In the December issue of Isis, 98(4), Cathy Faye reviews Ludy Benjamin’s A Brief History of Modern Psychology. She recommends it for general audiences and, if supplemented with other primary and secondary readings, for use in undergraduate courses as well.
By far the most interesting and informative chapters are those that deal with the rise of applied and professional psychology in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A full discussion of a range of applied psychologies is provided, including clinical, industrial-organizational, school, counseling, and engineering psychology. Benjamin nicely illustrates the growth of psychology as both a science and a practice and demonstrates the tensions that arose between these two paths in the course of the discipline’s development. One of the unique aspects of the book is a related chapter on the psychology of social action and social change, where research on sex differences, group dynamics, and the psychology of race is presented. Many texts now incorporate this material, but in a rather haphazard or awkward manner. By setting aside a chapter for these topics, Benjamin gives them the full treatment necessary for a comprehensive history.
Cathy Faye is a senior doctoral student at York University, specializing in the history of social psychology. Ludy Benjamin, Jr., is Professor of Psychology and Educational Psychology and Presidential Professor of Teaching Excellence at Texas A&M.