New Issue: History of Psychology

The February 2011 issue of History of Psychology, the official journal of the Society for the History of Psychology (Division 26 of the American Psychological Association), has just been released online. Included in this issue are article on the use of the term “socialization,” psychology and pedagogy in late-nineteenth century French medicine, the historical experience of trauma, and a look at the use of unique historical sources in describing the academic freedom controversy surrounding James McKeen Cattell’s departure from Columbia University. Also in this issue, is a note challenging the recent proposal that John Watson and Rosalie Raynor’s research subject Little Albert was in fact Douglas Merritte, the son of a wet nurse at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“The evolving vocabulary of the social sciences: The case of ‘socialization’,” by Jill G. Morawski and Jenna St. Martin. The abstract reads,

While the term “socialization” stands as a common and clearly understood term regularly used in social science and lay conversations alike, its history is complex. In the 19th century, socialization was introduced to refer to societal activities or projects, and only in the early 20th century did it gain usage as a term describing psychological processes transpiring within the individual. The architecture of the newer meaning harbored ambitions and problems of modern social science, including ideals of interdisciplinary theory and theoretic resolution of the individual/society dualism. Nevertheless, socialization became a central object of social scientific inquiry after World War II. This significant social scientific object was repeatedly altered: initially representing a vision of conforming citizens who were free from certain troubling characteristics depicted in psychoanalysis and well-suited to democracy, it later was engaged to create a vision of autonomous, resilient, and cognitively active actors able to negotiate a complex social world.

“Between psychology and pedagogy: ‘Moral orthopedics’ and case studies of children in fin-de-siècle French medicine,” by Anna Christina Rose. The abstract reads,

In the latter decades of the 19th century, European physicians debated a controversial practice that mixed placebos with suggestion therapy to treat children diagnosed with neurotic disorders and behavioral problems. Designed to optimize suggestibility in juvenile patients, this “moral orthopedics” offered parents and therapists the message that children could be saved from becoming victims of their own personalities, of familial neuroses, or even of public health problems. Case studies, published in medical journals and books, circulated accounts of innovative strategies to treat childhood hysteria and to change habits that were considered destructive. Moral orthopedics actualized the insight that suggestibility could be therapeutically productive for juvenile subjects. However, because its adherents sought to manipulate patients’ behavior and health by influencing unconscious thought, moral orthopedics provoked questions of expertise and disciplinary propriety among domains of medicine, law, and philosophy. This article reconstructs the controversy surrounding moral orthopedics by examining case studies. I argue that adherents of moral orthopedics did overcome philosophical objections raised against the method, and that they did so through what physician Edgar Bérillon referred to as “education of the will.”

“Renata Calabresi: The experimental analysis of the present,” by Liliana Albertazzi. The abstract reads,

Between the 1920s and 1930s, Renata Calabresi conducted pioneering laboratory researches on the nature, extensity, and quality of the psychic present. Her analyses stemmed from the Central European tradition initiated by Stern, Brentano, Meinong, and Benussi. Her work has remained largely unrecognized, because of both the decline of the underlying theoretical paradigm, namely descriptive psychology, and the historical events of the time that swept aside the lives of those involved. This article presents her researches on the roots of phenomenal consciousness. She proved that in the subjective time there occur perceptual events that are at least partially independent from those of the time of objective sequences. Subjective and objective time, therefore, do not flow in unison, and the continuum of perceptive sequences has modalities of existence that differ from those of the continuum of physical sequences.

“Comparing premodern melancholy/mania and modern trauma: An argument in favor of historical experiences of trauma,” by Donna Trembinski. The abstract reads,

Historians and psychiatrists have repeatedly looked to both real and imagined individuals of the past, like Achilles and Samuel Pepys, and found evidence that they were suffering from symptoms of trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder. The assumptions that allow such historical “diagnoses” have, however, recently been called into question by philosophers such as Ian Hacking, anthropologists like Allan Young and psychiatrists such as Patrick Bracken. These scholars have all suggested in various ways that experiences of trauma could not have occurred until the diagnosis of trauma and its symptoms had been formalized and the language of trauma had been developed in the late 19th century. This article attempts to resolve this bifurcation of opinion on the universality of the mind and historical experiences of trauma in two ways. First, it argues for the necessity of applying modern categories of analysis to further present understandings of the past. Second, it considers discussions of “melancholia” and “mania” in premodern medical literature and argues that there are enough similarities between the causes and symptoms of these premodern disorders and modern trauma to suggest that experiences of trauma may not be wholly culturally bound to the modern world, as the above scholars have suggested. While melancholy or mania cannot simply be understood as premodern names for trauma, and it is not always correct to “diagnose” a premodern person who exhibits symptoms of these illnesses with trauma, such an assumption is not always ahistorical or incorrect either.

“Cattell, Columbia, and academic freedom: Rarely used sources enrich analyses of this significant episode,” by Michael M. Sokal. The abstract reads,

This note seeks to illustrate the value for research into psychology’s past of several primary sources rarely used by historians of psychology. It does so by showing how 3 such sources—a university song book, an editorial cartoon, and FBI files about a distinguished psychologist—provide additional insights about a major historical incident previously discussed at length in History of Psychology. It closes by urging historians of psychology to look beyond the obvious as they do their research.

“Sources,” by Armin Stock. The abstract reads,

Reports an error in “The Adolf-Würth-Center for the History of Psychology at the University of Würzburg: Its history, present, and future” by Armin Stock (History of Psychology, 2010[Aug], Vol 13[3], 335-339). The captions for the images included in the article were inadvertently omitted. The images with their captions are presented in the erratum. (The following abstract of the original article appeared in record 2010-16755-005.) The Adolf-Würth-Center for the History of Psychology at the University of Würzburg is the successor of the former Institute for the History of Modern Psychology in Passau, founded in the early 1980s by Professor Werner Traxel. In 2009, the Institute moved to Würzburg and was reopened there. With an exemplary sponsorship by Prof. Dr. H.C. Mult. Reinhold Würth and the Adolf Würth GmbH & Co. KG it was possible to realize good spatial conditions for the archive, offering new perspectives for research in the field of history of psychology. This article describes the development of the Adolf-Würth-Center for the History of Psychology and its predecessor, the historical collections, and the service offered by the Adolf-Würth-Center as well as its tasks and goals.

“Research notes: Little Albert, lost or found: Further difficulties with the Douglas Merritte hypothesis,” by Russell A. Powell. The abstract reads,

In some intriguing detective work, Beck, Levinson, and Irons attempted to solve the mystery of what happened to Little Albert, the infant in whom Watson and Rayner (1920) claimed to have conditioned a rat phobia. They concluded that a child by the name of Douglas Merritte, the son of a wet nurse at Johns Hopkins Hospital, very likely was Albert (the published name, Albert B, apparently having been a pseudonym). Powell and Reese outlined certain difficulties with Beck et al.’s (2009) analysis, the foremost being a comment from Watson (1924/1925) that Albert was later adopted, whereas Douglas had remained with his mother (see Beck, 2010, for his rejoinder to Powell and Reese) (see record 2010-08987-017). The present report presents an additional difficulty with the Douglas Merritte hypothesis which concerns the estimated timeline during which the baseline session (and first film session) of the Albert experiment likely took place. It is the congruence between Douglas’ age and the reported age of Albert during this estimated timeline on which the case for Douglas being Albert largely rests.

“News.” No author. The abstract reads,

Presents a series of news items of interest to readers of History of Psychology. Included are: Spanish Society of History of Psychology Report (XXIII Symposium de la Sociedad Española de Historia de la Psicología, San Sebastián-Donostia, 2010, May 13th–15th); New Web Resources; Books; and Upcoming Meetings and Conferences.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.