All posts by Shayna Fox Lee

From The Monitor: Decolonizing Psychology in South Africa

The APA’s Monitor on Psychology features a compelling article in their November issue by  Rebecca A. Clay on the work currently being done by psychologists in South Africa to become accountable for the discipline’s violent history there, and to change the field in a responsible and functional way moving forward, focusing on revision of assessment practices, and on professional and student training.

Highlights include: debates about the ‘Africanization’ of theory and methods; the inclusion of critical psychology perspectives in the classroom, research, clinic, and psychologists’ worldviews; the current realities of discrimination in the academy experienced by students and faculty; and the efforts made to ensure these processes of change do not become ‘top-down’ and end up reiterating colonial conceptualizations rather than promoting self-determination on the part of psychologists and their clients in collaborative ways.

It’s an excellent summary of a complex and sensitive situation; read the article here.

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Online Exhibit about ‘Bibliotherapy’ in WWI

via ALA Archives

“Books,” exclaimed one man to another, apropos of the bookcart’s arrival, “They’re all that hold reason together.”

 

 

 

As part of an exhibit on display at the Homer D. Babbidge Library at the University of Connecticut, doctoral student Mary Mahoney has written and curated an online exhibit about the use of literature as therapy for soldiers during the first World War, titled Books as Medicine: Studies in reading, its history, and the enduring belief in its power to heal.

Guided through sections, the site visitor learns about the (American) Library War Service, Hospital Libraries, Prescribing Books, Contagion (both medical and social), and Science (in which you can use a form from a neuropsychiatric hospital to ‘prescribe’ a book as therapy, and peruse others’ prescriptions).

Experience the exhibit here. 

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Keys To Our Past Film Series: Interview with Laura Ball

 

As previewed in a post from September, Waypoint  Centre for Mental Health Care and Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Centre have collaborated on a series of videos about the history of mental health care in Canada called Keys to Our Past. The films premiered earlier this month at the Humber Lakeshore Campus, site of the former Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital.

Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) as a Canada 150 grant, the project is composed of six pieces that are each roughly ten minutes long on a range of topics relevant to the evolution of care throughout the history of our nation, from its early foundations to its recent iterations: institutional buildings, moral treatment, somatic therapy, drug therapy, the not criminally responsible designation, and language and stigma.

Here’s the link to the Waypoint page for the videos for your viewing pleasure! The site also includes other resources and local media coverage.  Here’s a direct link to the Youtube playlist

AHP conducted an interview with one of the series producers, Laura C. Ball, who is Waypoint’s Knowledge Translation & Implementation Coordinator. We discussed the making of the series, as well as its socio-political relevance to Canadian culture today. We’d like to thank Laura for taking the time to chat with us about the project! As historians of the field and as teachers, we appreciate the sensitivity and sophistication of its historiographic narratives, and we know our readership will as well.

Shayna Fox Lee (SFL): How did the idea for the project develop? Also, give us some insight into the significance of including works such as Keys To Our Past in the Canada 150 activities.

Laura Ball (LB): The idea for Keys to our Past initially came from a desire to extend the work that Jennifer Bazar had done during her post-doctoral fellowship position at Waypoint in Penetanguishene. She had created a wonderful resource – Remembering Oak Ridge Digital Archive & Exhibit – and we were hoping to secure funding through SSHRC’s Canada 150 grants to expand on her vision. We were thrilled to receive the Canada 150 grant. It was a tangible recognition that mental health and the mental health care system is integral to the foundation and fabric of our country.

However, the real vision for the series came after we got the funding, and hired 2 students to work on the project: Rachel Gerow (MA student in Counselling Psychology, Yorkville University), and Gary Bold (BA student in Psychology, York University). The four of us got together and started to develop a plan. It was very student driven: we chose topics based on what they found interesting, and what they wanted to know more about.

SFL: Tell us about John Leclair! He did such a great job conveying the often very nuanced content in a manner that is straightforward but also sociable, resulting in an eminently accessible series!

LB:  We literally could not have done this project in the way that we did without John’s participation. To most people at Waypoint, he is known as a Recreation Therapist in the Provincial Forensic (max secure) programs – and one who whole-heartedly believes in his clients and has hope for their future. What many don’t know is that he is also a talented stage and film actor.

He has been working with the Huronia Players in Midland, ON for some time now. Once we had established our vision for the series, it had become clear that we needed an actor to be the face and voice of the series – it couldn’t be done by an amateur. Holly Archer – Waypoint’s Senior Development Officer, and supporter of this project – is also a member of the Huronia Players. She arranged the meet for us, and right away we knew he was who we were looking for. He was not only a skilled actor, but also passionate about his patients, and an avid consumer of historical writings (he had read almost every page of the Remembering Oak Ridge site!). He immediately grasped the kind of persona we were looking for: someone who was likeable, funny, persuasive, and speaks with an air of authority – kind of a hybrid between Mr. Rogers, Bill Nye, and Rick Mercer!

John worked with us to develop the scripts to ensure that they were accessible, understandable, and sound like something he would actually say. He also enlisted the help of two other Huronia Players members: Ron Payne, who joined us on the film days to provide his Director expertise, and Wendy Roper, who provided John’s makeup. Despite all our preparation, though, the scripts were still being polished right up until the moment they were performed on film. John is actually reading off of a teleprompter – and some of the final cuts were the first time he had seen some of the material in the scripts! That speaks volumes about John’s skill and commitment to the project. Many working journalists can’t even read off a teleprompter, and John made it look effortless.

SFL: The ‘study’ in which the films take place contains a wonderfully rich and diverse collection of artifacts that illustrate the institutional history, and also the history of mental health care and treatment more broadly. What fun the production of the set must have been! Any favourite pieces with share-worthy stories?

LB: The set was an absolute joy to create (though admittedly, it took a lot of work!). The final set featured contributions from the Waypoint History Walk collection, the Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Centre collection, items on loan from the Mental Health Museum, as well as pieces donated from private collections from Jenn Bazar, Kate Harper, Monica Murphy, and myself (Laura Ball). All of the items on display have an interesting history.

However, I think my favourite has to be two items that appear separately on the set, but are presented as one display in the Waypoint History Walk: the section of the front gate from the former Oak Ridge building, and the Folger Adams key that was used to open it. For anyone who has visited or worked at Oak Ridge, those are usually cited as one of their strongest visual and auditory memories. The gate was profoundly heavy and large – even that small section is difficult to lift! And the key is similarly large and imposing. Together, they were a strong symbol of the security focus of the maximum security setting that was Oak Ridge. It was the gateway in and out of the facility. In recognition of that, the Folger Adams key is the symbol used for both the Remembering Oak Ridge site, and the Keys to our Past series.

SFL: All 6 films have great educational value, each with potential uses in a wide variety of traditional classroom and extracurricular teaching contexts–are there any plans for promotion of their usage in universities or elsewhere?

LB: Absolutely! Though we hope that the general public will enjoy these films, we recognize that the long-term value of the videos will likely be in educational settings. We are hoping to promote these videos as tools to use in the classroom for instructors of classes such as: History of Psychology, History of Psychiatry, Law and Psychology, and Abnormal Psychology. However, these videos touch on such diverse topics, that they will probably be more broadly applicable than we can foresee. For example, the Moral Treatment video discusses events relevant to the development of the disciplines of Occupational and Recreation Therapy.

SFL: Likewise, the piece on Language and Stigma holds considerable emancipatory potential for assisting Canada’s public conversations about how social realities affect psychological experiences. How do you recommend institutions and organizations best employ that film as a resource?

LB: At Waypoint, we are in discussions about how best to use it. So far, we’ve discussed the possibilities of using it as part of new hire and student orientations, and presentations to the public. We are currently planning to show it as part of a Rotary Club presentation in Midland, ON and other outreach events. We think that this video is foundational – even though it is presented last in the YouTube playlist, it is, in fact, the piece that drives why we should understand all of the other topics. We’re hoping that some of our other stakeholders and partners may see the value in these videos as well.

SFL: And finally, but not least, the piece on NCR advocates powerful messages about 2014’s Bill C-14. I consider it to be an invaluable historiographic record for this political moment, providing a sophisticated synopsis of how legal language changes and cycles, and the consequences of those developments. Do you envision ways that it could be used to influence policy moving forward? 

LB: This section of the video was actually a bit of a difficult one for us. As the videos were funded through the Canada 150 grant, we felt a bit awkward about presenting a video that is so blatantly critical of federal law. However, after discussions with some of our stakeholders, we realized that it was absolutely necessary. The evidence simply doesn’t support Bill C-14, and every group who was part of the affected systems spoke out against the change. We hope that it can not only be a lesson for students about how policy is enacted (that sometimes it is developed based on emotional evidence rather than empirical evidence), but also to begin a conversation. With the current political push for “evidence-based” policy, we hope that the messages in this video will start a discussion about an area where evidence-based policy is needed.

 

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HHS Interview with our very own Jacy Young

Last month saw the publication of a special issue of the journal History of the Human Sciences on ‘Psychology and its Publics,’ which was guest edited by  AHP editor Jacy Young and Michael Pettit. To accompany the issue, the executive editor of HHS, Felicity Callard (also director of the Birkbeck Institute for Social Research), interviewed Young on the theme.  In her first response, Young expounds:

Too often conversations about psychology and the public presume a passive public simply receiving whatever messaging the discipline happens to disseminate. And, the public as an entity is often under-theorized in these discussions. The term is employed but never defined with respect to its parameters and characteristics, its ontology remaining un- or at least under-addressed… Exploring the nexus of the human sciences and the public implicated in much of this work is a rich and wide-ranging landscape for the historian of the human sciences.

The interview goes on to discuss the value of interdisciplinarity in the historiography of psychology, and the ways that engagement between historians and scholars in a range of allied fields (such as science and technology studies, and studies in public engagement/public understanding of science) has influenced new directions in how the spatial and temporal geographies and timelines of psychology are written.

Read the interview in full, and click here for our blog coverage of the issue, with abstracts.

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The Arabic Freud: Psychoanalysis and Islam in Modern Egypt

Omnia El Shakry has penned “the first in-depth look at how postwar thinkers in Egypt mapped the intersections between Islamic discourses and psychoanalytic thought.”

At UC Davis, El Shakry specializes in the intellectual and cultural history of the modern Middle East, is also a founding member of the Middle East/ South Asia Studies Program and is affiliated with their Critical Theory and Cultural Studies Programs.

The publisher’s blurb on the book is as follows:

In 1945, psychologist Yusuf Murad introduced an Arabic term borrowed from the medieval Sufi philosopher and mystic Ibn ‘Arabi—al-la-shu‘ur—as a translation for Sigmund Freud’s concept of the unconscious. By the late 1950s, Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams had been translated into Arabic for an eager Egyptian public. In The Arabic Freud, Omnia El Shakry challenges the notion of a strict divide between psychoanalysis and Islam by tracing how postwar thinkers in Egypt blended psychoanalytic theories with concepts from classical Islamic thought in a creative encounter of ethical engagement.

Drawing on scholarly writings as well as popular literature on self-healing, El Shakry provides the first in-depth examination of psychoanalysis in Egypt and reveals how a new science of psychology—or “science of the soul,” as it came to be called—was inextricably linked to Islam and mysticism. She explores how Freudian ideas of the unconscious were crucial to the formation of modern discourses of subjectivity in areas as diverse as psychology, Islamic philosophy, and the law. Founding figures of Egyptian psychoanalysis, she shows, debated the temporality of the psyche, mystical states, the sexual drive, and the Oedipus complex, while offering startling insights into the nature of psychic life, ethics, and eros.

This provocative and insightful book invites us to rethink the relationship between psychoanalysis and religion in the modern era. Mapping the points of intersection between Islamic discourses and psychoanalytic thought, it illustrates how the Arabic Freud, like psychoanalysis itself, was elaborated across the space of human difference.

El Shakry’s previous publications include The Great Social Laboratory: Subjects of Knowledge in Colonial and Postcolonial Egypt , and Gender and Sexuality in Islam: Critical Concepts in Islamic Studies.

Also, click here to listen to an interview with El Shakry about the volume, by Susanna Ferguson on the Ottoman History Podcast .(It is part of their series ‘History of Science, Ottoman, or Otherwise‘ which includes other episodes that may also be of interest to our readership.)

 

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Roundtable on Ethics Review for DSM Revision, in PP&P

The September 2017 issue of Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology includes a discussion focused on a ‘philosophical case conference,’ with eight commentaries and a response to those by the featured author, Tamara Kayali Browne. Below we provide an overview of their respective points for your perusal. Author contacts are linked as well, if you’d like to continue the conversation directly.

Browne’s featured article is titled A Role for Philosophers, Sociologists and Bioethicists in Revising the DSM: A Philosophical Case Conference and is summarized in the abstract as follows:

The recent publication of the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) was accompanied by heated debate. I argue that part of the reason for these recent controversies is that the process of DSM revision involves making certain value judgments, yet requires a better means for explicitly and expertly addressing these issues. It is important to do so because a) there are certain value-laden questions that science cannot answer but nevertheless need to be addressed in psychiatric classification, and b) the effects of psychiatric classification stretch far and wide. I suggest a means by which the value judgments involved in psychiatric classification can be more systematically and comprehensively examined—by including an independent ethics review panel in the revision process. An ethics review panel could include bioethicists, sociologists, and philosophers of psychiatry who would be in a better position to address these issues.

Continue reading Roundtable on Ethics Review for DSM Revision, in PP&P

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The History of Psychology, Dramatized

 

Production Concept Drawings by James Pickering

Lauren Slater‘s popular volume Opening Skinner’s Box is being interpreted for the stage by the British theatre troupe Improbable as part of this year’s Lincoln Center Festival.

Directed by Phelim McDermott and Lee Simpson, the piece recounts highlights of the field’s history as interpreted by Slater (and her detractors) by way of an interpretive bungee cord box. They include the author of the book as a character to guide further critical analysis of what the tales recounted in the volume, as well as the controversy that surrounded the takes in it, can tell us about the sociology and philosophy of science and scholarship more broadly.

According to the company’s website it is “inspired by the fascinating book by Lauren Slater, Opening Skinner’s Box is a whistle-stop tour of the scientific quest to make sense of what we are and who we are, told through ten great psychological experiments and the stories of the people who created them.”

The NYT ran an interesting piece by Eric Grode discussing the troupe’s directorial and productive decisions, and the ways in which their production processes intentionally resembled or related to the production of science.

A favourite quote from that article: “‘For me the box is about the scientific method,’ Mr. Simpson said. ‘You need to create something of a closed system so that it’s repeatable. But that’s kind of a useful pretense because nothing is a closed system. We have to remember that it’s not true,’ he continued, although ‘it’s O.K. to pretend that it’s true because you can learn a lot of useful stuff that way.'”

 

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ActiveHistory.ca on Women, Healthcare, Trauma & History

Beth Robertson (Carleton University), one of the editors over at ActiveHistory, has written from a Canadian perspective about the impact of the AHCA on American women. The post highlights the history of the pathologization of women’s bodies and health, in particular focused on experiences of rape and assault. Robertson touches on the works of Tardieu and Janet, and discusses the implications of the current medical status of such trauma in relation to the current changes in policy.

Read the post here.

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‘The Last Behaviorist’ an upcoming film on Skinner

Filmmaker Ted Kennedy is using footage from B. F. Skinner’s life to produce an audio-visual portrait that is loyal to the psychologist’s own theoretical propositions.

Follow here for more information.

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roundup of articles from allied fields

A few new works on related topics from spring issues that may pique the interest of our readership:

In Signs, a piece by Myrna Perez Sheldon titled Wild at Heart: How Sociobiology and Evolutionary Psychology Helped Influence the Construction of Heterosexual Masculinity in American Evangelicalism

Its abstract reads:

During the 1990s, American evangelical texts contended that men have a stronger sex drive than women and that this natural sexual aggression makes men better suited to leadership roles in marriage, church, and society. Although this theology, called complementarianism, had earlier roots in conservative Protestantism, the connection that evangelicals made between male sexuality and male leadership was influenced by the scientific fields of sociobiology and evolutionary psychology during the 1980s and 1990s. These fields argue that maleness is a genetic evolutionary strategy characterized by social competition and a strong, even aggressive, sex drive. Evangelicals drew upon this scientific model in their efforts to combat second-wave feminism within their communities and in the broader culture. They turned to biology as a defense against the so-called cultural claims of feminism. Significantly, the model that evangelicals drew on from research in sociobiology and evolutionary psychology helped shape the articulations of “natural” masculine behavior in popular Christian self-help books, dating manuals, and theological texts. This article builds on the body of feminist scholarship that has critiqued the evidence, models, and popular influence of sociobiology and evolutionary psychology. But it also urges the importance of analyzing the role of religious practices in the circulation and legitimation of scientific depictions of gender and sexuality.

Read more here.

In Social History of Medicine, by Julie Powell, the article Shock Troupe: Medical Film and the Performance of ‘Shell Shock’ for the British Nation at War

Its abstract reads:

In 1917, physician Arthur F. Hurst began filming the peculiar tics and hysterical gaits of ‘shell-shocked’ soldiers under his care. Editions of Hurst’s films from 1918 and 1940 survive. Cultural products of their time, I argue, the films engaged with contemporary ideas of class, gender and nation. The 1918 version reinforced class-based notions of disease and degeneracy while validating personal and national trauma and bolstering conceptions of masculinity and the nation that were critical to wartime morale and recovery efforts. The 1940 re-edit of the film engaged with the memory of the First World War by constructing a restorative narrative and by erasing the troubled years of gender crisis, ‘shell shock’ culture and class struggle to reassert masculine virtue and martial strength, essential for the prosecution of the Second World War.

Read the full thing here.

And not least, in History of Psychiatry, an article by authors Lois P. Rudnick and Alison Heru titled The ‘secret’ source of ‘female hysteria’: the role that syphilis played in the construction of female sexuality and psychoanalysis in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries

Here is its abstract

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the unspoken fear of syphilis played a significant role in the development of beliefs about female sexuality. Many women were afraid of sexual relationships with men because they feared contracting syphilis, which was, at that time, untreatable. Women also feared passing this disease on to their children. Women’s sexual aversion, or repression, became a focus for Freud and his colleagues, whose theory of psychosexual development was based on their treatment of women. This article examines the case of Dora, the memoirs of Mabel Dodge Luhan and other sources to argue that the fear of syphilis was a significant factor in upper- and middle-class women’s avoidance of heterosexual relationships. The fear of syphilis, in turn, became a significant factor in the psychoanalytic construction of female sexuality. The social suppression of the fear of syphilis has had a profound impact on theories of women’s development. The implication for psychiatry is that our models of psychological development occur within a sociocultural milieu and cannot escape suppressed aspects of our culture.

Find the piece here.

 

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