November HoP: Intellectual Communities, Rorschach in Girls Reform School, and More

The November issue of History of Psychology is now online. Full details below.

“Family, friends, and faith-communities: Intellectual community and the benefits of unofficial networks for marginalized scientists.” Rodkey, Krista L.; Rodkey, Elissa N. Abstract:

Throughout the 20th century, female scientists faced barriers to participation in scientific communities. Within psychology, the 1st generation of women fought for inclusion in the university and access to laboratories; the 2nd generation officially gained access to such resources while still in practice being excluded from many areas of psychology and being denied suitable professional opportunities (Johnston & Johnson, 2008; Scarborough & Furumoto, 1987). Scholarship on these challenges tends to focus on power dynamics or on the strategies used by women to overcome obstacles to their full acceptance in the scientific world. In other words, there has been a focus on women’s participation in official intellectual communities. Less attention has been paid to the motivational consequences of belonging to unofficial or informal intellectual communities. In this article, we argue that exploring the nature of unofficial communities illuminates a pattern of strategies that accounts for women’s success in official communities; challenges a masculine, laboratory-centric model of science; and offers a model of intellectual work that has applications for other disenfranchised groups both in the history of science and in the modern world. We focus on 3 psychologists, Milicent Shinn, Eleanor Gibson, and Magda Arnold, whose success was underpinned by the support of unofficial networks. By so doing, we show how unofficial communities address specific needs for the marginalized. Finally, we explore applications to address the problems of the neoliberal university.

“Seeing inside the child: The Rorschach inkblot test as assessment technique in a girls’ reform school, 1938–1948. Bultman, Saskia. Abstract:

This article examines the practice of Rorschach testing as it was applied in a Dutch reform school for girls in the mid-20th century. Considering the assessment technique of Rorschach testing as an “examination” in the Foucauldian sense, this article investigates what type of identity was brought into being for the girls who were tested. Inspired by the praxiographic approach to trace the practices involved in testing, it shows that the Rorschach enacted a wholly new conception of the delinquent girl. Through the test, the reform school pupils were conceptualized as individuals with a literal inner realm, populated with drives, complexes and neuroses, which were said to shape their misbehavior. This notion of interiority was, strikingly enough, a rhetorical construction on the part of the psychologist, but was also produced as a reality in the practices surrounding the test. The article argues that, in the reform school, Rorschach testing not only served to assess the pupils’ reeducability—a lesser known application of the Rorschach, particular to this reformatory context—but also served to govern them, precisely through its enactment of interiority. Through the practices of the test, a situation was created that suggested that the psychologist knew something about the girl that she herself did not; it was the creation of this “secret”–which forced pupils to look inside themselves—that placed the psychologist in a position of power. Utilizing the underused source of test reports, the article explores an application of Rorschach testing that has received little attention, further highlighting the test’s versatility and power.

“From ecstasy to divine somnambulism: Henri Delacroix’s studies in the history and psychology of mysticism.” Iagher, Matei. Abstract:

This article aims at placing Henri Delacroix’s (1908) book on the psychology of mysticism in the context of debates in the psychology of religion in the earlier part of the 20th century. I argue that Delacroix’s work was authored as part of a wider debate that Delacroix maintained with the American school of the psychology of religion regarding the role of emotions in religious experience. As I show, Delacroix sought to counter the primacy of the affective in religious experience, which the Americans maintained, and to introduce the notion of a developmental logic into the mystical life. In addition, Delacroix also tried to disengage mysticism from an exclusive focus on ecstasy, as well as to offer an account of the value of mysticism based on the existence of a specific mental state that underscored it.

“Psychiatrists’ agency and their distance from the authoritarian state in post-World War II Taiwan.” Wu, Harry Yi-Jui. Abstract:

By the end of World War II and in the shadow of the Cold War, many Asia–Pacific nations developed their psychiatric disciplines and strengthened their mental health care provision. This article examines the activities of the first generation of psychiatrists in Taiwan during the postwar period, focusing on their self-fashioning during the transition of a medical discipline. At this time, psychiatry was imagined by the state and by professionals as a science serving different clinical and political objectives. Psychiatrists, however, enjoyed a relatively unrestricted environment that allowed them to gradually form a professional identity. At the height of the Cold War, the state attempted to use psychiatry for political ends. Because of its initially malleable nature and undeveloped content, psychiatry could be employed by various authorities for diverse purposes, including patient care, scientific inquiry, psychological warfare, and even political probes to obtain crucial information. Nevertheless, psychiatrists sought to create spaces where they could develop their professional autonomy and prevent exploitation amid complicated political polemics.

“The origins of the minimal group paradigm.” Brown, Rupert. Abstract:

The minimal group paradigm, published by Henri Tajfel and his colleagues in the early 1970s, is a widely used experimental technique for studying intergroup perceptions and behavior. In its original form, it involved the assignment of participants to one of two meaningless categories and asking them to make allocations of rewards to other (anonymous) members of those groups. Typically, discrimination in favor of the ingroup is observed in those reward allocations. In this article, I examine the historical origins of this paradigm, noting that it was first mooted by another social psychologist, Jaap Rabbie, in the 1960s, although he is seldom credited with this fact. The intellectual disagreements between Rabbie, Tajfel, and Turner over the nature and interpretation of the paradigm are also discussed.

“The butcher on the bus: A note on familiarity without recollection. MacLeod, Colin M. Abstract:

In 1980, George Mandler published an article in Psychological Review that has become very influential in the study of memory. As evidence, according to Google Scholar (as of August 17, 2020), this article has been cited 3,391 times. Writing about recognition memory, Mandler made a fundamental distinction between recognition involving familiarity and recognition involving recollection. Mandler introduced what has since become the label for his illustration, saying that “Specific identification of an event is not possible on the basis of its familiarity alone. The butcher-in-the-bus is one intuitive demonstration of such an assertion.” The purpose of this note is, ironically, to provide context, in this case historical context. Twenty-seven years before Mandler’s (1980) article, Charles Osgood (1953) provided a discussion of retention and interference theory in his book, Method and Theory in Experimental Psychology. Is it possible that Mandler inadvertently borrowed Osgood’s illustration, a case of cryptomnesia?

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.