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.

New Documentary: The Fruit Machine

One of the images shown to suspected LGBTQ public servants as part of the so-called ‘fruit machine’ testing during the Cold War. (CBC)

A new documentary by Sarah Fodey, The Fruit Machine, details efforts by the Canadian government to detect homosexuals with a specially constructed device – the fruit machine. Designed by Carleton University psychologist Frank Robert Wade in the early 1960s, the fruit machine continued to be employed into the 1990s.

As described in a recent CBC news article,

… the fruit machine was created as an ostensibly scientific way to detect homosexuals, so they could be fired from their government jobs or pre-screened before being offered employment in the first place. This was during the Cold War, and the prevailing fear was that homosexuals would be at a greater risk of blackmail by Russian spies. They needed to be identified and removed, the thinking went, so they wouldn’t reveal the nation’s secrets. ….

“It was designed in the early 1960s by Frank Robert Wake, a psychology professor with Carleton University,” Fodey explains. “The Canadian government paid to send Dr. Wake to the United States to study detection devices that were used there at the time. After about a year of research, Dr. Wake returned to Canada and used his findings to create the ‘Special Project’ as it was officially known. A sergeant with the RCMP later coined it ‘the fruit machine,’ and the name stuck.”

The machine itself was dismantled long ago, but it “looked like something resembling a dentist chair in front of a camera mounted on a pulley,” says Fodey.

“Men would be subjected to lewd images and photographs would be taken of their pupils in response to the various images,” Fodey says. “The thinking was that if one’s pupils enlarged at the sight of a naked man, this would indicate same sex attraction. It was, in a word, ridiculous.”

The full feature-length documentary can be viewed on the TVO website here.

More information on Wade and the fruit machine can be found in Chapter 5 of Gary Kinsman and Patrizia Gentile’s 2009 book The Canadian War on Queers: National Security as Sexual Regulation.

Deadline Extended: Call for Papers: History of Emotions in the Modern Period

Call for Papers: History of Emotions in the Modern Period
Submission Deadline: April 15, 2019

History of Psychology invites submissions for a special issue on the history of emotions in the modern period.

The relatively new specialization of the history of the emotions has revealed that emotion, felt experience, and expression have played a key role in culture, society, and politics. In the history of science, however, interest in the emotions has been more muted.

This special issue will focus on the exploration of emotion theory and practice in the human sciences in the modern period — roughly from the late 18th century to today.

This special issue will address the following themes, among others.

Was there a particular historical moment in which interest in emotions in the sciences, broadly construed, increased?

While some historians situate heightened study of the emotions in the sciences in the 1960s, others point to a surge in interest in emotions after World War II.

But we can also go back to William James’s 1884 influential theory of emotion that stimulated intense debate; or to the 1910s, when Walter Cannon experimented on the physiological concomitants of emotion; or to the early 1920s, when unorthodox psychoanalysts Sandor Ferenczi and Otto Rank raised emotional understanding to a central place in psychoanalysis.

More recently, studies in the new discipline of social neuroscience have contributed to the ever-growing literature on emotion and the brain.

Can we discover the roots of the academy’s recent turn to the emotions in older traditions that have not yet received their due?

Might historical investigations shed light on contemporary debates on emotion including the existence, or not, of a set of universal, basic emotions, or whether emotion is primarily a bodily affect or a cognitive response?

As the study of emotion has not been confined to any one discipline, we welcome submissions on the history of psychology, psychotherapy, neuroscience, psychophysiology, social work or other relevant fields.

Manuscript Submission
The main text of each manuscript, exclusive of ?gures, tables, references, or appendices, should not exceed 35 double-spaced pages (approximately 7,500 words).

Initial inquiries regarding the special issue may be sent to the guest editor, Susan Lanzoni or the regular editor, Nadine Weidman.

Papers should be submitted through the History of Psychology Manuscript Submission Portal with a cover letter indicating that the paper is to be considered for the special issue.

Please see the Manuscript Submission information located on the History of Psychology homepage.

“Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails”: Boys and Behaviour in the USA

Front piece of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, 1876 1st edition

AHP readers may be interested in a forthcoming piece, now available online, in the Canadian Bulletin of Medical History:

““Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails”: Boys and Behaviour in the USA,” by Matthew Smith. Abstract:

In The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain introduced two of the most iconic boys in American literature. Tom and Huck become heroic figures, despite their penchant for bad behaviour. Indeed, it is their propensity to be impulsive, break rules and defy authority that win them the day. Today, however, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn have become the posterboys for a psychiatric disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD. I trace how and why attitudes about pathological boys’ behaviour reversed during the twentieth century, from a focus on shy, introverted, and physically passive boys to the very opposite – boys like Tom and Huck. I argue that, rather than imposing limits on childhood behaviour, we should be more accepting and encouraging of all types of children.

Dans Les Aventures de Tom Sawyer et Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain a fait connaître deux des garçons les plus emblématiques de la littérature américaine. Tom et Huck deviennent des personnages héroïques en dépit de leur mauvaise conduite. En fait, c’est leur tendance impulsive ; leur inclination à enfreindre les règles et à défier l’autorité qui les aide à sauver la mise. Aujourd’hui, cependant, Tom Sawyer et Huck Finn sont devenus synonymes d’un trouble psychiatrique, le trouble du déficit de l’attention avec ou sans hyperactivité, ou TDAH. Cet article retrace en quoi et pourquoi le 20e siècle entraîne un revirement des attitudes vis-à-vis des troubles pathologiques du comportement chez les garçons ; l’accent n’est plus mis sur les garçons timides, introvertis et physiquement passifs mais sur des garçons comme Tom et Huck. Cet article conclura en soulignant que, plutôt que d’imposer des limites au comportement des enfants, nous devrions avoir une attitude plus ouverte et encourageante envers tous les enfants quelle que soir le nature.

Mind Fixers Psychiatry’s Troubled Search for the Biology of Mental Illness

AHP readers will be interested in Anne Harrington’s recently published volume Mind Fixers: Psychiatry’s Troubled Search for the Biology of Mental Illness. As the publisher describes,

In Mind Fixers, Anne Harrington, author of The Cure Within, explores psychiatry’s repeatedly frustrated struggle to understand mental disorder in biomedical terms. She shows how the stalling of early twentieth century efforts in this direction allowed Freudians and social scientists to insist, with some justification, that they had better ways of analyzing and fixing minds.

But when the Freudians overreached, they drove psychiatry into a state of crisis that a new “biological revolution” was meant to alleviate. Harrington shows how little that biological revolution had to do with breakthroughs in science, and why the field has fallen into a state of crisis in our own time.

Mind Fixers makes clear that psychiatry’s waxing and waning biological enthusiasms have been shaped not just by developments in the clinic and lab, but also by a surprising range of social factors, including immigration, warfare, grassroots activism, and assumptions about race and gender. Government programs designed to empty the state mental hospitals, acrid rivalries between different factions in the field, industry profit mongering, consumerism, and an uncritical media have all contributed to the story as well.

In focusing particularly on the search for the biological roots of schizophrenia, depression, and bipolar disorder, Harrington underscores the high human stakes for the millions of people who have sought medical answers for their mental suffering. This is not just a story about doctors and scientists, but about countless ordinary people and their loved ones.

A clear-eyed, evenhanded, and yet passionate tour de force, Mind Fixers recounts the past and present struggle to make mental illness a biological problem in order to lay the groundwork for creating a better future, both for those who suffer and for those whose job it is to care for them.

A recent review of the book in the Atlantic can be found here.

Fine-Grained Analysis: Talk Therapy, Media, and the Microscopic Science of the Face-to-Face

The most recent issue of Isis includes a piece that may be of interest to AHP readers:

Fine-Grained Analysis: Talk Therapy, Media, and the Microscopic Science of the Face-to-Face,” by Michael Lempert. Abstract:

“Mechanical objectivity,” which Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison trace to the mid-nineteenth century, often coincided with efforts to inscribe nature “directly,” such as through automatic registering machines. But what did this inscription entail? Addressing this question requires that we reexamine indexicalization: the shift in semiotic ideology whereby medial technologies are imagined and acted on as if they preserved material traces of the real. Indexicalization is no simple reflex of mechanical objectivity and is more varied and consequential than commonly imagined. This essay demonstrates this by returning to the sciences of face-to-face interaction, which crystallized in postwar America but drew inspiration from earlier research on talk therapy. Returning to efforts to record psychoanalysis sessions in the early 1930s “objectively,” it chronicles a shift in the technosemiotic mediation of knowledge. Whereas transcripts were originally “verbatim” records of literal content, researchers came to seek tacit, symptomological signs. And whereas mechanical recording was introduced to avoid an observer effect, it was later deemed necessary to preserve indexical traces for fine-grained analysis. This indexicalization had ontological as well as epistemological effects, and it was inspired not by mechanical objectivity but by the parallel capacities of the perceptive psychoanalyst and the receptive mechanical recorder, both virtuosic in registering the indexical richness of the communicative unconscious.