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.

Disalienation: Politics, Philosophy, and Radical Psychiatry in Postwar France

AHP readers may be interested in a new book by Camille Robcis: Disalienation: Politics, Philosophy, and Radical Psychiatry in Postwar France. The book is described as follows:

From 1940 to 1945, forty thousand patients died in French psychiatric hospitals. The Vichy regime’s “soft extermination” let patients die of cold, starvation, or lack of care. But in Saint-Alban-sur-Limagnole, a small village in central France, one psychiatric hospital attempted to resist. Hoarding food with the help of the local population, the staff not only worked to keep patients alive but began to rethink the practical and theoretical bases of psychiatric care. The movement that began at Saint-Alban came to be known as institutional psychotherapy and would go on to have a profound influence on postwar French thought.

In Disalienation, Camille Robcis grapples with the historical, intellectual, and psychiatric meaning of the ethics articulated at Saint-Alban by exploring the movement’s key thinkers, including François Tosquelles, Frantz Fanon, Félix Guattari, and Michel Foucault. Anchored in the history of one hospital, Robcis’s study draws on a wide geographic context—revolutionary Spain, occupied France, colonial Algeria, and beyond—and charts the movement’s place within a broad political-economic landscape, from fascism to Stalinism to postwar capitalism.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

List of Abbreviations

Introduction: A Politics of Madness

1—François Tosquelles, Saint-Alban, and the Invention of Institutional Psychotherapy

2—Frantz Fanon, the Pathologies of Freedom, and the Decolonization of Institutional Psychotherapy

3—Félix Guattari, La Borde, and the Search for Anti-oedipal Politics

4—Michel Foucault, Psychiatry, Antipsychiatry, and Power

Epilogue: The Hospital as a Laboratory of Political Invention





Who’s normal and who’s not? Notions of children’s intellectual development in the context of emerging special education at the turn of the twentieth century in Switzerland

AHP readers may be interested in a new piece in History of Education: “Who’s normal and who’s not? Notions of children’s intellectual development in the context of emerging special education at the turn of the twentieth century in Switzerland” by Michèle Hofmann. Abstract:

The article explores the notions of children’s intellectual ‘ab/normality’ that were conceptualised in the context of emerging special educational measures at the turn of the twentieth century and the concomitant notions of child development. From the mid-nineteenth century onwards, the medical classification of ‘idiocy’ provided the framework for the establishment of different educational facilities, including special classes for ‘feebleminded’ children. The present analysis focuses on the allocation of pupils to these classes in Switzerland guided by the premise that a one-year-long trial period, during which thousands of children of the same age were observed in school, had shaped the notion of ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ child development. This notion in turn provided the basis for assessing intellectual ability at the individual level. In other words, no scientific metrics teachers could use to separate the ‘normal’ from the ‘abnormal’ existed when this separation process began, but rather emerged from the process itself.

Psychometric origins of depression

A new open-access piece in History of the Human Sciences may interest AHP readers: “Psychometric origins of depression” by Susan McPherson and David Armstrong. Abstract:

This article examines the historical construction of depression over about a hundred years, employing the social life of methods as an explanatory framework. Specifically, it considers how emerging methodologies in the measurement of psychological constructs contributed to changes in epistemological approaches to mental illness and created the conditions of possibility for major shifts in the construction of depression. While depression was once seen as a feature of psychotic personality, measurement technologies made it possible for it to be reconstructed as changeable and treatable. Different types of scaling techniques (Likert versus dichotomous scales) enabled the separation of depressive personality from reactive depression, paving the way for measuring the severity and intensity of emotions. Techniques to test sensitivity to change provided a means of demonstrating the efficacy of new psychoactive drug treatments. Later, more advanced techniques of precision scaling enabled the management of a new measurement problem, clinician unreliability, associated with the growing number of professionals involved in mental health care. Through statistical management of unreliability, the construct of depression has dramatically reduced over this period from hundreds of questionnaire items to potentially just two. Exploring the history of depression through this lens produces an alternative narrative to those that have emerged as a result of medicalisation and the actions of individuals and pressure groups.

Spring 2021 JHBS: Pastoral Care, Public Opinion Research in West Germany, and More

The Spring 2021 issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences is now online. Full issue details below.

“Why psychiatry might cooperate with religion: The Michigan Society of Pastoral Care, 1945–1968,” Laura Hirshbein. Abstract:

The early decades of the pastoral care movement were characterized by a remarkable collaboration with psychiatry. While historians of the religious aspects of this movement have noted the reliance of pastoral care on psychiatry and psychology, it has been less clear how and why mental health professionals elected to work with clergy. This paper uses the Michigan Society of Pastoral Care (MSPC), one of the early training programs for hospital chaplains on the model of the Boston?based Institute for Pastoral Care, as a window to explore the interactions between psychiatry and religion at mid century. Raymond Waggoner, the nationally recognized and well?connected chair of the psychiatry department at the University of Michigan, was instrumental in expanding the influential pastoral care program at his hospital and in his state as part of his bigger mission of emphasizing the fundamental role of psychiatry in American life. Waggoner played a key role within the MSPC, in conjunction with leaders within the medical departments of the major hospitals in the state. All of the members of the MSPC viewed psychiatry’s insights as essential for pastoral care, with the caveat that chaplains should remain pupils, not practitioners of psychotherapy

“Intersecting aims, divergent paths: The Allensbach Institute, the Institute for Social Research, and the making of public opinion research in 1950s West Germany,” Sonja G. Ostrow. Abstract:

After 1945, both the Western Allies in Germany and some German social scientists embraced empirical public opinion research. This article examines the rhetoric, practices, and collaborative professional efforts of two of the most significant institutions conducting opinion research in West Germany in the 1950s: the Allensbach Institute and the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt. Although the political stances of these institutions differed, they were motivated to apply empirical research methods associated with Anglo?American social research to the West German population by shared concerns about the fragility of democracy, faith in the empirical sciences as an antidote to Nazi?era thought patterns, and the need to form a united front against doubters within West Germany. Even while declaring their desire to incorporate the latest empirical advances from the United States, however, they sought to articulate the meaning of their methods and findings in terms of the specific challenges faced by West Germany.

“Psychology qua psychoanalysis in Argentina: Some historical origins of a philosophical problem (1942–1964),” Catriel Fierro and Saulo de Freitas Araujo. Abstract:

Contemporary Argentinian psychology has a unique characteristic: it is identified with psychoanalysis. Nonpsychoanalytic theories and therapies are difficult to find. In addition, there is an overt antiscientific attitude within many psychology programs. How should this be explained? In this paper, we claim that a philosophical history of psychology can shed new light on the development of Argentinian psychology by showing that early Argentinian psychoanalysts held positions in the newborn psychology programs and a distinctive stance toward scientific research in general and psychology in particular. In the absence of an explicit and articulate philosophical position, psychoanalysts developed an implicit meta?theory that helped shape the context that led to the institutionalization and professionalization of psychology in Argentina. Although we do not establish or even suggest a monocausal link between their ideas and the current state of Argentinian psychology, we do claim that their impact should be explored. Finally, we discuss some limitations of our study and suggest future complementary investigations.

““Never sacrifice anything to laboratory work”: The “physiological psychology” of Charles Richet (1875–1905),” Renaud Evrard, Stéphane Gumpper, Bevis Beauvais, and Carlos S. Alvarado. Abstract:

Whilst best known as a Nobel laureate physiologist, Charles Robert Richet (1850–1935) was also a pioneer of scientific psychology. Starting in 1875 Richet had a leading role in the habilitation of hypnosis, in the institutionalization of psychology in France, and in the introduction of methodological innovations. Authoring several psychology books, Richet’s works contributed to the recognition of the scientific nature of the discipline. This role is often underplayed by some historians and psychology textbooks in favor of his later position as a proponent of the controversial discipline he christened metapsychics in 1905, which today lies within the province of parapsychology. In this article, we show how his psychological approach guided by physiology, or physiological psychology, facilitated the reception of psychology. We hypothesize a strong continuity between his physiological psychology and his metapsychics, as he himself considered metapsychics as an advanced branch of physiology, and thus also an outpost of psychology.

“Psychological operationisms at Harvard: Skinner, Boring, and Stevens,” Sander Verhaegh. Abstract:

Contemporary discussions about operational definition often hark back to Stanley S. Stevens’ classic papers on psychological operationism. Still, he was far from the only psychologist to call for conceptual hygiene. Some of Stevens’ direct colleagues at Harvard—most notably B. F. Skinner and E. G. Boring—were also actively applying Bridgman’s conceptual strictures to the study of mind and behavior. In this paper, I shed new light on the history of operationism by reconstructing the Harvard debates about operational definition in the years before Stevens published his seminal articles. Building on a large set of archival evidence from the Harvard University Archives, I argue that we can get a more complete understanding of Stevens’ contributions if we better grasp the operationisms of his former teachers and direct colleagues at Harvard’s Department of Philosophy and Psychology

Call for Submissions: FHHS Early Career Award & Article Prize. Deadline June 1, 2021

The Forum for the History of Human Science has issued a call for their Early Career Award and Article Prize. The deadline for both is June 1, 2021. Full details below.

FHHS award information:

FHHS/JHBS John C. Burnham Early Career Award: The submission deadline is June 1, 2021. Please submit your CV and manuscript (in PDF format) to

The Forum for History of Human Science (FHHS) and the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Science (JHBS) encourage researchers in their early careers to submit unpublished manuscripts for the annual John C. Burnham Early Career Award, named in honor of this prominent historian of the human sciences and past-editor of JHBS. The publisher provides the author of the paper an honorarium of US $500 at the time the manuscript is accepted for publication by JHBS. (see details below).

Guidelines for the award: Unpublished manuscripts in English dealing with any aspect of the history of the human sciences. The paper should meet the publishing guidelines of the JHBS. Eligible scholars are those who do not hold tenured university positions (or equivalent) and are not more than seven years beyond the Ph.D. Graduate students and independent scholars are encouraged to submit. Manuscripts may be re-submitted for the prize, as long as they have not been published or submitted to another journal and the submitting scholar is still in early career. The manuscript cannot be submitted to any other journal and still qualify for this award. Please also submit a CV. Past winners are not eligible to submit again.

The winning submission will be announced at the annual History of Science Society meeting. (If there are no submissions of suitable quality in any given year, no award will be given for that year.) The winning article can then be submitted to JHBS with FHHS endorsement and will undergo the regular review process. When the article is accepted for publication, the publisher of JHBS will announce the award and issue a US $500 honorarium. Although it is technically possible that someone might win the Burnham Early Career Award and not receive the honorarium, FHHS and JHBS do not expect this to happen under normal circumstances.

FHHS Article Prize. The submission deadline is June 1, 2021. Please submit your article (in PDF format) to

The Forum for History of Human Science awards a biennial prize (a nonmonetary honor) for the best article published recently on some aspect of the history of the human sciences. The article prize is awarded in odd-numbered years. The winner of the prize is announced at the annual History of Science Society meeting.

Entries are encouraged from authors in any discipline, as long as the work is related to the history of the human sciences, broadly construed, and is in English. To be eligible, the article must have been published within the three years previous to the year of the award. Preference will be given to authors who have not won the award previously.

Mad by the Millions: Mental Disorders and the Early Years of the World Health Organization

AHP readers will be interested in a new book: Mad by the Millions: Mental Disorders and the Early Years of the World Health Organization by Harry Yi-Jui Wu. The book is described as follows:

In 1948, the World Health Organization began to prepare its social psychiatry project, which aimed to discover the epidemiology and arrive at a classification of mental disorders. In Mad by the Millions, Harry Y-Jui Wu examines the WHO’s ambitious project, arguing that it was shaped by the postwar faith in technology and expertise and the universalizing vision of a “world psyche.” Wu shows that the WHO’s idealized scientific internationalism laid the foundations for today’s highly metricalized global mental health system.

Examining the interactions between the WHO and developing countries, Wu offers an analysis of the “transnationality” of mental health. He examines knowledge-sharing between the organization and African and Latin American collaborators, and looks in detail at the WHO’s selection of a Taiwanese scientist, Tsung-yi Lin, to be its medical officer and head of the social psychiatry project. He discusses scientists’ pursuit of standardization—not only to synchronize sectors in the organization but also to produce a common language of psychiatry—and how technological advances supported this. Wu considers why the optimism and idealism of the social psychiatry project turned to dissatisfaction, reappraising the WHO’s early knowledge production modality through the concept of an “export processing zone.” Finally, he looks at the WHO’s project in light of current debates over psychiatry and global mental health, as scientists shift their concerns from the creation of universal metrics to the importance of local matrixes.

American Trip: Set, Setting, and the Psychedelic Experience in the Twentieth Century

A new book, American Trip: Set, Setting, and the Psychedelic Experience in the Twentieth Century, will interest AHP readers. The book, by Ido Hartogsohn, is described as follows:

Are psychedelics invaluable therapeutic medicines, or dangerously unpredictable drugs that precipitate psychosis? Tools for spiritual communion or cognitive enhancers that spark innovation? Activators for one’s private muse or part of a political movement? In the 1950s and 1960s, researchers studied psychedelics in all these incarnations, often arriving at contradictory results. In American Trip, Ido Hartogsohn examines how the psychedelic experience in midcentury America was shaped by historical, social, and cultural forces—by set (the mindset of the user) and setting (the environments in which the experience takes place). He explores uses of psychedelics that range from CIA and military experimentation to psychedelic-inspired styles in music, fashion, design, architecture, and film. Along the way, he introduces us to a memorable cast of characters including Betty Eisner, a psychologist who drew on her own experience to argue for the therapeutic potential of LSD, and Timothy Leary, who founded the Harvard Psilocybin Project and went on to become psychedelics’ most famous advocate.

Hartogsohn chronicles these developments in the context of the era’s cultural trends, including the cold war, the counterculture, the anti-psychiatric movement, and the rise of cybernetics. Drawing on insights from the study of science, technology, and society, he develops the idea of LSD as a suggestible technology, the properties of which are shaped by suggestion. He proposes the concept of collective set and setting, arguing that the historical and sociocultural context of midcentury America offered a particular set and setting—creating the conditions for what he calls the American trip.

Asfuriyyeh: A History of Madness, Modernity, and War in the Middle East

A new book from MIT Press may interest AHP readers: Asfuriyyeh: A History of Madness, Modernity, and War in the Middle East by Joelle M Abi-Rached. The book is described as follows:

Asfuriyyeh (formally, the Lebanon Hospital for the Insane) was founded by a Swiss Quaker missionary in 1896, one of the first modern psychiatric hospitals in the Middle East. It closed its doors in 1982, a victim of Lebanon’s brutal fifteen-year civil war. In this book, Joelle Abi-Rached uses the rise and fall of Asfuriyyeh as a lens through which to examine the development of modern psychiatric theory and practice in the region as well as the sociopolitical history of modern Lebanon.

Abi-Rached shows how Asfuriyyeh’s role shifted from a missionary enterprise to a national institution with wide regional influence. She offers a gripping chronicle of patients’ and staff members’ experiences during the Lebanese civil war and analyzes the hospital’s distinctive nonsectarian philosophy. When Asfuriyyeh closed down, health in general and mental health in particular became more visibly “sectarianized”—monopolized by various religious and political actors. Once hailed for its progressive approach to mental illness and its cosmopolitanism, Asfuriyyeh became a stigmatizing term, a byword for madness and deviance, ultimately epitomizing a failed project of modernity. Reflecting on the afterlife of this and other medical institutions, especially those affected by war, Abi-Rached calls for a new “ethics of memory,” more attuned to our global yet increasingly fragmented, unstable, and violent present.

French Neopositivism and the Logic, Psychology, and Sociology of Scientific Discovery

AHP readers may be interested in a forthcoming piece in HOPOS: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science: “French Neopositivism and the Logic, Psychology, and Sociology of Scientific Discovery,” by Krist Vaesen. Abstract:

This article is concerned with one of the notable but forgotten research strands that developed out of French nineteenth-century positivism, a strand that turned attention to the study of scientific discovery and was actively pursued by French epistemologists around the turn of the nineteenth century. I first sketch the context in which this research program emerged. I show that the program was a natural offshoot of French neopositivism; the latter was a current of twentieth-century thought that, even if implicitly, challenged the positivism of first-generation positivists such as Comte. I then survey what French epistemologists—including Ernest Naville, Élie Rabier, Pierre Duhem, Édouard Le Roy, Abel Rey, André Lalande, Théodule-Armand Ribot, Edmond Goblot, and Jacques Picard, among others—had to say about the logic, psychology, and sociology of discovery. My story demonstrates the inaccuracy of existing historical accounts of the philosophical study of scientific discovery.

Call for Editors: A Cultural History of Madness

H-Madness has published a call for editors for a new series A Cultural History of Madness. Full details (via H-Madness) below.

General editors: Jonathan Sadowsky and Chiara Thumiger 

As series co-editors for a forthcoming six-volume Cultural History of Madness, to be published by Bloomsbury, we invite applications and nominations for people to serve as editors for the individual volumes.  Each volume will have one or two editors; joint proposals to edit as a team are welcome.

The individual volumes will each cover a historical period. Following Bloomsbury’s practice of having each volume in their Cultural History series consist of the same chapter organization, editors will be expected to work within the chapter framework developed by the series editors, which reflects to an important extent the series format; this framework has already been approved by Bloomsbury.

We are hoping to attract the interest of established scholars as well as committed historians at an earlier stage of their career for this project, which requires enthusiasm, creativity and the desire to look at ‘madness’ with a fresh perspective. In particular, we are partial to editors who wish to expand the focus beyond Europe and the United States, and who are also keen on a combination of both established and early-career scholarsto cover the territory in innovative ways. Finally, a large collaborative enterprise such as the Cultural History requires the acknowledgement of a fixed common schedule: commitment to this and the ability to respectdeadlines(and make them respected) are also fundamental to the role of volume editors.

Those interested in being editors are asked to submit to the general editors 1) a brief statement of how they view the structure of the proposal for the volume they wish to edit, 2) a brief statement of relevant experience and publications, and 3) some proposed ideas for chapter authors (with no expectation that these names are at this time confirmed or final). Final selection of individual authors will be at the complete discretion of the volume editors, so we are not seeking nominations or proposals for chapter authors at this time (although we are happy to help and suggest names, of course).

Volume Editors receive 4% NR royalties on their volume, 1 full set of the series, and 5 copies of their own volume.

A copy of the approved series proposal is available here

Please address your inquiries and proposals for Volumes 1, 2, 3 to Chiara Thumiger ( and for 4, 5, 6 to Jonathan Sadowsky (Jonathan Sadowsky (

The call for editors is open until one is identified and confirmed for each volume, but we are hoping to receive applications and nominations by 15.05.2021.