Category Archives: General

The Great Pretender: The Undercover Mission That Changed Our Understanding of Madness

AHP readers will be interested in a forthcoming book exploring David Rosenhan’s “On being sane in insane places.” Susannah Cahalan’s The Great Pretender: The Undercover Mission That Changed Our Understanding of Madness will be released in November 2019. The book is described as follows:

For centuries, doctors have struggled to define mental illness-how do you diagnose it, how do you treat it, how do you even know what it is? In search of an answer, in the 1970s a Stanford psychologist named David Rosenhan and seven other people — sane, normal, well-adjusted members of society — went undercover into asylums around America to test the legitimacy of psychiatry’s labels. Forced to remain inside until they’d “proven” themselves sane, all eight emerged with alarming diagnoses and even more troubling stories of their treatment. Rosenhan’s watershed study broke open the field of psychiatry, closing down institutions and changing mental health diagnosis forever. 

But, as Cahalan’s explosive new research shows, very little in this saga is exactly as it seems. What really happened behind those closed asylum doors, and what does it mean for our understanding of mental illness today?

Queer Ink: A Blotted History Towards Liberation

Forthcoming from Routledge is Katherine Hubbard’s Queer Ink: A Blotted History Towards Liberation. The book is described as follows:

This historical interdisciplinary book contextualises the Rorschach ink blot test and embeds it within feminist action and queer liberation.

What do you see when you look at an ink blot? The Rorschach ink blot test is one of the most famous psychological tests and it has a surprisingly queer history. In mapping this history, this book explores how this test, once used to detect and diagnose ‘homosexuality’, was later used by some psychologists and activists to fight for gay liberation. In this book the author uses the test in yet another way, as a lens through which we can reveal a queer feminist history of Psychology. By looking closely at the lives and work of some women psychologists and activists it becomes clear that their work was influenced by their own, often queer, lives. By tracing the lives and actions of women who used, were tested with, or influenced by, the Rorschach, a new kind of understanding of gay and lesbian history in Britain is revealed.

Pushing at the borders between Psychology, Sociology, and activism, the book utilises the Rorschach to show how influential the social world is on scientific practice. This is fascinating reading for anyone interested in the history of sexuality and Psychology.

Human Relations’ invented traditions: Sociotechnical research and worker motivation at the interwar Rowntree Cocoa Works

AHP readers may be interested in a forthcoming piece in Human Relations:

Human Relations’ invented traditions: Sociotechnical research and worker motivation at the interwar Rowntree Cocoa Works,” by Michael Weatherburn. Abstract:

What makes workers work better: social or financial incentives? This important management research question has a long and contested history, with most studies emphasizing the former. Almost all research into this question draws on the Hawthorne studies conducted by Elton Mayo and colleagues in the interwar United States, with the Hawthorne studies even playing a part in the foundation of the Tavistock Institute and its journal Human Relations in 1947. As this article reveals, the allegedly-unique nature of the Hawthorne studies is an invented tradition deeply embedded in the human relations field to this day. To explode this invented tradition, this article uses previously unstudied historical sources to recover and examine the long-forgotten Incentives and Contentment (1938) studies, conducted from 1929 onwards by sociologist Clarence Northcott at the Rowntree Cocoa Works in York, UK. In contrast to the Hawthorne studies, the Rowntree management research found that financial incentives were more important than social incentives. This article then charts how fashions in work incentives, the importance of personalities and networks, the relatively weak position of sociology in postwar Britain, and the prestige of American expertise, combined in 1947 to ensure the Tavistock’s founders believed the Hawthorne studies were unique.

Special Issue: Bodies and Minds in Education

AHP readers may be interested in a recent special issue of History of Education dedicated to “Bodies and Minds in Education.” Full details below.

“A weak mind in a weak body? Categorising intellectually disabled children in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in Switzerland,” by Michèle Hofmann. Abstract:

This paper focuses on nineteenth-century theories according to which intellectual disabilities find expression in physical impairment. Such theories became widespread in Switzerland due to the growing interest in a condition then called ‘cretinism’ – a specific form of ‘idiocy’ in the course of which mental and physical disintegration went hand in hand. The first institution for ‘cretinic’ children initially achieved considerable fame. However, it eventually failed completely, leading to a loss of interest in ‘cretinism’. Interestingly, the specific body–mind connection that was associated with ‘cretinism’ did not vanish; instead, it became important in the context of another intellectual disability that gained attention after the mid-nineteenth century: ‘idiocy’. Physical aspects became the main criteria for identifying ‘idiotic’ children in order to allocate them to special educational measures. The paper argues that the connection of an ‘abnormal’ mind to an impaired body allowed for the popularisation of knowledge regarding ‘idiotic’ children.

“Catholic minds/bodies–souls: Catholic schools and eugenic inspired educational reforms in the United States, 1915–1952,” by Ann Marie Ryan. Abstract:

Social efficiency shaped much of public schooling in the United States during the early twentieth century. Simultaneously, Roman Catholic schools proliferated and became increasingly regulated by state departments of education. This led to increased influence of public education reform movements on Catholic schools. This article examines the arguments advanced by Catholic educators who questioned the educational measurement movement and eugenic-inspired reforms such as intelligence testing. It follows those debates during the early twentieth century through to the mid-century. American Catholic educators offered arguments beyond self-interest grounded in the principles of Catholic education with a commitment to educating the whole child – mind/body–soul – in the Thomist tradition. This historical case demonstrates how the dualist tradition of the mind/body–soul stood against the pseudo-scientific attempt of eugenicists in attempting to measure minds and bodies–souls.

“The hand as agent of the mind? The irony of manual training reform in Menomonie, Wisconsin (1890–1920),” y Sébastien-Akira Alix. Abstract:

At the end of the nineteenth century, proponents of the manual training movement called for the implementation of manual training classes in America’s schools. This movement – whose distinctive feature was ‘the education of the mind, and of the hand as the agent of the mind’ – was supported by a revolutionary rhetoric: manual training classes were supposed to be at the centre of a school transformation dedicated to the principles of ‘learning by doing’ and ‘freedom for the child.’ Using archival sources from the city of Menomonie, Wisconsin, this article is conceived as an effort to move beyond progressive reformers’ rhetoric in order to understand the functioning of manual training classes. By documenting how progressive reformers changed the curriculum, social purposes and reality of schooling for local pupils, it unveils the irony of manual training reform in Menomonie, ie that the Menomonie schools remained bastions of social order and stability.

“Re-turning matters of body_mind: articulations of ill-/health and energy/fatigue gathered through vocational and health education,” by Geert Thyssen & Frederik Herman. Abstract:

This paper explores ‘articulations’ or ‘re-turnings’ of ill-/health and energy/fatigue in education, re/configuring bodies and minds as ‘body_minds’. The Luxembourg vocational school Institut Émile Metz (IEM) thereby serves as a starting point. This institute is analysed ‘diffractively’ through health education institutes as part of an architecture of industry-related social welfare provisions with a global dimension. From knowledge and praxis ‘gathered’ through the IEM, tuberculosis, an infectious disease known to manifest itself in bodily and mental fatigue, emerges as a conspicuous silence. Based particularly on corporate film stills featuring the IEM and a preventorium-sanatorium and open-air school, similar articulations around tuberculosis and (energy/)fatigue are traced across such institutes. Whereas previous research in this context has pointed to new encounters of bodies and machines, this paper reframes articulations pertaining to such newly imagined ‘body_machines’ as having allowed also for re/configurings of the interrelation of (machine) bodies and minds as ‘body_minds’.

“Sexual hygiene: Dutch reflections on the adolescent body in the early twentieth century,” by John Exalto. Abstract:

Around 1900, interest in adolescence as a separate and crucial phase in human development increased among psychologists, educators and youth workers in the western world. This paper reviews the relation between adolescence and sexuality in the early twentieth century from a Dutch perspective. In the 1920s pedagogues started to study adolescence. The Amsterdam professor Philipp Abraham Kohnstamm was a pioneer in developing a pedagogical approach (instead of a clinical approximation) to understand adolescence and sexuality. For Kohnstamm, sexual health education had to be part of moral teaching. He stressed the importance of sex education at an early stage, for body and mind are connected to such an extent that a separation will result in the depersonalisation of man. Kohnstamm’s work reflected the ideas of the European intellectual elites of his time regarding the sexual morals and manners of the working class.

“From ‘puritanical goosebumps’ to the nostalgic longing for heterosexual harmony: the emotional organisation of sexuality in relationship education in the 1970s and 1980s,” by Barbara Rothmüller. Abstract:

Comprehensive approaches to sex education emphasise an integration of the mind and the body via emotions. Drawing on the historiographical shift towards the study of emotions, this paper explores cognitive, bodily and emotional dimensions of sexuality education and social relations. By analysing the institutionalisation of sex education in Luxembourg, the paper examines often neglected sex education material as well as political reform debates in a Catholic-conservative context. The analysis demonstrates that in the mid-1980s, and despite public disputes, reform opponents shared a common horizon in sex education: they promoted emotional education to channel sexual practices in the direction of family formation. As a consequence, emotional education marginalised bodies, sexualities and forms of relationship that were not conforming to the ideal of a happy heterosexual dyad in which ‘love and sexuality belong together’. It is argued that the prohibition was part of a twofold emotionalisation of sex education in the 1980s.

“Afterword [part 1]: the practice of attending to bodies and minds in education,” by Ethan L. Hutt. Abstract:

This article identifies and explores three major themes evident in the scholarship seeking to re-examine and re-think historical understandings of the mind/body debate in education. The first concerns the expansiveness and flexibility of beliefs about the relationship between body and mind. Though often rooted in scientific findings or religious dogma, the day-to-day enactment of these beliefs by educators involved continual re-imagining and pragmatic re-configuring to address the challenges of practice. The second involves the application of new methodologies to analyse visual media as well as the creative application of traditional techniques to analyse print media in a way that helps surface the missing voices of students and patients in official institutional records. The third involves the latent issues of privacy, personal disclosure, and measurement. The issue of what should be known by whom and with whom it should be shared, was – and remains – an animating concern in efforts to disentangle the relationship between body and mind in education. The examination of these themes is followed by a consideration of their implication for future research in this area.

“Afterword [part 2]: governing bodies and minds,” by Enric Novella. Abstract:

This brief comment is intended to provide some remarks on the possibility of placing the particular entanglements of ‘bodies and minds’ presented in this special issue of History of Education in a broader theoretical and interpretative framework resorting to Michel Foucault’s concept of governmentality. In my opinion, this analytical tool may be very fruitful for the historiography of education and other ‘government practices’ if we want to overcome the troubling dichotomy of ‘bodies and minds’ and interpret the varieties of pedagogical articulations of the corporeal and the mental in their singularity and in the context of the historical evolution of educational concepts and practices.