All posts by Jacy Young

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young recently completed a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Surrey in the UK. She earned her doctorate in the History and Theory of Psychology at York University in 2014.

Brainwaves: A Cultural History of Electroencephalography

Another book to add to your to reading list! Cornelius Borck’s Brainwaves: A Cultural History of Electroencephalography was recently published by Routledge. The book is described as follows:

In the history of brain research, the prospect of visualizing brain processes has continually awakened great expectations. In this study, Cornelius Borck focuses on a recording technique developed by the German physiologist Hans Berger to register electric brain currents; a technique that was expected to allow the brain to write in its own language, and which would reveal the way the brain worked. Borck traces the numerous contradictory interpretations of electroencephalography, from Berger’s experiments and his publication of the first human EEG in 1929, to its international proliferation and consolidation as a clinical diagnostic method in the mid-twentieth century. Borck’s thesis is that the language of the brain takes on specific contours depending on the local investigative cultures, from whose conflicting views emerged a new scientific object: the electric brain.

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Correspondance D’Alfred Binet: Archives Familiales (1883-1916)

Our day of new books continues with a new French-language volume of the correspondence of Alfred Binet. Edited and introduced by Alexandre Klein, Correspondance D’Alfred Binet: Archives familiales (1883-1916) is described as:

Cet ouvrage offre une immersion rare dans la vie quotidienne d’Alfred Binet à travers sa correspondance et de nombreuses photographies. Ce corpus inédit regroupant des lettres personnelles et professionnelles rédigées entre 1883 et 1915 permet d’aborder la figure de l’un des fondateurs de la psychologie scientifique sous un angle plus intime et personnel et de retracer la réception américaine de son oeuvre qui fut la source du succès mondial de son test d’intelligence.

[via Google Translate] This book offers a rare immersion in the daily life of Alfred Binet through his correspondence and many photographs. This unpublished corpus of personal and professional letters written between 1883 and 1915 makes it possible to approach the figure of one of the founders of scientific psychology from a more personal and personal angle and to trace the American reception of his work which was the source of the global success of his intelligence test.

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The Lost Boys: Inside Muzafer Sherif’s Robbers Cave experiment Gina Perry

A new book from Gina Perry on the classic Robbers Cave study is forthcoming from Scribe. The Lost Boys: Inside Muzafer Sherif’s Robbers Cave Experiment is described as follows:

In 1954, a group of boys attended a remote summer camp where they were split into two groups, and encouraged to bully, harass, and demonise each other. The results would make history as one of social psychology’s classic — and most controversial — studies: the Robbers Cave experiment.

Conducted at the height of the Cold War, the experiment officially had a happy ending: the boys reconciled, and psychologist Muzafer Sherif demonstrated that while hatred and violence are powerful forces, so too are cooperation and harmony. Today it is proffered as proof that under the right conditions warring groups can make peace. Yet the true story of the experiments is far more complex, and more chilling.

In The Lost Boys, Gina Perry explores the experiment and its consequences, tracing the story of Sherif, a troubled outsider who struggled to craft an experiment that would vanquish his personal demons. Drawing on archival material and new interviews, Perry pieces together a story of drama, mutiny, and intrigue that has never been told before.

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Forensic Psychology in Germany: Witnessing Crime, 1880-1939

A new book from Heather Wolffram on the history of forensic psychology in Germany will be of interest to AHP readers. Forensic Psychology in Germany: Witnessing Crime, 1880-1939 is described as follows:

This book examines the emergence and early development of forensic psychology in Germany from the late nineteenth century until the outbreak of the Second World War, highlighting the field’s interdisciplinary beginnings and contested evolution. Initially envisaged as a psychology of all those involved in criminal proceedings, this new discipline promised to move away from an exclusive focus on the criminal to provide a holistic view of how human fallibility impacted upon criminal justice. As this book argues, however, by the inter-war period, forensic psychology had largely become a psychology of the witness; its focus narrowed by the exigencies of the courtroom. Utilising detailed studies of the 1896 Berchtold trial and the 1930 Frenzel trial, the book asks whether the tensions between psychiatry, psychology, forensic medicine, pedagogy and law over psychological expertise were present in courtroom practice and considers why a clear winner in the “battle for forensic psychology” had yet to emerge by 1939.

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Centaurus Articles on Cold War Social Science, Race, and Anthropology

Karl von Baer, 1865

A number of recent articles in Centaurus may be of interest to AHP readers. Titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Détente Science? Transformations of Knowledge and Expertise in the 1970s,” by Rüdiger Graf. Abstract:

Scrutinizing the multifaceted relationship between the history of science and the political, economic and cultural transformations of the 1970s, while acknowledging that ‘Cold War [social] science’ has proven to be a fruitful heuristic concept, the paper asks if– in a period decreasing confrontation –there was also a ‘détente [social] science’? First, it presents a short overview of the most significant transformations of the 1970s and sketches if and to what extent developments in the realm of science influenced them or even brought them about. Secondly, the perspective will be turned around. After developing the concept of Cold War Science in greater detail, the paper asks whether the changes of the 1970s influenced the development of the natural and social sciences. In particular, it analyzes their influence on the conceptions of knowledge and expertise that have been described as constitutive elements of Cold War Science. In conclusion, it tries to assess if these changes amount to anything that might be labelled fruitfully as détente science.

“Geography, Race and the Malleability of Man: Karl von Baer and the Problem of Academic Particularism in the Russian Human Sciences,” by Nathaniel Knight. Abstract:

The question of national specificity in science was vigorously debated in 19th century Russia and remains relevant to the geographical and cultural contextualization of scholarship. This article introduces the term academic particularism to denote this phenomenon and addresses it through an examination of the career, ideas and legacy of Karl von Baer in the fields of geography, ethnology and physical anthropology. The article traces significant shifts in Baer’s interests and views after his relocation to Russia in 1835 and identifies a cluster of key ideas present in Baer’s work in the mid-19th century that were further developed by subsequent scholars in the late 19th century and came to constitute a distinctive strain in the Russian human sciences.

“‘With the Risk of Being Called Retrograde’. Racial Classifications and the Attack on the Aryan Myth by Jean-Baptiste d’Omalius d’Halloy (1783–1875),” by Maarten Couttenier. Abstract: Continue reading Centaurus Articles on Cold War Social Science, Race, and Anthropology

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Somatosphere’s Book Forum – Being Brains: Making the Cerebral Subject

AHP readers may be interested in Somatospere’s recent book forum discussion of Fernando Vidal and Francisco Ortega’s Being Brains: Making the Cerebral Subject (discussed previously on AHP here).  The discussion includes the following contributions:

Genealogy of the Cerebral Subject
Elizabeth Lunbeck
Harvard University

All of the Other Brains
Chloe Silverman
Drexel University

Historicizing the Brain
Martyn Pickersgill
University of Edinburgh

Knowledge about the Brain and Societal Interests
Frank W. Stahnisch
University of Calgary

A Reply:
The Neuro: Modernity, Community, and Critique
Fernando Vidal and Francisco Ortega

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Gina Perry Explores the Robbers Cave Experiment in New Scientist

Now up on New Scientist is a piece by Gina Perry on the Sherif’s Robbers Cave experiment. As Perry writes,

In the summer of 1954, a bus pulled into Robbers Cave State Park in the mountains of rural Oklahoma. The dozen 11-year-old boys on board, all of them strangers to each other, craned to catch a glimpse through the dusty windows of what for most of them was their first summer camp. For a week they explored the park, swam in a creek, and hiked in and around mountain caves. They didn’t know that a couple of days later, a second group arrived, also believing they had the park to themselves.

Social psychologist Muzafer Sherif and his team, disguised as camp counsellors, watched each group bond and form its own identity. The two groups named themselves the Rattlers and the Eagles, each with flag, anthem, dress code, leaders and followers, as well as shared rules and standards. “They staked out their territory,” Sherif’s research assistant, O.J. Harvey, told me. “Everything was ‘our’ – ‘our hideout’, ‘our creek’.”

The full article can be found (behind a pay-wall) here.

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Forthcoming in Social History of Medicine: Accident Neurosis, Neuroleptics, Rene Spitz and More

A number of articles forthcoming from Social History of Medicine that may interest AHP readers are now available online. Full titles, authors, and abstracts below.

What Do Babies Need to Thrive? Changing Interpretations of ‘Hospitalism’ in an International Context, 1900–1945,” by Katharina Rowold. Abstract:

In 1945, the émigré psychoanalyst René Spitz published a landmark article in which he suggested that babies cared for in institutions commonly suffered from ‘hospitalism’ and failed to thrive. According to Spitz this was the case because such babies were deprived of ‘maternal care, maternal stimulation, and maternal love.’ Historical interest in separation research and the development of the concept of maternal deprivation has tended to focus on the 1940s and 50s. The term ‘hospitalism’, however, was coined at the end of the nineteenth century and by 1945 the question of whether or not babies could be cared for in institutions had already been debated for a number of decades by an international community of paediatricians and developmental psychologists, later joined by psychoanalysts. Criss-crossing national boundaries and exploring debates over the nature, causes, and prevention of ‘hospitalism’, this article elucidates the changing understandings of the impact on babies of living in institutions.

Between Shell Shock and PTSD? ‘Accident Neurosis’ and Its Sequelae in Post-War Britain,” by Ryan Ross. Summary: Continue reading Forthcoming in Social History of Medicine: Accident Neurosis, Neuroleptics, Rene Spitz and More

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Forthcoming in HoP: Disciplinary Digital History, Temperament Tests, & Little Albert

A number of articles forthcoming in History of Psychology are now available online. These articles explore the disciplinary structure of psychology using digital history methods, the use of the Humm-Wadsworth Temperament Scale in American industry during the interwar years, and the role of bias and logical errors in debates of the identity of Little Albert. Full titles, authors, and abstracts below.

“THROUGH THE LOOKING-GLASS PsycINFO as an Historical Archive of Trends in Psychology,” by Burman, Jeremy Trevelyan.  Abstract

Those interested in tracking trends in the history of psychology cannot simply trust the numbers produced by inputting terms into search engines like PsycINFO and then constraining by date. This essay is therefore a critical engagement with that longstanding interest to show what it is possible to do, over what period, and why. It concludes that certain projects simply cannot be undertaken without further investment by the American Psychological Association. This is because forgotten changes in the assumptions informing the database make its index terms untrustworthy for use in trend-tracking before 1967. But they can indeed be used, with care, to track more recent trends. The result is then a Distant Reading of psychology, with Digital History presented as enabling a kind of Science Studies that psychologists will find appealing. The present state of the discipline can thus be caricatured as the contemporary scientific study of depressed rats and the drugs used to treat them (as well as of human brains, mice, and myriad other topics). To extend the investigation back further in time, however, the 1967 boundary is also investigated. The author then delves more deeply into the prehistory of the database’s creation, and shows in a précis of a further project that the origins of PsycINFO can be traced to interests related to American national security during the Cold War. In short: PsycINFO cannot be treated as a simple bibliographic description of the discipline. It is embedded in its history, and reflects it.

“Temperamental Workers: Psychology, Business, and the Humm-Wadsworth Temperament Scale in Interwar America,” by Lussier, Kira. Abstract

This article traces the history of a popular interwar psychological test, the Humm-Wadsworth Temperament Scale (HWTS), from its development in the early 1930s to its adoption by corporate personnel departments. In popular articles, trade magazines, and academic journals, industrial psychologist Doncaster Humm and personnel manager Guy Wadsworth trumpeted their scale as a scientific measure of temperament that could ensure efficient hiring practices and harmonious labor relations by screening out “problem employees” and screening for temperamentally “normal” workers. This article demonstrates how concerns about the epistemological and scientific credibility of the HWTS were intimately entangled with concerns about its value to business at every step in the test’s development. The HWTS sought to measure the emotional and social dimensions of an individual’s personality so as to assess their suitability for work. The practice of temperament testing conjured a vision of the subject whose emotional and social disposition was foundational to their own capacity to find employment, and whose capacity to appropriately express, but regulate, their emotions was foundational to corporate order. The history of the HWTS offers an instructive case of how psychological tests embed social hierarchies, political claims, and economic ideals within their very theoretical and methodological foundations. Although the HWTS itself may have faded from use, the test directly inspired creators of subsequent popular personality tests, such as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

“Framing Psychology as a Discipline (1950–1999): A Large-Scale Term Co-Occurrence Analysis of Scientific Literature in Psychology,” by Flis, Ivan; van Eck, Nees Jan. Abstract: Continue reading Forthcoming in HoP: Disciplinary Digital History, Temperament Tests, & Little Albert

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HoP: Stratification Theories, Quantification of Virtue, James’s Heidelberg Fiasco

The February 2018 issue of History of Psychology is now online. Articles in this issue explore stratification theories, the quantification of virtue in Medieval Europe, and William James’s Heidelberg fiasco. And don’t forget to check out the regularly featured poetry corner! Full titles, authors, and abstracts below.

“Buried layers: On the origins, rise, and fall of stratification theories,” by Wieser, Martin. Abstract:

This article presents a historical analysis of the origins, rise, and demise of theories of stratification (Schichtentheorien). Following their roots in the ancient metaphysical idea of the “great chain of being,” Aristotle’s scala naturae, the medieval “Jacob’s ladder,” and Leibniz’s concept of the lex continua, I argue that theories of stratification represent the modern heir to the ancient cosmological idea of a harmonious, hierarchical, and unified universe. Theories of stratification reached their heyday during the interwar period within German academia, proliferating over a vast number of disciplines and rising to special prominence within personality psychology, feeding the hope for a unitary image of the world and of human beings, their biological and mental development, their social organization and cultural creations. This article focuses on the role of visuality as a distinct mode of scientific knowledge within theories of stratification as well as the cultural context that provided the fertile ground for their flowering in the Weimar Republic. Finally, the rapid demise of theories of stratification during the 1950s is discussed, and some reasons for their downfall during the second half of the 20th century are explored.

“Quantification of virtue in late Medieval Europe,” by Kemp, Simon. Abstract:

Fourteenth century Europe saw a growing interest in quantification. This interest has been well studied by historians of physical sciences, but medieval scholars were also interested in the quantification of psychological qualities. In general, the quantification issues addressed by medieval scholars were theoretical, even (by our standards) mathematical, rather than those of practical measurement. There was recognition that the seriousness of a sin and the penance laid down for it should be proportionate. A number of late medieval scholars were interested in the quantification of caritas, a Latin word that is translatable as charity or loving benevolence. The scholastic interest linked to the practical issue of how caritas might become habitual through the repeated performance of virtuous acts. Gregory of Rimini’s treatment of caritas in his commentary on Peter Lombard’s Sentences illustrates how one medieval scholar related the quantification of virtue to the quantification of physical qualities such as temperature and luminescence.

“William James and the Heidelberg fiasco,” by Gundlach, Horst. Abstract: Continue reading HoP: Stratification Theories, Quantification of Virtue, James’s Heidelberg Fiasco

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