All posts by Jacy Young

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.

Decolonizing madness? Transcultural psychiatry, international order and birth of a ‘global psyche’ in the aftermath of the Second World War

AHP readers may be interested in a new open access article in the Journal of Global History: “Decolonizing madness? Transcultural psychiatry, international order and birth of a ‘global psyche’ in the aftermath of the Second World War” by Ana Anti?. Abstract:

This article offers a transnational account of the historical origins and development of the concept of ‘global psyche’ and transcultural psychiatry. It argues that the concept of universal, global psyche emerged in the aftermath of the Second World War and during decolonization, when West European psychiatry strove to leave behind its colonial legacies and lay the foundation for a more inclusive conversation between Western and non-Western mental health communities. In the second half of the twentieth century, leading ‘psy’ professionals across the globe set about identifying and defining the universal psychological mechanisms supposedly shared among all cultures (and ‘civilizations’). The article explores this far-reaching psychiatric, social and cultural search for a new definition of ‘common humanity’, relating it to the social and political history of decolonization, and to the post-war reconstruction and search for stable peace. It provides a transnational account of a series of interlinked developments and trends around the world in order to arrive at a global history of the decolonization of mental health science.

Pure America: Eugenics and the Making of Modern Virginia

AHP readers may be interested in the recent book Pure America: Eugenics and the Making of Modern Virginia by Elizabeth Catte. The book is described as follows:

Between 1927 and 1979, more than 8,000 people were involuntarily sterilized in five hospitals across the state of Virginia. From this plain and terrible fact springs Elizabeth Catte’s Pure America, a sweeping, unsparing history of eugenics in Virginia, and by extension the United States. Virginia’s eugenics program was not the misguided initiative of well-meaning men of the day, writes Catte, it was a manifestation of white supremacy. It was a form of employment insurance. It was a means of controlling “troublesome” women and a philosophy that helped remove poor people from valuable land. It was cruel and it was wrong. As was amply evidenced by her acclaimed 2018 book What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia, Catte has no room for excuses; no patience for equivocation. What does it mean for modern America, she asks here, that such buildings are given the second chance that 8,000 citizens never got?

Madness, virtue, and ecology: A classical Indian approach to psychiatric disturbance

A new open-access article in History of the Human Sciences may interest AHP readers: “Madness, virtue, and ecology: A classical Indian approach to psychiatric disturbance,” by Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad. Abstract:

The Caraka Sa?hit? (ca. first century BCE–third century CE), the first classical Indian medical compendium, covers a wide variety of pharmacological and therapeutic treatment, while also sketching out a philosophical anthropology of the human subject who is the patient of the physicians for whom this text was composed. In this article, I outline some of the relevant aspects of this anthropology – in particular, its understanding of ‘mind’ and other elements that constitute the subject – before exploring two ways in which it approaches ‘psychiatric’ disorder: one as ‘mental illness’ (m?nasa-roga), the other as ‘madness’ (unm?da). I focus on two aspects of this approach. One concerns the moral relationship between the virtuous and the well life, or the moral and the medical dimensions of a patient’s subjectivity. The other is about the phenomenological relationship between the patient and the ecology within which the patient’s disturbance occurs. The aetiology of and responses to such disturbances helps us think more carefully about the very contours of subjectivity, about who we are and how we should understand ourselves. I locate this interpretation within a larger programme on the interpretation of the whole human being, which I have elsewhere called ‘ecological phenomenology’.

The Neurological Study Unit: “A Combined Attack on a Single Problem from Many Angles”

A new Advanced Access article in the Canadian Bulletin of Medical History will be of interest to AHP readers: “The Neurological Study Unit: “A Combined Attack on a Single Problem from Many Angles”” by Elan D. Louis. Abstract:

In the 1920s, neurology was a fledgling discipline. Various attempts were made to establish programs relating to neurological care and research. One such initiative was the Neurological Study Unit (NSU) at the Yale School of Medicine. My aim is to chronicle the early years of the NSU (1924–40): the motivations for establishing the unit, its structure, its challenges, and its evolution. I have studied all documents related to the NSU at Manuscripts & Archives, Yale University Library. The NSU was heralded as a “combined attack on a single problem from many angles.” It was slow to develop, however, and had a number of missing elements. While some of this may have been due to a lack of funds and the absence of a dedicated neurologist, it was also the result of a failure to conceptualize a neurological unit, the slow evolution-into-existence of a nascent and fledgling medical discipline, growing pains and frictions within the leadership, a university-based rather than a hospital-based model of operation, and turf wars between neurology and allied disciplines.

Perspectives on Psychometrics Interviews with 20 Past Psychometric Society Presidents

AHP readers may be interested in an open access article in Psychometrika that explores oral history interviews with previous presidents of the Psychometric Society.

Perspectives on Psychometrics Interviews with 20 Past Psychometric Society Presidents,” Lisa D. Wijsen & Denny Borsboom. Abstract:

In this article, we present the findings of an oral history project on the past, present, and future of psychometrics, as obtained through structured interviews with twenty past Psychometric Society presidents. Perspectives on how psychometrics should be practiced vary strongly. Some presidents are psychology-oriented, whereas others have a more mathematical or statistical approach. The originally strong relationship between psychometrics and psychology has weakened, and contemporary psychometrics has become a diverse and multifaceted discipline. The presidents are confident psychometrics will continue to be relevant but believe psychometrics needs to become better at selling its strong points to relevant research areas. We recommend for psychometrics to cherish its plurality and make its goals and priorities explicit.

New SHM: Asylum Photography, Educational Psychology, and More

The February 2021 issue of Social History of Medicine includes several articles that may interest AHP readers. Full details below.

“At the Margins of the Medical? Educational Psychology, Child Guidance and Therapy in Provincial England, c.1945–74,” Andrew Burchell. Abstract:

This article mobilises archival material from local authorities in England to assess the shifting role of psychologists within local school health services from the 1930s through to the reorganisation of the National Health Service (NHS) in 1974. It argues that psychologists were increasingly positioned between therapist, diagnostician and social worker, that this was bound together with a local discourse of children’s emotional well-being and that the increasing fluidity of the psychologist’s role emerged from local policies designed to stress the ‘educational’ nature of their role. In so doing, it extends work by John Stewart on child guidance and more long-standing histories of local, ‘municipal’ medical services. It suggests ways in which the older, localised provision of public health services in Britain persisted after the creation of the NHS and argues the need for a more flexible understanding of what was ‘medical’ about the local welfare state in this period.

“‘A Tortured Nation Gave Birth to a Lunatic’: The Construction of Insanity in the 1912 Terrorist Attack in Croatia,” Stella Fatovi?-Feren?i? and Martin Kuhar. Summary:

In spring 1912, 25-year-old lawyer Luka Juki? tried to assassinate the Croatian Ban and Royal Commissioner Slavko Cuvaj. This article focuses on several aspects of the trial against Juki?: first, on analysing the impact of Cesare Lombroso’s criminology in Croatia; second, on the testimony by forensic psychiatrist Ivo Žirov?i?, who controversially claimed that Juki? was sane; third, on unmasking the techniques and manipulations by the media, the regime and the opposition concerning the assassin’s alleged insanity; and finally, on identifying the ways in which the case influenced further political and revolutionary activities in the country. The discussion concerning Juki?’s accountability deepened the chasm between the supporters and opponents of Cuvaj’s regime, both in the political sphere and within the Croatian medical community.

“‘The Annexed Photos were Taken Today’: Photographing Patients in the Late-Nineteenth-century Asylum,” Katherine D B Rawling. Summary:

Photographing patients was a common practice in many asylums in the nineteenth century. Asylum casebooks contain thousands of patient photographs varying in style and content, but they have been paid relatively little attention by historians of medicine. When patient photographs have been considered, one type of photograph has been taken to represent all patient photography. Through a comparison of casebook photographs from two very different institutions, this article argues that photographic practices were fluid, ambiguous and diverse in the nineteenth century, and the camera was used in a variety of ways inside the asylum. Examining the visual patient record can enhance and even challenge established histories of mental illness and medico-psychiatric practices, as we consider the photographing of patients as a stage in the doctor–patient encounter, an important part of diagnosis and resulting treatment, and as a feature of patient experience.

Mental Health in China and the Chinese Diaspora: Historical and Cultural Perspectives

A new book will interest AHP readers. Edited by Harry Minas, Mental Health in China and the Chinese Diaspora: Historical and Cultural Perspectives is described as follows:

Following on the previous volume, Mental Health in Asia and the Pacific, which was co-edited with Milton Lewis, this book explores historical and contemporary developments in mental health in China and Chinese immigrant populations. It presents the development of mental health policies and services from the 19th Century until the present time, offering a clear view of the antecedents of today’s policies and practice. Chapters focus on traditional Chinese conceptions of mental illness, the development of the Chinese mental health system through the massive political, social, cultural and economic transformations in China from the late 19th Century to the present, and the mental health of Chinese immigrants in several countries with large Chinese populations. China’s international political and economic influence and its capabilities in mental health science and innovation have grown rapidly in recent decades. So has China’s engagement in international institutions, and in global economic and health development activities. Chinese immigrant communities are to be found in almost all countries all around the world. Readers of this book will gain an understanding of how historical, cultural, economic, social, and political contexts have influenced the development of mental health law, policies and services in China and how these contexts in migrant receiving countries shape the mental health of Chinese immigrants. 

Call for Contributions: Special Issue on 70 years of the Inter-American Society of Psychology (SIP)

A call for submission for a special issue of the Interamerican Journal of Psychology (IJP)/Revista Interamericana de Psicología (RIP) celebrating the 70th anniversary of Interamerican Society of Psychology (ISP) has been issued.

Special Theme 2021: 70 years of the Inter-American Society of Psychology (SIP)

The Interamerican Journal of Psychology (IJP)/Revista Interamericana de Psicología (RIP) during 2021 calls the research community to send contributions related to the 70 years of the Interamerican Society of Psychology (ISP), created on December 17, 1951, in Mexico City. Papers can address various issues directly or indirectly related to the history of the Society, from a critical perspective, including regional and international contributions of the psychological work to our America.

Articles can be submitted in the four official languages of ISP (English, Spanish, Portuguese and French), from December 1, 2020 until July 31, 2021. For more information, see the guidelines for authors:

The works will be evaluated with speed and preference by the thematic editor Ana María Talak and the guest editors Erika Lourenço and David Robinson, and they will all be published during 2021, immediately upon acceptance, since the IJP/ RIP is a journal of continuous publication.

We look forward to your contributions!

Ana Maria Talak
Thematic Editor – History of Psychology
Revista Interamericana de Psicología / International Journal of Psychology

Erika Lourenço
Guest Editor – History of Psychology

David Robinson
Guest Editor – History of Psychology

Jennifer Bazar, PhD is the new Assistant Director of the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology

Congratulations to Jennifer Bazar (an AHP alum!) on her appointment as Assistant Director of the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology. As noted in the announcement of Bazar’s appointment: “Dr. Bazar’s experience and expertise will be a wonderful addition to the Center and to the greater campus community,” says the Center’s Executive Director, Dr. Cathy Faye. “We are pleased to welcome her to Akron.”

Collecting to understand: the art of children and the medical-pedagogical approach in twentieth-century Portugal

AHP readers may be interested in a new article in History of Psychiatry, “Collecting to understand: the art of children and the medical-pedagogical approach in twentieth-century Portugal,” by João Pedro Fróis. Abstract:

In this essay I look at the art of children as a tool in the medical-pedagogical approach, as proposed by the founder of child psychiatry in Portugal, Vítor Fontes (1893–1979). First, the topic of the art of children is introduced, and the second part focuses on the model of medical pedagogy as it was practised in Portugal. The third and fourth parts present Fontes’s own investigations on the drawings of children with intellectual disabilities under observation at the Instituto Médico-Pedagógico António Aurélio da Costa Ferreira (IAACF) in Lisbon. In the conclusion it is argued that Fontes contributed to the development of child psychiatry in Portugal by showing that children’s art can mirror their cognitive and emotional development.