History of Psychology: Special Section on Digital History of Psychology, Plus Early Vygotsky

The November 2018 issue of History of Psychology is now online. The issue includes a special section on the digital history of psychology. Full details below.

Digital methods can help you . . . If you’re careful, critical, and not historiographically naïve,” by Burman, Jeremy Trevelyan. Abstract:

This special section on the digital history of psychology includes target articles by Ivan Flis and Nees Jan van Eck and Jeremy Trevelyan Burman, with comments by Melinda Baldwin, Ted Porter, and Chris Green. In his introduction to the section, Burman explains his original motivation in turning to tools borrowed from the digital humanities: helping graduate students to identify dissertation topics more easily, and thereby reduce completion times for the doctorate, while at the same time doing “good history.” Since then, a new field—digital history of psychology—has blossomed. John Burnham, especially, is recognized here as an important interlocutor.

“Through the looking-glass: PsycINFO as an historical archive of trends in psychology,” by Burman, Jeremy Trevelyan. Abstract:

Those interested in tracking trends in the history of psychology cannot simply trust the numbers produced by inputting terms into search engines like PsycINFO and then constraining by date. This essay is therefore a critical engagement with that longstanding interest to show what it is possible to do, over what period, and why. It concludes that certain projects simply cannot be undertaken without further investment by the American Psychological Association. This is because forgotten changes in the assumptions informing the database make its index terms untrustworthy for use in trend-tracking before 1967. But they can indeed be used, with care, to track more recent trends. The result is then a Distant Reading of psychology, with Digital History presented as enabling a kind of Science Studies that psychologists will find appealing. The present state of the discipline can thus be caricatured as the contemporary scientific study of depressed rats and the drugs used to treat them (as well as of human brains, mice, and myriad other topics). To extend the investigation back further in time, however, the 1967 boundary is also investigated. The author then delves more deeply into the prehistory of the database’s creation, and shows in a précis of a further project that the origins of PsycINFO can be traced to interests related to American national security during the Cold War. In short: PsycINFO cannot be treated as a simple bibliographic description of the discipline. It is embedded in its history, and reflects it.

“Framing psychology as a discipline (1950–1999): A large-scale term co-occurrence analysis of scientific literature in psychology,” by Flis, Ivan; van Eck, Nees Jan. Abstract: Continue reading History of Psychology: Special Section on Digital History of Psychology, Plus Early Vygotsky

History of Psychiatry: Extra-Institutional Psychiatry, the Rockefeller Foundation, & More

The December 2018 issue of History of Psychiatry is now available online. Full titles, authors, and abstracts below.

“Creating a new psychiatry: on the origins of non-institutional psychiatry in the USA, 1900–50,” by Andrew Scull. Abstract:

This paper examines the early origins of the shift away from institutional psychiatry in the USA. It focuses on the period between 1900 and 1950. Attention is paid to the role of neurologists and disaffected asylum doctors in the early emergence of extra-institutional practice; to the impact of the National Committee for Mental Hygiene and Thomas Salmon; to the limited role of psychoanalysis during most of this period; and to the influence of the Rockefeller Foundation’s decision to focus most of its effort in the medical sciences on psychiatry.

“Mental disorders in commentaries by the late medieval theologians Richard of Middleton, John Duns Scotus, William Ockham and Gabriel Biel on Peter Lombard’s Sentences,” by Vesa Hirvonen. Abstract: Continue reading History of Psychiatry: Extra-Institutional Psychiatry, the Rockefeller Foundation, & More

New Book: The Eclipse of the Utopias of Labor

AHP readers may be interested in Anson Rabinbach‘s new book The Eclipse of the Utopias of Labor. Rabinbach is the author of the now classic The Human Motor.His new book is described as follows:

The Eclipse of the Utopias of Labor traces the shift from the eighteenth-century concept of man as machine to the late twentieth-century notion of digital organisms. Step by step—from Jacques de Vaucanson and his Digesting Duck, through Karl Marx’s Capital, Hermann von Helmholtz’s social thermodynamics, Albert Speer’s Beauty of Labor program in Nazi Germany, and on to the post-Fordist workplace, Rabinbach shows how society, the body, and labor utopias dreamt up future societies and worked to bring them about.

This masterful follow-up to The Human Motor, Rabinbach’s brilliant study of the European science of work, bridges intellectual history, labor history, and the history of the body. It shows the intellectual and policy reasons as to how a utopia of the body as motor won wide acceptance and moved beyond the “man as machine” model before tracing its steep decline after 1945—and along with it the eclipse of the great hopes that a more efficient workplace could provide the basis of a new, more socially satisfactory society.


ONE From Mimetic Machines to Digital Organisms: The Transformation of the Human Motor

TWO Social Energeticism in Fin-de-Siècle Europe

THREE Social Knowledge and the Politics of Industrial Accidents

FOUR Neurasthenia and Modernity

FIVE Psychotechnics and Politics in Weimar Germany: The Case of Otto Lipmann

SIX The Aesthetics of Production in the Third Reich

SEVEN Metaphors of the Machine in the Post-Fordist Era

The Decisionist Imagination: Sovereignty, Social Science and Democracy in the 20th Century

A new edited volume, The Decisionist Imagination: Sovereignty, Social Science and Democracy in the 20th Century, on the emergence of decision theory in twentieth-century social science may be of interest to AHP readers. The volume, edited by Daniel Bessner and Nicolas Guilhot, is described as follows:

In the decades following World War II, the science of decision-making moved from the periphery to the center of transatlantic thought. The Decisionist Imagination explores how “decisionism” emerged from its origins in prewar political theory to become an object of intense social scientific inquiry in the new intellectual and institutional landscapes of the postwar era. By bringing together scholars from a wide variety of disciplines, this volume illuminates how theories of decision shaped numerous techno-scientific aspects of modern governance—helping to explain, in short, how we arrived at where we are today.


Introduction: Who Decides?
Daniel Bessner and Nicolas Guilhot

Chapter 1. Reading the International Mind: International Public Opinion in Early Twentieth Century Anglo-American Thought
Stephen Wertheim Continue reading The Decisionist Imagination: Sovereignty, Social Science and Democracy in the 20th Century

CfP Volume 2 of Psychology from the Margins

The journal Psychology from the Margins, a student initiative that released its first volume in 2018 has released a call for papers for its second volume. Graduate or undergraduate students looking for an outlet for their historical work are encouraged to apply!

Psychology from the Margins is a student-run, student-led, peer-reviewed journal. This journal features scholarly work addressing the history of research, practice, and advocacy in psychology, especially in areas related to social justice, social issues, and social change. Its purpose is to help fill gaps in the historical literature by providing an outlet for articles in the history of psychology highlighting stories that have been unrepresented or underrepresented by other historical narratives.

Here is the link to the first issue:  http://ideaexchange.uakron.edu/psychologyfromthemargins/

The deadline for submission for the second volume is March 20th, 2019. Please see the journal webpage for more information about submission.

CfP 51st Annual Meeting of Cheiron, June 20-23, 2019 in Edmonton

Sara Igo

The call for papers for the 51st annual meeting of Cheiron has been released. The Scarborough Lecture will be delivered by Sarah Igo of Vanderbilt University. Full details follow below and can be found on the Cheiron website.

Call for Papers: 51st Annual Meeting of Cheiron: The International Society for the History of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Conference Date: June 20-23, 2019

Conference Location: MacEwan University, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Submission Due Date: January 15, 2019, 5pm EST

Email submissions to the Program Chair, Phyllis Wentworth, wentworthp@wit.edu


Keynote address: Sarah Igo, Associate Professor of History and Director of the Program in American Studies at Vanderbilt University, will deliver the Scarborough Lecture. 

Papers, posters, symposia/panels, or workshops are invited for the 51st annual meeting of Cheiron: The International Society for the History of Behavioral and Social Sciences. We welcome submissions on any aspect of the history of the human, behavioral, and social sciences or related historiographical and methodological issues (see guidelines below). 

The conference will be held at MacEwan UniversityEdmontonAlberta, Canada, with Nancy Digdon as local host. MacEwan is located in downtown Edmonton (metro population about 1 million). We acknowledge that the land on which we meet in Treaty Six Territory is the traditional gathering place for many Indigenous people. We honour and respect the history, languages, ceremonies and culture of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit who call this territory home. 

MacEwan University is approximately 35 minutes from the Edmonton International Airport (YEG). Ground transportation at the airport includes shuttles, taxis, car rentals and Edmonton Transit (bus to train). Conference attendees will have the option to stay in MacEwan dorm rooms (equipped with towels and linens) or nearby hotels.


All papers, posters, and proposed symposia/panels should focus on new and original work, i.e. the main part of the work should not have been published or presented previously at other conferences. 

To facilitate the peer review and planning process, please provide a separate page that includes: a) title; b) author’s name and affiliation; c) author’s mail and email address and phone number; d) audio/visual needs. In all types of proposals below, names of authors/presenters should not be indicated anywhere but on the separate cover page for the submission.

Papers: Submit a 700-800 word abstract plus references that contains the major sources that inform your work. Presentations should be 20-25 minutes in length.

Posters: Submit a 300-400 word abstract plus references that contains the major sources that inform your work. 

Symposia/Panels: Organizer should submit a 250-300 word abstract describing the symposium as a whole and a list of the names and affiliations of the participants. Each participant should submit a 300-600 word abstract plus references that contains the major sources that inform your work. 

Workshops: Organizer should submit a 250-300 word abstract describing the workshop and, if applicable, a list of the names and affiliations of those participating.


 Travel StipendsCheiron will make funds available to help defray travel expenses for students, as well as other scholars facing financial hardship, who present at the conference. We encourage everyone to apply for support from their home institutions. The Travel Stipend is limited to $100 to $300 per accepted submission; co-authored presentations must be divided among the presenters. If you wish to be considered for the Stipend, please apply by sending the Program Chair a separate email message, explaining your status, at the same time that you submit your proposal.

 Young Scholar Award: Since 2008, Cheiron has awarded a prize for the best paper or symposium presentation by a young scholar. To be eligible for consideration, the young scholar must be the sole or first author on the paper and must be responsible for the bulk of the work of the paper. The young scholar must be a student currently or must have completed doctoral work not more than 5 years prior to the meeting.

About three weeks after the meeting, applicants for this award will submit a copy of the presented paper (rather than the abstract); it may include further, minor changes. Submissions go to the Cheiron Executive Officer, who sets the exact deadline, and the entries will be judged by members of the Program Committee and the Review Committee. The winner will receive a certificate from Cheiron and will be asked to submit the paper to the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences within a reasonable period of time. The Award winner may ask Cheiron for assistance in preparing the paper for submission to JHBS. If the paper is accepted by JHBS for publication, the winner will receive a $500 honorarium from the publisher, Wiley-Blackwell, in recognition of the Cheiron Young Scholar Award. Please note that the award committee may choose not to grant an award in any given year and that the honorarium depends on publication in JHBS, in addition to winning the Award.

The Invention of Madness: State, Society, and the Insane in Modern China

AHP readers may be interested in a new book available from University of Chicago Press: Emily Baum’s The Invention of Madness: State, Society, and the Insane in Modern China. As described on the publisher’s website:

Throughout most of history, in China the insane were kept within the home and treated by healers who claimed no specialized knowledge of their condition. In the first decade of the twentieth century, however, psychiatric ideas and institutions began to influence longstanding beliefs about the proper treatment for the mentally ill. In The Invention of Madness, Emily Baum traces a genealogy of insanity from the turn of the century to the onset of war with Japan in 1937, revealing the complex and convoluted ways in which “madness” was transformed in the Chinese imagination into “mental illness.”

Focusing on typically marginalized historical actors, including municipal functionaries and the urban poor, The Invention of Madness shifts our attention from the elite desire for modern medical care to the ways in which psychiatric discourses were implemented and redeployed in the midst of everyday life. New meanings and practices of madness, Baum argues, were not just imposed on the Beijing public but continuously invented by a range of people in ways that reflected their own needs and interests. Exhaustively researched and theoretically informed, The Invention of Madness is an innovative contribution to medical history, urban studies, and the social history of twentieth-century China.

New CBHM: Visualization of Mental Illness in Advertisements, Orthodontics and Psychology, and More

The Fall 2018 issue of the Canadian Bulletin of Medical History includes several articles relevant to AHP readers. Full details below.

“Disappearing Acts: Anguish, Isolation, and the Re-imagining of the Mentally Ill in Global Psychopharmaceutical Advertising (1953–2005),” by Mat Savelli, Melissa Ricci. Abstract:

The visualization of mental illness has attracted substantial attention from scholars in recent decades. Due to the invisible nature of mental disorders, this work has stressed the importance of representations in shaping perceptions of mental illness. In the second half of the 20th century, advertisements for psychopharmaceutical medications became important avenues through which mental illness was made visible. This article analyzes how drug advertisements portrayed mentally ill individuals in medical journal advertisements from 14 countries between 1953 and 2005. We argue that a shift in representations occurred in the 1980s: whereas earlier campaigns were dominated by images of the mentally ill suffering in isolation, the post-1980s period was marked by a trend toward “positive” imagery, social inclusion, and ordinariness. This shift re-imagines the role of psychopharmaceuticals and who might be understood as mentally ill, reflecting changes in global marketing and the arrival of the “happiness turn” within the pharmaceutical industry.

La visualisation des maladies mentales a considérablement attiré l’attention des chercheurs dans les dernières décennies. À cause de l’apparente invisibilité des troubles mentaux, ces travaux ont souligné l’importance des représentations dans la mise en place des perceptions de la maladie mentale. Dans la seconde moitié du 20e siècle, les publicités pour les médicaments psychopharmaceutiques sont devenues des outils importants permettant de rendre la maladie mentale visible. Cet article analyse la façon dont les publicités sur les médicaments ont dépeint les personnes souffrant de troubles mentaux à travers des annonces parues dans les revues médicales de 14 pays entre 1953 et 2005. Nous soutenons qu’un changement dans les représentations a eu lieu dans les années 1980 : alors que les campagnes précédentes étaient dominées par les images de personnes isolées souffrant de troubles mentaux, la période postérieure aux années 1980 a été marquée par le recours à l’imagerie « positive », à l’inclusion sociale et à la quotidienneté. Ce changement réinvente le rôle des produits psychopharmaceutiques et ceux qui pourraient être perçus comme des malades mentaux, reflétant les changements dans le marketing mondial et l’arrivée du « happiness turn » dans l’industrie pharmaceutique.

“From Improving Egos to Perfecting Smiles: Orthodontics and Psychology, 1945–2000,” Melissa Micu, Catherine Carstairs. Abstract: Continue reading New CBHM: Visualization of Mental Illness in Advertisements, Orthodontics and Psychology, and More

CfP: History of Emotions in the Modern Period

History of Psychology invites submissions for a special issue on the history of emotions in the modern period.

The relatively new specialization of the history of the emotions has revealed that emotion, felt experience, and expression have played a key role in culture, society, and politics. In the history of science, however, interest in the emotions has been more muted. This special issue will focus on the exploration of emotion theory and practice in the human sciences in the modern period – roughly from the late 18thcentury to today.

This special issue will address the following themes, among others. Was there a particular historical moment in which interest in emotions in the sciences, broadly construed, increased? While some historians situate heightened study of the emotions in the sciences in the 1960s, others point to a surge in interest in emotions after World War II. But we can also go back to William James’s 1884 influential theory of emotion that stimulated intense debate; or to the 1910s, when Walter Cannon experimented on the physiological concomitants of emotion; or to the early 1920s, when unorthodox psychoanalysts Sandor Ferenczi and Otto Rank raised emotional understanding to a central place in psychoanalysis. More recently, studies in the new discipline of social neuroscience have contributed to the ever-growing literature on emotion and the brain.

Can we discover the roots of the academy’s recent turn to the emotions in older traditions that have not yet received their due? Might historical investigations shed light on contemporary debates on emotion including the existence, or not, of a set of universal, basic emotions, or whether emotion is primarily a bodily affect or a cognitive response?

As the study of emotion has not been confined to any one discipline, we welcome submissions on the history of psychology, psychotherapy, neuroscience, psychophysiology, social work or other relevant fields.

The submission deadline is March 1, 2019.

The main text of each manuscript, exclusive of ?gures, tables, references, or appendices, should not exceed 35 double-spaced pages (approximately 7,500 words). Initial inquiries regarding the special issue may be sent to the guest editor, Susan Lanzoni <smlanzoni@gmail.com>or the regular editor, Nadine Weidman <hop.editor@icloud.com>.

Papers should be submitted through the History of Psychology Manuscript Submission Portal with a cover letter indicating that the paper is to be considered for the special issue. Please see the Instructions to Authors information located on the History of Psychology website.

Osiris: Psychologists, Automobile Safety, and the Emergence of the Accident-Prone Driver

The recently released 2018 volume of Osiris, dedicated to
Science and Capitalism: Entangled Histories,” includes a piece that may interest AHP readers. Details below.

““Safe Driving Depends on the Man at the Wheel”: Psychologists and the Subject of Auto Safety, 1920–55,” by Lee Vinsel. Abstract:

In the first decades of the twentieth century, deaths from automobile accidents quickly mounted, and influential figures, like Herbert Hoover, sought ways to control this icon of industrial capitalism and its users. These early regulatory efforts opened up the new field of automotive safety, a crowded market for ideas full of both buyers and sellers of potential solutions. This essay examines the 1920s and 1930s, as one profession, psychology, entered and sought to influence this emerging field, which thoroughly entangled science and capitalism. It describes how psychologists used a committee in the National Research Council to find positions of power. It argues that the psychologists’ successes and failures were largely determined through a dialectical process between the psychologist’s skills, other powerful professions, like engineering, and available patronage and funding. The psychologists’ greatest success came through positing a novel entity—the accident-prone driver. Yet by the late 1930s, the most influential psychologists had turned against this idea, criticizing less prestigious colleagues who promoted it to industry and government. Established psychologists worried mostly that self-interested, junior colleagues were overselling their ideas and aligning too closely with corporate capitalism, thereby undermining the young profession’s already tenuous credibility.