New HoP: Italian Social Psych, Postwar College Counselling Centers, & Psych’s Vocabulary

The February 2014 issue of History of Psychology is now online.  Included in this issue are articles on the creation of college counseling centers in postwar America, a comparison of psychology’s vocabulary with that of other disciplines, and the establishment of Italian social psychology. Other historiographical pieces explore archival sources for Wundt scholarship, as well as the state of work on Soviet psychology. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Great aspirations: The postwar American college counseling center,” by Tom McCarthy. The abstract reads,

In the decade after World War II, psychologists, eager to bring the benefits of counseling to larger numbers, convinced hundreds of American colleges and universities to establish counseling centers. Inspired by the educational-vocational counseling center founded by psychologists at the University of Minnesota in 1932, Carl R. Rogers’s “client-centered” methods of personal adjustment counseling, and the 400-plus college counseling centers created by the Veterans Administration to provide the educational-vocational counseling benefit promised to returning World War II servicemen under the 1944 GI Bill, these counseling psychologists created a new place to practice where important currents in psychology, higher education, and federal policy converged and where they attempted to integrate educational-vocational counseling with personal adjustment counseling based on techniques from psychotherapy. By the mid-1960s, half of America’s colleges and universities had established counseling centers, and more than 90% offered students educational, vocational, and psychological counseling services, a great achievement of the first generation of counseling psychologists.

“Patterns of similarity and difference between the vocabularies of psychology and other subjects,” by John G. Benjafield. The abstract reads,

The vocabulary of Anglophone psychology is shared with many other subjects. Previous research using the Oxford English Dictionary has shown that the subjects having the most words in common with psychology are biology, chemistry, computing, electricity, law, linguistics, mathematics, medicine, music, pathology, philosophy, and physics. The present study presents a database of the vocabularies of these 12 subjects that is similar to one previously constructed for psychology, enabling the histories of the vocabularies of these subjects to be compared with each other as well as with psychology. All subjects have a majority of word senses that are metaphorical. However, psychology is not among the most metaphorical of subjects, a distinction belonging to computing, linguistics, and mathematics. Indeed, the history of other subjects shows an increasing tendency to recycle old words and give them new, metaphorical meanings. The history of psychology shows an increasing tendency to invent new words rather than metaphorical senses of existing words. These results were discussed in terms of the degree to which psychology’s vocabulary remains unsettled in comparison with other subjects. The possibility was raised that the vocabulary of psychology is in a state similar to that of chemistry prior to Lavoisier.

“The rise of a science in the early twentieth century: The forgotten voice of Gualtiero Sarfatti and the first “social psychology” volumes in Italy,” by Gilda Sensales and Alessandra Dal Secco. The abstract reads,

Establishing social psychology as a distinct field of study has been the object of heated debate over the first decades of the 20th century. Entrenched in different theoretical traditions, such as philosophy, sociology, psychology, and criminology, the development of the conceptual boundaries of social psychology as an autonomous science was the result of a historic effort. Resulting from a negotiation process between competing stances, some voices relevant to the identity construction of social psychology have been lost over time. Within the framework of a “polycentric” historical perspective valorizing local histories, the present study aims to scrutinize those early voices, which were later marginalized. To this scope, we conducted a narrative analysis on the first volumes explicitly naming social psychology in their titles and identified the main themes, conceptual frameworks, and scientific advancements. The analysis illustrates the work of Gualtiero Sarfatti and articulates his forgotten contribution to drawing social psychology as a distinct discipline, built on the scientific method and positioned within the psychological sociocentric tradition. Our analysis reveals the leading role of Sarfatti in the disciplinary foundation of social psychology as a psychological science based on the concept of social psyche. Yet despite the fact his contribution was influential in the scholarly community of his time, our work highlights how his voice vanished from the subsequent disciplinary developments to date, and suggests some explanations behind this neglect.

“Bringing new archival sources to Wundt scholarship: The case of Wundt’s assistantship with Helmholtz,” by Saulo de Freitas Araujo. The abstract reads,

Wilhelm Wundt’s biography is one of the main domains in Wundt scholarship that deserves more detailed attention. The few existing biographical works present many problems, ranging from vagueness to chronological inaccuracies, among others. One of the important gaps concerns the so-called Heidelberg period (1852–1874), during which he went from being a medical student to holding a professorship at the University of Heidelberg. The aim of this article is to dispel a very common confusion in the secondary literature, which refers to Wundt’s assistantship with Helmholtz at the Physiological Institute, by establishing the precise dates of his assistantship. Contrary to what is generally repeated in the secondary literature, the primary sources allow us to determine precisely this period from October 1858 to March 1865. I conclude by pointing out the indispensability of the primary sources not only to Wundt scholarship but also to the historiography of psychology in general.

“Advancing further the history of Soviet psychology: Moving forward from dominant representations in Western and Soviet psychology,” by Fernando L. González Rey. The abstract reads,

This article discusses the works of some Soviet scholars of psychology, their theoretical positions, and the times within which their works were developed. Dominant representations of Soviet psychology and some of the main Soviet authors are revisited in the light of a blending of facts actively associated with their emergence in both Soviet and Western psychology. From the beginning, Soviet psychology was founded upon Marxism. However, the ways by which that psychology pretended to become Marxist in its philosophical basis were diverse and often contradictory. Other philosophical and theoretical positions also influenced Soviet psychologists. Different moments of that contradictory process are discussed in this article, and through this, I bring to light their interrelations and the consequences for the development of Soviet psychology. This article reinterprets several myths found within Soviet psychology, in which different theoretical representations have become institutionalized for long periods in both Soviet and Western psychology. Particular attention is given to identifying the conditions that presented Vygotsky, Luria, and Leontiev as part of the same paradigm, and which paved the way for a perception of Leontiev and his group as paralleling Vygotsky’s importance among American psychologists. Many of the sources that are used in this article were published in Soviet psychology only after the 1970s. Unlike the different and interesting works that began to appear on diverse trends in Soviet psychology, this article details in depth the articulation of topics and questions that still now are presented as different chapters in the analysis of Soviet psychology.

“Public conference report: The theme of “crisis” in the first half of the 20th century European psychology [Il tema della “crisi” nella psicologia Europea del primo novecento]—“Sapienza” University of Rome, Faculty of Medicine and Psychology, May 24, 2013,” by Mariagrazia Proietto. The abstract reads,

This article presents the public conference report on the theme of crisis in the first half of 20th century European psychology, presented at “Sapienza” University of Rome, Faculty of Medicine and Psychology, May 24, 2013.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young recently completed a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Surrey in the UK. She earned her doctorate in the History and Theory of Psychology at York University in 2014.