November HoP: Jung and Word Association, Psychology and Socialism, and More

Leo Kamin

The November 2022 issue of History of Psychology is now online. Titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“How did early North American clinical psychologists get their first personality test? Carl Gustav Jung, the Zurich School of Psychiatry, and the development of the “Word Association Test” (1898–1909).” Fierro, Catriel. Abstract:

Clinical psychology emerged in the United States during the first decades of the 20th century. Although they focused on intelligence tests, starting around 1905 certain clinical psychologists pursued personality assessment through a specific, nonintellectual kind of test: the word association test as devised by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung (1875–1961) at the Burghölzli psychiatric clinic in Zurich. The test was a key device in the professionalization of North American psychiatry and psychology during the early 20th century: from 1905 onward it was acknowledged, discussed, and applied by experimental and clinical psychologists. However, Jung’s original experiments and the development of the test itself have received only superficial or casual attention by historians of science. This article attempts to provide a critical, streamlined, and detailed account on the origin, development, and substance of the Zurich word association experiments. By drawing on heretofore overlooked primary sources, I offer a new, critical perspective on the emergence and development of Jung’s test while engaging with its main theoretical and methodological aspects. I show that the test was neither Jung’s sole creation nor did it consist of a simple, straightforward set of tasks. Contrarily, it was the result of a highly collaborative, multilayered institutionalized research program on linguistic and mental associations. The program, its data and its assumptions fueled several debates and data-driven discussions at Zurich, precluding the test from achieving a stable, standardized character. As a result, the history of Jung’s program reflects both the advances and the limitations of early 20th-century personality testing.

“Psychology in national socialism: The question of “professionalization” and the case of the “Ostmark”.” Wieser, Martin; Benetka, Gerhard. Abstract:

This article presents a contextualization and revaluation of competing narratives concerning the history of psychology in Nazi Germany. Since the 1980s, this debate revolves around the supposed “professionalization” of the discipline from Hitler’s rise to power until the end of World War II. The question whether or not academic psychology has profited from collaborating with the Nazi regime during the war is not just of historical interest, but also carries strong political and moral implications. Recently, the established narrative concerning the professionalization of German psychology under National Socialism was called into question by Wolfgang Schönpflug. According to his argumentation, psychology did not benefit from the war, but had to suffer considerable losses on terms of personnel and quality in teaching and research. After reconstructing the historical context and the political implications of the debate, we propose to take a different perspective on the question of “professionalization.” Three case examples of psychologists from Austria whose career advanced significantly during the war are provided to shed light on the multitude of opportunities that emerged for those who offered their psychological expertise during the war. In conclusion, it is argued that professionalization should be understood as a theoretical framework that stimulates further historical research on a local level, not as a dogmatic judgment about the state of the discipline as a whole.

“Rewriting Wundtian psychology: Luigi Credaro and the psychology in Rome.” Foschi, Renato; Romano, Andrea. Abstract:

After Rome became the capital of Italy in 1871, prestigious scientists arrived at the University of Rome. One of these scholars was the pedagogical philosopher Luigi Credaro (1860–1939). He was one of the rare Italian students of Wilhelm Wundt (1832–1920) when he went to Leipzig and attended the Institute for Experimental Psychology in the academic year 1887–1888. There he also followed the pedagogical seminars and considered the usefulness of establishing sections of practical pedagogy in Italian magisterium schools, which were teacher-training institutions. In 1904, he founded in Rome the Scuola Pedagogica (Pedagogical School). Through the school, Credaro proposed the concept of a scientific pedagogy based on the application of the results of experimental sciences in the educational field. We can suppose that this approach influenced the first generation of Italian scholars interested in experimental psychology in Rome, in particular Sante De Sanctis (1862–1935) and Maria Montessori (1870–1952). The article thus considers the hypothesis of the formation of a so-called Roman school of psychology, which created in the field of pedagogy a ground on which to develop its research and applications. It should be noted that Credaro devoted himself to the potential applications of experimental psychology in the context of the modernization of the liberal states of the 20th century. Specifically, scientific pedagogy constituted a field of application and development for Roman psychology. At the end, the foundation of psychology in Rome was influenced by a particular version of the Wundtian psychology promoted by his pupil Credaro.

“A portrait of the neurophysiologist as a young man: Claus, Darwin, and Sigmund Freud’s search for the testes of the eel (1875–1877).” Perkins-McVey, Matthew. Abstract:

In 1878, Sigmund Freud produced his first scientific publication while a medical student in Vienna, a physiological and histological analysis of Szymon Syrski’s claim to have discovered the long-sought testes of the European eel. Though he would eventually come to be known as the father of psychoanalysis, a closer look at Freud’s earliest scientific publication demonstrates that he was initially positioned on the cutting edge of neo-mechanistic physiology, and academic Darwinism. Not only was the young Freud a methodologically capable physiologist, he was conceptually grounded by the anti-Lamarckian and anti-Haeckelian Darwinism of his first mentor, Carl Claus. Scholarship on Freud’s life and ideas is copious and far-reaching, and yet the stature of his psychoanalytic legacy remains a significant barrier for reappraisals of his early foundations. By analyzing his first publication and the context in which it came to be, this article seeks to revisit the place of Darwin in Freud’s earliest scientific work.

News & Notes

“Award.” Bonfield, Stephan. Abstract:

The Award Committee for the Society for the History of Psychology is happy to announce the following Division 26 award winners for 2022: Early Career Award: Zhipeng Gao, American University in Paris, France; and Career Achievement Award: Alexandra Rutherford, York University, Canada.

“Archival Oddities: Leo Kamin Pounding out Copy for the Daily Worker.” Harris, Ben. Abstract:

This short research report focuses on psychologist Leon Kamin, who is best known for his research on what became known as the Kamin (blocking) effect. In the 1970s and 1980s he became prominent both inside and outside of psychology, not for laboratory research but for his writings on the heritability of intelligence. Kamin was no stranger to political activism. He joined the Communist Party U.S.A. at age 17, when he was a sophomore at Harvard. By 1949, he was writing for the Daily Worker (pen name: Leo Soft) and was employed as its New England editor in 1949–1950. In January 1954, Kamin was called to testify by Joseph McCarthy’s anti-Communist Senate subcommittee, which was visiting Boston and justified its interest in Harvard by citing its winning research grants from the U.S. Department of Defense. Kamin refused to “name names” and he was indicted for contempt of the Senate.

“Interamerican Society of Psychology (1951–2021): Its history and historians,” Gallegos, Miguel; Pecanha, Viviane de Castro. Abstract:

On December 17, 2021, The Interamerican Society of Psychology (ISP) celebrated its 70th anniversary. This article briefly describes ISP’s history, discussing its organizational structure, and the contributions of the working group history of psychology, to honor this important event. The history of psychology division within ISP remains committed to facilitating encounters of Ibero American psychologists who wish to further examine the history of psychology. Lastly, we analyzed the growth and the contemporary challenges in the field of history of psychology in Latin America.

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.