All posts by Shayna Fox Lee

HHS Interview with our very own Jacy Young

Last month saw the publication of a special issue of the journal History of the Human Sciences on ‘Psychology and its Publics,’ which was guest edited by  AHP editor Jacy Young and Michael Pettit. To accompany the issue, the executive editor of HHS, Felicity Callard (also director of the Birkbeck Institute for Social Research), interviewed Young on the theme.  In her first response, Young expounds:

Too often conversations about psychology and the public presume a passive public simply receiving whatever messaging the discipline happens to disseminate. And, the public as an entity is often under-theorized in these discussions. The term is employed but never defined with respect to its parameters and characteristics, its ontology remaining un- or at least under-addressed… Exploring the nexus of the human sciences and the public implicated in much of this work is a rich and wide-ranging landscape for the historian of the human sciences.

The interview goes on to discuss the value of interdisciplinarity in the historiography of psychology, and the ways that engagement between historians and scholars in a range of allied fields (such as science and technology studies, and studies in public engagement/public understanding of science) has influenced new directions in how the spatial and temporal geographies and timelines of psychology are written.

Read the interview in full, and click here for our blog coverage of the issue, with abstracts.

The Arabic Freud: Psychoanalysis and Islam in Modern Egypt

Omnia El Shakry has penned “the first in-depth look at how postwar thinkers in Egypt mapped the intersections between Islamic discourses and psychoanalytic thought.”

At UC Davis, El Shakry specializes in the intellectual and cultural history of the modern Middle East, is also a founding member of the Middle East/ South Asia Studies Program and is affiliated with their Critical Theory and Cultural Studies Programs.

The publisher’s blurb on the book is as follows:

In 1945, psychologist Yusuf Murad introduced an Arabic term borrowed from the medieval Sufi philosopher and mystic Ibn ‘Arabi—al-la-shu‘ur—as a translation for Sigmund Freud’s concept of the unconscious. By the late 1950s, Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams had been translated into Arabic for an eager Egyptian public. In The Arabic Freud, Omnia El Shakry challenges the notion of a strict divide between psychoanalysis and Islam by tracing how postwar thinkers in Egypt blended psychoanalytic theories with concepts from classical Islamic thought in a creative encounter of ethical engagement.

Drawing on scholarly writings as well as popular literature on self-healing, El Shakry provides the first in-depth examination of psychoanalysis in Egypt and reveals how a new science of psychology—or “science of the soul,” as it came to be called—was inextricably linked to Islam and mysticism. She explores how Freudian ideas of the unconscious were crucial to the formation of modern discourses of subjectivity in areas as diverse as psychology, Islamic philosophy, and the law. Founding figures of Egyptian psychoanalysis, she shows, debated the temporality of the psyche, mystical states, the sexual drive, and the Oedipus complex, while offering startling insights into the nature of psychic life, ethics, and eros.

This provocative and insightful book invites us to rethink the relationship between psychoanalysis and religion in the modern era. Mapping the points of intersection between Islamic discourses and psychoanalytic thought, it illustrates how the Arabic Freud, like psychoanalysis itself, was elaborated across the space of human difference.

El Shakry’s previous publications include The Great Social Laboratory: Subjects of Knowledge in Colonial and Postcolonial Egypt , and Gender and Sexuality in Islam: Critical Concepts in Islamic Studies.

Also, click here to listen to an interview with El Shakry about the volume, by Susanna Ferguson on the Ottoman History Podcast .(It is part of their series ‘History of Science, Ottoman, or Otherwise‘ which includes other episodes that may also be of interest to our readership.)

 

Roundtable on Ethics Review for DSM Revision, in PP&P

The September 2017 issue of Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology includes a discussion focused on a ‘philosophical case conference,’ with eight commentaries and a response to those by the featured author, Tamara Kayali Browne. Below we provide an overview of their respective points for your perusal. Author contacts are linked as well, if you’d like to continue the conversation directly.

Browne’s featured article is titled A Role for Philosophers, Sociologists and Bioethicists in Revising the DSM: A Philosophical Case Conference and is summarized in the abstract as follows:

The recent publication of the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) was accompanied by heated debate. I argue that part of the reason for these recent controversies is that the process of DSM revision involves making certain value judgments, yet requires a better means for explicitly and expertly addressing these issues. It is important to do so because a) there are certain value-laden questions that science cannot answer but nevertheless need to be addressed in psychiatric classification, and b) the effects of psychiatric classification stretch far and wide. I suggest a means by which the value judgments involved in psychiatric classification can be more systematically and comprehensively examined—by including an independent ethics review panel in the revision process. An ethics review panel could include bioethicists, sociologists, and philosophers of psychiatry who would be in a better position to address these issues.

Continue reading Roundtable on Ethics Review for DSM Revision, in PP&P

The History of Psychology, Dramatized

 

Production Concept Drawings by James Pickering

Lauren Slater‘s popular volume Opening Skinner’s Box is being interpreted for the stage by the British theatre troupe Improbable as part of this year’s Lincoln Center Festival.

Directed by Phelim McDermott and Lee Simpson, the piece recounts highlights of the field’s history as interpreted by Slater (and her detractors) by way of an interpretive bungee cord box. They include the author of the book as a character to guide further critical analysis of what the tales recounted in the volume, as well as the controversy that surrounded the takes in it, can tell us about the sociology and philosophy of science and scholarship more broadly.

According to the company’s website it is “inspired by the fascinating book by Lauren Slater, Opening Skinner’s Box is a whistle-stop tour of the scientific quest to make sense of what we are and who we are, told through ten great psychological experiments and the stories of the people who created them.”

The NYT ran an interesting piece by Eric Grode discussing the troupe’s directorial and productive decisions, and the ways in which their production processes intentionally resembled or related to the production of science.

A favourite quote from that article: “‘For me the box is about the scientific method,’ Mr. Simpson said. ‘You need to create something of a closed system so that it’s repeatable. But that’s kind of a useful pretense because nothing is a closed system. We have to remember that it’s not true,’ he continued, although ‘it’s O.K. to pretend that it’s true because you can learn a lot of useful stuff that way.'”

 

ActiveHistory.ca on Women, Healthcare, Trauma & History

Beth Robertson (Carleton University), one of the editors over at ActiveHistory, has written from a Canadian perspective about the impact of the AHCA on American women. The post highlights the history of the pathologization of women’s bodies and health, in particular focused on experiences of rape and assault. Robertson touches on the works of Tardieu and Janet, and discusses the implications of the current medical status of such trauma in relation to the current changes in policy.

Read the post here.

roundup of articles from allied fields

A few new works on related topics from spring issues that may pique the interest of our readership:

In Signs, a piece by Myrna Perez Sheldon titled Wild at Heart: How Sociobiology and Evolutionary Psychology Helped Influence the Construction of Heterosexual Masculinity in American Evangelicalism

Its abstract reads:

During the 1990s, American evangelical texts contended that men have a stronger sex drive than women and that this natural sexual aggression makes men better suited to leadership roles in marriage, church, and society. Although this theology, called complementarianism, had earlier roots in conservative Protestantism, the connection that evangelicals made between male sexuality and male leadership was influenced by the scientific fields of sociobiology and evolutionary psychology during the 1980s and 1990s. These fields argue that maleness is a genetic evolutionary strategy characterized by social competition and a strong, even aggressive, sex drive. Evangelicals drew upon this scientific model in their efforts to combat second-wave feminism within their communities and in the broader culture. They turned to biology as a defense against the so-called cultural claims of feminism. Significantly, the model that evangelicals drew on from research in sociobiology and evolutionary psychology helped shape the articulations of “natural” masculine behavior in popular Christian self-help books, dating manuals, and theological texts. This article builds on the body of feminist scholarship that has critiqued the evidence, models, and popular influence of sociobiology and evolutionary psychology. But it also urges the importance of analyzing the role of religious practices in the circulation and legitimation of scientific depictions of gender and sexuality.

Read more here.

In Social History of Medicine, by Julie Powell, the article Shock Troupe: Medical Film and the Performance of ‘Shell Shock’ for the British Nation at War

Its abstract reads:

In 1917, physician Arthur F. Hurst began filming the peculiar tics and hysterical gaits of ‘shell-shocked’ soldiers under his care. Editions of Hurst’s films from 1918 and 1940 survive. Cultural products of their time, I argue, the films engaged with contemporary ideas of class, gender and nation. The 1918 version reinforced class-based notions of disease and degeneracy while validating personal and national trauma and bolstering conceptions of masculinity and the nation that were critical to wartime morale and recovery efforts. The 1940 re-edit of the film engaged with the memory of the First World War by constructing a restorative narrative and by erasing the troubled years of gender crisis, ‘shell shock’ culture and class struggle to reassert masculine virtue and martial strength, essential for the prosecution of the Second World War.

Read the full thing here.

And not least, in History of Psychiatry, an article by authors Lois P. Rudnick and Alison Heru titled The ‘secret’ source of ‘female hysteria’: the role that syphilis played in the construction of female sexuality and psychoanalysis in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries

Here is its abstract

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the unspoken fear of syphilis played a significant role in the development of beliefs about female sexuality. Many women were afraid of sexual relationships with men because they feared contracting syphilis, which was, at that time, untreatable. Women also feared passing this disease on to their children. Women’s sexual aversion, or repression, became a focus for Freud and his colleagues, whose theory of psychosexual development was based on their treatment of women. This article examines the case of Dora, the memoirs of Mabel Dodge Luhan and other sources to argue that the fear of syphilis was a significant factor in upper- and middle-class women’s avoidance of heterosexual relationships. The fear of syphilis, in turn, became a significant factor in the psychoanalytic construction of female sexuality. The social suppression of the fear of syphilis has had a profound impact on theories of women’s development. The implication for psychiatry is that our models of psychological development occur within a sociocultural milieu and cannot escape suppressed aspects of our culture.

Find the piece here.

 

On the Passing of John Burnham

@APA 2009, a picture of “The Three JHBS Amigos,” as affectionately called by Chris Green. In addition to Raymond Fancher and John Burnham, their wives, Marjorie Burnham and Helena Fancher.

We’ve received sad notice that John Chynoweth Burnham passed away on May 12, 2017. With a doctorate in history from Stanford and a position at Ohio State from the early 60s through 2002 (and associations with numerous other institutions and organizations), Burnham was “a historian’s historian.” As a prolific author and editor, his historiographic interests varied broadly and were influential in a number of fields, but to us he is best known for his pioneering work in the history of psychiatry, psychoanalysis, and American health care. He served as president of the American Association for the History of Medicine from 1990-2, as editor of the Journal of the History of Behavioral Sciences from 1997-2000, and received Division 26’s Lifetime Achievement Award, among many other honours and awards throughout his career.

Read his full obituary here. A partial list of his full length publications can be found here.

March Lecture @ The New York Academy of Medicine on Mental & Microbial Health

On March 15th attend a talk given by Harriet Washington titled Infectious Madness, the Well Curve and the Microbial Roots of Mental Disturbance. Washington is a science writer, editor and ethicist who has been a Research Fellow in Medical Ethics at Harvard Medical School, Visiting Fellow at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, a visiting scholar at DePaul University College of Law and a senior research scholar at the National Center for Bioethics at Tuskegee University. She has also held fellowships at Stanford University. The lecture is based on her book Infectious Madness: The Surprising Science of How We “Catch” Mental Illness. The promotional abstract reads as follows:

From offended gods to broken taboos to schizophrenogenic mothers, mankind has long been enmeshed in what neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky calls the “primordial muck” of mental-illness etiology. Today, armed with clearer insights and better tools, we are undergoing a paradigm shift that acknowledges the key role of our microbial fellow passengers in forging our mental health.

The talk is 6:00-7:30 pm, at The New York Academy of Medicine, 1216 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street, New York, NY 10029. Free for students, $15 for the public.

Register here.

Coverage of her book in The New York Times can be found here.

A historical quiz in Psychology Today featuring Pioneers of Psychology

On February 21st, Douglas Kendrick challenged his readers to test their historical knowledge about the field by quoting four “founders” and providing hints about their lives and careers. I expect fans of AHP would do particularly well in this, join the fun here.

Kendrick cites Pioneers of Psychology, by York’s own Fancher & Rutherford, which was just recently released in its fifth edition.