New Issue: History of Psychology

The May 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 a number of all new articles on topics including: the nature of coverage of the new psychology in the pages New York Times, the colonization of childhood via developmental psychology, William James on space perception and the history of the concept of regression.

Also included in this issue is a teaching article on using history to illuminate the scientist-practitioner gap within clinical psychology, as well as pieces on the new Center for the History of Psychology, Roderick Buchanan’s reflections on writing a biography of Hans Eysenck, and news from the American Psychological Association’s Council of Representatives. Titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Press coverage of the new psychology by the New York Times during the Progressive Era,” by Paul M. Dennis. The abstract reads,

Press coverage of psychology by the New York Times was examined for the Progressive Era. Following a period in which psychology was associated with spiritualism, psychoanalysis, and the Emmanuel movement, the Times gave editorial preference to reports about psychology’s applications. Reaching an audience that was both affluent and influential, the topics emphasized by the Times included the lie detector, psychological applications in the work place, mental tests, and child psychology. These areas reflected issues of social concern to Progressives, publicized the rise of the psychologist as expert, and aided psychology in its challenge to common sense.

“Look–normal: The colonized child of developmental science,” by Donna Varga. The abstract reads,

This article provides an analysis of the techniques, methods, materials, and discourses of child study observation to illuminate its role in the sociohistorical colonization of childhood. Through analysis of key texts it explains how early 20th-century child study provided for the transcendence of historical, racial, and social contexts for understanding human development. The colonizing project of child study promoted the advancement of Eurocentric culture through a generic “White” development. What a child is and can be, and the meaning of childhood has been disembodied through observation, record keeping, and analytical processes in which time and space are abstracted from behavior, and development symbolized as a universal ideal.

“Space perception and William James’s metaphysical presuppositions,” by Martin J. Farrell. The abstract reads,

William James’s overtly philosophical work may be more continuous with his psychological work than is sometimes thought. His Essays in Radical Empiricism can be understood as an explicit statement of the absolute presupposition that formed the basis of Jamesian psychology: that direct experience is primary and has to be taken at face value. An examination of James’s theory of space perception suggests that, even in his early work, he presupposed the primacy of direct experience, and that later changes in his account of space perception can be understood as making his view more consistent with this presupposition. In his earlier view of space perception, James argued that sensations were directly experienced as spatial, though he accepted that spatial relations between sensations may be constructed by higher order thought. In his later view, however, James argued that spatial relations were just as directly experienced as sensations. The work of T. H. Green may have prompted James to recognize the full consequence of his ideas and to realize that taking experience at face value required that spatial relations be thought of as intrinsic to experience rather than the result of intellectual construction.

“The concept of psychological regression: Metaphors, mapping, Queen Square, and Tavistock Square,” by Jean Mercer. The abstract reads,

The term “regression” refers to events in which an individual changes from his or her present level of maturity and regains mental and behavioral characteristics shown at an earlier point in development. This definition has remained constant for over a century, but the implications of the concept have changed systematically from a perspective in which regression was considered pathological, to a current view in which regression may be seen as a positive step in psychotherapy or as a part of normal development. The concept of regression, famously employed by Sigmund Freud and others in his circle, derived from ideas suggested by Herbert Spencer and by John Hughlings Jackson. By the 1940s and ’50s, the regression concept was applied by Winnicott and others in treatment of disturbed children and in adult psychotherapy. In addition, behavioral regression came to be seen as a part of a normal developmental trajectory, with a focus on expectable variability. The present article examines historical changes in the regression concept in terms of mapping to biomedical or other metaphors, in terms of a movement from earlier nativism toward an increased environmentalism in psychology, and with respect to other historical factors such as wartime events. The role of dominant metaphors in shifting perspectives on regression is described.

“Invoking history to teach about the scientist-practitioner gap,” by Robin L. Cautin. The abstract reads,

The scientist-practitioner gap refers to the division between psychologists who believe that clinical practice should be heavily informed by empirical studies and those who believe clinical judgment and intuition should be paramount. Although the gap widened in the late 1980s and early 1990s, owing to the recovered memory controversy, the intradisciplinary schism between scientists and practitioners significantly predates this particular debate. Without an appreciation of the historical context of the term’s emergence, however, students may come to regard the scientist-practitioner gap as a discrete and recent phenomenon. In this paper, the historical and philosophical roots of the gap are described, and it is argued that an appreciation of the historical circumstances from which the term emerged can enable students to better appreciate the past, present, and future of the discipline.

“Sources: The Center for the History of Psychology at the University of Akron,” by Cathy Faye & David Baker. The abstract reads,

The Center for the History of Psychology (CHP) was founded as the Archives of the History of Psychology (AHAP) in 1965 at The University of Akron in Akron, Ohio. In 2010, the Board of Trustees at The University of Akron approved the renaming of the Archives as the Center for the History of Psychology to reflect this increased scope of activities and offerings. The AHAP continues to operate as a unit with the larger Center. This article discusses the history of the CHP, its collections, research and accessibility initiatives, education and public programming initiatives, and the many ongoing projects and future plans for the CHP.

“Research report: Doing a biography of Hans J. Eysenck,” by Roderick D. Buchanan. The abstract reads,

In this article, the author discusses some of the problems he encountered while writing the biography Playing with Fire: The Controversial Career of Hans J. Eysenck. The author notes some of the issues involved with sources, with Eysenck himself, his family, and with the legal vetting of the manuscript.

“News: August, 2010/February, 2011 meeting of the Council of Representatives of the American Psychological Association report,” by James L. Pate. The abstract reads,

The Council of Representatives (COR) of the American Psychological Association (APA) considered numerous agenda items at the August 2010 meeting in San Diego on the Wednesday before the Convention and on Sunday morning. The Council approved the 2011 preliminary revenue and expense budget, including the $60,000.00 allocation to the Archives of the History of American Psychology. The Council approved the initial recognition or continued recognition of behavioral and cognitive psychology, clinical neuropsychology, industrial- organizational psychology, personality assessment, professional geropsychology, psychopharmacology, and sport psychology as specialties or proficiencies in professional psychology. The Council received a report in which the rationale for including psychology as a STEM discipline was presented. A Bylaws amendment regarding allocation of COR seats was approved by the Council and will be submitted to the members in a future ballot. The Council of Representatives (COR) of the American Psychological Association (APA) met in Washington, DC, from Thursday, February 17, 2011, through Sunday, February 20, 2011. A major agenda item was the consideration of the triennial reauthorization of the APA allocation to the Archives of the History of American Psychology (AHAP). A second agenda item is very important for the Society for the History of Psychology. The Membership Board of the APA submitted a New Dues Schedule Proposal that included three sections. The first involved a reduction of $40.00 in the base member dues rate from $287.00 to $247.00, and the second involved rescinding the action of the Council to allow a discount dues rate for members of various other scientific associations. The third part would have eliminated the APA dues reduction for members of the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA). A more extensive report of the COR’s actions will be published in the April issue of the Monitor on Psychology.

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.