Special Issue on National Histories of Psychology

physis-cover1.jpgWe often speak and write as though there were only one, singular history of psychology. But of course that is not the case. Psychology developed in different ways, along different lines, in all of the countries where it has gradually come to be regarded as a “science.” This is most obvious in the old saw about there having been three “scientific” psychologies at the turn of the 20th century: German (experimental), French (clinical), and British (individual differences). This division was, perhaps, most expertly explored, reformulated, and elaborated by Kurt Danziger in his 1990 book, Constructing the Subject.

Now a prominent Italian history of science journal has published a special issue on the national histories of psychology (or should it the history of national psychologies?). The journal is entitled Physis: Revista Internazionale di Storia della Scienza (Physis: International Review of the History of Science), and the 457-pp. special issue from 2006 (vol. 43) has the expansive title “The Rise of ‘Scientific’ Psychology Within the Cultural, Social, and Institutional Contexts of European and Extra-European Countries Between the 19th and 20th Centuries.” Edited by Guido Cimino (“La Sapienza,” U. Rome) and Régine Plas (U. René Descartes Paris V), the issue is entirely in English and includes articles from many of the lumiaries of the field: Mitchell Ash, Michael Sokal, Horst Gundlach, Jaqueline Carroy, Fernando Vidal, Irina Sirotkina, and Enrique Lafuente, among several others.

The issue is based on a symposium that was held at the International Congress of History of Science in Beijing in July 2005. Most of the articles focus on the origins of psychology in particular countries: German, France, Italy, Spain, Russia, the US, and, interestingly, Brazil, Japan, and China. Overall, it is a rare and highly valuable resource that contains 20 articles in all.

Sadly, it is a little hard to come by (at least in North America). I have not been able to find a copy of this journal available on the internet, either open or by subscription. The journal is published by Leo S. Olschki Editore of Firenze (Florence), and a yearly “foreign” subscription (2 issues) goes for €86 (currently about $125 US). To obtain a copy of the special issue on psychology (which was, I believe, a double issue), I wrote directly to the editor, Guido Cimino.

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.

3 thoughts on “Special Issue on National Histories of Psychology

  1. Prof. Cimino has kindly sent me an electronic version of the complete table of contents of this issue of Physis. I copy it below. he has also told me that if anyone should wish to purchase a copy they can do so by writing to the e-mail address: periodici@olschki.it.

    The Rise of “Scientific” Psychology within the Cultural, Social,
    and Institutional Contexts of European and Extra-European Countries
    between the 19th and 20th Centuries

    G. CIMINO, Introduction: For a Comparative History of the Birth of “Scientific” Psychology

    F. VIDAL, The “Prehistory” of Psychology: Thoughts on a Historiographical Illusion

    H. GUNDLACH, Psychology as Science and as Discipline: The Case of Germany

    M. SINATRA, The Birth of Experimental Psychology in Germany between Psychophysical Methods and Physiological Theories

    M. ASH, Psychological Thought and Practice in German-Speaking Europe, 1900-1960

    J. CARROY – R. PLAS, The Beginnings of Psychology in France: Who Was a “Scientific” Psychologist in the Nineteenth Century?

    G. CIMINO, The Emergence of “Scientific” Psychology in Italy between Positivist Philosophy and Psychiatric Tradition

    E. LAFUENTE, The Origins of Scientific Psychology in Spain: The Process of Institutionalization

    I. SIROTKINA, When Did “Scientific Psychology” Begin in Russia?

    M. M. SOKAL, The Origins of the New Psychology in the United States

    R. H. DE FREITAS CAMPOS, Scientific Psychology in Brazil in the 20th Century: The Dialogue with European Researchers, a Look at Brazilian Culture and a Successful Process of Professionalization

    M. TAKASUNA, The Origins of Scientific Psychology in Japan

    H. SHEN, Scientific Psychology within the Chinese Language and Cultural Context

    Additional Contributions

    A. DE LEO, The Origin of Graphic Recording of Psycho-Physiological Phenomena in Germany

    R. FOSCHI – E. CICCIOLA, The Notion of “Double Consciousness” in Alfred Binet’s Psychological Experimentalism

    A. M. FERRERI, The Contribution of William James to the Origins of “Scientific” Psychology

    V. BONGIORNO, The “Project of Experimental Psychology” Developed in Italy by Neurophysiologists and Psychiatrists

    S. DEGNI, Between Phrén and Psyché: Gabriele Buccola and His Contribution to the Birth of Experimental Psychology in Italy

    G. SAVA, The Contribution of the Florence Laboratory to the Foundation of “Scientific” Psychology in Italy

    G. P. LOMBARDO – E. CICCIOLA, The Clinical Differential Approach of Sante De Sanctis in Italian “Scientific” Psychology

  2. According to World Cat (the library megacatalog) one could get a photocopy of any of its articles from the University of Sweden through interlibrary loan. It’s the only library that reports to have it.

    (I came across your blog while Googling a different “Physis” journal.) Best of luck!


  3. This is an interesting issue, indeed. FYI, according to UofT online catalogue, the journal is available at UofT’s Gerstein library:

    Title: Physis.
    Imprint: Firenze, L.S. Olschki.
    Language: Italian

    Gerstein Science has:
    Periodical Stacks
    anno 1(1959)+
    Periodical Stacks
    anno 1(1959)-38(2001)
    Periodical Stacks
    v.39:n.1 (2002:June) – v.44:n.2 (2007:Dec.)
    Note: Latest issues in: Periodical Reading Room

    See here: http://search1.library.utoronto.ca/UTL/index?N=0&Nr=p_catalog_code:2180334&showDetail=first

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