Special Issue: Histor{y/ies} of Health Psycholog{y/ies}

The March 2018 issue of the Journal of Health Psychology is a special issue dedicated to Histor{y/ies} of Health Psycholog{y/ies}. Guest edited by Ian Lubek and Michael Murray the issue includes the following articles:

“Doing Histor{y/ies} of Health Psycholog{y/ies},” by Ian Lubek and Michael Murray. Abstract:

Academic (sub)disciplines develop in time and place when particular ideas/practices are nurtured within social, gendered, cultural, community, economic and political contexts. Different histories employ different analyses, some with external views of scientific outputs describing research and practice, and others with internal, behind-the-scenes examinations of these developments, through oral histories and personal recollections. This collection, written by historians of (social) science, or practitioners or pioneering participants, uses different historiographical methods to contextualize health-related activities within the sub-discipline of health psychology and the evolving critical and/or community approaches. The papers connect the evolving health psycholog{y/ies} with changing socio-political circumstances in different countries.

“The rapid expansion of (mainstream) health psychology in France: Historical foundations,” by Marie Santiago-Delefosse and Maria del Rio Carral. Abstract:

This article traces the historical evolution of ongoing theoretical debates in psychology in France from the 1940s until today. Its aim is to show how the conjunction of certain conditions led to a rapid expansion of American-derived mainstream health psychology during the 1980s. The authors describe the French context in the post-World War II period and outline the implementation of ‘clinical psychology in health settings’ in the 1950s, under the influence of Daniel Lagache. The strong critiques of the new psychology profession in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s are examined. Our conclusion reflects upon future implications of ongoing rivalries between different approaches to psychology.

“A journey in the field of health: From social psychology to multi-disciplinarity,” by Claudine Herzlich. Abstract:

“Health psychology” is a newer sub-discipline whose research methodologies, theories, and practices were borrowed from diverse areas of psychology. It appeared later in France than in the United States or United Kingdom. In 1966, I adopted a perspective between anthropology and psycho-sociology of medicine. I never have self-identified as a “Health Psychologist”, continuing to work outside of disciplinary boundary constraints, but studied health questions moving first from psychology (and anthropology), through social psychology to sociology. By the 1980s, I adopted an even broader multi-disciplinary approach to health, as the HIV/AIDS epidemic urgently challenged health researchers/practitioners, in France and worldwide.

“Interlaced strands: Health psychology in Brazil from an autobiographic perspective,” Mary Jane P Spink. Abstract:

The presence of psychology in Brazilian Health Settings is closely related to two socio-political movements: for the creation of the Brazilian Unified Health System in 1990 and for Psychiatric Reform. Each had a multidisciplinary stance closely associated with a socially committed approach to healthcare delivery and connected with prior experiences that influenced its policies, among them the National AIDS Programme. These developments are told as a tale that interlaced autobiographical data and the long road to a universal healthcare system that shaped the relationship between psychology and health in the country.

“‘Health psychology’ or ‘psychology for health’? A history of psychologists’ engagement with health in South Africa,” by Jeffery Yen and Oriana Vaccarino. Abstract:

In contrast to the institutionalization of health psychology in North America and Europe, much psychological work on health issues in South Africa emerged as part of a critical revitalization of South African psychology as a whole, coinciding with the dismantling of Apartheid and global shifts in health discourse. The field’s development reflects attempts to engage with urgent health problems in the context of rapid sociopolitical changes that followed democratic transition in the 1990s, and under new conditions of knowledge production. We provide an account of these issues, as well as reflections on the field’s future, as inflected through the experiences of 12 South African psychologists whose careers span the emergence of health-related psychology to the present day.

“Health psychology in Ghana: A review of the multidisciplinary origins of a young sub-field and its future prospects,” by Ama de-Graft Aikins. Abstract:

This article presents a historical overview of psychology applied to health and health psychology in Ghana. A brief history of health, illness and healthcare in Ghana is introduced. Then, the history of psychology in Ghana is presented, with signposts of the major turns in the field in relation to psychology and other disciplines applied to health and the emergence of health psychology as a sub-field. Selected health psychology studies are reviewed to highlight ideological trends in the field. Finally, future prospects are considered in terms of how the sub-field can transition into an established critical field with unique contributions to make to global health psychology.

“A journey to HIV prevention research: From social psychology to social health via multidisciplinarity,” Susan Kippax. Abstract:

This is a personal account of my research in HIV prevention from 1984 to the present day. It demonstrates my disquiet with the individualism of psychology as a way of thinking about what was needed to prevent HIV transmission. HIV prevention requires social transformation which is produced via changes in social practices and norms of communities and networks rather than by changes in behaviours of individuals. My colleagues and I developed a ‘social health’ model of social transformation that involves enabling communities to modify their social practices by building on emergent community responses, responses that were identified by the use of a reflexive research methodology.

“Critical health psychology in New Zealand: Developments, directions and reflections,” by Kerry Chamberlain, Antonia C Lyons and Christine Stephens. Abstract:

We examine how critical health psychology developed in New Zealand, taking an historical perspective to document important influences. We discuss how academic appointments created a confluence of critical researchers at Massey University, how interest in health psychology arose and expanded, how the critical turn eventuated and how connections, both local and international, were important in building and sustaining these developments. We discuss the evolution of teaching a critical health psychology training programme, describe the research agendas and professional activities of academic staff involved and how this sustains the critical agenda. We close with some reflections on progress and attainment.

“The pre-history of health psychology in the United Kingdom: From natural science and psychoanalysis to social science, social cognition and beyond,” by Michael Murray. Abstract:

Health psychology formally came of age in the United Kingdom in the 1980s, but it was prefigured by much discussion about challenges to the dominance of biomedicine in healthcare and debates. This articles focuses on what could be termed the pre-history of health psychology in the UK. This was the period in the earlier 20th century when psychological approaches were dominated by psychoanalysis which was followed by behaviourism and then cognitivism. Review of this pre-history provides the backdrop for the rise of health psychology in the UK and also reveals the tensions between the different theoretical perspectives.

“Notes on the development of health psychology and behavioral medicine in the United States,” by Ian Lubek, Monica Ghabrial, Naomi Ennis, Sara Crann, Amanda Jenkins, Michelle Green, Joel Badali, William Salmon, Janice Moodley, Elizabeth Sulima, Jefferey Yen, Kieran O’Doherty, and Paula Barata. Abstract:

A “standard” historiographical overview of the development of health psychology in the United States, alongside behavioral medicine, first summarizes previous disciplinary and professional histories. A “historicist” approach follows, focussing on a collective biographical summary of accumulated contributions of one cohort (1967–1971) at State University of New York at Stony Brook. Foundational developments of the two areas are highlighted, contextualized within their socio-political context, as are innovative cross-boundary collaboration on “precursor” studies from the 1960s and 1970s, before the official disciplines emerged. Research pathways are traced from social psychology to health psychology and from clinical psychology to behavioral medicine.

“Health psychology in autobiography: Three Canadian critical narratives,” by Henderikus J Stam, Michael Murray, and Ian Lubek. Abstract:

Three Canadian colleagues in health psychology recount their careers in a field of research and practice whose birth they witnessed and whose developments they have critiqued. By placing the development of health psychology in Canada in a context that is both institutional and personal, Stam, Murray, and Lubek raise a series of questions about health psychology and its propagation. While uniquely Canadian their professional careers were affected by international colleagues as well as others—patients and community members—whose views shaped their perspectives. This article is a plea for the continuing development of critical voices in health 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.