New HHS: Cryptopsychism, Affective Forecasting, Psychosocial Dreamers, and More

A double July-October 2021 issue of History of the Human Sciences is now online. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“The influence of classical Stoicism on John Locke’s theory of self-ownership,” Lisa Hill, Prasanna Nidumolu. Abstract:

The most important parent of the idea of property in the person (self-ownership) is undoubtedly John Locke. In this article, we argue that the origins of this idea can be traced back as far as the third century BCE, to classical Stoicism. Stoic cosmopolitanism, with its insistence on impartiality and the moral equality of all persons, lays the foundation for the idea of self-ownership, which is then given support in the doctrine of oikeiosis and the corresponding belief that nature had made all human beings equal, self-preserving, and self-regarding. On the Stoic account, self-ownership (or our preferred term self-guardianship) is a natural correlate and consequence of oikeiosis, the natural urge to self-preservation, proprioception, and the individuation that came with it. In recognising that people are separate and individual, and entrusting each individual’s welfare to herself, Zeus appears to make everyone a ‘self-guardian’. We uniquely argue that Locke was directly inspired by these Stoic ideas, which he then develops and incorporates into his own theory.

“Freedom and addiction in four discursive registers: A comparative historical study of values in addiction science,” Darin Weinberg. Abstract:

Mainstream addiction science is today widely marked by an antinomy between a neurologically determinist understanding of the human brain ‘hijacked’ by the biochemical allure of intoxicants and a liberal voluntarist conception of drug use as a free exercise of choice. Prominent defenders of both discourses strive, ultimately without complete success, to provide accounts that are both universal and value-neutral. This has resulted in a variety of conceptual problems and has undermined the utility of such research for those who seek to therapeutically care for people presumed to suffer from addictions. This article contrasts these two contemporary discourses to two others that played vital historical roles in initiating both scientific and popular concern for addiction. These are the Puritan and civic republican discourses that dominated scholarly discussions of addiction in the early modern era. In each case, the place of values in these discussions is highlighted. By comparing them to their early modern historical antecedents, this article seeks to reflexively explore and develop more intellectually sound and therapeutically relevant alternatives to the troubled attempts at universality and value-neutrality now fettering debates in mainstream addiction science.

“Psychoanalysis and the antinomies of an archaeologist: Andrea Carandini, the ruins of Rome, and the writing of history,” Tom McCaskie. Abstract:

Freud’s fascination with the ruins of ancient Rome was an element in the formation and development of psychology. This article concerns the intersection of psychoanalysis with archaeology and history in the study of that city. Its substantive content is an analysis of the life and career of Andrea Carandini, the best-known Roman archaeologist of the past 40 years. He has said and written much about his changing views of himself and about what he is trying to do in his approach to the recuperation of the Roman past. His scholarly publications and autobiographical testimonies are at the core of this article. After an early commitment to Marxism that ended in disenchantment and a crisis in his personal life, Carandini spent a decade undergoing psychoanalysis with the Chilean-born expatriate Ignacio Matte-Blanco. The latter gained a following as a theorist who built upon Freud’s ideas about the unconscious by producing a set of mathematically inspired concepts concerning the workings of temporality in human history in which emotional intuition took priority over the rational(izing) logic of empiricism. Much influenced by his psychoanalyst, Carandini developed a highly personal approach to the writing of archaeology and history. These writings are explored here in terms of Roman historiography, and in the wider arena of formulations of how the past is to be addressed and written about.

“Organism and environment in Auguste Comte,” Ryan McVeigh. Abstract:

This article focuses on Auguste Comte’s understanding of the organism–environment relationship. It makes three key claims therein: (a) Comte’s metaphysical position privileged materiality and relativized the intellect along two dimensions: one related to the biological organism, one related to the social environment; (b) this twofold materiality confounds attempts to reduce cognition to either nature or nurture, so Comte’s position has interesting parallels to the field of ‘epigenetics’, which sees the social environment as a causative factor in biology; and (c) although Comte ultimately diverged from the ‘postgenomic’ view in crucial ways, he remains a forerunner of the trend towards viewing the social and biological as entangled. Tending to these dimensions challenges the view that Comte is notable from a classical standpoint but ignorable from a contemporary one. It consequently invites renewed attention to his theoretical system.

“The synthesis of consciousness and the latent life of the mind: Philosophy, psychopathology, and ‘cryptopsychism’ in fin-de-siècle France,” Pietro Terzi. Abstract:

In fin-de-siècle France, we witness a strange circulation of concepts between philosophy, theoretical and experimental psychology, and the borderline realm of what we would now call meta- or parapsychology. This was a time characterized by a complex process of redefinition of the disciplinary frontiers between philosophy and psychology, which favoured the birth of hybrid conceptualities and stark oppositions as well. Furthermore, the great scientific advances in physics, physiology, and psychology fostered hope for a full rational explanation of reality, even of its most unfathomable layers and seemingly bizarre phenomena. Focusing on the case of Émile Boirac’s research on what he termed ‘cryptopsychism’, notably in his book Our Hidden Forces, this article aims to show how Kantian notions and models of consciousness belonging to the canon of French spiritualist philosophical psychology were taken up by scientists such as Pierre Janet and ended up being assimilated and discussed in the more obscure and precarious realm of scientific inquiry into metapsychical phenomena. Far from being a mere historical curiosity, this quest for a scientific account of the latent and subconscious life of the mind sheds light on the intricate relationship between philosophy and the human sciences between the 19th and 20th centuries.

“Talking therapy: The allopathic nihilation of homoeopathy through conceptual translation and a new medical language,” Lyn Brierley-Jones. Abstract:

The 19th century saw the development of an eclectic medical marketplace in both the United Kingdom and the United States, with mesmerists, herbalists and hydrotherapists amongst the plethora of medical ‘sectarians’ offering mainstream (or ‘allopathic’) medicine stiff competition. Foremost amongst these competitors were homoeopaths, a group of practitioners who followed Samuel Hahnemann (1982[1810]) in prescribing highly dilute doses of single-drug substances at infrequent intervals according to the ‘law of similars’ (like cures like). The theoretical sophistication of homoeopathy, compared to other medical sectarian systems, alongside its institutional growth after the mid-19th-century cholera epidemics, led to homoeopathy presenting a challenge to allopathy that the latter could not ignore. Whilst the subsequent decline of homoeopathy at the beginning of the 20th century was the result of multiple factors, including developments within medical education, the Progressive movement, and wider socio-economic changes, this article focuses on allopathy’s response to homoeopathy’s conceptual challenge. Using the theoretical framework of Berger and Luckmann (1991[1966]) and taking a Tory historiographical approach (Fuller, 2002) to recover more fully 19th-century homoeopathic knowledge, this article demonstrates how increasingly sophisticated ‘nihilative’ strategies were ultimately successful in neutralising homoeopathy and that homoeopaths were defeated by allopaths (rather than disproven) at the conceptual level. In this process, the therapeutic use of ‘nosodes’ (live disease products) and the language of bacteriology were pivotal. For their part, homoeopaths failed to mount a counter-attack against allopaths with an explanatory framework available to them.

“A ‘commonsense’ psychoanalysis: Listening to the psychosocial dreamer in interwar Glasgow psychiatry,” Sarah Phelan. Abstract:

This article historicises a dream analytic intervention launched in the 1930s by Scottish psychiatrist and future professor of psychological medicine at the University of Glasgow (1948–73), Thomas Ferguson Rodger (1907–78). Intimate therapeutic meetings with five male patients are preserved within the so-called ‘dream books’, six manuscript notebooks from Rodger’s earlier career. Investigating one such case history in parallel with lecture material, this article elucidates the origins of Rodger’s adapted, rapport-centred psychotherapy, offered in his post-war National Health Service, Glasgow-based department. Oriented in a reading of the revealing fourth dream book, the article unearths a history of the reception and adaptation of psychoanalysis from within a therapeutic encounter and in a non-elite context. Situating Rodger’s psychiatric development in his Glasgow environment, it then contextualises the psychosocial narrative of the fourth book in relation to contrasting therapeutic commitments: an undiluted Freudianism and a pragmatic ‘commonsense’ psychotherapy, tempered to the clinical psychiatric, and often working-class, interwar Glasgow context. An exploration of pre-recorded dreams, transcribed free associations, and ‘weekly reports’ reveals that in practice, Rodger’s Meyerian attitude worked productively with Freudian techniques to ennoble the patient’s psychosocial testimony and personal wisdom. This psychotherapeutic eclecticism underpinned and made visible the patient’s concurrent faith in and resistance to psychoanalytic interpretation. Chronicling a collaborative route to psychotherapeutic knowledge within a discrete encounter, the article situates post-war treatment values in the interwar impasse of outpatient psychiatry.

“Working in cases: British psychiatric social workers and a history of psychoanalysis from the middle, c.1930–60,” Juliana Broad. Abstract:

Histories of psychoanalysis largely respect the boundaries drawn by the psychoanalytic profession, suggesting that the development of psychoanalytic theories and techniques has been the exclusive remit of professionally trained analysts. In this article, I offer an historical example that poses a challenge to this orthodoxy. Based on extensive archival material, I show how British psychiatric social workers, a little-studied group of specialist mental hygiene workers, advanced key organisational, observational, and theoretical insights that shaped mid-century British psychoanalysis. In their daily work compiling patient histories, conducting home visits, and interviewing the parents of ‘maladjusted’ children, psychiatric social workers were uniquely positioned to expose the importance of family relationships in the development of childhood neuroses. As this article details, their analytic attention to these dynamics not only influenced, but fundamentally constituted the innovative research on maternal-child relationships and family therapy pioneered by eminent psychoanalyst John Bowlby. In addition, psychiatric social workers produced and published independent psychoanalytic research, and fiercely debated the limitations of analytic concepts such as transference. In presenting the relationship between British psychiatric social work and psychoanalysis, this article suggests a new way of telling the history of both.

“Ideology and science: The story of Polish psychology in the communist period,” Leszek Koczanowic. Abstract:

This article presents a fragment of the history of psychology in Poland, discussing its development in the years 1945–56, which saw sweeping political and geographical transformations. In that maelstrom of history, psychology was particularly affected by the effects of geopolitical changes, which led to its symbolic ‘arrest’ in 1952, when psychological practice was prohibited and all psychology courses were abolished at universities. Amnesty was declared only in 1956, with the demise of the so-called Stalinist ‘cult of personality’ and the onset of a turbulent period when the crimes of the Stalinist era were prosecuted. We have adopted three time frames for our description and analysis of this dramatic period in the development of psychology in Poland. ‘The past’ is a story about the flourishing of Polish psychology before World War Two and the hopes for the discipline’s restoration after the war. ‘The present’, as the core of this narrative, represents the events of 1950–56. ‘The future’ refers to the period when Stalinist abuses were prosecuted during the Thaw, following the collapse of the Stalinist dictatorship, and the resurgence of Polish psychologists’ hopes for resurrecting their discipline. In all these periods, the narrative is interwoven with the story of the Polish psychologist Mieczys?aw Kreutz, who offers a model example of the hypothesized dependence of scientific research on sociopolitical change.

“Psychological theory as administrative politics: Boris Lomov’s systems approach in the context of the Soviet science establishment,” Vladimir Konnov. Abstract:

The article is a study into the advent of the ‘systems approach’ in Soviet psychology in the 1970s. This arose mainly through the theoretical publications of B. F. Lomov, written after he had been appointed director of the newly established Institute of Psychology. These publications are examined as reflections of those interests related to the sociopolitical role of the director of this leading psychology institution, which was officially charged with building a common theoretical and methodological framework for all Soviet psychology. The main goal of these texts, predetermined by the role of their author, was to advance a theoretical scheme that made possible a formal unification of the schools of psychology, and which at the same time promoted an image of psychology as a research field that was both capable of achieving practically applicable results and compatible with the new ‘big science’ trend.

“Continuity through change: State social research and sociology in Portugal,” Frederico Ágoas. Abstract:

This article examines the development of empirical social research in Portugal over about a century and its relation to the early institutionalization of sociology at the tail end of that period. Relying on new empirical data, coupled with a critical reading of the main sources on the topic, it brings to light some epistemic invariants in a disparate body of research, acknowledging the initial persistence of Le Play-inspired as well as properly Le Playsian research methods. Furthermore, it identifies the general continuation of a substantial concern with the (physical and then moral) condition of rural and industrial workers, leading to a disclosure of the political-economic and governmental roots of the social research in question. From a historical sociology perspective, the article explores the relation between state governmentalization and authoritarian rule, on the one hand, and the development of the social sciences, on the other. From a history of science perspective, it acknowledges the continuous use of the same research methods to carry out seemingly incommensurable social research programmes and the later pursuit of a properly sociological research programme that fell back on conflicting methodological and theoretical approaches. In broader terms, the article aims to put forward a historical sociology of theoretical approaches, research methods, and scientific concepts that will hopefully contribute to a clearer understanding of their respective fields of application.

“Recomposing persons: Scavenging and storytelling in a birth cohort archive,” Penny Tinkler, Resto Cruz, Laura Fenton. Abstract:

Birth cohort studies can be used not only to generate population-level quantitative data, but also to recompose persons. The crux is how we understand data and persons. Recomposition entails scavenging for various (including unrecognised) data. It foregrounds the perspective and subjectivity of survey participants, but without forgetting the partiality and incompleteness of the accounts that it may generate. Although interested in the singularity of individuals, it attends to the historical and relational embeddedness of personhood. It examines the multiple and complex temporalities that suffuse people’s lives, hence departing from linear notions of the life course. It implies involvement, as well as reflexivity, on the part of researchers. It embraces the heterogeneity and transformations over time of scientific archives and the interpretive possibilities, as well as incompleteness, of birth cohort studies data. Interested in the unfolding of lives over time, it also shines light on meaningful biographical moments.

“The past of predicting the future: A review of the multidisciplinary history of affective forecasting,” Maya A. Pilin. Abstract:

Affective forecasting refers to the ability to predict future emotions, a skill that is essential to making decisions on a daily basis. Studies of the concept have determined that individuals are often inaccurate in making such affective forecasts. However, the mechanisms of these errors are not yet clear. In order to better understand why affective forecasting errors occur, this article seeks to trace the theoretical roots of this theory with a focus on its multidisciplinary history. The roots of affective forecasting lie mainly in economics, with early claims positing that utility (i.e. satisfaction) played a role in decision-making. Furthermore, the philosopher Jeremy Bentham’s descriptions of utilitarianism played a major role in our understanding of whether to define utility as a hedonic quality. The birth of behavioural economics resulted in a paradigm shift, introducing the concept of cognitive biases as influences on the accuracy of predicted utility. Daniel Gilbert and Timothy Wilson, the earliest researchers of affective forecasting errors, have proceeded with the concept of the accuracy of predicted affective utility to conduct experiments that seek to determine why our predictions of future affect are inaccurate and how such errors play a role in our decision-making.

“Parallel structures: André Leroi-Gourhan, Claude Lévi-Strauss, and the making of French structural anthropology,” Jacob Collins. Abstract:

This article reframes our understanding of French structural anthropology by considering the work of André Leroi-Gourhan alongside that of Claude Lévi-Strauss. These two anthropologists worked at opposite poles of the discipline, Lévi-Strauss studying cultural objects, like myths and kinship relations; Leroi-Gourhan looking at material artifacts, such as stone tools, bones, arrowheads, and cave paintings. In spite of their difference in focus, these thinkers shared a similar approach to the interpretation of their sources: Each individual object was meaningful only as part of a larger whole. For Lévi-Strauss, structuralism was designed to unlock features of the human mind; for Leroi-Gourhan, to uncover the material processes that underlay human life. Again, in spite of their difference in orientation, both structuralisms produced similar theories of human society. Whether ‘primitive’ or ‘advanced’, all societies functioned the same way: Their institutions worked harmoniously, beyond the intentions of any individual actors, to preserve the stability of the group. This eliminated the basis for thinking one society was superior to another. Finally, the article argues that both Lévi-Strauss and Leroi-Gourhan believed that structural anthropology could found a ‘new humanism’, and thereby rescue modernity from moral degeneration. This ‘new humanism’ could not only produce a universal description of human nature, but also help rethink French colonialism, broker new geopolitical alliances, and prevent the erasure of world cultures. Structural anthropology thus imagined a tight relationship between its social-scientific work and its political-moral mission.

“‘This scene is itself living’: Buildings as landscapes in transatlantic human geography, 1870–1970,” Peter Ekman. Abstract:

What do houses do to the people who live with them? In what sense are houses themselves living things? If they live and act, how to conceive of the relationship between built and natural landscapes, and between environment and life more broadly? This article considers three moments at which human geographers have attempted to answer these questions without submitting to visions of environmental causation and constraint favoured by determinists, who dominated the discipline into the early 20th century. The article begins with the work of Carl Sauer, by 1925 the major American figure refuting environmental determinism at a theoretical level and recommending the study of housing as an articulate transcript of human action. It then looks back to the American writings of Friedrich Ratzel, one of several German scholars Sauer canonized, to illuminate a more vitalistic ontology of domestic architecture, and an urbanism, untapped by Sauer when filing his dissent. It then looks ahead to mid-century studies of vernacular architecture – by those of Sauer’s students friendlier to urban life than he was, and by the critic and publisher J. B. Jackson – to assess how this inheritance informed critiques of industrial modernity in the post-war United States. The article observes certain continuities, despite manifest tensions, between ‘old’ and ‘new’ cultural geographies. It also routes a long-standing set of debates concerning the relationship of materiality to meaning – and of spatial to social form – through the case of human geography, a peculiar interstice in the broader constellation of disciplines.

Review Articles

“Renegades or liberals? Recent reflections on the Boasian legacies in American anthropology,” Nicholas Barron. No abstract.

“Writing the history of postcolonial and transcultural psychiatry in Africa,” Ana Antic. No abstract.

“A history of the data present,” David Beer. No abstract.

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.