A new open-access article in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences will interest AHP readers: “Paying attention to each other. An essay on the transnational intersections of industrial economy, subjectivity, and governance in East Germany’s social-psychological training,” Verena Lehmbrock. Abstract:
This article examines a little-known chapter both in the history of socialist labor relations and the history of psychology: Social Psychological Training (SPT) for industrial leaders in the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Based on previously untapped archival sources, it uncovers the transnational genesis of SPT and its intricate relationships with Western “therapeutic culture” of the 1970s. Governmental perspectives are addressed, as well as the level of individual appropriation of SPT and possible unintended side effects of techniques that were drawn from the social psychological and therapeutical fields. This case study helps to explore the functions of psychological expertise in authoritarian political contexts, as well as the polyvalence of group methods of change, the effects of which could turn out repressive as well as liberating on both sides of the Iron Curtain. The history of SPT solicits a polycentric view on therapeutic culture, capturing its diverse manifestations and interconnections between different societies and political economies.