All posts by Jennifer Bazar

About Jennifer Bazar

Jennifer Bazar is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto and Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care. Her research focuses on the history of psychiatric institutionalization.

Adler’s Remains Found!

In 1937 psychoanalyst Alfred Adler passed away in Aberdeen, Scotland while on a lecture tour at the university. Adler had been a member of Freud’s inner circle in Vienna until they split in 1911 and is remembered for his development of the theory of the inferiority complex.

His passing came at a time when Europe was on the brink of the Second World War and his family lost track of his remains. Seventy-four years later, The Guardian has reported that Adler’s ashes have been sitting in a crematorium in Edinburgh all this time. They were discovered by John Clifford, the honorary Austrian consul to Scotland, who had been asked to find them by the Society for Individual Psychology, a group originally founded by Adler himself.

Later this month, Adler’s ashes will be returned to Vienna through a civic ceremony.

**Thanks to Kelli Vaughn for bringing this story to the attention of AHP**

Update on the Coca-Cola Trial Anniversary

An update on yesterday’s post regarding the anniversary of Harry Hollingworth’s caffeine research and the 1911 Coca-Cola trials:

For AHP readers wanting more information: the 2010 article, “Coca-Cola – Brain tonic or poison?“, in The Psychologist by Ludy Benjamin of Texas A&M University is freely available online through the British Psychological Society. Benjamin details The United States Government vs. Forty Barrels, Twenty Kegs Coca-Cola trial including Hollingworth’s research on caffeine consumption and the aftermath of the trial’s dismissal.

Caffeine levels still hot topic 100 years later

One hundred years (this month) have passed since the famous Coca-Cola trials – and the discussions of the effect of caffeine levels on health are still ongoing. Yesterday the New York Times published an article highlighting this link between the contemporary debates surrounding energy drinks and the anniversary of the 1911caffeine trail.

The 1911 trial, which took place in Chattanooga, Tennesse, focused on whether or not the 80 milligrams of caffeine in Coca-Cola were harmful to humans (the New York Times article points out that this amount equates to the caffeine content found in Red Bull drinks today).

To mount their defense, Coca-Cola hired psychologist Harry Hollingworth to test the mental and motor skills of individuals at varying levels of caffeine consumption. Hollingworth studied 16 participants of varying caffeine habits and testified that moderate doses of caffeine stimulated performance while sleep was affected by some at the higher dose level.

However, the jury was not given a chance to deliberate with the trial ending in dismissal. No decision was therefore rendered regarding safe levels of caffeine.

Although the article links the 1911 caffeine levels in Coca-Cola to current-day levels in energy drinks, it does not address the fact that contemporary Coca-Cola contains less than half the original amount. Their website lists the following caffeine amounts:

  • Coca-Cola Classic: 23 milligrams (per 240mL or 8 fl oz)
  • Diet Coke, Coca-Cola Zero: 23-31 milligrams (per 240 mL or 8 fl oz)

Coca-Cola has continued to focus on the research between caffeine and health – its website features a number of articles on this topic (caffeine & health; caffeine & bone health; caffeine & dehydration).

I also found it interesting that the history portion of the Coca-Cola website does not acknowledge the trial, instead focusing on the emergence of similar products between 1905-1918.

Thanks to Cathy Faye for bringing this article to the attention of AHP!

Online Resource: Profiling Hitler

I just came across some interesting history resources available on the website related to the psychoanalysis of Adolf Hitler. The profile was constructed by Walter Langer and his team in just five months. Without access to the man himself, interviews were conducted with individuals who knew Hitler personally and 1000+ pages from the so-called Hitler Source Book were consulted.

The site has added a short write-up of the Office of Strategic Services’ (OSS) 1943 project to construct a psychological profile of the Nazi leader, embedded video of the BBC documentary: Inside the Mind of Adolf Hitler (in five parts), and a link to the text of Walter Langer’s original text that is available for Kindle.

Langer was, of course, not the only psychologist recruited by the OSS to compile a profile of Hitler: Harvard psychologist Henry Murray prepared a similar report a year earlier in 1943. A write-up focusing on Murray’s project by Martyn Housden of the University of Bradford is available in pdf here.

New Resource for History of Psychoanalysis

The Wellcome Library has launched a new online resource on the history of psychoanalysis:  Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing (PEP). The site is an online archival database of 42 psychoanalytic journals and 58 classic texts in psychoanalysis. Texts dating between 1871 and 2007 are available in full.

The database has been a collaborative effort between the American Psychoanalytic Association and the Institute of Psychoanalysis.

[Thanks are due to the @WellcomeLibrary twitter feed for the announcement]