The November 2016 issue of History of Psychology is now online. Articles in this issue explore split brain research, Vygotsky’s influence in Argentina, recent changes in Swedish psychology, and more. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.
“The other side of the brain: The politics of split-brain research in the 1970s–1980s,” by Michael E. Staub. The abstract reads,
In the course of the 1970s and 1980s, theories derived from neuropsychological research on the bisected brain came rapidly to achieve the status of common sense in the United States and Canada, inflecting all manner of popular and academic discussion. These theories often posited that the right hemisphere was the seat of creative expression, whereas the left hemisphere housed rationality and language. This article analyzes the political and cultural implications of theories about the split brain. Gender relations, educational reform, management theory, race relations, and countercultural concepts about self-expression all quickly came to be viewed through the lens of left-brain/right-brain neuropsychological research. Yet these theories were often contradictory. On the one hand, some psychophysiological experiments premised that the brain was inherently plastic in nature, and thus self-improvement techniques (like mindfulness meditation) could be practiced to unfurl the right hemisphere’s intuitive potentialities. On the other hand, other psychophysiological experiments concluded that Native Americans as well as African Americans and persons from “the East” appeared inherently to possess more highly developed right-brain talents, and therefore suffered in the context of a left-hemisphere-dominated Western society. In both instances, psychologists put neuroscientific research to political and social use. This article thus connects a story from the annals of the neurosciences to the history of psychological experimentation. It analyzes the critical impact that speculative ideas about the split brain were to have not only on the post-1960s history of psychology but also on what soon emerged after the 1990s as the social neuroscience revolution.
The April 2015 issue of History of the Human Sciences is dedicated to “Vygotsky in His, Our and Future Times.” Guest edited by Gordana Jovanovic, the special issue includes a set of introductory reflections from Jerome Bruner on “The Uneasy Relation of Culture and Mind.” A further 10 articles explore various aspects of Vygotsky’s life and work, including the role of history in his work, an examination of the ban on his works in Russia, and his time as a theatre critic. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.
Guest editorial: “Vygotsky in his, our and future times,” by Gordana Jovanovic. No abstract provided.
Introductory Reflections: “The uneasy relation of culture and mind,” by Jerome Bruner. No abstract provided.
“Vicissitudes of history in Vygotsky’s cultural-historical theory,” by Gordana Jovanovic. The abstract reads,
The aim of this article is to explore the ways and forms in which history is present, represented and used in Vygotsky’s theorizing. Given the fact that Vygotsky’s theory is usually described as a cultural-historical theory, the issue of history is necessarily implicated in the theory itself. However, there is still a gap between history as implicated in the theory and an explicit theorizing of history – both in Vygotsky’s writings and in Vygotskian scholarship. Therefore it is expected that it would be fruitful to shed light on some possible pathways that can bridge this gap. The prevailing theoretical role of history in Vygotsky’s theory is to serve as a general framework which provides tools for the development of higher psychic functions. Thus, history is recognized as a formative context of psychic life. Further, history appears in Vygotsky’s writings also as a projected better future. All these uses of history presuppose an idea of history as linear progress. But Vygotsky also argues for a stronger epistemological claim – that history is the most powerful explanatory principle. After conceptual and theoretical reflection on history, some limitations of Vygotsky’s historicizing of the history of psychic development will be pointed out and related to general epistemological problems of historicizing. Finally, Vygotsky’s cultural-historical theory, an edifice built up in the 1930s but relying on the rich philosophical and psychological legacy available up to that time, will be positioned against the pluralistic, postmodern and hermeneutic turn in contemporary social and human sciences.
The November 2011 issue of Psychologia Latina has just been released online. Included in this issue are five all new Spanish language articles on prison psychology in Spain, Radical Behaviorism, the unconscious, and the work of a student of Luis Simarro (left). Full titles, authors, and abstracts, in both Spanish and English, follow below.
“El Psicólogo de Prisiones en España” (“The Prison Psychologist in Spain,”) by Francisco Pérez Fernández, Joanne Mampaso Desbrow, and Nereida Bueno Guerra.
In this article, we make an analysis by historical and political landmarks of the various laws and regulations that have affected, modulated and modified the psychologists’ participation in Spanish jails and other similar facilities since the General Prison Law 1/1979 was approved. In this way, we will provide a historical overview of their activities, functions, their role in the field of legal penitentiary psychology and the value of their social contribution over the last thirty years.
En este artículo se procede a un análisis por hitos históricos y políticos de las diferentes legislaciones y reglamentos que han afectado, modulado y modificado la participación del psicólogo en las cárceles españolas y otros centros de cumplimiento de condena partir de la aprobación de la Ley Orgánica General Penitenciaria 1/1979. De este modo, ofreceremos una panorámica histórica de su actividad, sus funciones, su papel en el ámbito de la psicología jurídico-penitenciaria y el valor de su aportación social a lo largo de los últimos treinta años.
“El Conductismo en la Historia de la Psicología: Una Crítica de la Filosofía del Conductismo Radical” (“Behaviorism in the History of Psychology: A Critique of the Radical Behaviorism Philosophy”,) by Juan Bautista Fuentes. Continue reading New Issue: Psychologia Latina→
Between the death of Vygotsky in 1934 and the discovery of Vygotsky’s work in the West in 1962, Vygotskian psychology was developed through research done by the first generation of Vygotsky’s students and their followers, primarily associated with the Kharkov School. Surprisingly, these studies carried out in the 1930s, of great importance for the development of virtually all subsequent Vygotskian psychology, still remain largely unknown; this represents a significant gap in understanding the history of Vygotskian psychology as an empirical study of consciousness. This paper provides a systematic overview of the research agenda of the Kharkov group between 1931 and 1941 and provides new insights into the early development of Vygotskian psychology.
Students interested in pursuing this topic further will find a related bibliography at AHPhere, originally provided as part of a discussion of Vygotsky’s pre-history in Late Imperial Russia.
The strange saga of Albert Einstein’s brain was told in Carolyn Abraham’s 2001 book Possessing Genius. (The free Wikipedia version is here.) But what about the brains of famous figures in the history of psychology? Well, if they were Russian — such as Ivan Pavlov or Lev Vygotsky — then they may have ended up in Vladimir Bekhterev’s “Pantheon of Brains” in St. Petersburg. (It has been long speculated that Bekhterev, who died unexpectedly on Chirstmas Eve 1927, was “offed” by Stalin after having examined the Soviet leader and declared him to be insane.) Perhaps fittingly, Bekhterev’s brain also ended up in the “Pantheon.”
See the Mind Hacks item on it here, and the abstract of the Brain article here.
In the latest History of Education Quarterly, 48(2), Andy Byford examines the role of education in promoting psychology as a science at the turn of the twentieth century in Russia.
…psychology lacked the status of an independent academic discipline at Russian universities. It was taught only as a component of philosophy and had the reputation of the latter’s ‘‘handmaiden.’’ Its scientific credentials within philosophy departments were, moreover, under constant attack from physiologists, neurologists and psychiatrists, who sought to redefine the discipline from a biological point of view, and at times even denied psychology the right to legitimate existence.
In fact it was only in the sphere of education that psychology was able to portray itself as a respectable science in its own right, especially in relation to pedagogy, whose own academic legitimacy, as a lowly practical professional discipline, was even more problematic than that of psychology. Yet the eminent status of psychology in the educational realm (as the ‘‘scientific foundation’’ of pedagogy) had to be continuously maintained, which was how teachers became the most important ‘‘interested’’ public to whom psychologists of different persuasions promoted the idealized visions of their discipline.
For those not familiar with the history of Russian psychology, Byford’s article provides a fascinating look at the period in which Lev Vygotsky — who undertook graduate training at the newly created Moscow Institute of Psychology — developed as a student and teacher. See below the fold for annotated references. Continue reading Psychology at High School in Late Imperial Russia→