Reflections upon having been elected a fellow of APA

A new piece, now available online at History of Psychology, will interest AHP readers: “Reflections upon having been elected a fellow of APA,” Burman, J. T. Abstract:

In this article, the author offers his reflections on being elected Fellow of the American Psychological Association as an historian of psychology. The author didn’t start out as an historian. His bachelor and doctorate are both in psychology. But he did also certainly choose to leave psychology, then to return with a different perspective. So this election feels like an affirmation of that decision, and an endorsement of the scholarship that resulted: his service to science by other means, after he was himself “revised and resubmitted.” Nearly two decades after his original departure from experimental psychology, the author has decided that “science” is the set of tested- and defended boundaries of what we think we know, which move as they’re renegotiated. In other words, science is the shared collection and discussion of what has been accepted to be the case (as well as the process of careful revision). But it’s also then the history of science that provides evidence to answer the philosophical “demarcation problem,” not science itself.

The degree course in psychology in Rome in the history of Italian psychology

AHP readers will be interested in a new online first article in History of Psychology: “The degree course in psychology in Rome in the history of Italian psychology,” Lombardo, G. P., & Romano, A. Abstract:

Italian academic psychology found its first location in the Anthropological Museum of the Faculty of Natural Sciences at the University of Rome, where in 1890 a Laboratory of Experimental Psychology was established. In 1905, the first three Chairs of Experimental Psychology at the Universities of Turin, Rome, and Naples were created. These were followed in the subsequent years by others, until 1930, in other academic institutions. After many years and a long period of crisis linked to the fascist regime, only after the World War II (WWII), with the rebirth of the country, did psychology gradually rebuild its status as a scientific discipline. Within this framework of the renewal of society and university studies, in 1971, two degree courses were instituted in Rome and Padua. Based on research in central and local academic archives and on an analysis of the secondary literature, the gestation phase of the 4-year degree course in Psychology, the progressive establishment of the Psychology Departments, and the 5-year reform of the courses up to the birth of the first Faculty of Psychology at an Italian university are reconstructed. The aim of this article is to propose a well-founded discontinuist historiographical reading of the process of sedimentation of psychological experimentation that, after being born in the Faculty of Sciences and later transferring to the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, also led to important developments in the Faculty of Education, with the recognition of an autonomous academic space of scientific discipline with a degree course, departments and finally the Faculty of Psychology.

Psychological experiments on student self-government: The early impact of Wilhelm Mann’s work in Chile and the German Empire

A new online first piece in History of Psychology will interest AHP readers: “Psychological experiments on student self-government: The early impact of Wilhelm Mann’s work in Chile and the German Empire,” Millán, J. D., Salas, G., & Marsico, G. Abstract:

One of the most important successes in the history of psychology in Chile was the foundation in 1908 of the first experimental psychology laboratory in Santiago by the German psychologist Wilhelm Mann (1974–1943). Four years later, Mann give a shift to his classical experimental psychology research to intervene in the discussions about German School Reform (1900–1920). Mann used Chile as a “testing ground” for explore the viability of student self-government published in three papers. The method used to verify the early impact of Mann’s papers was the quantitative analysis of citations with Publish or Perish software using a Google Books database and Scripta Paedagogica. The reception of Mann’s texts was analyzed using the context of citation and the functions and use of those citations. The three unknow Mann’s papers about Student Self-Government published in 1913 and his citations. The results shows that Mann’s critics and recommendations published in one of his papers was the fourth more citated in a database of 16 foundational German works of to self-student government. Finally, this Mann’s article was cited and used in an ideological way to argue in favor of reactionary and conservative opinions of school democratization in German Empire teacher circles. Mann’s diagnosis and critical suggestions was recognized by prominent German philosophers and pedagogues. Precisely Mann criticized the Student Republics as the only way to stimulate the student self-government for their artificial character and especially for the loss of students’ psychological individuality.

The crying boss: Activating “human resources” through sensitivity training in 1970s Sweden

AHP readers will be interested in a new open-access article in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences: “The crying boss: Activating “human resources” through sensitivity training in 1970s Sweden,” Linnea Tillema. Abstract:

This article examines the introduction of “sensitivity training” to 1970s Swedish work life. Drawing upon a range of empirical materials, I explore the politics that were involved in the process of translating and adapting this group dynamic method to the Swedish context and consider how its proponents argued for its value. By approaching sensitivity training as an attempt to govern, shape, and regulate both human beings and the work organizations of which they were a part, I argue that sensitivity training presents an unexpectedly early example of a governing rationality that has elsewhere been described and theorized as “neoliberal.” The fact that sensitivity training was established in Swedish work life already in the early 1970s thus challenges the historiography of neoliberal modes of government, which have elsewhere been associated with a neoliberal shift in state policies occurring in the 1980s and 1990s. The article demonstrates how emotionally liberating practices in the late 1960s and early 1970s were embraced by some of the most politically influential actors in contemporary Swedish society, such as the corporate sector and the trade unions. As blue-collar trade unions and social democrats voiced increasingly far-reaching demands concerning workplace democracy and improved workplace conditions, advocates of sensitivity training presented their method as crucial to the process of “democratizing” and “humanizing” Swedish work life. Intimately associated with the new therapies of humanistic psychology, sensitivity training was used within the corporate sector to foster a more emotional and authentic leadership style that would embrace the values of emotional awareness, self-expression, and self-actualization. The crying boss emerged in this context as a key figure in the project of creating a “democratic” and psychologically satisfying organization. Yet, sensitivity training was also described as a means for companies to make better use of what was now asserted as their most important economic asset: the human being. From the outset, the idealistic vision of an emotionally liberated, democratic workplace was thus entangled with a specific kind of economic rationality, in which the emotionally liberated, self-actualizing individual emerged as a capital or asset that would be better utilized if the organization allowed—even encouraged—employees to engage in their own well-being and self-optimization.

Rosenhan revisited: Successful scientific fraud

A new piece in History of Psychiatry will interest AHP readers: “Rosenhan revisited: successful scientific fraud,” Andrew Scull. Abstract:

The publication of David Rosenhan’s ‘On being sane in insane places’ in Science in 1973 played a crucial role in persuading the American Psychiatric Association to revise its diagnostic manual. The third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III) in its turn launched a revolution in American psychiatry whose reverberations continue to this day. Rosenhan’s paper continues to be cited hundreds of times a year, and its alleged findings are seen as crucial evidence of psychiatry’s failings. Yet based on the findings of an investigative journalist, Susannah Cahalan, and on records she shared with the author, we now know that this research is a spectacularly successful case of scientific fraud.

Metapsychy’s border: Henri Piéron’s (1881–1964) role as the gatekeeper of French psychology

A new piece in History of the Human Sciences will interest AHP readers: “Metapsychy’s border: Henri Piéron’s (1881–1964) role as the gatekeeper of French psychology,” Renaud Evrard, Stéphane Gumpper, and Bevis Beauvais. Abstract:

Metapsychy, or metapsychics, is the French science known in English-speaking countries as parapsychology or psychical research. As Régine Plas has shown, the ‘psychic’ phenomena were among the first subjects of psychological inquiry. Like many of his colleagues, Henri Piéron began his career researching apparent telepathic phenomena, and in collaboration with Nicolae Vaschide explained them in terms of an ‘intellectual parallelism’. From 1913 onward, Piéron developed the ‘Métapsychie’ section of L’année psychologique, where he used his critical skills to sometimes foster and sometimes discourage this field of research. In the background to these events was the issue of metapsychy’s place within the field of psychology, a field on which Piéron had himself helped to confer institutional and professional status. The growing disparity between metapsychy and psychology suggested a distinct demarcation between the two disciplines, with Piéron zealously fulfilling a missionary role as one of several gatekeepers. While open to what were presented as new examples of physiologically objectified psychic activity, he never really seems to have observed anything he considered convincing and so generally suspected fraud. His interventions played a role in the emancipation/expulsion of metapsychy from the nascent field of psychology, with the advantage of increasing recognition of the epistemic authority of the latter.

Special Issue: The processes and context of innovation in mental healthcare: Oxfordshire as a case study

AHP readers may be interested in a special issue of History of Psychiatry dedicated to “The processes and context of innovation in mental healthcare: Oxfordshire as a case study.” Titles, authors, and abstracts below.

“The processes and context of innovation in mental healthcare: Oxfordshire as a case study,” John Hall, Neil Armstrong, Peter Agulnik, Craig Fees, David Kennard, Jonathan Leach, and David Millard. Abstract:

This article introduces the four following articles and the Classic Text. They describe the development of a sequence of innovative local mental health services in Oxfordshire, and explore the processes of innovation, led by the humane pragmatism practised by Dr Bertram Mandelbrote, who was Physician Superintendent at Littlemore Hospital in Oxford from 1959 to 1988. The articles describe emerging patterns of therapeutic community practice, and trace the events leading to a set of discrete service developments outside the hospital. Together, they suggest a positive role for chance in these developments, and a focus on the then prevailing national and local regulatory culture. The Classic Text by David Millard provides an overview of the origins of the therapeutic community movement.

“Innovation in mental health care: Bertram Mandelbrote, the Phoenix Unit and the therapeutic community approach,” David Millard, Peter Agulnik, Neil Armstrong, Craig Fees, John Hall, David Kennard, and Jonathan Leach. Abstract:

Bertram Mandelbrote was Physician Superintendent and Consultant Psychiatrist at Littlemore Hospital in Oxford from 1959 to 1988. A humane pragmatist rather than theoretician, Mandelbrote was known for his facilitating style of leadership and working across organisational boundaries. He created the Phoenix Unit, an innovative admission unit run on therapeutic community lines which became a hub for community outreach. Material drawn from oral histories and witness seminars reflects the remarkably unstructured style of working on the Phoenix Unit and the enduring influence of Mandelbrote and fellow consultant Benn Pomryn’s styles of leadership. Practices initiated at Littlemore led to a number of innovative services in Oxfordshire. These innovations place Mandelbrote as a pioneer in social psychiatry and the therapeutic community approach.

“The development of supported mental health accommodation and community psychiatric nursing in Oxfordshire,” John Hall. Open access. Abstract:

Overcrowding in British mental hospitals was a major service and political concern when the NHS was introduced in 1948. From 1959, a number of projects were initiated locally in Oxfordshire, based from Littlemore Hospital Oxford, to provide alternative accommodation, primarily for long-stay residents. Two NHS hostels were opened and a network of group homes was developed from 1963. These were administered through the hospital League of Friends and supported by the community psychiatric nursing service led by Helmut Leopoldt. From 1977 a separate local charity, Oxfordshire Mind, also provided supported housing for younger patients. These developments can be seen as an early local case study of the provision of non-hospital (supported) accommodation and other forms of support for people with long-term mental health problems.

“The development of a creative work rehabilitation organisation,” Jonathan Leach, Peter Agulnik, and Neil Armstrong. Abstract:

Work as therapy has a place in mental healthcare, but there is disagreement about how and why it might be helpful, and how best to conceptualise or represent those benefits. Over the last 50 years, occupational and industrial therapy sheltered workshops have been key elements in the provision of work activities in psychiatric settings, and community-based horticultural activities and creative craft work have offered additional approaches. Using archival material, interviews, witness seminars and personal reflections, this article charts the birth and initial growth of Restore, a charity providing creative work-based services in Oxfordshire between 1977 and 1988. Although Restore might be understood as a response to national trends in mental healthcare policy and research, its trajectory reflects local contingencies.

“Happenstance and regulatory culture: the evolution of innovative community mental health services in Oxfordshire in the late twentieth century,” Neil Armstrong and Peter Agulnik. Open access. Abstract:

This paper uses co-produced historical material to explore the evolution of two innovative mental healthcare institutions that emerged in Oxfordshire in the 1960s. We highlight how the trajectories of both institutions were driven by chance events occurring within social environments, rather than emerging out of evidence or policy initiatives. Both institutions found a role for spontaneity and an openness to chance in the way they worked. We argue that this kind of institutional history would be unlikely today; the paper develops and uses the concept of regulatory culture to explain why. We suggest that the role of regulatory culture has been neglected in the history of psychiatry.

“Classic Text No. 133: ‘Maxwell Jones and the Therapeutic Community’, by David Millard (1996),” Craig Fees. Open access. Abstract:

This text was David Millard’s departing gift to a field to which he had contributed for 30 years, as practitioner and later as Lecturer in Applied Social Studies and editor of the International Journal of Therapeutic Communities. Charting the chronology of Maxwell Jones’s career as a world-renowned psychiatrist and therapeutic community pioneer, Millard contrasts Jones’s contribution at Mill Hill with Tom Main’s at Northfield. Jones’s most distinctive contribution was allowing patients to become auxiliary therapists and freeing nurses from the nursing hierarchy. Focusing on a subset of therapeutic communities in adult psychiatry, Millard’s paper is not an academic history of therapeutic communities as such. The roles of happenstance and positive deviance are demonstrated in the way change occurs in therapeutic communities. The ‘charisma question’ is briefly explored.

Finding ruh in the forebrain: Mazhar Osman and the emerging Turkish psychiatric discourse

A recent piece in Medical History will interest AHP readers: “Finding ruh in the forebrain: Mazhar Osman and the emerging Turkish psychiatric discourse,” Kutlu?han Soyubol. Abstract:

This article examines the emergence of modern psychiatric discourse under the culturally Islamic yet radically secular context of the early Turkish republic (1923-1950). To do so, it focuses on the psychiatric publications of Mazhar Osman [Uzman] (1884-1951), the widely acknowledged “father” of modern Turkish psychiatry; and aims to genealogically trace his scientific project of reconceptualizing ruh, an Arabo-Turkish concept that predominantly refers to transcendental soul, rendering it physiologically within the framework of biological-descriptive psychiatry. The article consequently addresses the elusive and multilayered psychiatric language emerged in Turkey as a result of modern psychiatry’s interventions into a field that was previously defined by religion and indigenous traditions. Attempting to contextualize republican psychiatric discourse within the cultural and socio-political circumstances that has produced it, the article sheds light on how the new psychiatric knowledge propagated by Mazhar Osman was formulated in constitutive contradistinction to religious or traditional discourses, explicitly associating them with the Ottoman past and its alleged backwardness, hence reverberating with the Kemalist project of modern Turkish state building. Furthermore, by focusing on the complexities of the Turkish psychiatric language and the contestations it has generated, the article aims to reflect on the ways in which the Turkish psychiatric language was (and presumably still is) haunted by earlier forms of Islamic knowledge and traditions, despite modern psychiatry’s as well as modern secular state’s systematic and authoritative attempts to erase them for good.

Thanks to our friends at H-madness for bringing this to our awareness.

On a long, narrow road: The mental health law in Turkey

A new piece in the International Journal of Law and Psychiatry will interest AHP readers: “On a long, narrow road: The mental health law in Turkey,” Fatih Artvinli, Merve Kardelen Bilir Uslu. Abstract:

This article presents the historical transformation of the mental health system and policies in the case of Turkey and discusses the challenges to their effective implementation. The mental health system in Turkey has undergone a series of reforms in three periods, namely, the institutionalization of psychiatry and hospital-based mental health services in the mid-19th century, the introduction of first-generation community-based mental healthcare services in the 1960s, and the policy of deinstitutionalization after the 1980s. In this transformation process, certain initiatives have been implemented with the participation of interested actors across periods and small but important improvements. A draft has been prepared after a series of studies were conducted with regard to mental health policies and plans. However, no results have been obtained. The necessity of the mental health law has been clear. A notion that has been known is that the mental health law, which offers a holistic perspective, positively influences the functioning of the mental health system in terms of service users and providers. However, whether or not it actually pursues these intended improvements has been subject to doubt. Until now, no mental health law has been effectively implemented in Turkey, and measuring and evaluating in which aspects the law will be successful and where it will fail have been impossible. Turkey continues to be in need of a mental health law is practical and in line with international standards for the rights of patients and supervision against coercive measures.

Thanks to our friends at H-madness for bringing this to our awareness.