Cheiron/ESHHS in Dublin: Day 2

Ian HackingThe highlight today at the joint meeting of Cheiron and the ESHHS in Dublin was the invited presentation of famed philosopher and historian of science, Ian Hacking, recently retired from the University of Toronto and the Collège de France. In a talk entitled “The Earliest Days of Autism,” Hacking traced the early development of the concept of autism, up to the point where it was officially identified, independently and nearly simultaneously, by Leo Kanner in the US and Hans Asperger in Austria. In the course of his talk, Hacking touched on related matters involving figures such as French physician Jean Marc Gaspard Itard and his “Wild Boy” of Aveyron, British physician John Down (after whom “Down Syndrome” is dubbed), and Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler (who first used the term “autistic”, as well as having invented the term “schizophrenia”). (One can find a similar piece by Hacking here, published in the May 2006 issue of the London Review of Books.)

In another interesting session, Ohio State historian John Burnham discussed the simultaneous development of “accident-proneness” by British psychologist Eric Farmer and Unfallneigung by Würzburg psychologist Karl Marbe in 1926. This was followed by a wry examination of the significance of the garage in the history of American psycology by Graceland U. psychologist David Devonis. (See the Cheiron site for abstracts.)


About Christopher Green

Professor of Psychology at York University (Toronto). Former editor of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences. Creator of the "Classics in the History of Psychology" website and of the "This Week in the History of Psychology" podcast series.