Five autopsy reports of rib fractures in the mental hospital of Reggio Emilia (1874–5): pathogenesis proposal in defence of the ‘non-restraint’ system

A piece in press at History of Psychiatry, and now available online, may interest AHP readers: “Five autopsy reports of rib fractures in the mental hospital of Reggio Emilia (1874–5): pathogenesis proposal in defence of the ‘non-restraint’ system,” by Chiara Tesi and Mario Picozzi. Abstract:

At the end of the nineteenth century, recurrent cases of rib fractures were recorded in psychiatric asylums, opening a long chapter of discussions about the application of the ‘non-restraint’ system. Here we present a brief discussion of an article written by Enrico Morselli about five cases of rib fractures in the mental asylum of Reggio Emilia, in 1874–5. Morselli, a supporter of the ideas of ‘non-restraint’, suggested a common pathological cause. His analysis proposed the osteomalacic condition as the possible cause of fractured ribs, rejecting the accusations of violence by asylum attendants. The discussion also examines similar cases of the same period, making rib fractures the means through which the issue of management of the insane was addressed.

Uncovering Critical Personalism: Readings from William Stern’s Contributions to Scientific Psychology

A new book by James T. Lamiell will interest AHP readers: Uncovering Critical Personalism: Readings from William Stern’s Contributions to Scientific Psychology. The book is described as follows:

This book brings together the central tenets of William Stern’s critical personalism. Presented for the first time for an English-speaking audience, this selection of original translations and essays encapsulates the critical framework of Stern’s personalistic psychology. The selected works highlight the philosophical basis of Stern’s personalistic views, illustrate their relevance in domains of theoretical and practical importance in psychology, and reveal Stern’s critical stance on certain methodological trends that were gaining favor within psychology during his lifetime. Lamiell’s own chapters contextualise the translations by providing an overview of the most basic tenets of critical personalism, and offering a commentary on paradigmatic commitments within scientific psychology’s mainstream that began to impede Stern’s efforts prior to his death, and that remain obstacles to personalistic thinking in the discipline today.

Largely ignored by his contemporaries, this work forms part of an emerging body of scholarship that seeks to reintroduce Stern’s thinking into contemporary psychology. The book is intended for academically oriented scholars with interests in historical, theoretical and philosophical issues in psychology.

Committed: Remembering Native Kinship in and beyond Institutions

AHP readers will be interested in a new book: Committed: Remembering Native Kinship in and beyond Institutions by Susan Burch. The book is described as follows:

Between 1902 and 1934, the United States confined hundreds of adults and children from dozens of Native nations at the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians, a federal psychiatric hospital in South Dakota. But detention at the Indian Asylum, as families experienced it, was not the beginning or end of the story. For them, Canton Asylum was one of many places of imposed removal and confinement, including reservations, boarding schools, orphanages, and prison-hospitals. Despite the long reach of institutionalization for those forcibly held at the Asylum, the tenacity of relationships extended within and beyond institutional walls.

In this accessible and innovative work, Susan Burch tells the story of the Indigenous people—families, communities, and nations, across generations to the present day—who have experienced the impact of this history. Drawing on oral history interviews, correspondence, material objects, and archival sources, Burch reframes the histories of institutionalized people and the places that held them. Committed expands the boundaries of Native American history, disability studies, and U.S. social and cultural history generally.

New History of Psychiatry: Mental Health in Colonial Lesotho, Asylum Admission Forms, and More

The June 2021 issue of History of Psychiatry is now online. Full details below.

“‘Pruning a genius’: marginalia by Richard Dadd,” Nicholas Tromans. Abstract:

After falling into mental illness as a young man, the British artist Richard Dadd (1817–86) spent some 20 years as a patient at Bethlem Hospital in London. A rare example of his writings from these years survives in the form of marginalia in a copy of Lectures on Painting and Design by Benjamin Robert Haydon, held in the Morgan Library & Museum in New York. This article presents a transcription of the notes, along with an introduction setting them in the contexts of Dadd’s career and his relationship with the senior staff at Bethlem.

“Public mental health care in colonial Lesotho: themes emerging from archival material, 1918–35,” Motlatsi Thabane. Abstract:

This paper identifies some of the themes that emerge from a study of official archival records from 1918 to 1934 on the subject of mental health in colonial Lesotho. They include: difficulties experienced by colonial medical doctors in diagnosing and treating mental illnesses, given the state of medical knowledge in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; impact of shortage of financial and other resources on the establishment and operation of medical services, especially mental health care; convergence of social order, financial and medical concerns as influences on colonial approaches to mental health care; and the question of whether Basotho colonial society saw institutionalization of their relatives as ‘hospitalization’ or ‘imprisonment’. Two case studies are presented as preliminary explorations of some of the themes.

“Moreau de Tours: organicism and subjectivity. Part 1: Life and work,” Jose I Pérez Revuelta and Jose M Villagrán Moreno. Abstract:

This is the first of two articles analysing the importance of J.J. Moreau de Tours’ work and its influence on the development of descriptive psychopathology from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. Part 1 focuses on biographical aspects and presents Moreau’s main works in their social and cultural context, with special emphasis on his book Du Hachisch et de l’Aliénation mentale, published in 1845. The second article will concentrate on Moreau as a psychopathologist.

“The staff of madness: the visualization of insanity and the othering of the insane,” Alvise Sforza Tarabochia. Abstract:

In this article I trace a history of the most ubiquitous visual symbol of madness: the staff. First, I argue that the staff, in its variants (such as the pinwheel) and with its attachments (such as an inflated bladder), represents madness as air. It thus represents madness as an invisible entity that must be made visible. Secondly, I claim that the staff – being iconic of other ‘unwanted’ categories such as vagabonds – represents the insane as outsiders. Also in this case, the staff serves the purpose of making madness visible. Through this interpretation I show that the urge to make madness visible outlives icons of insanity such as the staff, making it a constant presence in popular culture and medical practice.

“Karl Leonhard (1904–88) and his academic influence through the ‘Erlangen School’,” Birgit Braun. Abstract:

The Erlangen University Psychiatric and Mental Clinic was an annexe to the Erlangen Mental Asylum, so when Leonhard worked there he became acquainted with acute and chronic stages of schizophrenia. This can be viewed as a decisive impulse for his later differentiated classification of types of schizophrenia. The suspicion that Leonhard suffered from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder cannot be supported. His reticence concerning social-psychiatric aspects is analysed in the context of his early professional contact with the ‘Erlangen system’ of open care and its Nazi perversion. Leonhard’s role in National Socialism is still uncertain. His unsuccessful attempts to retain the Erlangen Chair of Psychiatry and Mental Illness in 1951 can be viewed as his first difficulty in the tensions between West Germany and East Germany.

“The paper technology of confinement: evolving criteria in admission forms (1850–73),” Filippo M Sposini. Abstract:

This paper investigates the role of admission forms in the regulation of asylum confinement in the second half of the nineteenth century. Taking the Toronto Lunatic Asylum as a case study it traces the evolution of the forms’ content and structure during the first decades of this institution. Admission forms provide important material for understanding the medico-legal assessment of lunacy in a certain jurisdiction. First, they show how the description of insanity depended on a plurality of actors. Second, doctors were not necessarily required to indicate symptoms of derangement. Third, patients’ relatives played a fundamental role in providing clinical information. From an historiographical perspective, this paper invites scholars to consider the function of standardized documents in shaping the written identity of patients.

“Infanticide and the influence of psychoanalysis on Dutch forensic psychiatry in the mid-twentieth century,” Willemijn Ruberg. Abstract:

This article demonstrates how psychoanalytic thought, especially ideas by Adler, Reik, Deutsch, and Alexander and Staub, informed forensic psychiatry in the Netherlands from the late 1920s. An analysis of psychiatric explanations of the crime of infanticide shows how in these cases the focus of (forensic) medicine and psychiatry shifted from somatic medicine to a psychoanalytic emphasis on unconscious motives. A psychoanalytic vocabulary can also be found in the reports written by forensic psychiatrists and psychologists in court cases in the 1950s. The new psychoanalytic emphasis on unconscious motives implied a stronger focus on the personality of the suspect. This article argues that psychoanalysis accelerated this development in the mid-twentieth century, contributing to the role of the psy-sciences in normalization processes.

Cheiron 2021: Preliminary Program and Registration Information

The Review Committee and Program Chairs of Cheiron (The International Society for the History of Behavioral and Social Sciences) are pleased to announce the opening of registration for its 53rd Annual Meeting to be held using a virtual format from Tuesday, June 15 through Thursday, June 17, 2021.

The “Registration Form” and the “Preliminary Program” can be found on the Cheiron webpage.

The registration fee is $10.00US for members of either Cheiron or the European Society for the History of the Human Sciences (ESHHS), $15US for non-members and independent scholars, and is free for graduate and undergraduate students.

You must register in order to receive access codes for the “Cheiron Conference Webpage” where, roughly one week prior to its start, you will find conference materials – such as a pdf booklet that contains the “final” conference schedule with abstracts for each presentation, uploaded papers, Zoom addresses for online sessions, and a “Cheiron Business Meeting Forum” with information about the issues to be discussed at the Business Meeting, as well as arrangements for the election of candidates for vacant seats on the Review Committee.

For any questions, please contact the Program Chairs: Larry Stern: lstern[at] and Barbara Stern: BStern[at]

Disalienation: Politics, Philosophy, and Radical Psychiatry in Postwar France

AHP readers may be interested in a new book by Camille Robcis: Disalienation: Politics, Philosophy, and Radical Psychiatry in Postwar France. The book is described as follows:

From 1940 to 1945, forty thousand patients died in French psychiatric hospitals. The Vichy regime’s “soft extermination” let patients die of cold, starvation, or lack of care. But in Saint-Alban-sur-Limagnole, a small village in central France, one psychiatric hospital attempted to resist. Hoarding food with the help of the local population, the staff not only worked to keep patients alive but began to rethink the practical and theoretical bases of psychiatric care. The movement that began at Saint-Alban came to be known as institutional psychotherapy and would go on to have a profound influence on postwar French thought.

In Disalienation, Camille Robcis grapples with the historical, intellectual, and psychiatric meaning of the ethics articulated at Saint-Alban by exploring the movement’s key thinkers, including François Tosquelles, Frantz Fanon, Félix Guattari, and Michel Foucault. Anchored in the history of one hospital, Robcis’s study draws on a wide geographic context—revolutionary Spain, occupied France, colonial Algeria, and beyond—and charts the movement’s place within a broad political-economic landscape, from fascism to Stalinism to postwar capitalism.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

List of Abbreviations

Introduction: A Politics of Madness

1—François Tosquelles, Saint-Alban, and the Invention of Institutional Psychotherapy

2—Frantz Fanon, the Pathologies of Freedom, and the Decolonization of Institutional Psychotherapy

3—Félix Guattari, La Borde, and the Search for Anti-oedipal Politics

4—Michel Foucault, Psychiatry, Antipsychiatry, and Power

Epilogue: The Hospital as a Laboratory of Political Invention





Who’s normal and who’s not? Notions of children’s intellectual development in the context of emerging special education at the turn of the twentieth century in Switzerland

AHP readers may be interested in a new piece in History of Education: “Who’s normal and who’s not? Notions of children’s intellectual development in the context of emerging special education at the turn of the twentieth century in Switzerland” by Michèle Hofmann. Abstract:

The article explores the notions of children’s intellectual ‘ab/normality’ that were conceptualised in the context of emerging special educational measures at the turn of the twentieth century and the concomitant notions of child development. From the mid-nineteenth century onwards, the medical classification of ‘idiocy’ provided the framework for the establishment of different educational facilities, including special classes for ‘feebleminded’ children. The present analysis focuses on the allocation of pupils to these classes in Switzerland guided by the premise that a one-year-long trial period, during which thousands of children of the same age were observed in school, had shaped the notion of ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ child development. This notion in turn provided the basis for assessing intellectual ability at the individual level. In other words, no scientific metrics teachers could use to separate the ‘normal’ from the ‘abnormal’ existed when this separation process began, but rather emerged from the process itself.

Psychometric origins of depression

A new open-access piece in History of the Human Sciences may interest AHP readers: “Psychometric origins of depression” by Susan McPherson and David Armstrong. Abstract:

This article examines the historical construction of depression over about a hundred years, employing the social life of methods as an explanatory framework. Specifically, it considers how emerging methodologies in the measurement of psychological constructs contributed to changes in epistemological approaches to mental illness and created the conditions of possibility for major shifts in the construction of depression. While depression was once seen as a feature of psychotic personality, measurement technologies made it possible for it to be reconstructed as changeable and treatable. Different types of scaling techniques (Likert versus dichotomous scales) enabled the separation of depressive personality from reactive depression, paving the way for measuring the severity and intensity of emotions. Techniques to test sensitivity to change provided a means of demonstrating the efficacy of new psychoactive drug treatments. Later, more advanced techniques of precision scaling enabled the management of a new measurement problem, clinician unreliability, associated with the growing number of professionals involved in mental health care. Through statistical management of unreliability, the construct of depression has dramatically reduced over this period from hundreds of questionnaire items to potentially just two. Exploring the history of depression through this lens produces an alternative narrative to those that have emerged as a result of medicalisation and the actions of individuals and pressure groups.

Spring 2021 JHBS: Pastoral Care, Public Opinion Research in West Germany, and More

The Spring 2021 issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences is now online. Full issue details below.

“Why psychiatry might cooperate with religion: The Michigan Society of Pastoral Care, 1945–1968,” Laura Hirshbein. Abstract:

The early decades of the pastoral care movement were characterized by a remarkable collaboration with psychiatry. While historians of the religious aspects of this movement have noted the reliance of pastoral care on psychiatry and psychology, it has been less clear how and why mental health professionals elected to work with clergy. This paper uses the Michigan Society of Pastoral Care (MSPC), one of the early training programs for hospital chaplains on the model of the Boston?based Institute for Pastoral Care, as a window to explore the interactions between psychiatry and religion at mid century. Raymond Waggoner, the nationally recognized and well?connected chair of the psychiatry department at the University of Michigan, was instrumental in expanding the influential pastoral care program at his hospital and in his state as part of his bigger mission of emphasizing the fundamental role of psychiatry in American life. Waggoner played a key role within the MSPC, in conjunction with leaders within the medical departments of the major hospitals in the state. All of the members of the MSPC viewed psychiatry’s insights as essential for pastoral care, with the caveat that chaplains should remain pupils, not practitioners of psychotherapy

“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.

““Never sacrifice anything to laboratory work”: The “physiological psychology” of Charles Richet (1875–1905),” Renaud Evrard, Stéphane Gumpper, Bevis Beauvais, and Carlos S. Alvarado. Abstract:

Whilst best known as a Nobel laureate physiologist, Charles Robert Richet (1850–1935) was also a pioneer of scientific psychology. Starting in 1875 Richet had a leading role in the habilitation of hypnosis, in the institutionalization of psychology in France, and in the introduction of methodological innovations. Authoring several psychology books, Richet’s works contributed to the recognition of the scientific nature of the discipline. This role is often underplayed by some historians and psychology textbooks in favor of his later position as a proponent of the controversial discipline he christened metapsychics in 1905, which today lies within the province of parapsychology. In this article, we show how his psychological approach guided by physiology, or physiological psychology, facilitated the reception of psychology. We hypothesize a strong continuity between his physiological psychology and his metapsychics, as he himself considered metapsychics as an advanced branch of physiology, and thus also an outpost of psychology.

“Psychological operationisms at Harvard: Skinner, Boring, and Stevens,” Sander Verhaegh. Abstract:

Contemporary discussions about operational definition often hark back to Stanley S. Stevens’ classic papers on psychological operationism. Still, he was far from the only psychologist to call for conceptual hygiene. Some of Stevens’ direct colleagues at Harvard—most notably B. F. Skinner and E. G. Boring—were also actively applying Bridgman’s conceptual strictures to the study of mind and behavior. In this paper, I shed new light on the history of operationism by reconstructing the Harvard debates about operational definition in the years before Stevens published his seminal articles. Building on a large set of archival evidence from the Harvard University Archives, I argue that we can get a more complete understanding of Stevens’ contributions if we better grasp the operationisms of his former teachers and direct colleagues at Harvard’s Department of Philosophy and Psychology

Call for Submissions: FHHS Early Career Award & Article Prize. Deadline June 1, 2021

The Forum for the History of Human Science has issued a call for their Early Career Award and Article Prize. The deadline for both is June 1, 2021. Full details below.

FHHS award information:

FHHS/JHBS John C. Burnham Early Career Award: The submission deadline is June 1, 2021. Please submit your CV and manuscript (in PDF format) to

The Forum for History of Human Science (FHHS) and the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Science (JHBS) encourage researchers in their early careers to submit unpublished manuscripts for the annual John C. Burnham Early Career Award, named in honor of this prominent historian of the human sciences and past-editor of JHBS. The publisher provides the author of the paper an honorarium of US $500 at the time the manuscript is accepted for publication by JHBS. (see details below).

Guidelines for the award: Unpublished manuscripts in English dealing with any aspect of the history of the human sciences. The paper should meet the publishing guidelines of the JHBS. Eligible scholars are those who do not hold tenured university positions (or equivalent) and are not more than seven years beyond the Ph.D. Graduate students and independent scholars are encouraged to submit. Manuscripts may be re-submitted for the prize, as long as they have not been published or submitted to another journal and the submitting scholar is still in early career. The manuscript cannot be submitted to any other journal and still qualify for this award. Please also submit a CV. Past winners are not eligible to submit again.

The winning submission will be announced at the annual History of Science Society meeting. (If there are no submissions of suitable quality in any given year, no award will be given for that year.) The winning article can then be submitted to JHBS with FHHS endorsement and will undergo the regular review process. When the article is accepted for publication, the publisher of JHBS will announce the award and issue a US $500 honorarium. Although it is technically possible that someone might win the Burnham Early Career Award and not receive the honorarium, FHHS and JHBS do not expect this to happen under normal circumstances.

FHHS Article Prize. The submission deadline is June 1, 2021. Please submit your article (in PDF format) to

The Forum for History of Human Science awards a biennial prize (a nonmonetary honor) for the best article published recently on some aspect of the history of the human sciences. The article prize is awarded in odd-numbered years. The winner of the prize is announced at the annual History of Science Society meeting.

Entries are encouraged from authors in any discipline, as long as the work is related to the history of the human sciences, broadly construed, and is in English. To be eligible, the article must have been published within the three years previous to the year of the award. Preference will be given to authors who have not won the award previously.