Winter 2019 issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences

The Winter 2019 issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences is now available. Full details below:

The muscular sense in Russia: I. M. Sechenov and materialist realism
Roger Smith

Contemporary Russian sensory physiology and psychology uses the notion of a “dark sense,” referring to the background of bodily sensation, especially of the position and movement of the body. The physiologist Ivan Sechenov introduced this language in the 1860s in the context of arguing for a physiological basis for scientific psychology. The muscular sense (the term preceding modern notions of kinaesthesia and proprioception) thereafter featured in the many talks and journal articles he presented to spread scientific enlightenment. The paper describes the history and significance of this. It does so in the light of Soviet representations of Sechenov as a scientist who substantially contributed to the Leninist materialist–realist theory of knowledge. These representations assessed Sechenov’s discussions as a breakthrough in world science to the understanding of the human organism as a self?regulating material system. It is necessary to understand the purposes and pressures driving Soviet historiography. The paper confirms the historical importance the sense of movement has had in realist theories of knowledge of the world; and it contributes a previously unknown chapter to the history of psychology.

The moral power of suggestion: A history of suggestion in Japan, 1900–1930
Yu?chuan Wu. Abstract:

In Japan, as in the west, suggestion theory was the predominant theory of hypnosis, and suggestive therapy was one of the most important, if not the most important, form of psychotherapy in the early 20th century. While the use of suggestion was met with objections on both scientific and moral grounds in the west, it was seen in a more positive light and has had a significant influence on the development of psychotherapy in Japan. With regard to the contexts of suggestion, suggestive power, suggestibility, and the effects of suggestion, this study will examine the distinctive conceptions and practices of suggestion developed by analogy with existing ideas about interpersonal influence, particularly with the concept of kanka (assimilative transformation) in Japan. They provide an interesting comparison to the western ideas of suggestion, helping us understand the historical and cultural particularity of western dynamic psychiatry and psychotherapy, particularly their presumptions about interpersonal influence.

“The myth of the collective unconscious,” by Jon Mills. Abstract:

This essay challenges the most basic tenet of Jung’s analytical psychology, namely, the existence of the collective unconscious. Despite the fact that there are purported to be universal processes and ontological features of mind throughout all psychoanalytical schools of thought, Jung’s is unique in the history of psychoanalytic ideas for positing a supraordinate, autonomous transpersonal psyche that remains the source, ground, and wellspring from which all unconscious and conscious manifestations derive. This bold claim is analyzed through a close inspection of Jung’s texts that questions the philosophical justification for postulating a supernatural macroanthropos or reified collective mind. Pointing out the problems of agency and fallacies of hypostatization, it is not necessary to evoke a transpersonal cosmogony to explain how universality suffuses individual subjectivity within social collectives. Here we may conclude that the collective unconscious construct is a signifier for the common psychological dynamics and characteristics of shared humanity. In this sense, the myth of the collective unconscious is better understood as a metaphor for a higher abstraction or ideal principle ordained with numinous value.

“Attaining landmark status: Rumelhart and McClelland’s PDP Volumes and the Connectionist Paradigm,” by Michelle Gibbons. Abstract:

In 1986, David Rumelhart and James McClelland published their two?volume work, Parallel distributed processing: Explorations in microcognition, Volume 1: Foundations and Volume 2: Psychological and biological models. These volumes soon become classic texts in both connectionism, specifically, and in the cognitive science field more generally. Drawing on oral histories, book reviews, translations, citation records, and close textual analysis, this paper analyzes how and why they attained landmark status. It argues that McClelland and Rumelhart’s volumes became classics largely as a result of a confluence of rhetorical factors. Specifically, the PDP Volumes appeared at a kairotic moment in the history of connectionism, publishing dynamics that facilitated their circulation played an important role, and the volumes were ambiguous about the relationship between model and brain in a manner that enabled them to address an expansive audience. In so doing, this paper offers insight into both the history of cognitive science and rhetoric’s role in establishing classic texts.

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.