Category Archives: General

The problematic legacy of victim specimens from the Nazi era: Identifying the persons behind the specimens at the Max Planck Institutes for Brain Research and of Psychiatry

AHP readers may be interested in a new open-access piece in the Journal of the History of the Neurosciences: “The problematic legacy of victim specimens from the Nazi era: Identifying the persons behind the specimens at the Max Planck Institutes for Brain Research and of Psychiatry,” Paul Weindling, Gerrit Hohendorf, Axel C. Hüntelmann, Jasmin Kindel, Annemarie Kinzelbach, Aleksandra Loewenau, Stephanie Neuner, Micha? Adam Palacz, Marion Zingler & Herwig Czech. Abstract:

Although 75 years have passed since the end of World War II, the Max Planck Society (Max-Planck Gesellschaft, MPG), successor to the Kaiser Wilhelm Society (Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft, KWG), still must grapple with how two of its foremost institutes—the KWI of Psychiatry in Munich and the KWI for Brain Research in Berlin-Buch—amassed collections of brains from victims of Nazi crimes, and how these human remains were retained for postwar research. Initial efforts to deal with victim specimens during the 1980s met with denial and, subsequently, rapid disposal in 1989/1990. Despite the decision of the MPG’s president to retain documentation for historical purposes, there are gaps in the available sources. This article provides preliminary results of a research program initiated in 2017 (to be completed by October 2023) to provide victim identifications and the circumstances of deaths.

Brain research on Nazi “euthanasia” victims: Legal conflicts surrounding Scientology’s instrumentalization of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society’s history against the Max Planck Society

A new open-access piece in the Journal of the History of the Neurosciences may interest AHP readers: “Brain research on Nazi “euthanasia” victims: Legal conflicts surrounding Scientology’s instrumentalization of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society’s history against the Max Planck Society,” Florian Schmaltz. Abstract:

In 1985, historian Götz Aly published an article showing that the director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Brain Research, neuropathologist Julius Hallervorden (1882–1965), had acquired brains of Nazi “euthanasia” victims and brain specimens of at least 33 children gassed at the Brandenburg killing center on October 28, 1940, which were still kept by the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research. Aly criticized that the Max Planck Society had suppressed articles by journalist Hermann Brendel in the 1970s claiming that institutes of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society had conducted brain research within the framework of “euthanasia.” New sources show that these articles, which were the subject of a lawsuit, were published in a newspaper called Freiheit run by the German branch of Scientology, of which Brendel was editor-in-chief. The articles were part of Scientology’s antipsychiatry campaign. They mixed historical facts about racial hygiene and “euthanasia” in Nazi Germany with ludicrous and unfounded accusations alleging that violent, racist, and dehumanizing research methods typical in Nazi research were still carried out at the Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry. The legal conflict between the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft (MPG) and Scientology about the role of brain researchers in the Nazi era is analyzed here through combining perspectives from the history of neuroscience and socio-legal history. In contrast to trials of Nazi war crimes against “euthanasia” perpetrators, the civil law case of the MPG against Scientology from 1972 until 1975 instead concerned the instrumentalization of the Nazi past of psychiatry and brain research for ideological and commercial motives. The Scientology case caused social and legal ripples, and its after effects extended to 1986, when the MPG considered taking legal steps against Aly’s publication.

Excursions in Rorschachlandia: Surveying the scientific and philosophical landscape of Hermann Rorschach’s Psychodiagnostics

AHP readers may be interested in a new piece in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences: “Excursions in Rorschachlandia: Surveying the scientific and philosophical landscape of Hermann Rorschach’s Psychodiagnostics,” Marvin W. Acklin. Abstract:

This article examines the milieu of Hermann Rorschach’s Psychodiagnostics (1921/2021) under development between 1911 and his death in 1922 and explores new evidence about the direction Rorschach’s test might have taken after publication of Psychodiagnostics. This includes direct and indirect influences from turn of the century continental philosophy and science and innovative colleagues in the Swiss psychiatric and psychoanalytic societies. The availability of newly translated scholarship, including the correspondence between Ludwig Binswanger and Hermann Rorschach following the 1921 publication of Psychodiagnostics, Binswanger’s posthumous 1923 commentary in the International Journal of Psychoanalysis, and recent new translation of Psychodiagnostics, permits a fresh appraisal of the milieu and foundations of Rorschach’s development. Understanding these sources and influences opens new vistas in reappraising the nature of Rorschach’s “test theory” which Rorschach considered undeveloped at the time of his death. This paper presents new evidence that, under the influence of Rorschach’s close colleague, Ludwig Binswanger, the Geisteswissenschaften and phenomenology might have figured prominently in future developments. The paper concludes that Rorschach, preoccupied with considerations of kinesthetic subjectivity in his innovative conceptualization of human movement responses, was a nascent phenomenologist whose untimely death cut short further developments in his theory of the test.

Maps of desire: Edward Tolman’s drive theory of wants

AHP readers will be interested in a new piece in History of the Human Sciences: “Maps of desire: Edward Tolman’s drive theory of wants,” by Simon Torracinta. Abstract:

Wants and desires are central to ordinary experience and to aesthetic, philosophical, and theological thought. Yet despite a burgeoning interest in the history of emotions research, their history as objects of scientific study has received little attention. This historiographical neglect mirrors a real one, with the retreat of introspection in the positivist human sciences of the early 20th century culminating in the relative marginalization of questions of psychic interiority. This article therefore seeks to explain an apparent paradox: the attempt to develop a comprehensive theory of ‘why … we want what we want’ in the 1940s by esteemed American ‘neo-behaviorist’ psychologist Edward Tolman – a proponent of a methodology famous for its prohibition on appeals to unobservable mental phenomena. Though chiefly known today for his theory of ‘cognitive maps’, Tolman also sought to map the contours of desire as such, integrating Freudian and behaviorist models of the ‘drives’ to develop a complex iconography of the universal structures of motivation. Close attention to Tolman’s striking maps offers a compelling limit case for what could and could not be captured within an anti-mentalist framework, and illuminates an important precursor to theories of motivational ‘affect’ in the postwar cognitive and neurosciences. His work upsets a standard chronology that centers on the ‘cognitive revolution’ of the 1960s, and points to the significance of psychoanalysis to an earlier turn to cognitivism. Tolman concluded his theory pointed ‘in the direction of more socialism’ – a reminder of the politically labile anti-essentialism of behaviorism’s commitment to mental plasticity.

The degree course in psychology in Rome in the history of Italian psychology

A new piece in History of Psychology will interest AHP readers: “The degree course in psychology in Rome in the history of Italian psychology,” by Lombardo, G. P., & Romano, A. Abstract:

Italian academic psychology found its first location in the Anthropological Museum of the Faculty of Natural Sciences at the University of Rome, where in 1890 a Laboratory of Experimental Psychology was established. In 1905, the first three Chairs of Experimental Psychology at the Universities of Turin, Rome, and Naples were created. These were followed in the subsequent years by others, until 1930, in other academic institutions. After many years and a long period of crisis linked to the fascist regime, only after the World War II (WWII), with the rebirth of the country, did psychology gradually rebuild its status as a scientific discipline. Within this framework of the renewal of society and university studies, in 1971, two degree courses were instituted in Rome and Padua. Based on research in central and local academic archives and on an analysis of the secondary literature, the gestation phase of the 4-year degree course in Psychology, the progressive establishment of the Psychology Departments, and the 5-year reform of the courses up to the birth of the first Faculty of Psychology at an Italian university are reconstructed. The aim of this article is to propose a well-founded discontinuist historiographical reading of the process of sedimentation of psychological experimentation that, after being born in the Faculty of Sciences and later transferring to the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, also led to important developments in the Faculty of Education, with the recognition of an autonomous academic space of scientific discipline with a degree course, departments and finally the Faculty of Psychology.

The David B. Baker Fellowship in the History of Psychology

The David B. Baker Fellowship in the History of Psychology

Dr. David Baker, a historian of psychology and Emeritus Director of the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, has served as an important mentor for students interested in studying history. Throughout his career, he encouraged students to engage with history by making use of the vast collections of the Archives of the History of American Psychology.

The David B. Baker Fellowship in the History of Psychology supports student research at the Archives of the History of American Psychology. The Fellowship supports travel expenses for one graduate or undergraduate student whose research will benefit from access to the Archives’ collections. One Fellowship of $2500 will be awarded annually.

Eligibility

All applicants must

  • be currently enrolled in a graduate or undergraduate program
  • conduct onsite research at the Archives for 1 to 4 weeks, as the scholar deems necessary
  • be engaged in research that is directly related to the Archives’ collections

How to Apply

Applicants should submit:

  • A project description, including a statement of how the Archives will be helpful to your research (500 words max)
  • A current CV
  • One letter of recommendation

Submit these materials by December 15, 2022 to the Center’s Executive Director Cathy Faye at cfaye@uakron.edu. The successful applicant will be notified by January 30, 2023. All onsite research must be completed by January 30, 2024. 

To learn more about the Archives, explore the website or contact our reference archivist.

Contact cfaye@uakron.edu with any questions.

Psychology and the fall of Communism: The special case of (East) Germany

A new open-access article in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences will interest AHP readers: “Psychology and the fall of Communism: The special case of (East) Germany,” by Mitchell G. Ash. Abstract:

The fall of Communism is now universally agreed to be what the philosopher Hegel called a world historical event—one that few predicted but nearly everyone saw as inevitable after it happened. In the aftermath many lives—and worldviews—changed, not only, but also in the human sciences. These remarks attempt to address in a preliminary way both the impact of the fall of Communism on psychology in former East Germany (including changes in personnel and approach) and the ways in which these sciences were employed as resources for reflection on the Communist past as well as the transition to new social and political regimes.

Harold Garfinkel and Edward Rose in the early years of ethnomethodology

AHP readers may be interested in a new piece in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences: “Harold Garfinkel and Edward Rose in the early years of ethnomethodology,” by Jakub Mlyná?. Abstract:

This article documents the beginning of the intellectual companionship between the founder of ethnomethodology, Harold Garfinkel, and Edward Rose, who is most often associated with his program of “ethno-inquiries.” I present results from archival research focusing on the contacts and collaborations between Rose and Garfinkel in the years 1955–1965. First, I describe the review process for Rose and Felton’s paper, submitted to the American Sociological Review in 1955, which Garfinkel reviewed and after Rose’s rebuttal recommended for publication. The paper induced Garfinkel to write an extensive commentary that has remained unpublished. Second, I discuss the 1958 New Mexico conference sponsored by the Air Force, which was an opportunity for Rose and Garfinkel to work together on topics related to common-sense knowledge and scientific knowledge. Third, I give an overview of the ethnomethodological conferences in 1962 and 1963, supported by an Air Force grant written collaboratively by Rose and Garfinkel. Here I focus primarily on Rose’s research on “small languages,” which stimulated many discussions among the early ethnomethodologists. Rose’s work and exchanges with Garfinkel demonstrate the former’s affinity for miniaturization as a research approach and search for ways to empiricize topics of sociological theory in locally observable settings.

The sciences of love: Intimate ‘democracy’ and the eugenic development of the Marathi couple in colonial India

AHP readers will be interested in a new piece in History of the Human Sciences: “The sciences of love: Intimate ‘democracy’ and the eugenic development of the Marathi couple in colonial India,” by Rovel Sequeira. Abstract:

This article studies the eugenic theories of Marathi sexological writer and novelist Narayan Sitaram Phadke, and his attempts to domesticate the modern ideal of the adult romantic couple as a yardstick of ‘emotional democracy’ in late colonial India. Locating Phadke’s work against the backdrop of the Child Marriage Restraint Act (1929) and its eugenicist concerns, I argue that he conceptualized romantic love as an emotion and a form of sociability central to the state’s biopolitical schemes of ensuring modern coupledom but as exceeding the state’s capacity to rationally order Indian sex life. Consequently, he crafted literary supplements like the bildungsroman to circulate ‘English’ idioms of emotional and corporeal intimacy in Marathi; his novels domesticated eugenic sexology for its ‘vernacular’ audiences by advocating caste-bound romantic love as the blueprint for Indian marital coupling. As exemplified by Phadke’s work, an emerging Marathi discourse of love demarcated a space for the young couple to operate as a vehicle of interpersonal openness within the constraints of the upper-caste joint family. By outlining the parameters of this Brahmanical aesthetic discourse, I show that the couple became the locus of a self-styled ‘democratic’ form of emotional attachment aimed at developing a necessary dynamism within endogamous caste-based marital arrangements without radically transforming them. The science performed through the Marathi novel in the 1920s and 1930s consequently explains the increasing prominence of romantic love as a form of developmental ‘democratic’ discourse at a time when both romantic love and democracy-in-practice were widely experienced as absent from Indian society.

The development of supported mental health accommodation and community psychiatric nursing in Oxfordshire

A new piece in History of Psychiatry will interest AHP readers: “The development of supported mental health accommodation and community psychiatric nursing in Oxfordshire,” by John Hall. Abstract:

Overcrowding in British mental hospitals was a major service and political concern when the NHS was introduced in 1948. From 1959, a number of projects were initiated locally in Oxfordshire, based from Littlemore Hospital Oxford, to provide alternative accommodation, primarily for long-stay residents. Two NHS hostels were opened and a network of group homes was developed from 1963. These were administered through the hospital League of Friends and supported by the community psychiatric nursing service led by Helmut Leopoldt. From 1977 a separate local charity, Oxfordshire Mind, also provided supported housing for younger patients. These developments can be seen as an early local case study of the provision of non-hospital (supported) accommodation and other forms of support for people with long-term mental health problems.