Psychology and the fall of Communism: The special case of (East) Germany

A new open-access article in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences will interest AHP readers: “Psychology and the fall of Communism: The special case of (East) Germany,” by Mitchell G. Ash. Abstract:

The fall of Communism is now universally agreed to be what the philosopher Hegel called a world historical event—one that few predicted but nearly everyone saw as inevitable after it happened. In the aftermath many lives—and worldviews—changed, not only, but also in the human sciences. These remarks attempt to address in a preliminary way both the impact of the fall of Communism on psychology in former East Germany (including changes in personnel and approach) and the ways in which these sciences were employed as resources for reflection on the Communist past as well as the transition to new social and political regimes.

Harold Garfinkel and Edward Rose in the early years of ethnomethodology

AHP readers may be interested in a new piece in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences: “Harold Garfinkel and Edward Rose in the early years of ethnomethodology,” by Jakub Mlyná?. Abstract:

This article documents the beginning of the intellectual companionship between the founder of ethnomethodology, Harold Garfinkel, and Edward Rose, who is most often associated with his program of “ethno-inquiries.” I present results from archival research focusing on the contacts and collaborations between Rose and Garfinkel in the years 1955–1965. First, I describe the review process for Rose and Felton’s paper, submitted to the American Sociological Review in 1955, which Garfinkel reviewed and after Rose’s rebuttal recommended for publication. The paper induced Garfinkel to write an extensive commentary that has remained unpublished. Second, I discuss the 1958 New Mexico conference sponsored by the Air Force, which was an opportunity for Rose and Garfinkel to work together on topics related to common-sense knowledge and scientific knowledge. Third, I give an overview of the ethnomethodological conferences in 1962 and 1963, supported by an Air Force grant written collaboratively by Rose and Garfinkel. Here I focus primarily on Rose’s research on “small languages,” which stimulated many discussions among the early ethnomethodologists. Rose’s work and exchanges with Garfinkel demonstrate the former’s affinity for miniaturization as a research approach and search for ways to empiricize topics of sociological theory in locally observable settings.

The sciences of love: Intimate ‘democracy’ and the eugenic development of the Marathi couple in colonial India

AHP readers will be interested in a new piece in History of the Human Sciences: “The sciences of love: Intimate ‘democracy’ and the eugenic development of the Marathi couple in colonial India,” by Rovel Sequeira. Abstract:

This article studies the eugenic theories of Marathi sexological writer and novelist Narayan Sitaram Phadke, and his attempts to domesticate the modern ideal of the adult romantic couple as a yardstick of ‘emotional democracy’ in late colonial India. Locating Phadke’s work against the backdrop of the Child Marriage Restraint Act (1929) and its eugenicist concerns, I argue that he conceptualized romantic love as an emotion and a form of sociability central to the state’s biopolitical schemes of ensuring modern coupledom but as exceeding the state’s capacity to rationally order Indian sex life. Consequently, he crafted literary supplements like the bildungsroman to circulate ‘English’ idioms of emotional and corporeal intimacy in Marathi; his novels domesticated eugenic sexology for its ‘vernacular’ audiences by advocating caste-bound romantic love as the blueprint for Indian marital coupling. As exemplified by Phadke’s work, an emerging Marathi discourse of love demarcated a space for the young couple to operate as a vehicle of interpersonal openness within the constraints of the upper-caste joint family. By outlining the parameters of this Brahmanical aesthetic discourse, I show that the couple became the locus of a self-styled ‘democratic’ form of emotional attachment aimed at developing a necessary dynamism within endogamous caste-based marital arrangements without radically transforming them. The science performed through the Marathi novel in the 1920s and 1930s consequently explains the increasing prominence of romantic love as a form of developmental ‘democratic’ discourse at a time when both romantic love and democracy-in-practice were widely experienced as absent from Indian society.

The development of supported mental health accommodation and community psychiatric nursing in Oxfordshire

A new piece in History of Psychiatry will interest AHP readers: “The development of supported mental health accommodation and community psychiatric nursing in Oxfordshire,” by John Hall. 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.

After the madhouses: the emotional politics of psychiatry and community care in the UK tabloid press 1980–1995

AHP readers may be interested in a new piece in Medical Humanities: “After the madhouses: the emotional politics of psychiatry and community care in the UK tabloid press 1980–1995” by Leah Sidi. Abstract:

The deinstitutionalisation of mental hospital patients made its way into UK statutory law in 1990 in the form of the NHS and the Community Care Act. The Act ushered in the final stage of asylum closures moving the responsibility for the long-term care of mentally ill individuals out of the NHS and into the hands of local authorities. This article examines the reaction to the passing of the Act in two major tabloid presses, The Sun and The Daily Mirror, in order to reveal how community care changed the emotional terrain of tabloid storytelling on mental health. Reviewing an archive of 15 years of tabloid reporting on mental illness, I argue that the generation of ‘objects of feeling’ in the tabloid media is dependent on the availability of recognisable and stable symbols. Tabloid reporting of mental illness before 1990 reveals the dominance of the image of the asylum in popular understandings of mental illness. Here the asylum is used to generate objects of hatred and disgust for the reader, even as it performs a straightforward othering and distancing function. In these articles, the image of the asylum and its implicit separation of different types of madness into categories also do normative gender work as mental illness is represented along predictable gendered stereotypes. By performing the abolition of asylums, the 1990 Act appears to have triggered a dislodging of these narrative norms in the tabloid press. After 1990, ‘asylum stories’ are replaced with ‘community care stories’ which contain more contradictory and confusing clusters of feeling. These stories rest less heavily on gendered binaries while also demonstrating a near-frantic desire on the part of the mass media for a return of institutional containment. Here, clusters of feeling becoming briefly ‘unstuck’ from their previous organisations, creating a moment of affective flux.

December Issue of History of Psychiatry: Malaria Therapy, Not Listening to Patients, and More

AHP readers may be interested in the December 2022 issue of History of Psychology. Titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Malaria therapy for general paralysis of the insane at the Sunbury Hospital for the Insane in Australia, 1925–6,” Alison Clayton. Abstract:

This paper, drawing on the published medical literature and unpublished medical record archives, provides an in-depth account of the introduction of malaria therapy for general paralysis of the insane into Australia in 1925–6, at Victoria’s Sunbury Hospital for the Insane. This study reveals a complex and ambiguous picture of the practice and therapeutic impact of malaria therapy in this local setting. This research highlights a number of factors which may have contributed to some physicians overestimating malaria therapy’s effectiveness. It also shows that other physicians of the era held a more sceptical attitude towards malaria therapy. Finally, this paper discusses the relevance of this history to contemporary psychiatry.

“‘I have to-day seen all the 671 patients in residence in this institution’: not listening to patients in the long 1920s,” Claire Hilton. Abstract:

In the 1920s, patients and former patients produced oral and written accounts of their mental hospital experiences. Many aimed to inform the public about the institutions and to improve standards of care, but their views were usually ignored. The assumption that mental disorders affected all aspects of a person’s judgement, plus defensive and disparaging attitudes of hospital authorities and formal committees of inquiry, contributed to this. Various other public agendas, financial crises and rising unemployment detracted from the needs of mentally unwell people. Small improvements in care materialized, but lay, professional and institutional cultures generally preserved the status quo. Regarding learning from patients’ feedback, some hurdles encountered in the 1920s resonate with challenges in today’s National Health Service.

“Professional dynamics of the forensic evaluation of mental states in eighteenth-century Denmark-Norway,” Nanna Eva Nissen. Abstract:

This study examines criminal cases related to blasphemy under the absolute monarchy of Denmark-Norway, and presents the evaluation of mental states within a forensic context between 1713 and 1733. First, the article explains how the legal framework and normative guidelines for pastoral care envisaged the interplay between judges, priests and doctors in evaluating mental states. Then, an examination of selected cases is provided, showing the dynamics and the role assignment in the evaluation of mental states in practice. Covering a period characterized by a gradual differentiation of theology, law and medicine, this case study enhances understanding of what preceded the development of psychiatry as a medical speciality during the nineteenth century.

“Institutionalization of the insane in the Russian Baltic provinces: a case study of the Hospital for Mental and Nervous Diseases in Tartu, 1881–95,” Anu Rae. Abstract:

This article studies the University of Tartu psychiatric hospital and its patient population in the Russian Baltic Province of Livonia in 1881–95, using the hospital’s admission registry book as the primary source. Although it was a university clinic following the German academic tradition, both upper- and lower-class patients were admitted (25 and 75 per cent, respectively, of 2,184 hospitalizations), with a median stay of 70 days. Admission and length of stay often depended on a family’s or community’s financial capabilities. Considerably more men and unmarried patients were admitted, and 130 hospitalized women were diagnosed with female-specific illnesses. This study argues that gender and social class should be jointly analysed, as admission and discharge outcomes are influenced by both factors simultaneously.

“Psychiatric treatment of female mental patients in the Federated Malay States (FMS) of British-Malaya, 1930–57,” Haszira Muhamad Yusof and Azlizan Mat Enh. Abstract:

The British government in Malaya conducted treatment for women suffering mental illness in an effort to deal with the increasing number of cases in the Federated Malay States in 1930–57. This paper explores the role of mental asylums and society in contributing to methods of treatment during the twentieth century.

“Animal magnetism in Italy during the nineteenth century: the conflicting relationship with the Catholic Church,” Roberto Mazzagatti, Michael Belingheri, Maria Emilia Paladino, Nicolò Dell’Orto, and Michele Augusto Riva. Abstract:

This article explores the relationship between the Catholic Church and animal magnetism. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Catholic Church had first tried to stem the rise of animal magnetism in a vague manner, but after a few decades, it eventually put a genuine veto in place. This measure was founded upon the dangers to morality and faith arising from the progressive polarization of the original doctrine in forms related to esotericism. Among the causes of the condemnation by the Congregation of the Holy Office, the primary ones were the naturalist interpretation of the miracles described in the Gospels and in the New Testament, and the possibility of falling under the control of a demonic spirit.

“Melancholia in late life in New South Wales and Victoria, Australia, 1871–1905: symptoms, behaviours and outcomes,” Brian Draper. Abstract:

In the late nineteenth century, the prognosis of late-life melancholia was believed to be poor. The medical casebooks of 40 patients aged 60+years, admitted to two Hospitals for the Insane in New South Wales with melancholia between 1871 and 1905, were examined. Psychosis (87.5%), depressed mood (80%), suicidal behaviour (55%), physical ill health (55%), restlessness (50%) and fears of harm to self (50%) were identified. Main outcomes were discharge (40%) and death (37.5%). Victoria’s Kew Hospital patient register for 1872–88 revealed 669 melancholia admissions with 30 aged 60+. Outcomes worsened significantly with age (chi square = 16.19, df = 4, p < 0.005), mainly due to higher mortality. Nineteenth-century late-life melancholia was a severe disorder despite many cases recovering.

November HoP: Jung and Word Association, Psychology and Socialism, and More

Leo Kamin

The November 2022 issue of History of Psychology is now online. Titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“How did early North American clinical psychologists get their first personality test? Carl Gustav Jung, the Zurich School of Psychiatry, and the development of the “Word Association Test” (1898–1909).” Fierro, Catriel. Abstract:

Clinical psychology emerged in the United States during the first decades of the 20th century. Although they focused on intelligence tests, starting around 1905 certain clinical psychologists pursued personality assessment through a specific, nonintellectual kind of test: the word association test as devised by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung (1875–1961) at the Burghölzli psychiatric clinic in Zurich. The test was a key device in the professionalization of North American psychiatry and psychology during the early 20th century: from 1905 onward it was acknowledged, discussed, and applied by experimental and clinical psychologists. However, Jung’s original experiments and the development of the test itself have received only superficial or casual attention by historians of science. This article attempts to provide a critical, streamlined, and detailed account on the origin, development, and substance of the Zurich word association experiments. By drawing on heretofore overlooked primary sources, I offer a new, critical perspective on the emergence and development of Jung’s test while engaging with its main theoretical and methodological aspects. I show that the test was neither Jung’s sole creation nor did it consist of a simple, straightforward set of tasks. Contrarily, it was the result of a highly collaborative, multilayered institutionalized research program on linguistic and mental associations. The program, its data and its assumptions fueled several debates and data-driven discussions at Zurich, precluding the test from achieving a stable, standardized character. As a result, the history of Jung’s program reflects both the advances and the limitations of early 20th-century personality testing.

“Psychology in national socialism: The question of “professionalization” and the case of the “Ostmark”.” Wieser, Martin; Benetka, Gerhard. Abstract:

This article presents a contextualization and revaluation of competing narratives concerning the history of psychology in Nazi Germany. Since the 1980s, this debate revolves around the supposed “professionalization” of the discipline from Hitler’s rise to power until the end of World War II. The question whether or not academic psychology has profited from collaborating with the Nazi regime during the war is not just of historical interest, but also carries strong political and moral implications. Recently, the established narrative concerning the professionalization of German psychology under National Socialism was called into question by Wolfgang Schönpflug. According to his argumentation, psychology did not benefit from the war, but had to suffer considerable losses on terms of personnel and quality in teaching and research. After reconstructing the historical context and the political implications of the debate, we propose to take a different perspective on the question of “professionalization.” Three case examples of psychologists from Austria whose career advanced significantly during the war are provided to shed light on the multitude of opportunities that emerged for those who offered their psychological expertise during the war. In conclusion, it is argued that professionalization should be understood as a theoretical framework that stimulates further historical research on a local level, not as a dogmatic judgment about the state of the discipline as a whole.

“Rewriting Wundtian psychology: Luigi Credaro and the psychology in Rome.” Foschi, Renato; Romano, Andrea. Abstract:

After Rome became the capital of Italy in 1871, prestigious scientists arrived at the University of Rome. One of these scholars was the pedagogical philosopher Luigi Credaro (1860–1939). He was one of the rare Italian students of Wilhelm Wundt (1832–1920) when he went to Leipzig and attended the Institute for Experimental Psychology in the academic year 1887–1888. There he also followed the pedagogical seminars and considered the usefulness of establishing sections of practical pedagogy in Italian magisterium schools, which were teacher-training institutions. In 1904, he founded in Rome the Scuola Pedagogica (Pedagogical School). Through the school, Credaro proposed the concept of a scientific pedagogy based on the application of the results of experimental sciences in the educational field. We can suppose that this approach influenced the first generation of Italian scholars interested in experimental psychology in Rome, in particular Sante De Sanctis (1862–1935) and Maria Montessori (1870–1952). The article thus considers the hypothesis of the formation of a so-called Roman school of psychology, which created in the field of pedagogy a ground on which to develop its research and applications. It should be noted that Credaro devoted himself to the potential applications of experimental psychology in the context of the modernization of the liberal states of the 20th century. Specifically, scientific pedagogy constituted a field of application and development for Roman psychology. At the end, the foundation of psychology in Rome was influenced by a particular version of the Wundtian psychology promoted by his pupil Credaro.

“A portrait of the neurophysiologist as a young man: Claus, Darwin, and Sigmund Freud’s search for the testes of the eel (1875–1877).” Perkins-McVey, Matthew. Abstract:

In 1878, Sigmund Freud produced his first scientific publication while a medical student in Vienna, a physiological and histological analysis of Szymon Syrski’s claim to have discovered the long-sought testes of the European eel. Though he would eventually come to be known as the father of psychoanalysis, a closer look at Freud’s earliest scientific publication demonstrates that he was initially positioned on the cutting edge of neo-mechanistic physiology, and academic Darwinism. Not only was the young Freud a methodologically capable physiologist, he was conceptually grounded by the anti-Lamarckian and anti-Haeckelian Darwinism of his first mentor, Carl Claus. Scholarship on Freud’s life and ideas is copious and far-reaching, and yet the stature of his psychoanalytic legacy remains a significant barrier for reappraisals of his early foundations. By analyzing his first publication and the context in which it came to be, this article seeks to revisit the place of Darwin in Freud’s earliest scientific work.

News & Notes

“Award.” Bonfield, Stephan. Abstract:

The Award Committee for the Society for the History of Psychology is happy to announce the following Division 26 award winners for 2022: Early Career Award: Zhipeng Gao, American University in Paris, France; and Career Achievement Award: Alexandra Rutherford, York University, Canada.

“Archival Oddities: Leo Kamin Pounding out Copy for the Daily Worker.” Harris, Ben. Abstract:

This short research report focuses on psychologist Leon Kamin, who is best known for his research on what became known as the Kamin (blocking) effect. In the 1970s and 1980s he became prominent both inside and outside of psychology, not for laboratory research but for his writings on the heritability of intelligence. Kamin was no stranger to political activism. He joined the Communist Party U.S.A. at age 17, when he was a sophomore at Harvard. By 1949, he was writing for the Daily Worker (pen name: Leo Soft) and was employed as its New England editor in 1949–1950. In January 1954, Kamin was called to testify by Joseph McCarthy’s anti-Communist Senate subcommittee, which was visiting Boston and justified its interest in Harvard by citing its winning research grants from the U.S. Department of Defense. Kamin refused to “name names” and he was indicted for contempt of the Senate.

“Interamerican Society of Psychology (1951–2021): Its history and historians,” Gallegos, Miguel; Pecanha, Viviane de Castro. Abstract:

On December 17, 2021, The Interamerican Society of Psychology (ISP) celebrated its 70th anniversary. This article briefly describes ISP’s history, discussing its organizational structure, and the contributions of the working group history of psychology, to honor this important event. The history of psychology division within ISP remains committed to facilitating encounters of Ibero American psychologists who wish to further examine the history of psychology. Lastly, we analyzed the growth and the contemporary challenges in the field of history of psychology in Latin America.

Reading Advice to Parents about Children’s Sleep: The Political Psychology of a Self-Help Genre

A new piece in Critical Inquiry may interest AHP readers: “Reading Advice to Parents about Children’s Sleep: The Political Psychology of a Self-Help Genre” by Cressida J. Heyes. Abstract:

The genre of advice to parents about children’s sleep proliferated between the mid-1980s and the beginning of the twenty-first century. This article reads that genre against itself, as symptomatic of larger political trends—the end of the privilege of the normative mid-century nuclear family and the advent of neoliberal ideology and political economy. Specifically, it argues that this wave of advice reflects an ambivalence about the autonomous individual within neoliberalism versus the need for attachment and the dependence of kinship. Returning to Jessica Benjamin’s object-relations feminism, it shows how the oscillation between methods of sleep training that stress independent sleeping against those that align with attachment parenting reveal the same subject-object relations of power (with concomitant gender roles) that Benjamin outlined as central to domination. By embedding this analysis in its contemporary material conditions of class, race, and gender, the article argues that sleep practices try—and must necessarily fail—to create workers and family members who are both entirely autonomous and mutually supportive. It combines examination of the psychodynamics of family relationships as mutually informed by neoliberal rationality and an established critique of the politics of intensive mothering, with recognition of a post-2008 anxiety distinctive of millennial parenting, to show how children’s sleep has become a part of (gendered) work—a technology of the self—that carries the burden of forming the future citizen worker.

Persuasive Technology and Personhood on Social Media

AHP readers may be interested in a new piece by Emily Martin in Science, Technology, & Human Values: “Persuasive Technology and Personhood on Social Media.” Abstract:

Returning to Marcel Mauss’s classic work on the person, this essay explores Mauss’s distinction between personne and personnage and the distinction used in contemporary anthropology between dividual and individual. Using these terms of analysis, I use the insights gained from recent ethnographic research in laboratories of experimental psychology to show how some parts of the practices used in these settings have become the foundation of social media. I consider whether social media has created a world focused almost entirely on the autonomous and socially isolated individual or whether the socially embedded “dividual” can be equally present/recognized in these settings.

Save the Date: ESHHS Conference, July 4-7, 2023

The board of the ESHHS and local organizers Renato Foschi & Marco Innamorati are delighted to announce the dates for the next conference of the ESHHS. In 2023, the conference will run from Tuesday 4 July to Friday 7 July.

We will meet at the Villa Mirafiori in central Rome, which is home to the philosophy department of the Sapienza University:

Università La Sapienza – Dipartimento Filosofia
Via Carlo Fea, 2, 00161 Roma RM
06 4991 7297