions conducting opinion research in West Germany in the 1950s: the Allensbach Institute and the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt. Although the political stances of these institutions differed, they were motivated to apply empirical research methods associated with Anglo?American social research to the West German population by shared concerns about the fragility of democracy, faith in the empirical sciences as an antidote to Nazi?era thought patterns, and the need to form a united front against doubters within West Germany. Even while declaring their desire to incorporate the latest empirical advances from the United States, however, they sought to articulate the meaning of their methods and findings in terms of the specific challenges faced by West Germany.

Psychology qua psychoanalysis in Argentina: Some historical origins of a philosophical problem (1942–1964),” Catriel Fierro and Saulo de Freitas Araujo. Abstract:

Contemporary Argentinian psychology has a unique characteristic: it is identified with psychoanalysis. Nonpsychoanalytic theories and therapies are difficult to find. In addition, there is an overt antiscientific attitude within many psychology programs. How should this be explained? In this paper, we claim that a philosophical history of psychology can shed new light on the development of Argentinian psychology by showing that early Argentinian psychoanalysts held positions in the newborn psychology programs and a distinctive stance toward scientific research in general and psychology in particular. In the absence of an explicit and articulate philosophical position, psychoanalysts developed an implicit meta?theory that helped shape the context that led to the institutionalization and professionalization of psychology in Argentina. Although we do not establish or even suggest a monocausal link between their ideas and the current state of Argentinian psychology, we do claim that their impact should be explored. Finally, we discuss some limitations of our study and suggest future complementary investigations.

The Mechanics of Passions: Brain, Behaviour, and Society

AHP readers may be interested in a newly translated book, The Mechanics of Passions: Brain, Behaviour, and Society by Alain Ehrenberg (translated by Craig Lund). The book is described as follows:

Cognitive neuroscience, once a specialized area of psychology and biology, has enjoyed increased worldwide legitimacy in the last thirty years not only in psychiatry and mental health, but also in fields as diverse as education, economics, marketing, and law. How can this surge in popularity be explained? Has the new science of human behaviour now become the barometer of our conduct and our lives, taking the place previously occupied by psychoanalysis?

Rather than asking if neuronal man will replace social man or how to surmount the opposition between the biological and the social, The Mechanics of Passions uncovers hidden relationships between global social ideals and specialized concepts of neuroscience and cognitive science. Proposing a historical sociology situated in the dual contexts of the history of sciences and the history of self-representation, Alain Ehrenberg describes the conditions through which cognitive neuroscience has developed and acquired a strong moral authority in our individualistic society permeated by ideas, values, and norms of autonomy.

Cognitive neuroscience offers the promise of turning personal limitations into assets by exploring an individual’s “hidden potential.” The Mechanics of Passions identifies this as the echo of social ideals of autonomy, affirming that the moral authority of cognitive neuroscience stems as much from cultural norms as from any results of scientific or medical experimentation.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The New Science of Human Behaviour | 3

1 Exemplary Brains: From the Misfortunes of the Practical Subject to the Heroism of Hidden Potential | 14
2 Scientific Method and Individualist Ideals: Converting Passions, from the Scottish Enlightenment to New Individualism | 50
3 The Brain-as-Individual, a Physiology of Autonomy | 93
4 Social Neuroscience, or How the Individual Acts with Others | 129
5 Exercises in Autonomy: Individualist Rituals to Reconstruct One’s Moral Being? | 161
6 Is It My Ideas or My Brain That Is Making Me Sick? Neuroscience and Self-Knowledge | 198

Conclusion: The Brain’s Place
From the Neuronal Being to the Total Being | 232

Forthcoming in HHS: Mothering on film, Brain-Based Parenting, Social Research in Portugal

Several pieces forthcoming in History of the Human Sciences will be of interest to AHP readers. Full details below.

Mothering in the frame: Cinematic microanalysis and the pathogenic mother, 1945–67,” Katie Joice. Abstract:

This article examines the use of cinematic microanalysis to capture, decompose, and interpret mother–infant interaction in the decades following the Second World War. Focusing on the films and writings of Margaret Mead, Ray Birdwhistell, René Spitz, and Sylvia Brody, it examines the intellectual culture, and visual methodologies, that transformed ‘pathogenic’ mothering into an observable process. In turn, it argues that the significance assigned to the ‘small behaviours’ of mothers provided an epistemological foundation for the nascent discipline of infant psychiatry. This research draws attention to two new areas of enquiry within the history of emotions and the history of psychiatry in the post-war period: preoccupation with emotional absence and affectlessness, and their personal and cultural meanings; and the empirical search for the origin point, and early chronology, of mental illness.

Neurobiological limits and the somatic significance of love: Caregivers’ engagements with neuroscience in Scottish parenting programmes,” Tineke Broer, Martyn Pickersgill, Sarah Cunningham-Burley. Abstract:

While parents have long received guidance on how to raise children, a relatively new element of this involves explicit references to infant brain development, drawing on brain scans and neuroscientific knowledge. Sometimes called ‘brain-based parenting’, this has been criticised from within sociological and policy circles alike. However, the engagement of parents themselves with neuroscientific concepts is far less researched. Drawing on 22 interviews with parents/carers of children (mostly aged 0–7) living in Scotland, this article examines how they account for their (non-)use of concepts and understandings relating to neuroscience. Three normative tropes were salient: information about children’s processing speed, evidence about deprived Romanian orphans in the 1990s, and ideas relating to whether or not children should ‘self-settle’ when falling asleep. We interrogate how parents reflexively weigh and judge such understandings and ideas. In some cases, neuroscientific knowledge was enrolled by parents in ways that supported biologically reductionist models of childhood agency. This reductionism commonly had generative effects, enjoining new care practices and producing particular parent and infant subjectivities. Notably, parents do not uncritically adopt or accept (sometimes reductionist) neurobiological and/or psychological knowledge; rather, they reflect on whether and when it is applicable to and relevant for raising their children. Thus, our respondents draw on everyday epistemologies of parenting to negotiate brain-based understandings of infant development and behaviour, and invest meaning in these in ways that cannot be fully anticipated (or appreciated) within straightforward celebrations or critiques of the content of parenting programmes drawing on neuropsychological ideas.

Continuity through change: State social research and sociology in Portugal,” Frederico Ágoas. Abstract:

This article examines the development of empirical social research in Portugal over about a century and its relation to the early institutionalization of sociology at the tail end of that period. Relying on new empirical data, coupled with a critical reading of the main sources on the topic, it brings to light some epistemic invariants in a disparate body of research, acknowledging the initial persistence of Le Play-inspired as well as properly Le Playsian research methods. Furthermore, it identifies the general continuation of a substantial concern with the (physical and then moral) condition of rural and industrial workers, leading to a disclosure of the political-economic and governmental roots of the social research in question. From a historical sociology perspective, the article explores the relation between state governmentalization and authoritarian rule, on the one hand, and the development of the social sciences, on the other. From a history of science perspective, it acknowledges the continuous use of the same research methods to carry out seemingly incommensurable social research programmes and the later pursuit of a properly sociological research programme that fell back on conflicting methodological and theoretical approaches. In broader terms, the article aims to put forward a historical sociology of theoretical approaches, research methods, and scientific concepts that will hopefully contribute to a clearer understanding of their respective fields of application.

Forthcoming in HoP: Little Albert (Again), Psychiatry and the Totalitarian State, Intellectual Community

Several pieces forthcoming in History of Psychology will be of interest to AHP readers. Full details below.

“Did Little Albert actually acquire a conditioned fear of furry animals? What the film evidence tells us.” Powell, Russell A.; Schmaltz, Rodney M. Abstract:

Watson and Rayner’s (1920) attempt to condition a fear of furry animals and objects in an 11-month-old infant is one of the most widely cited studies in psychology. Known as the Little Albert study, it is typically presented as evidence for the role of classical conditioning in fear development. Some critics, however, have noted deficiencies in the study that suggest that little or no fear conditioning actually occurred. These criticisms were primarily based on the published reports of the study. In this article, we present a detailed analysis of Watson’s (1923) film record of the study to determine the extent to which it provides evidence of conditioning. Our findings concur with the view that Watson and Rayner’s conditioning procedure was largely ineffective, and that the relatively weak signs of distress that Albert does display in the film can be readily accounted for by such factors as sensitization and maturational influences. We suggest that the tendency for viewers to perceive the film as a valid demonstration of fear conditioning is likely the result of expectancy effects as well as, in some cases, an ongoing mistrust of behaviorism as dehumanizing and manipulative. Our analysis also revealed certain anomalies in the film which indicate that Watson engaged in some “literary license” when editing it, most likely with a view toward using the film mainly as a promotional device to attract financial support for his research program.

“Psychiatrists’ agency and their distance from the authoritarian state in post-World War II Taiwan.” Wu, Harry Yi-Jui. Abstract:

By the end of World War II and in the shadow of the Cold War, many Asia–Pacific nations developed their psychiatric disciplines and strengthened their mental health care provision. This article examines the activities of the first generation of psychiatrists in Taiwan during the postwar period, focusing on their self-fashioning during the transition of a medical discipline. At this time, psychiatry was imagined by the state and by professionals as a science serving different clinical and political objectives. Psychiatrists, however, enjoyed a relatively unrestricted environment that allowed them to gradually form a professional identity. At the height of the Cold War, the state attempted to use psychiatry for political ends. Because of its initially malleable nature and undeveloped content, psychiatry could be employed by various authorities for diverse purposes, including patient care, scientific inquiry, psychological warfare, and even political probes to obtain crucial information. Nevertheless, psychiatrists sought to create spaces where they could develop their professional autonomy and prevent exploitation amid complicated political polemics.

“Family, friends, and faith-communities: Intellectual community and the benefits of unofficial networks for marginalized scientists.” Rodkey, Krista L.; Rodkey, Elissa N. Abstract”

Throughout the 20th century, female scientists faced barriers to participation in scientific communities. Within psychology, the 1st generation of women fought for inclusion in the university and access to laboratories; the 2nd generation officially gained access to such resources while still in practice being excluded from many areas of psychology and being denied suitable professional opportunities (Johnston & Johnson, 2008; Scarborough & Furumoto, 1987). Scholarship on these challenges tends to focus on power dynamics or on the strategies used by women to overcome obstacles to their full acceptance in the scientific world. In other words, there has been a focus on women’s participation in official intellectual communities. Less attention has been paid to the motivational consequences of belonging to unofficial or informal intellectual communities. In this article, we argue that exploring the nature of unofficial communities illuminates a pattern of strategies that accounts for women’s success in official communities; challenges a masculine, laboratory-centric model of science; and offers a model of intellectual work that has applications for other disenfranchised groups both in the history of science and in the modern world. We focus on 3 psychologists, Milicent Shinn, Eleanor Gibson, and Magda Arnold, whose success was underpinned by the support of unofficial networks. By so doing, we show how unofficial communities address specific needs for the marginalized. Finally, we explore applications to address the problems of the neoliberal university.

“Seeing inside the child: The Rorschach inkblot test as assessment technique in a girls’ reform school, 1938–1948.” Bultman, Saskia. Abstract:

This article examines the practice of Rorschach testing as it was applied in a Dutch reform school for girls in the mid-20th century. Considering the assessment technique of Rorschach testing as an “examination” in the Foucauldian sense, this article investigates what type of identity was brought into being for the girls who were tested. Inspired by the praxiographic approach to trace the practices involved in testing, it shows that the Rorschach enacted a wholly new conception of the delinquent girl. Through the test, the reform school pupils were conceptualized as individuals with a literal inner realm, populated with drives, complexes and neuroses, which were said to shape their misbehavior. This notion of interiority was, strikingly enough, a rhetorical construction on the part of the psychologist, but was also produced as a reality in the practices surrounding the test. The article argues that, in the reform school, Rorschach testing not only served to assess the pupils’ reeducability—a lesser known application of the Rorschach, particular to this reformatory context—but also served to govern them, precisely through its enactment of interiority. Through the practices of the test, a situation was created that suggested that the psychologist knew something about the girl that she herself did not; it was the creation of this “secret”–which forced pupils to look inside themselves—that placed the psychologist in a position of power. Utilizing the underused source of test reports, the article explores an application of Rorschach testing that has received little attention, further highlighting the test’s versatility and power.