We’ve received sad notice that John Chynoweth Burnham passed away on May 12, 2017. With a doctorate in history from Stanford and a position at Ohio State from the early 60s through 2002 (and associations with numerous other institutions and organizations), Burnham was “a historian’s historian.” As a prolific author and editor, his historiographic interests varied broadly and were influential in a number of fields, but to us he is best known for his pioneering work in the history of psychiatry, psychoanalysis, and American health care. He served as president of the American Association for the History of Medicine from 1990-2, as editor of the Journal of the History of Behavioral Sciences from 1997-2000, and received Division 26’s Lifetime Achievement Award, among many other honours and awards throughout his career.Share on Facebook
On March 15th attend a talk given by Harriet Washington titled Infectious Madness, the Well Curve and the Microbial Roots of Mental Disturbance. Washington is a science writer, editor and ethicist who has been a Research Fellow in Medical Ethics at Harvard Medical School, Visiting Fellow at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, a visiting scholar at DePaul University College of Law and a senior research scholar at the National Center for Bioethics at Tuskegee University. She has also held fellowships at Stanford University. The lecture is based on her book Infectious Madness: The Surprising Science of How We “Catch” Mental Illness. The promotional abstract reads as follows:
From offended gods to broken taboos to schizophrenogenic mothers, mankind has long been enmeshed in what neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky calls the “primordial muck” of mental-illness etiology. Today, armed with clearer insights and better tools, we are undergoing a paradigm shift that acknowledges the key role of our microbial fellow passengers in forging our mental health.
The talk is 6:00-7:30 pm, at The New York Academy of Medicine, 1216 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street, New York, NY 10029. Free for students, $15 for the public.
Coverage of her book in The New York Times can be found here.Share on Facebook
On February 21st, Douglas Kendrick challenged his readers to test their historical knowledge about the field by quoting four “founders” and providing hints about their lives and careers. I expect fans of AHP would do particularly well in this, join the fun here.
Kendrick cites Pioneers of Psychology, by York’s own Fancher & Rutherford, which was just recently released in its fifth edition.Share on Facebook
After a quarter century of publication, there is a new editor at the helm of the journal Theory & Psychology. Founding editor Henderikus Stam (of the University of Calgary’s theory and clinical psychology programs) has passed his position to Kieran O’Doherty (of the University of Guelph’s applied social psychology program).
In his incoming editorial, O’Doherty celebrates the contributions of his predecessor:
…the journal has showcased the work of leaders in theoretical scholarship in psychology and has been a central vehicle for the development of theoretical psychology as we now know the field. Without Hank’s dedication, it is not at all clear how theoretical psychology would look today, or whether it would have the strength and international scope it does now.
Also in this inaugural issue, O’Doherty hosts a lively discussion, the “next round” of the perennial debate about the historiography of psychology as a discipline, this time focusing the value and limitations of the social turn and the ‘New History’ movement, and how the effects of those have led to contemporary concerns regarding the role and relationship between contextual and intellectual historical orientations and methods. The relevant abstracts read as follows, after the jump.Share on Facebook
The British Library has somewhat of a mesmeristic theme going on with their programming this season:
On their Untold Lives blog, Christopher Green (a different Chris Green than ours at York) writes about the career of Annie De Montford, a popular mesmerist who worked in the UK and the US in the 1880s. Read it here.
De Montford is also featured in the library’s ongoing exhibit Victorian Entertainments: There Will Be Fun, along with other historical figures who worked as magicians, pantomimes, and conjurors. The show is free, and on until March 12th. More information can be found here.
Not least, a talk will be given on March 6th by Wendy Moore titled The Mesmerist: Science vs Superstition in the Victorian era. From the flyer: ”
“…when mesmerism wafted over the Channel from France, physician John Elliotson was intrigued and resolved to harness its benefits for medicine. But his surgeon friend Thomas Wakley, editor of the influential Lancet, was disturbed and soon determined to expunge all trace of mesmerism from British shores.
Their battle throws into sharp focus fundamental questions about the fine dividing line between medicine and quackery, between science and superstition, in a Victorian society bedazzled by the magic of the music hall. And it poses questions – about hypnotism and other alternative therapies – for us today too.”
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The stellar Remedia blog has featured a piece by De Montfort University Photographic History Research Center fellow Beatriz Pichel called The Backstage of Hysteria: Medicine in the Photographic Studio. In it, the introduction and development of medically oriented photography at Salpêtrière is surveyed, inverting the focus of from analyses of the produced images to the production thereof. Through emphasis on how “medical priorities, as well as the materiality and technical requirements of the photographic equipment, determined the kind of images taken, and the places in which they were taken,” Pichel the processes of mediation by which supporting evidence for medical theory were created. See here to read the article.Share on Facebook
The British Society for the Social History of Medicine is now welcoming submissions from students for their annual Roy Porter Prize essay competition. The deadline is February 1st 2017, and the decision will be announced in July.
Essays must be between 5-9k words, and unpublished. The winner will be awarded £500.00. The winning entry may also be published in the society’s journal, Social History of Medicine. Click here for SSHM’s prizes page, where you can download competition entry instructions.
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With the new year comes the season for conference submissions, and your friendly editors over at the H-Sci-Med-Tech division of HNet have provided a range CfPs on topics that may be relevant to the work of scholars in our readership (click for link to more info on each):
- Conflict, Healing, and the Arts in the Long Nineteenth Century (Submission Deadline Jan 30, conference held @ Durham University, UK, May 27)
- At the Fringes of Humanity: the Cyborg and the Undead (Submission Deadline Feb 1, conference held @ Ohio State University, USA, March 24-25)
- The role of health and social welfare policies in European inclusion and exclusion processes (Submission Deadline Jan 31, conference held @ University of Evora, Portugal, April 6-7)
- Southern History of Science and Technology (Submission Deadline Feb 15, conference held @ Vanderbilt University, USA, April 7-8)
A new article has been published online first by the journal of the Social History of Medicine that will be of interest to our readership. Katariina Parhi and Petteri Pietikainen write on “Socialising the Anti-Social: Psychopathy, Psychiatry and Social Engineering in Finland, 1945–1968.” The abstract reads as follows:
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This article argues that in Finland during the two decades after the Second World War, the diagnosis of psychopathy represented a failed attempt to adjust ‘difficult’ individuals to the social order. Discussing the social and medical character of the diagnosis, we examine psychopathy using the analytic and historical framework of social engineering in post-war Finland. We utilise patient records, official documents and psychiatric publications and analyse the diagnostic uses of psychopathy and its associations with social maladjustment. We also address the question of how mental health care in the less-developed northern part of Finland grappled with behavioural deviance, and especially with behaviour deemed ‘anti-social’. Contextualising psychopathy as a marker of individual disorganisation within the development of social organisation, this article contributes to historical scholarship that maps mental disorders onto the historical development of the nation.
We are all familiar with the idea that some persons are disabled. But what is disability? What makes it such that a condition–physical, cognitive, psychological–is a disability, rather than, say, a disease or illness? Is disability always and intrinsically bad? Are disabilities things to be cured? Might disabilities be merely ways of being different? And what role should the testimony and experiences of disabled persons play in addressing these questions?
Barnes argues that, at least for a range of physical conditions characterized as disabilities, disabilities are merely ways in which bodies can be different, not ways of their being intrinsically badly off. She argues that this view of disability as mere difference has important implications for broader moral and social issues concerning disabled persons; she also argues that her view is better able to respect the experiences and testimony of disabled persons.
The full interview between Robert Talisse and the author can be heard here.
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