Category Archives: General

History of Psychology: Special Section on Digital History of Psychology, Plus Early Vygotsky

The November 2018 issue of History of Psychology is now online. The issue includes a special section on the digital history of psychology. Full details below.

Digital methods can help you . . . If you’re careful, critical, and not historiographically naïve,” by Burman, Jeremy Trevelyan. Abstract:

This special section on the digital history of psychology includes target articles by Ivan Flis and Nees Jan van Eck and Jeremy Trevelyan Burman, with comments by Melinda Baldwin, Ted Porter, and Chris Green. In his introduction to the section, Burman explains his original motivation in turning to tools borrowed from the digital humanities: helping graduate students to identify dissertation topics more easily, and thereby reduce completion times for the doctorate, while at the same time doing “good history.” Since then, a new field—digital history of psychology—has blossomed. John Burnham, especially, is recognized here as an important interlocutor.

“Through the looking-glass: PsycINFO as an historical archive of trends in psychology,” by Burman, Jeremy Trevelyan. Abstract:

Those interested in tracking trends in the history of psychology cannot simply trust the numbers produced by inputting terms into search engines like PsycINFO and then constraining by date. This essay is therefore a critical engagement with that longstanding interest to show what it is possible to do, over what period, and why. It concludes that certain projects simply cannot be undertaken without further investment by the American Psychological Association. This is because forgotten changes in the assumptions informing the database make its index terms untrustworthy for use in trend-tracking before 1967. But they can indeed be used, with care, to track more recent trends. The result is then a Distant Reading of psychology, with Digital History presented as enabling a kind of Science Studies that psychologists will find appealing. The present state of the discipline can thus be caricatured as the contemporary scientific study of depressed rats and the drugs used to treat them (as well as of human brains, mice, and myriad other topics). To extend the investigation back further in time, however, the 1967 boundary is also investigated. The author then delves more deeply into the prehistory of the database’s creation, and shows in a précis of a further project that the origins of PsycINFO can be traced to interests related to American national security during the Cold War. In short: PsycINFO cannot be treated as a simple bibliographic description of the discipline. It is embedded in its history, and reflects it.

“Framing psychology as a discipline (1950–1999): A large-scale term co-occurrence analysis of scientific literature in psychology,” by Flis, Ivan; van Eck, Nees Jan. Abstract: Continue reading History of Psychology: Special Section on Digital History of Psychology, Plus Early Vygotsky

New JHBS: Wundt’s Apperceptionism, Police Selection during the Civil Rights Movement, and More

The Autumn 2018 issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences is now online. Full titles, authors, and abstracts below.

““Drawn from Alice in Wonderland”: Expert and public debates over merit, race, and testing in Massachusetts police officer selection, 1967–1979,” by Kimberly Probolus. Abstract:

This study explores the use of tests to select police officers in Massachusetts from 1967–1979. I show how a range of actors understood the construction of merit within the context of police selection in Boston during the Civil Rights movement and how these debates raised larger questions about objectivity in the social sciences and the law. I argue that when experts exposed the way seemingly objective “intelligence” tests perpetuated racial inequality, the public rejected their expertise, instead reaffirming their trust in tests as the best way to evaluate merit and by instead challenging the law’s objectivity. This paper puts histories of merit in conversation with scholarship on affirmative action and employment discrimination to provide a fuller understanding of how intelligence tests are constructed and how nonexpert actors interpreted debates about testing, defining and redefining merit in ways that reflected their beliefs about race, opportunity, and employment.

“Robert Owen, utopian socialism and social transformation,” by Chris Rogers. Abstract: Continue reading New JHBS: Wundt’s Apperceptionism, Police Selection during the Civil Rights Movement, and More

CfP: 50 Years Since Stonewall, The Science and Politics of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity

American Psychologist invites submissions for a special issue on psychology’s contributions to understanding sexual orientation and gender diversity through research, policy, and activism.

Important Dates
  • Submission Deadline for 2-Page Letter of Intent: November 20, 2018
  • Full-Length Manuscript Submission Invitations Sent: December 20, 2018
  • Submission Deadline for Complete Manuscripts: March 20, 2019
Special Issue Aims

The goal of this special issue is to stimulate scholarly reflection on how psychology — through both research and policy influence — has been entangled with changing social and scientific attitudes and theories about sexual orientation and gender diversity over the past 50 years.

The history of psychology and the history of recent LGBTI activism have only recently begun to be co-narrated.

This aim of this issue is to analyze and explore the co-constitutive relationships between psychological research on gender diversity and sexual orientation and the society in which this research has been, and is, embedded, both in the United States and other national contexts.

Broad questions of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • How has the “science of sexual orientation” changed and been drawn upon in tandem with efforts to combat homophobia and cultural heterosexism?
  • How have efforts to develop LGBTQ-affirmative psychologies developed in national contexts outside the United States and transnationally?
  • How has psychological science been used to influence mental health policy, legal rulings, and social attitudes about same-sex marriage, gay parenting, trans-rights?
  • How has psychology’s engagement with sexual orientation and gender diversity intersected with its engagement with other movements for equality and social justice?

All manuscripts should explicitly discuss psychology’s contributions to our understanding of the issues being investigated, and should address the importance of the historical, social, political, intellectual, and/or institutional contexts in which these contributions have developed.

The journal has “an outstanding reputation as a primary means by which the contributions of psychologists are communicated to psychologists, to other professionals, and to the public” (Kazak, 2016, p. 1).

Manuscript Submission

Submission deadline for a 2-page letter of intent for the special issue is November 20, 2018.

The letter of intent should include author names and affiliations, manuscript title, and an abstract that outlines the proposed submission.

Abstracts should clearly convey how the proposed manuscript will address the goals of the special issue.

Alexandra Rutherford, PhD, Associate Editor, and Peter Hegarty, PhD, will serve as Guest Editors of the Special Issue, with Anne E. Kazak, PhD, as advisory editor.

Letters of intent and any questions should be sent to Alexandra Rutherford.

Manuscripts must be prepared according to the manuscript submission information available on the American Psychologist homepage and submitted electronically through the journal’s manuscript submission portal.

Special Issue: Psychology in the Social Imaginary of Neoliberalism

AHP readers may be interested in the most recent issue of Theory & Psychology, a special issue devoted to “Psychology in the Social Imaginary of Neoliberalism.” Guest edited by Wade Pickren (right), the articles in the issue are currently available open access. Full titles, authors, and abstracts below.

“Psychology in the social imaginary of neoliberalism: Critique and beyond,” by. Wade E. Pickren. Abstract:

This is an introduction to the special issue on the impact of neoliberalism on the sociality, politics, and governmentality of contemporary psychological life. The articles suggest that Euro-American psychology writ large has not been a force for human freedom. Still, the articles are additional evidence of the historical and current lines of resistance and activism that indicate a move toward an emancipatory psychology.

“Homo neoliberalus: From personality to forms of subjectivity,” by Thomas Teo. Abstract:

Based on a Neo-Sprangerian approach to forms of life in Western cultures, and drawing on humanities-based ideas about personality, a critical-hermeneutic description of a neoliberal form of life and its corresponding form of subjectivity is presented. In the neoliberal form of subjectivity, the self becomes central, but in a way that the distinction between an ego and the self is no longer relevant. Neoliberal thinking is reduced to utilitarian, calculating thinking in all domains of life from work, to interaction, and to identity. Feeling is considered to be more relevant than thinking and is used to manage stress while aiming for happiness, which is core to this subjectivity. It is argued that agency is reduced to self- and family-interests while consequences for the conduct of life are presented. Concepts such as new nihilism, reduction of individuality, and (im)possibility of resistance in neoliberalism are discussed.

“Neoliberalism and IQ: Naturalizing economic and racial inequality,” by Andrew S. Winston. Abstract: Continue reading Special Issue: Psychology in the Social Imaginary of Neoliberalism

Interview with Dagmar Herzog on Cold War Psychoanalysis

Hi there AHP readers, and happy fall semester to you. After an extended summer hiatus due to technical difficulties, we’re back!

My first recommendation of the season is this interview from the New Books Network. It’s conducted by David Gutherz (a student in the the Committee on Social Thought program at the University of Chicago) with Dagmar Herzog on her latest volume, 
 Cold War Freud: Psychoanalysis in an Age of Catastrophes. The work expands on her extensive research program in the historical politics of sexuality and religion. 
As Gurtherz writes in his introduction to the discussion, her “book offers fresh readings of the work of such titanic (and sadly misunderstood) figures as Karen Horney, Robert Stoller, Félix Guattari and Konrad Lorenz—and it will change the way you think about trauma, libido and the New Left. Our conversation focused primarily on the radical currents in Cold War psychoanalysis and what happens when the world comes crashing through the bedroom window.” 

It’s a great listen, enjoy!

Gutherz interviewing Herzog, September 2018

Newly Digitized Melanie Klein Archive at the Wellcome Library

The Melanie Klein archives, held at the Wellcome Library, have now been digitized and are available to consult online:

as a result of a collaborative effort by the Melanie Klein Trust and the Wellcome Library, the entire Melanie Klein archive has now been digitised and is available to study online. This new digital collection contains over 350 items (files and folders) and over 30,000 images.


Some items in the archive, for example child clinical material concerning a patient who could still be identifiable, have been digitised but kept in restricted form until a specified future date. All other material, however, is freely available, and it is no longer necessary to join the Wellcome Library to study it.

The full Klein archive can be found here.

Sebastián Gil-Riaño on “Relocating Anti-Racist Science”

A forthcoming article in The British Journal for the History of Science, available now online,  on mid-twentieth century anti-racist science may be of interest to AHP readers.

Relocating anti-racist science: the 1950 UNESCO Statement on Race and economic development in the global South,” by Sebastián Gil-Riaño. Abstract:

This essay revisits the drafting of the first UNESCO Statement on Race (1950) in order to reorient historical understandings of mid-twentieth-century anti-racism and science. Historians of science have primarily interpreted the UNESCO statements as an oppositional project led by anti-racist scientists from the North Atlantic and concerned with dismantling racial typologies, replacing them with population-based conceptions of human variation. Instead of focusing on what anti-racist scientists opposed, this article highlights the futures they imagined and the applied social-science projects that anti-racist science drew from and facilitated. The scientific experts who participated in drafting the first UNESCO Statement on Race played important roles in late colonial, post-colonial and international projects designed to modernize, assimilate and improve so-called backward communities – typically indigenous or Afro-descendent groups in the global South. Such connections between anti-racist science and the developmental imaginaries of the late colonial period indicate that the transition from fixed racial typologies to sociocultural and psychological conceptualizations of human diversity legitimated the flourishing of modernization discourses in the Cold War era. In this transition to an economic-development paradigm, ‘race’ did not vanish so much as fragment into a series of finely tuned and ostensibly anti-racist conceptions that offered a moral incentive for scientific elites to intervene in the ways of life of those deemed primitive.

New Journal: Psychology from the Margins

A new student run journal, Psychology from the Margins, out of the University of Akron has just been launched. The journal focuses on the work at the intersections of history, practice, and social justice issues. It is described as

… a student-run, student-led, peer-reviewed journal. This journal features scholarly work addressing the history of research, practice, and advocacy in psychology, especially in areas related to social justice, social issues, and social change. Its purpose is to help fill gaps in the historical literature by providing an outlet for articles in the history of psychology highlighting stories that have been unrepresented or underrepresented by other historical narratives. The journal will accept and invite graduate and undergraduate students to submit manuscripts.

Articles in the inaugural issue include:

“Stuck in the Present: Gaps in the Theoretical Past and Applied Future of the Psychology of Men and Masculinities,” by Zachary T. Gerdes. Abstract:

Over 30 years of research in the psychology of men and masculinities (PMM) has relied primarily on social constructionist and social learning theoretical perspectives. Social constructionism applied to gender and masculinity is much older than is often claimed in the psychology of men and masculinities literature. By paying a deeper homage to the feminist and social science researchers throughout the 20th century that influenced social constructionist theory applied to gender, PMM theory can grow and more effective clinical and prevention interventions can be designed for men. This is especially important considering the hundreds of problematic outcomes associated with how masculine norms have been defined and measured in the psychology of men and masculinities literature. Strict adherence to problematic masculine norms has been identified as a crisis in the U.S. Progress in the psychology of men and masculinities relies on the deepening of its theoretical past and the broadening of its clinical future. Concrete suggestions for doing so are addressed in this manuscript.

“Milton Rokeach’s Experimental Modification of Values: Navigating Relevance, Ethics and Politics in Social Psychological Research,” by Stefan Jadaszewski. Abstract: Continue reading New Journal: Psychology from the Margins

Special Issue! Neurosurgery, Psychiatry, and Function: The History of Altering Behavior, Thought, and Function Through Neurosurgery

AHP readers may be interested in a recent special issue from Neurosurgical Focus on “Neurosurgery, Psychiatry, and Function: The History of Altering Behavior, Thought, and Function Through Neurosurgery.” Full titles, authors, and abstract follow below.

“Introduction. Neurosurgery, psychiatry, and function: the history of altering behavior, thought, and function through neurosurgery,” by Mark C. Preul, MD, T. Forcht Dagi, MD, Charles J. Prestigiacomo, MD, and Chris A. Sloffer, MD, MBA. No abstract.

“Sanger Brown and Edward Schäfer before Heinrich Klüver and Paul Bucy: their observations on bilateral temporal lobe ablations,” by Prasad S. S. V. Vannemreddy, MD, and James L. Stone, MD. Abstract:

Fifty years before a report on the complete bitemporal lobectomy syndrome in primates, known as the Klüver-Bucy syndrome, was published, 2 talented investigators working at the University College in London, England—neurologist Sanger Brown and physiologist Edward Schäfer—also made this discovery. The title of their work was “An investigation into the functions of the occipital and temporal lobes of the monkey’s brain,” and it involved excisional brain surgery in 12 monkeys. They were particularly interested in the then-disputed primary cortical locations relating to vision and hearing. However, following extensive bilateral temporal lobe excisions in 2 monkeys, they noted peculiar behavior including apparent loss of memory and intelligence resembling “idiocy.” These investigators recognized most of the behavioral findings that later came to be known as the Klüver-Bucy syndrome. However, they were working within the late-19th-century framework of cerebral cortical localizations of basic motor and sensory functions.

Details of the Brown and Schäfer study and a glimpse of the neurological thinking of that period is presented. In the decades following the pivotal work of Klüver and Bucy in the late 1930s, in which they used a more advanced neurosurgical technique, tools of behavioral observations, and analysis of brain sections after euthanasia, investigators have elaborated the full components of the clinical syndrome and the extent of their resections.

Other neuroscientists sought to isolate and determine the specific temporal neocortical, medial temporal, and deep limbic structures responsible for various visual and complex behavioral deficits. No doubt, Klüver and Bucy’s contribution led to a great expansion in attention given to the limbic system’s role in action, perception, emotion, and affect—a tide that continues to the present time.

“Editorial. The Klüver-Bucy syndrome and the golden age of localization,” by Chris A. Sloffer, MD, MBA. No abstract. Continue reading Special Issue! Neurosurgery, Psychiatry, and Function: The History of Altering Behavior, Thought, and Function Through Neurosurgery

Ezra Klein on the Genetics of IQ

Ezra Klein, founder of the “explainer” media company Vox, has written a long piece arguing that, given the long-fraught character of race relations in American society, it is nearly impossible to fairly interpret studies that purport to show that racial differences in IQ are genetic in origin. Klein’s article frames the topic in the context a recent podcast in which “new atheist” blogger Sam Harris defended Charles Murray against his many highly vocal critics. (Murray is co-author of the 1994 book The Bell Curve, in which he endorsed the claim that persistent racial gaps in IQ are the result of genetic differences.)

Although Klein’s article begins there (and Harris has responded with vociferous denials, claims of defamation, and the puzzling release of an old e-mail exchange with Klein), the article soon shifts focus to the more general question of whether anyone can make sense of racial claims of this sort without first coming to terms with the long, sordid history of racial prejudice in the US.

Klein summarizes his view thus:

Research shows measurable consequences on IQ and a host of other outcomes from the kind of violence and discrimination America inflicted for centuries against African Americans. In a vicious cycle, the consequences of that violence have pushed forward the underlying attitudes that allow discriminatory policies to flourish and justify the racially unequal world we’ve built.

Although Harris advances the belief that racialist views like Murray’s are “forbidden” in today’s culture of “political correctness,” Klein notes that there is nothing new in such views; they have been openly held in American society literally for centuries, and are, indeed, the foundation upon which many American institutions were founded.

Klein also considers seriously the view of IQ researcher James Flynn (of the ”Flynn Effect”), who has explained the marked rise in average IQs over the past century in terms of the increasing cognitive demands of the modern technological world that we have created. However, Klein continues,

Over hundreds of years, white Americans have oppressed black Americans — enslaved them, physically terrorized them, ripped their families apart, taken their wealth from them, denied their children decent educations, refused to let them buy homes in neighborhoods with good schools, locked them out of the most cognitively demanding and financially rewarding jobs, deprived them of the professional and social networks that power advancement.

Among the many, many awful effects this has had is to deny black Americans the full cognitive advantages of navigating the modern economy, of wearing their scientific spectacles. For this reason, Flynn argues that “the black/white IQ gap is probably environmental in origin.”

Harris and Murray do not take this scenario seriously, according to Klein, nor do they consider its relevance to claims of genetic differences. Instead, Harris and Murray shift the argument to one in which white advocates of the genetic theory of racial inferiority are the real victims, attacked for “daring” to suggest what has, in fact, been a central trope throughout much of American history.

Klein and Harris have apparently agreed to appear together on one or the other of their popular podcasts. It might well prove to be a tense encounter.