New HoP: Psychology in Antiquity, Catholic Psychology, and More

The May 2019 issue of History of Psychology is now online. Full details follow below.

Developmental psychologies in the Roman world: Change and continuity. Mackey, Jacob L. Abstract:

A common view among ancient historians about Roman attentiveness to children’s psychological development needs reconsideration. The view holds that Romans ignored children’s cognitive ontogeny, perceiving early childhood as a largely undifferentiated life stage. A separate but related issue is the problematic claim that Roman childhood was entirely a matter of social construction. I present evidence from over four hundred years of Roman writing to make three points against Roman neglect of children and radical social construction. First, a consensus (granted our limited number of sources) about “developmental psychology” prevailed from the late republic to late antiquity. Second, this consensus is consistent with modern findings and theories. In particular, the Roman material maps onto a developmental timeline featuring a “2-month revolution,” when the infant engages in dyadic protoconversations with adults, and a “9-month revolution,” when the infant shares attention triadically with adults toward third objects. In the Roman consensus, both dyadic protoconversations and triadic joint attention were central to cultural learning. Third, when the Roman consensus about children’s minds did change, it was because of the Christian doctrine of original sin, according to which even newborns were psychologically corrupt. Nonetheless, I argue, this rupture in the Roman consensus does not entail that we should suppose childhood to have been entirely a social construction or merely a projection of a religious or other ideology. Rather, any construction of childhood—even the late-antique Christian one—will necessarily rest upon a foundation of, and thus be constrained by, certain inescapable biological and psychological “givens.”

The late antique history of psychology: The test case of introspection. Graiver, Inbar. Abstract:

This article argues for the need to broaden the scholarly focus on the history of the modern discipline of psychology to include the history of psychological knowledge. It seeks to demonstrate the benefits to be derived from this endeavor by focusing on late antique psychology and presenting the novel methods of psychological investigation that emerged within the Christian monastic movement, especially introspection. Far from being a historically recent invention, I argue that introspection was systematically and self-consciously employed by late antique monks as a method for producing knowledge about the human mind. Yet rather than arguing for a simple continuity between late antique and modern introspective procedures, a comparison between early monastic introspective accounts and those of the founders of the modern psychology reveals profound differences in the interpretation and evaluation of introspective data; thereby, it allows one to address fundamental questions related to the nature of psychological knowledge and its relationship with culturally constructed categories.

Mental disorder and mysticism in the late medieval world. Kemp, Simon. Abstract:

During the later Middle Ages, a number of religiously oriented people behaved in ways that we would consider unusual, yet it was unusual for them to be regarded as mentally disordered. This article reviews late medieval thinking and practice with regard to mental disorder and also with regard to the discernment of spirits, that is, how it could be decided whether an experience or impulse to do something was the consequence of God or a good spirit, an evil spirit, or some purely human cause. Many of the criteria for discerning a good spirit were behavioral, for example, consistently showing humility and discretion, and were clearly distinct from those displayed in mental disorder. A comparison of the criteria for mental disorder with those used to discern spirits shows how the distinction between mental disorder and religious experience could have been made and why confusion of the two seems to have been rare.

Generations of “wasted chances”: W?adys?aw Heinrich and psychology in Poland. Dobroczy?ski, Bart?omiej; Gruszka, Aleksandra. Abstract:

The aim of this article is to present W?adys?aw Heinrich as one of the pioneers of Polish psychology. In the first part, Heinrich’s achievements are presented in the broad context of the political, ethnic, and cultural situation in Polish territory as well as with regard to some of the most important figures in Polish psychology from the 19th and early 20th centuries (e.g., Wiszniewski, Ochorowicz, Abramowski, Twardowski). The outlined characteristics of several projects for practicing psychology show the academic centers with which Polish researchers entered into dialogue (e.g., Brentano and Freud in Vienna, Flournoy in Switzerland). The article also explains the indigenization of various trends coming from those centers and what the process of internationalization looked like. The second and main part of the article presents the scientific curriculum vitae et studiorum of Heinrich and its links to behaviorism. It is discussed in reference both to Henri Piéron’s proposal for a behavior-focused psychology and to a paper by Heinrich’s student Strzembosz that compares his mentor’s views with those of early behaviorists such as Parmelee, Meyer, Weiss, Pillsbury, and Watson as well as to the Gestalt psychologists. Although some similarities between early American behaviorism and Heinrich’s behavior-focused approach undoubtedly exist, the specific European cultural context shaped the latter in a different direction. The case of Heinrich (and Piéron) shows, however, that Watson’s behaviorism was not the only form that an objective, behavior-focused psychology could take at the turn of the 20th century.

The theory and practice of Thomas Verner Moore’s Catholic psychiatry and psychotherapy.
Kugelmann, Robert. Abstract:

Thomas Verner Moore (1877–1969), a Catholic priest, psychologist, and psychiatrist, developed a Catholic psychiatry in the first half of the 20th century. Following a brief description of Moore’s life, this article develops his psychiatric theory, beginning with its grounding in Thomistic philosophical thought. The relationship between reason and faith, the place of the soul in psychological theory, and a central role for Catholic moral teaching were three Thomistic principles vital to Moore’s thinking. Defining psychology as the science of personality, and the study of personality as central to psychiatry, Moore articulated a theory and practice of psychotherapy that he contended was scientifically sound. Although his clinical work did not impose religious teachings on patients, if such teachings were meaningful to them, he did discuss them in sessions; moreover, Catholic moral teaching was a compass in his treatment of patients. The article includes a brief history of the psychiatric clinic that Moore first established in 1916 and its successor.

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.