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.

From Papers to Programs: Courts, Corporations, Clinics, and the Battle Over Computerized Psychological Testing

AHP readers will be interested in a new piece in IEEE Annals of the History of Computing by Kira Lussier “From Papers to Programs: Courts, Corporations, Clinics, and the Battle Over Computerized Psychological Testing“. Abstract:

This article examines the role of technology firms in computerizing psychological tests from the 1960s to 1980s. It focuses on National Computer Systems (NCS)’s development of computer software to interpret the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. NCS trumpeted their computerized interpretation as a way to free up clerical labor and mitigate human bias, even as psychologists cautioned that proprietary algorithms risked obscuring decision rules. Clinics, courtrooms, and businesses all had competing interests in the use of computerized personality tests. I argue that test developers promoted computerized psychological tests as technical fixes for bias, even as courts and psychologists pointed to the complex layers of technological and social mediation embedded in software programs for psychological tests. This article contributes to histories of computing emphasizing the importance of intellectual property law in software development; to the relationship between labor, technology, and expertise; and to scholarship on the history and politics of algorithms.

In the Public Good: Eugenics and Law in Ontario

The just-published book, In the Public Good: Eugenics and Law in Ontario, may interest AHP readers. Written by C. Elizabeth Koester, the book is described as follows:

In the early twentieth century, the eugenics movement won many supporters with its promise that social ills such as venereal disease, alcoholism, and so-called feeble-mindedness, along with many other conditions, could be eliminated by selective human breeding and other measures. The provinces of Alberta and British Columbia passed legislation requiring that certain “unfit” individuals undergo reproductive sterilization. Ontario, being home to many leading proponents of eugenics, came close to doing the same.

In the Public Good examines three legal processes that were used to advance eugenic ideas in Ontario between 1910 and 1938: legislative bills, provincial royal commissions, and the criminal trial of a young woman accused of distributing birth control information. Taken together, they reveal who in the province supported these ideas, how they were understood in relation to the public good, and how they were debated. Elizabeth Koester shows the ways in which the law was used both to promote and to deflect eugenics, and how the concept of the public good was used by supporters to add power to their cause.

With eugenic thinking finding new footholds in the possibilities offered by reproductive technologies, proposals to link welfare entitlement to “voluntary” sterilization, and concerns about immigration, In the Public Good adds depth to our understanding. Its exploration of the historical relationship between eugenics and law in Ontario prepares us to face the implications of “newgenics” today.

Insanity in a Sea of Islands: Mobility and Mental Health in Aotearoa New Zealand’s Pacific Sphere

AHP readers may be interested in a new freely available piece in The Journal of New Zealand Studies: “Insanity in a Sea of Islands: Mobility and Mental Health in Aotearoa New Zealand’s Pacific Sphere,” by Jacqueline Leckie. Abstract:

This article builds upon the fragmentary historical evidence of mental illness and mental health within South Pacific societies to explore the nexus with migration and mobility. The focus is on the Pacific territories that were under Aotearoa New Zealand’s jurisdiction. The article explores concepts of mental health and mobility within Pacific societies that became entangled with European concepts to designate insanity. The paper then discusses how mental illnesses were exacerbated or induced through migration and travel across the Pacific. The last section explores the transfer of mentally ill patients from some Pacific islands to Aotearoa. This article is based upon the 2018 J. D. Stout Lecture at Victoria University of Wellington.

The emergence of the idea of ‘the welfare state’ in British political discourse

AHP readers may be interested in a new article in History of the Human Sciences: “The emergence of the idea of ‘the welfare state’ in British political discourse,” by David Garland. Abstract:

This article traces the emergence of the term welfare state in British political discourse and describes competing efforts to define its meaning. It presents a genealogy of the concept’s emergence and its subsequent integration into various political scripts, tracing the struggles that sought to name, define, and narrate what welfare state would be taken to mean. It shows that the concept emerged only after the core programmes to which it referred had already been enacted into law and that the referents and meaning of the concept were never generally agreed upon – not even at the moment of its formation in the late 1940s. During the 1950s, the welfare state concept was being framed in three distinct senses: (a) the welfare state as a set of social security programmes; (b) the welfare state as a socio-economic system; and (c) the welfare state as a new kind of state. Each of these usages was deployed by opposing political actors – though with different scope, meaning, value, and implication. The article argues that the welfare state concept did not operate as a representation reflecting a separate, already-constituted reality. Rather, the use of the concept in the political and economic arguments of the period – and in later disputes about the nature of the Labour government’s post-war achievements – was always thoroughly rhetorical and constitutive, its users aiming to shape the transformations and outcomes that they claimed merely to describe.

Disturbing Spirits: Mental Illness, Trauma, and Treatment in Modern Syria and Lebanon

AHP readers may be interested in the new book Disturbing Spirits: Mental Illness, Trauma, and Treatment in Modern Syria and Lebanon by Beverly A. Tsacoyianis. The book is described as follows:

This book investigates the psychological toll of conflict in the Middle East during the twentieth century, including discussion of how spiritual and religious frameworks influence practice and theory.

The concept of mental health treatment in war-torn Middle Eastern nations is painfully understudied. In Disturbing Spirits, Beverly A. Tsacoyianis blends social, cultural, and medical history research methods with approaches in disability and trauma studies to demonstrate that the history of mental illness in Syria and Lebanon since the 1890s is embedded in disparate—but not necessarily mutually exclusive—ideas about legitimate healing. Tsacoyianis examines the encounters between “Western” psychiatry and local practices and argues that the attempt to implement “modern” cosmopolitan biomedicine for the last 120 years has largely failed—in part because of political instability and political traumas and in part because of narrow definitions of modern medicine that excluded spirituality and locally meaningful cultural practices.

Analyzing hospital records, ethnographic data, oral history research, historical fiction, and journalistic nonfiction, Tsacoyianis claims that psychiatrists presented mental health treatment to Syrians and Lebanese not only as a way to control or cure mental illness but also as a modernizing worldview to combat popular ideas about jinn-based origins of mental illness and to encourage acceptance of psychiatry. Treatment devoid of spiritual therapies ultimately delegitimized psychiatry among lower classes. Tsacoyianis maintains that tensions between psychiatrists and vernacular healers developed as political transformations devastated collective and individual psyches and disrupted social order. Scholars working on healing in the modern Middle East have largely studied either psychiatric or non-biomedical healing, but rarely their connections to each other or to politics. In this groundbreaking work, Tsacoyianis connects the discussion of global responsibility to scholarly debates about human suffering and the moral call to caregiving. Disturbing Spirits will interest students and scholars of the history of medicine and public health, Middle Eastern studies, and postcolonial literature.

Traumatic Pasts in Asia: History, Psychiatry, and Trauma from the 1930s to the Present

AHP readers may be interested in a new book edited by Mark S. Micale and Hans Pols: Traumatic Pasts in Asia: History, Psychiatry, and Trauma from the 1930s to the Present. The book is described as follows:

In the early twenty-first century, trauma is seemingly everywhere, whether as experience, diagnosis, concept, or buzzword. Yet even as many scholars consider trauma to be constitutive of psychological modernity or the post-Enlightenment human condition, historical research on the topic has overwhelmingly focused on cases, such as World War I or the Holocaust, in which Western experiences and actors are foregrounded. There remains an urgent need to incorporate the methods and insights of recent historical trauma research into a truly global perspective. The chapters in Traumatic Pasts in Asia make just such an intervention, extending Euro-American paradigms of traumatic experience to new sites of world-historical suffering and, in the process, exploring how these new domains of research inform and enrich earlier scholarship.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface and Acknowledgements

Introduction: History, Trauma, and Asia
Hans Pols and Mark S. Micale

Chapter 1. Tropical Stupor? An Investigation into Patients Affected by Earthquakes and Tropical Weather in Colonial Taiwan
Harry Yi?Jui Wu

Chapter 2. Male Hysteria in Modern Japan: Trauma, Masculinity, and Military Psychiatry during the Asia-Pacific War
Eri Nakamura

Chapter 3. Atomic Trauma: Japanese Psychiatry in Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Ran Zwigenberg

Chapter 4. “Yankee Style Trauma”: The Korean War and the Americanization of Psychiatry in the Republic of Korea
Jennifer Yum Park

Chapter 5. “No PTSD in Vietnam”: Psychological Trauma, Psychic Shock, and the Biology of War Suffering in the Context of the American War
Narquis Barak

Chapter 6. Psychological Trauma and Suffering in Long Distance Friendships Involving Political Prisoners in Indonesia
Vannessa Hearman

Chapter 7. Haunting and Recovery in Post–Khmer Rouge Cambodia
Caroline Bennett

Chapter 8. A Field of Happiness: Space, Trauma, and Dealing with Existential Precarity among China’s Sent-Down Youth
Hua Wu

Chapter 9. Performing Songs as Healing the Trauma of the 1965 Anti-Communist Killings in Indonesia
Dyah Pitaloka and Mohan J. Dutta

Chapter 10. Healing Our Sacrifice: Trauma and Translation in the Burmese Democracy Movement
Seinenu M. Thein-Lemelson

Chapter 11. Beyond PTSD: Politics of Visibility in a Kashmiri Clinic
Saiba Varma

Chapter 12. War Memorials: Materializing Traumatic Pasts and Constructing Memories of the Asia-Pacific War
Maki Kimura

Afterword: Traumatic Pasts, Haunting Futures
Byron J. Good

Assembling Adjustment: Parergasia, Paper Technologies, and the Revision of Recovery

A new piece in Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry may interest AHP readers: “Assembling Adjustment: Parergasia, Paper Technologies, and the Revision of Recovery,” by Michael N. Healey. Abstract:

Drawing from research on ‘paper technologies’ conducted by medical historians Volker Hess and Andrew Mendelsohn, among others, this article explores how Adolf Meyer (1866–1950) and his staff at the Phipps Psychiatric Clinic used customized punch cards to develop an alternative conceptualization of schizophrenia: ‘parergasia.’ It begins by examining ‘dementia praecox,’ the conceptual precursor to both schizophrenia and parergasia, to explain how earlier paper technologies used to track patients transferred to asylums generated prognostic assumptions that precluded deinstitutionalization and community-based care. It then describes how Meyer’s staff modified these technologies to define parergasia in opposition to dementia praecox and other diagnoses that resulted in prolonged hospitalization, primarily by conducting follow-up studies on discharged patients that correlated outcomes with various social factors. After demonstrating how the standardized forms used in these studies limited the possible metrics of recovery, it concludes by suggesting how Meyer’s research influenced leaders of the community mental health movement, and prefigured later trends in psychiatric services.

Risky migrations: Race, Latin eugenics, and Cold War development in the International Labor Organization’s Puno–Tambopata project in Peru, 1930–60

A new article in History of Science may interest AHP readers: “Risky migrations: Race, Latin eugenics, and Cold War development in the International Labor Organization’s Puno–Tambopata project in Peru, 1930–60,” Sebastián Gil-Riaño. Abstract:

Histories of economic development during the Cold War do not typically consider connections to race science and eugenics. By contrast, this article historicizes the debates sparked by the International Labor Organization’s Puno–Tambopata project in Peru and demonstrates how Cold War development practice shared common epistemological terrain with racial and eugenic thought from the Andes. The International Labor Organization project’s goal of resettling indigenous groups from the Peruvian highlands to lower-lying tropical climates sparked heated debates about the biological specificity of Andean highlanders’ physiques and ability to survive in the tropics. Such concerns betrayed the antitypological consensus expressed in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Race Statements and defended by one of the main proponents of the resettlement project, the Swiss–American anthropologist Alfred Métraux. The concern with Andean racial types was central to the research agenda of the acclaimed Peruvian physiologist Carlos Monge, who endorsed modernization projects that did not entail moving highlanders outside of their traditional climate. The debates sparked by the Puno–Tambopata project demonstrate how Cold War development discourse grappled with racial and eugenic thought from Latin America and the Global South and thereby produced projects of indigenous “improvement.”

Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes: A Cautionary Tale of Race and Brutality

AHP readers will be interested in the soon-to-be-released book by Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes: A Cautionary Tale of Race and Brutality. Written by Stephen G. Bloom the book explores

The never-before-told true story of Jane Elliott and the “Blue-Eyes, Brown-Eyes Experiment” she made world-famous, using eye color to simulate racism.

The day after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination in 1968, Jane Elliott, a schoolteacher in rural Iowa, introduced to her all-white third-grade class a shocking experiment to demonstrate the scorching impact of racism. Elliott separated students into two groups. She instructed the brown-eyed children to heckle and berate the blue-eyed students, even to start fights with them. Without telling the children the experiment’s purpose, Elliott demonstrated how easy it was to create abhorrent racist behavior based on students’ eye color, not skin color. As a result, Elliott would go on to appear on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, followed by a stormy White House conference, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and thousands of media events and diversity-training sessions worldwide, during which she employed the provocative experiment to induce racism. Was the experiment benign? Or was it a cruel, self-serving exercise in sadism? Did it work?

Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes is a meticulously researched book that details for the first time Jane Elliott’s jagged rise to stardom. It is an unflinching assessment of the incendiary experiment forever associated with Elliott, even though she was not the first to try it out. Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes offers an intimate portrait of the insular community where Elliott grew up and conducted the experiment on the town’s children for more than a decade. The searing story is a cautionary tale that examines power and privilege in and out of the classroom. It also documents small-town White America’s reflex reaction to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1970s and 1980s, as well as the subsequent meteoric rise of diversity training that flourishes today. All the while, Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes reveals the struggles that tormented a determined and righteous woman, today referred to as the “Mother of Diversity Training,” who was driven against all odds to succeed.

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

AHP readers may be interested in a forthcoming article in the Canadian Bulletin of Medical History/Bulletin canadien d’histoire de la médecine: “The Neurological Study Unit: “A Combined Attack on a Single Problem from Many Angles”,” by Elan D. Louis. English and French language abstracts:

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.

Au cours des années 1920, la neurologie étant encore une jeune discipline, diverses tentatives ont été faites afin d’établir des programmes relatifs aux soins en neurologie et à la recherche. L’une de ces initiatives a été le Neurological Study Unit (NSU) de la Yale School of Medicine. Mon objectif est de retracer les premières années de la NSU (1924-1940) et de comprendre les motivations à l’origine de sa création en examinant sa structure, ses défis et son évolution. Pour y parvenir, j’ai étudié tous les documents relatifs à la NSU au Manuscripts & Archives de la Yale University Library. Si la NSU fut présentée comme une « attaque sous plusieurs angles d’un seul problème », elle s’est cependant développée lentement. Cette évolution difficile s’explique sans doute par le manque de financement et l’absence d’un neurologue attitré, mais également par d’autres facteurs comme la difficulté à penser l’unité neurologique, la lente émergence d’une jeune discipline médicale, les frictions au sein de la direction, un modèle d’opération axé sur l’université plutôt que l’hôpital, ainsi que les guerres de territoires entre la neurologie et les disciplines connexes.