Category Archives: General

The potency of the butterfly: The reception of Richard B. Goldschmidt’s animal experiments in German sexology around 1920

AHP readers will be interested in a forthcoming piece in History of the Human Sciences: “The potency of the butterfly: The reception of Richard B. Goldschmidt’s animal experiments in German sexology around 1920,” by Ina Linge. Abstract:

This article considers the sexual politics of animal evidence in the context of German sexology around 1920. In the 1910s, the German-Jewish geneticist Richard B. Goldschmidt conducted experiments on the moth Lymantria dispar, and discovered individuals that were no longer clearly identifiable as male or female. When he published an article tentatively arguing that his research on ‘intersex butterflies’ could be used to inform concurrent debates about human homosexuality, he triggered a flurry of responses from Berlin-based sexologists. In this article, I examine how a number of well-known sexologists affiliated with Magnus Hirschfeld, his Scientific-Humanitarian Committee, and later his Institute of Sexology attempted to incorporate Goldschmidt’s experiments into their sexological work between 1917 and 1923. Intersex butterflies were used to discuss issues at the heart of German sexology: the legal debate about the criminalisation of homosexuality under paragraph 175; the scientific methodology of sexology, caught between psychiatric, biological, and sociological approaches to the study of sexual and gender diversity; and the status of sexology as natural science, able to contribute knowledge about the sexual Konstitution of the organism. This article thus shows that butterfly experiments function as important and politically charged evidence for a discussion at the heart of the sexological project of those involved in the founding of the Institute of Sexology: the question of the nature and naturalness of homosexuality (and sexual intermediacy more broadly) and its political consequences. In doing so, this article makes a case for paying attention to non-human actors in the history of sexology.

Revista de Historia de la Psicología: Histories of Psychology in Ecuador, Columbia, Argentina, and Chile

The June 2020 issues of Revista de Historia de la Psicología is now online. Full details below.

“José Luis Pinillos, Profesor de Relaciones Humanas [José Luis Pinillos, Professor of Human Relations],” by Helio Carpintero. (Article written in Spanish). Abstract:

Dentro de la evolución intelectual que se descubre en la obra de José Luis Pinillos, el trabajo examina su etapa de profesor de Recursos Humanos en la Escuela de Organización Industrial de Madrid durante los años 1950-60, y lo relaciona con la dimensión humanista de su psicología. En el trabajo se destacan unos comentarios suyos en torno a un grave problema social, de reconversión laboral, en donde todos los factores relativos al destino de los trabajadores afectados reciben un tratamiento comprensivo y humanista, con recomendaciones para una salida en que tuvieran en cuenta los motivos graves que afectaban a los trabajadores en sus reivindicaciones, y que una empresa atenta a los valores de la persona humana no podía desconocer.

Within the intellectual evolution that is discovered in the work of José Luis Pinillos, this work examines his time as Professor of Human Relations, at the School of Industrial Organization, Madrid during the years 1950-60, and relates it to the humanist dimension of his psychology. In this work, some of his comments about a serious social problem, labour reconversion, stand out, where all the factors related to the fate of the affected workers received a comprehensive and humanistic treatment, with recommendations for a way out that would take into account the serious reasons that affected workers in their claims, and that a company that respects the values of the human person could not be unaware.

““Más Allá de las Aptitudes”: Administración Científica, Redes Empresariales y Circulación de Saberes Psi sobre el Mundo del Trabajo en Chile (1956-1970) [“Beyond the Skills”: Scientific Administration, Business Networks and Circulation of Psy knowledge on the World of Work in Chile (1956-1970)], by Jorge Esteban Benítez Saavedra. (Article written in Spanish). Abstract:

El presente artículo analiza los Saberes Psi que acompañaron el desarrollo del Movimiento de Administración Científica en Chile. Para ello se recurrió especialmente a las publicaciones de la revista Empresa, boletín editado por el Instituto de Administración Racional de Empresas (ICARE), además de documentos gubernamentales y académicos. El análisis se orientó a identificar las redes y problemáticas en torno a las que se movilizaron los discursos psicológicos sobre el trabajo entre 1956 y 1970; develando el importante rol que jugaron en ello los gremios empresariales y los centros intelectuales norteamericanos. Finalmente, se concluye que el estudio de las “aptitudes” resultó insuficiente para responder a los problemas derivados del deterioro de la subjetividad obrera, incorporando nuevos saberes que apelaron a la psicologización del espacio de trabajo como forma de garantizar la cooperación obrero-patronal y que obligaron a redefinir las bases programáticas de la psicología industrial que se venía desarrollando en Chile.

This article analyzes the Psi knowledge that accompanied the development of the Scientific Management Movement in Chile. For this purpose, the publications of the magazine Empresa, a bulletin edited by the Institute of Rational Business Administration (ICARE), were used, as well as government and academic documents. The analysis was oriented to identify the networks and problems around which the psychological discourses on work were mobilized between 1956 and 1970; revealing the important role played by the business associations and the American intellectual centers. Finally, it is concluded that the study of “skills” was insufficient to respond to the problems arising from the deterioration of worker subjectivity, incorporating new knowledge that appealed to the psychologization of the work space as a way of guaranteeing worker-employer cooperation and that forced to redefine the programmatic bases of industrial psychology that had been developing in Chile.

“La Psicología del desarrollo y los proyectos educativos en Colombia (1930-1950) [Developmental Psychology and Educational Projects in Colombia (1930-1950)],” by Rebeca Puche-Navarro, Julio César Ossa, and Elda Cerchiaro Ceballos. (Article written in Spanish). Abstract,

Se trabaja la hipótesis según la cual la emergencia de la psicología del desarrollo en Colombia responde a las exigencias de los procesos educativos. Exigencias muy sensibles a los cambios sociopolíticos que vivió la sociedad colombiana en las décadas del treinta y cuarenta del siglo XX. Se parte de una revisión del itinerario que inicia con el reconocimiento social de la infancia, el aparataje metodológico construido para el estudio del niño y otros aportes más específicos que van a jugar un papel fundamental en el establecimiento de la disciplina. En la segunda parte se analiza el papel de la psicología del desarrollo en la formalización del primer plan de estudios de psicología y la conceptualización sobre una psicología del niño que Mercedes Rodrigo (1891-1982) dejó plasmada en ese primer plan de estudios que nunca se implementó.

The hypothesis of this paper is that the emergence of developmental psychology in Colombia responds to the demands of educational processes. These demands are very sensitive to the socio-political changes that Colombian society experienced in the 1930s and 1940s. We start from a revision of the itinerary that begins with the social recognition of childhood, the methodological apparatus built for the study of the child and other more specific contributions that will play a fundamental role in the establishment of discipline. In the second part, we analyze the role of developmental psychology in the formalization of the first psychology curriculum. We also explore the conceptualization of a child psychology that Mercedes Rodrigo (1891-1982) left in that first curriculum that was never implemented.

“Itinerarios de la psicoterapia en Argentina (1962-1985) [Itineraries of Psychoterapy in Argentine (1962-1985)],” by Marcela Borinsky. (Article written in Spanish). Abstract:

La historia de la psicoterapia se articula con la historia de las diferentes profesiones que compitieron por el dominio del saber experto en distintas coyunturas temporales y geográficas. El objetivo del artículo es identificar algunas líneas de fuerza que confluyeron en la definición del perfil clínico del psicólogo argentino como aporte a una historia de las psicoterapias. Fruto de la combinación de un psicoanálisis en expansión, las ciencias sociales, los nuevos discursos y las transformaciones en el terreno de la salud mental emerge, entre el psicoanalista y el psiquiatra, un nuevo tipo de profesional: el psicólogo que reivindicaría para sí el derecho a la psicoterapia. Nos proponemos analizar la configuración del campo a comienzos de la década del ’60 para entender el deslizamiento que se produjo desde la hegemonía médica inicial a la consolidación del psicólogo como nuevo especialista en la década del ’80.

The history of psychotherapy is related to the history of different professions that disputed the control of expert knowledge in different places and circumstances. The objective of the article is to identify some axes that converged in the definition of the clinical orientation of the Argentinian psychologist as a contribution to a history of psychotherapies. The combination of an expanding psychoanalysis, social sciences, new discourses and transformations in the field of mental health led to the arrival of a new type of professional, between the psychoanalyst and the psychiatrist, the psychologist. We propose to analyze the configuration of the field at the beginning of the 1960s to understand the changes that happened from the initial medical hegemony to the consolidation of the psychologist as a new specialist in the 1980s.

“La Psicología en Ecuador: la Universidad de Cuenca (1952-2008) [Psychology in Ecuador: the University of Cuenca (1952-2008)],” by Claudio López-Calle, Cristina Cedillo-Quizhpe y William Ortiz-Ochoa. (Article written in Spanish). Abstract:

El objetivo del estudio fue describir el desarrollo histórico de la psicología en la Universidad de Cuenca, Ecuador. El diseño fue una investigación analítica de tipo histórico que es una forma de investigación cualitativa. Los resultados muestran que desde 1952 hasta 1977 la psicología estuvo presente en forma de cátedras en la Facultad de Filosofía, Letras y Ciencias de la Educación; en 1977 se creó el primer plan de estudios en psicología; entre 1977 y 2008 todas las ofertas académicas fueron en psicología educativa con diferentes énfasis; desde 1983 salieron los primeros graduados y la mayoría fueron mujeres; existieron pocos eventos y publicaciones académicas en el periodo estudiado. El primer plan de estudios en psicología en la Universidad de Cuenca marcó un hito en el desarrollo histórico de la psicología en la ciudad de Cuenca y la región.

The aim of the study was to describe the historical development of psychology at the University of Cuenca. This study was an analytical research (historical study) that is a type of qualitative research. The results show that from 1952 to 1977 psychology was present as chairs at the Faculty of Philosophy, Letters and Educational Science; in 1977 the first curriculum in psychology was created; between 1977 and 2008 all academic offers were in educational psychology with different emphasis; since 1983 the first graduates came out and the majority were women; there were few academic events and publications in the period studied. The first curriculum in psychology at the University of Cuenca marked a milestone in the historical development of psychology in the city of Cuenca and the region.

PhD scholarship opportunity in Theory & History of Psychology, University of Groningen

A PhD scholarship opportunity in Theory & History of Psychology is available at the University of Groningen. More details below and full details here.

The Theory and History of Psychology department at the University of Groningen is seeking to recruit a talented student for research leading to the PhD. The student is expected to develop her/his research under the direction of Prof. Dr. Annette Mülberger (promotor), together with Dr. Jeremy Burman or Dr. Stephan Schleim (as co-promotor). The student will conduct original historical research, report results via peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations, and ultimately deliver a PhD thesis related to one of the three topics indicated below. The PhD student will receive a four-year scholarship and, thereby, enrol in the Graduate School of the Behavioural and Social Sciences

Topic 1: Intelligence and meritocracy: Testing in the 20th century

Intelligence testing is a crucial field of research in our contemporary society, and a common social and professional practice. Despite this, it remains controversial: on the one hand it represents a widely accepted tool for psychological assessment, but on the other hand it also reinforces histories of social discrimination. It imposes social order and, paradoxically, has become a crucial tool of governance in democratic and meritocratic societies. And testing is becoming ever more entrenched: during the 20th century, there has been an exponential increase in new tests designed to measure different kinds of “intelligence” (variously defined) linked to different cognitive and social variables with different goals and ends. At the same time, however, psychologists have also repeatedly lamented the lack of conceptual consensus and critical (overall) analysis.

Until now, four basic kinds of research have been conducted: a) the development and validation of new tests and assessments that are sold on the market and used for assessments and research; b) studies of differences between individuals and groups; c) theories about intelligence and different related cognitive capacities; and d) methodological reappraisals of previous testing, exposing mistakes in past analyses or applying new statistical methods to derive new insights (without examining the underlying assumptions). Broadly speaking, these different projects have also become siloed: there is not much dialogue between these lines of work. They persist, in isolation, because they serve different societal or professional interests.

Possible research questions on the theme: how was intelligence conceptualized, operationalized, and measured in different places and institutions? Which other psychological traits, attitudes, skills, or variables were tested alongside intelligence? Why did different tests or test-types become popular or prestigious in different times and places? How were these tests and testing activities legitimized by testers, and for what purposes were the tests conducted? What methodological problems did they face? Were there successful replications? What happened afterward to those who were tested? Which psychological theories or implicit ideas about mental life can be deduced from the testing itself and how do these connect to mainstream conceptualizations in psychology? Under what conditions was testing conceived to be a good idea? What meta-theories justified their beliefs? How has “merit” been differently conceived?

Topic 2: Human-kinds: Differential psychology and typologies

Francis Galton is widely known as the father of “eugenics,” and is also often presented as the founder of “differential” psychology: the science of human (psychological) differences. For such studies, researchers assumed as the starting point “natural” differences such as race, gender, age, social class, physiology, and the like. Then they compared the resulting measurements between “natural” groups in order to see if there were differences in reaction time, perception threshold, language skills, attitudes, thinking styles, etc. In other cases, after testing a great number of subjects, researchers deduced from the data certain patterns and within-group differences; distinguishing between the quick and the slow, the intelligent and the “retarded,” “geniuses” and “morons,” etc. These kinds of categorizations—and the overarching goal of constructing typologies of human kinds representing the differences that could power evolutionary change—continue to this day, although using different language and usually without explicitly eugenicist goals.

Biotypology, for example, was presented as a science of the individual and used morphological, physiological, and psychological assessments to determine human types. Influential typologies were developed by Ernst Kretschmer (1888-1964), Nicola Pende (1880-1970), and Erich Jaensch (1883-1940). Their followers often embraced a holistic view of the organism, and connected psychological traits to bodily constitution, social class, and cultural and anthropological conditions. These practices became very popular in the 1930s in Europe, the Americas (especially Argentina and Brazil), and beyond. Other more contemporary examples of typological thinking include constitutional medicine and theories about personality types, sometimes presented as diagnostics, that are used to this day by psychologists, physicians, and educators.

Possible research questions on the theme: To whom and why were psychological typologies appealing? Were they scientific, or based only on popular wisdom? What kind of debates surrounded their implementation in different national and institutional settings? For what purposes were they used? What consequences did such classifications have for individuals?

Topic 3: Psychology under Franco: Between neo-Scholasticism and foreign appropriations

After the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), progressive psychologists such as E. Mira went into exile while others such as J. Mallart decided to stay. As a result, the intellectual landscape underwent a dramatic change. The institutional landscape also changed, especially after the new regime solidified its power: it took over the schools, research centres, and universities. In order to foster the state religion—a very conservative Roman Catholicism—the government also required that a neo-scholastic view be taught in philosophy and psychology. Together, these changes constitute a rupture; a broad external change that can be investigated for its impact on the psychological science of the time.

The interest of Catholics in modern science was sparked by Leo XIII’s encyclical Aeterni Patris (1879), which called for a restoration of Christian philosophy and particularly of a reengagement with Thomism. Scholarship by Cardinal Désiré Mercier at the University of Louvain represents an important landmark in this progressive form of scholasticism. As did the founding of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, in Milan, by psychologist Agostino Gemelli in 1921. Following a call by the Vatican to seek out the “harmony” between science and faith, scholars in Spain working in the 1940s and 1950s also promoted neo-scholastic psychology. (Recognizable leaders of this movement included the Jesuit Fernando Maria Palmés and Manuel Barbado Viejo.)

At the same time, while neo-scholasticism flourished, there was also an attempt made by psychologists to strengthen connections with foreign psychologists. Two European psychologists were of central importance in the orientation and institutionalisation of psychology in Spain in the period between 1950 and 1970: A. Michotte and J. Piaget. Although this connection is well known among historians of psychology, there is still much research to do related to the political, religious, and scientific motives and influences involved.

Possible research questions on the theme: To what extent was psychology after the Civil War different from or similar to the situation before the War? Which national and international networks did Spanish scholars establish and participate in during the Franco era? What role did Michotte and Piaget play in that setting? What was the intersection between the religious and scientific contexts, and to what extent did this influence their psychological research? How did Spanish psychologists try to combine and legitimize research in modern (experimental, positivist, applied) psychology and connect this with a Catholic (moral) worldview?

Qualifications
The PhD candidate should:
• have a master’s degree
• have a bachelor or master’s degree in psychology, history, history of science or sociology of science
• have some experience working with historical methods and source materials
• be fluent in English (both oral and written)
• be willing to work in Groningen, in an international and interdisciplinary environment

Full details can be found here.

The ghost factories: Histories of automata and artificial life

AHP readers will be interested in a recent historiographic essay “The ghost factories: histories of automata and artificial life” by Edward Jones-Imhotep (free access). As Jones-Imhotep writes in History of Technology,

Imagine a factory. On the shop floor stands a single worker – a young girl. Surrounding her are the hulking frames of weaving looms, four of them, in riotous mechanical action. The girl doesn’t operate the machines. Instead, they operate themselves. The fabric, more perfect and uniform than human hands can manage, ‘weaves itself’. The girl’s job, her only job, is to watch the machines, making sure nothing threatens their work. She cleans the silk, she mends a broken thread, she reloads an empty shuttle. To do this, she stops the machine by pressing a single button, located on one of their four corners. When she’s finished, she presses the button again and the mechanism shudders back to life, exactly where it left off.

That vision – a ghost factory – appeared in the November 1745 edition of the Mercure de France. It advertised the latest invention of Jacques de Vaucanson, tenth child of a Grenoble glove-maker and high wizard of mid-eighteenth century automation. Among the automata makers of his time, Vaucanson was unrivaled. The detail and sophistication of his automata – defecating ducks, tambourine- and flute-playing androids – dazzled his audiences and defined the approach to automata for generations to come. His talents were clearly portable. The techniques he employed and the visions he conjured cut across the spheres of courtly leisure, proto-industrial labor, and Enlightenment governance. Frederick the Great courted him. Voltaire sang his praises. Louis XIV proposed sending him to Guyana to source rubber for a mechanical model of the human circulatory system. Arguably though, Vaucanson’s greatest and most lasting feat involved none these accolades. Instead, his real legacy was to popularize a way of talking about machines. At the heart of all his work, including his spectral account of factory production, was a set of erasures – physical and rhetorical – that made the illusion of automation possible. Where were the artisans who built these automated machines? Who spun the threads that ‘wove themselves’ into impossibly fine fabric? Where were the Chinese and North African and West Indian laborers who gathered the silk and cotton from far-flung trading posts and colonies? It’s only at the end of his striking account that Vaucanson revealed the hidden organic forces powering his automated looms: a horse, moving water, a man, an eight-year old child. Vaucanson didn’t invent this opportunistically porous way of talking about automation and machinic self-action; at least not single-handedly. It was a collective enterprise. Historically, automata of all kinds – from androids to factory machines to our own autonomous technologies – have relied on this type of disappearing trick. And they’re still playing it.

Galton, Terman, Cox: The Distinctive Volume II in Genetic Studies of Genius

AHP readers may be interested in a recent piece in Gifted Child Quarterly: “Galton, Terman, Cox: The Distinctive Volume II in Genetic Studies of Genius,” by Dean Keith Simonton. Abstract:

With just one exception, all of the volumes in Terman’s Genetic Studies of Genius report the results of a longitudinal study of more than a thousand intellectually gifted children. That single exception is Volume II, Cox’s single-authored The Early Mental Traits of Three Hundred Geniuses, which instead was a retrospective study of 301 eminent creators and leaders, using historiometric methods to estimate their IQs (as well as to assess a subset of 100 on 67 character traits). This article discusses how this volume actually fits with the other four volumes in the set. After giving the historical background, discussion turns to the emergence of Cox’s doctoral dissertation. Then comes a narrative of the aftermath, including subsequent contributions by Cox, Terman, and numerous other researchers extending into the 21st century. The article closes by treating the ways that the intellectually gifted and the historic geniuses are not comparable, thus indicating the need for more recent replications and extensions of her work.

The Science of Walking: Investigations Into Locomotion in the Long Nineteenth Century

AHP readers may be interested in a now available English language translation of Andreas Mayer’s The Science of Walking: Investigations Into Locomotion in the Long Nineteenth Century. As described on the publisher’s website,

The Science of Walking recounts the story of the growing interest and investment of Western scholars, physicians, and writers in the scientific study of an activity that seems utterly trivial in its everyday performance yet essential to our human nature: walking. Most people see walking as a natural and unremarkable activity of daily life, yet the mechanism has long puzzled scientists and doctors, who considered it an elusive, recalcitrant, and even mysterious act. In The Science of Walking, Andreas Mayer provides a history of investigations of the human gait that emerged at the intersection of a variety of disciplines, including physiology, neurology, orthopedic surgery, anthropology, and psychiatry

Looking back at more than a century of locomotion research, Mayer charts, for the first time, the rise of scientific endeavors to control and codify locomotion and analyzes their social, political, and aesthetic ramifications throughout the long nineteenth century. In an engaging narrative that weaves together science and history, Mayer sets the work of the most important representatives of the physiology of locomotion—including Wilhelm and Eduard Weber and Étienne-Jules Marey—in their proper medical, political, and artistic contexts. In tracing the effects of locomotion studies across other cultural domains, Mayer reframes the history of the science of walking and gives us a deeper understanding of human movement.

CONTENTS
Introduction: A Recalcitrant Object

1 Walkers, Wayfarers, Soldiers: Sketching a Practical Science of Locomotion
2 Observers of Locomotion: Theories of Walking in the French Science de l’homme
3 Mechanicians of the Human Walking Apparatus: The Beginnings of an Experimental Physiology of the Gait
4 The Rise of Graphical and Photographic Methods: Locomotion Studies and the Predicament of Representation

Conclusion: The Centipede’s Dilemma

BPS Blog: Learning from experiences – the pioneering Life of Marie Jahoda

AHP readers will be interested in a recent piece on the British Psychological Society blog from Sophie O’Reilly at the History of Psychology Centre: “Learning from experiences – the pioneering Life of Marie Jahoda.” The piece draws from the BPS History of Psychology archives, including an oral history interview and a video of Marie Jahoda, and includes audio of Jahoda speaking. The full piece can be read (and heard) online here.

New in JHI: Frantz Fanon, Institutional Psychotherapy, and the Decolonization of Psychiatry

The April 2020 issue of the Journal of the History of Ideas includes a piece that will interest AHP readers: “Frantz Fanon, Institutional Psychotherapy, and the Decolonization of Psychiatry,” Camille Robcis. Abstract:

This article examines the role of psychiatry in the life and work of Frantz Fanon. It focuses on Fanon’s relationship to institutional psychotherapy, which he discovered at the hospital of Saint-Alban through the figure of François Tosquelles. Institutional psychotherapy confirmed, on a clinical level, what Fanon had already intuited in his early work. If alienation was always political and psychic at the same time, then decolonization needed to involve the disalienation of the mind. This is precisely what Fanon tried to do in his psychiatric work in North Africa and in his last political texts.

The full, free access issue can be found online here.

The Psychologist, June 2020: Psychology’s Sexual Harassment Problem has a History

The June 2020 issue of The Psychologist, the official magazine of the British Psychological Society, is out now. The issue features a number of pieces that will interest AHP readers, including several on past and present issue of sexual harassment. (Full disclosure, one of these pieces is co-authored by AHP Editor Jacy Young, aka me.) An additional article on Pavlov’s dogs will also interest AHP readers.

All articles can be read online via the links below: