Timothy Leary and More in New JHBS

The winter 2012 issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences (JHBS) has just been released online. Regular readers of JHBS may notice something different about the journal this year. The journal’s cover has been redesigned to now feature an image related to one of the articles included in the issue (right). Included in this first issue of 2012 are articles on the place of extraordinary psychological phenomena in the discipline, the work of Timothy Leary post-Harvard, Kurt Goldstein’s neurolingustic research, and the revival, in sociology, of interest in Max Weber’s work during the 1970s and 1980s. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“The making of extraordinary psychological phenomena,” by Peter Lamont. The abstract reads,

This article considers the extraordinary phenomena that have been central to unorthodox areas of psychological knowledge. It shows how even the agreed facts relating to mesmerism, spiritualism, psychical research, and parapsychology have been framed as evidence both for and against the reality of the phenomena. It argues that these disputes can be seen as a means through which beliefs have been formulated and maintained in the face of potentially challenging evidence. It also shows how these disputes appealed to different forms of expertise, and that both sides appealed to belief in various ways as part of the ongoing dispute about both the facts and expertise. Finally, it shows how, when a formal Psychology of paranormal belief emerged in the twentieth century, it took two different forms, each reflecting one side of the ongoing dispute about the reality of the phenomena.

“Timothy Leary’s mid-career shift: Clean break or inflection point?,” by David C. Devonis. The abstract reads,

The psychologist Timothy Leary (1920–1996), an iconic cultural figure in the United States in the 1960s and afterward, has received comparatively scant attention in the history of psychology. This may be due to perceptions that, after a major career shift centering around his experimentation with psychedelic substances and his subsequent dismissal from Harvard in 1963, Leary parted company with the field. While there are several good reasons to adopt this view, examination of his entire career as well as his intellectual ancestry reveals unacknowledged continuities, suggesting that a more prominent place be accorded to him in the history of psychology, as well as to the challenges he poses.

“Language and human nature: Kurt Goldstein’s neurolinguistic foundation of a holistic philosophy,” by David Ludwig. The abstract reads,

Holism in interwar Germany provides an excellent example for social and political influences on scientific developments. Deeply impressed by the ubiquitous invocation of a cultural crisis, biologists, physicians, and psychologists presented holistic accounts as an alternative to the “mechanistic worldview” of the nineteenth century. Although the ideological background of these accounts is often blatantly obvious, many holistic scientists did not content themselves with a general opposition to a mechanistic worldview but aimed at a rational foundation of their holistic projects. This article will discuss the work of Kurt Goldstein, who is known for both his groundbreaking contributions to neuropsychology and his holistic philosophy of human nature. By focusing on Goldstein’s neurolinguistic research, I want to reconstruct the empirical foundations of his holistic program without ignoring its cultural background. In this sense, Goldstein’s work provides a case study for the formation of a scientific theory through the complex interplay between specific empirical evidences and the general cultural developments of the Weimar Republic.

“Max Weber in the American Journal of Sociology: A case of circulating knowledge,” by Marlise Rijks. The abstract reads,

By the middle of the 1970s, a Max Weber revival commenced in American sociology. Almost 75 percent of the articles on Weber in the American Journal of Sociology published in the past six decades appeared in the 1970s and 1980s. The Weber revival in American sociology is a phenomenon observed in leading literature. New translations and publications are frequently indicated reasons for the renewed interest in Weber. Without dismissing this factor, it is not an entirely satisfactory explanation. This article accounts for the Weber revival in a new way. Taking the American Journal of Sociology as a case study, I argue that the Weber revival was a case of circulating knowledge. Certain historically set issues led to a reorientation of Weber, which meant that knowledge about Weber was moved, extended, and transformed.

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.