Special Issue: History of Psychology in Canada!

The May 2013 edition of Canadian Psychology/Psychologie canadienne is a special issue dedicated to the history of psychology in Canada. Guested by Adrian Brock, the issue includes a number of articles exploring different facets of psychology’s development in the nation. Articles explore the history of the first generation of women in Canadian psychology, the relationship between the women’s movement and eugenics in Alberta, the role of culture in the history of psychology, and the life of the first Canadian-born president of the American Psychological Association, John Wallace Baird.  Full article titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

Full Disclosure: This special issue includes articles co-authored by AHP’s editor and faculty advisor, as well as two of AHP’s contributors.

“Introduction to the special issue on the history of psychology in Canada,” by Adrian C. Brock. The abstract reads,

This article begins by pointing out that history and theory of psychology is much stronger in Canada than it is elsewhere. However, the history of psychology in Canada itself tends to be neglected. This situation is linked to the dominance of American psychology and the movement to establish a distinctively Canadian psychology that differs from psychology in the United States. It is argued that this movement can help to encourage more interest in the history of psychology in Canada and vice versa. It is also suggested that addressing the neglect of the history of psychology in Canada will lead to more internationalization, not less.

“Reconstructing the experiences of first generation women in Canadian psychology,” Pelin Gul, Anastasia Korosteliov, Lori Caplan, Laura C. Ball, Jennifer L. Bazar, Elissa N. Rodkey, Jacy L. Young, Kate Sheese, and Alexandra Rutherford. The abstract reads,

To date, the historiography on women in Canadian psychology has been relatively sparse. This is especially true in relation to the much more extensive literature that documents the history of first and second generation women in American psychology. The aim of this paper is to systematically identify and analyse the personal characteristics, educational experiences, and career trajectories of first generation women psychologists in Canada. We identify this cohort as women who received their PhDs during the period 1922 to 1960. We contextualize their experiences vis-à-vis unique trends in Canadian society, paying particular attention to the common struggles faced by these women within or in reaction to the broader social, cultural, political, and institutional structures they encountered. By locating and distinguishing Canadian women in psychology, we offer an important contribution to the development of a more comprehensive history of Canadian psychology and highlight its gendered dynamics.

“From suffrage to sterilization: Eugenics and the women’s movement in 20th century Alberta,” by Erin L. Moss, Henderikus J. Stam, and Diane Kattevilder. The abstract reads,

In the complicated relationship between early 20th-century feminism and eugenics, Western Canada in general and the Province of Alberta in particular provide a unique case study on the history and practice of the sterilization of the “feeble-minded.” While feminism strove to enable women to control their own reproductive capacities, eugenics attempted to exert control over the reproduction of certain segments of society. Ironically, these movements exerted a significant influence on one another during their respective inceptions and were inextricably linked for more than 50 years. This paper discusses how misunderstanding and panic surrounding mental illness served to unite feminism with the eugenics movement. Specifically, the paper explores how first-wave feminism adopted a maternal ideology that embraced the role of “guardians of the race.” How these events unfolded within Western Canada and the role that prominent feminists and women’s associations played are reconstructed. Ultimately, it is argued that understanding the role that the feminist movement played in the application of eugenics legislation requires consideration of the importance of maternal feminism in the changing relations between the sexes.

“Culture in the history of psychology in Canada,” by Gira Bhatt, Randal G. Tonks, and John W. Berry. The abstract reads,

Culture as a theoretical construct and an empirical variable evolved steadily in the history of psychology in Canada. This historical account is offered to record important contributions made by Canadian psychologists to the understanding of culture, both within the Canadian context, and internationally. The distinctive demographic, historical, political, and social contexts of Canada are examined, which provided the direction and the focus for the psychological examination of culture. Research and theory on culture are mapped across time and topic in three principal domains: intercultural, culture comparative, and indigenous approaches. Additionally, the evolution of professional associations, academic activities, and pedagogy pertaining to culture are examined. It is concluded that Canadian psychologists have made a distinct and substantial contribution to the understanding of relationships between culture and behaviour, in Canada as well as in the global context.

“John Wallace Baird: The First Canadian president of the American Psychological Association,” by Daniel Lahham, and Christopher D. Green. The abstract reads,

John Wallace Baird (1869-1919) was born and raised in southwestern Ontario, earning his undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto in 1897. He would ultimately rise to become the first Canadian-born president of the American Psychological Association at a critical turning point in the discipline’s history, during World War I. He was also the director of the laboratory in the famed Clark University psychology department, led by G. Stanley Hall, and died just months before succeeding Hall into the presidency of Clark. Baird studied briefly with Wilhelm Wundt, earned his PhD from E. B. Titchener, and taught at Johns Hopkins and the University of Illinois. When he was stricken with what would be his fatal illness, he was serving as Vice-Chair of the Psychology Committee of the U. S. National Research Council.

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.