Category Archives: Journals

Anthony Enns on Apocryphal Psychotechnologies

A recent piece, “Apocryphal Psychotechnologies,” published in Continent may interest AHP readers. Contintent is “a platform for thinking through media. text, image, video, sound and new forms of publishing online are presented as reflections on and challenges to contemporary conditions in politics, media studies, art, film and philosophical thought.” As author Anthony Enns writes,

Apocryphal technologies are particularly interesting for the study of technological imaginaries precisely because they blur the boundaries between the legitimate and the illegitimate or the plausible and the implausible. For instance, it is often difficult to distinguish apocryphal technologies from real technologies because they tend to be based on the same underlying principles and assumptions. The aspirations that inform apocryphal technologies can also inform real technological innovations by serving as a springboard for new ideas or by anticipating the development of new inventions. The combination of fantastic effects and apparent plausibility also makes apocryphal technologies particularly suitable for conspiracy theories, which similarly encourage a belief in the impossible by imposing a veneer of truth and veracity. Unlike imaginary technologies, therefore, apocryphal technologies can promote faith in technological progress as well as fear of technocratic control. The following paper will explore the desires and anxieties that inform apocryphal technologies by examining a series of electronic devices that allegedly influenced (or were influenced by) the mind. While the claims made about these machines were not supported by scientific research, they were all based on a common understanding of the mind as an electronic apparatus that was subject to modification and manipulation, and they reflected a shared desire for a perfect mind-machine interface, which was imagined as a source of either unlimited power or complete powerlessness. At the same time that these psychotechnologies blur the boundaries between the legitimate and the illegitimate or the plausible and the implausible, therefore, they also illustrate the uneasy tension between utopian aspiration and dystopian paranoia—particularly with regard to the future of humanity.

The full piece can be read online here.

New JHBS: mid-20th c. popularization of psychoanalysis, influence of psychoanalysis on Religion and Human Evolution, and more

The Winter 2020 issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences is now online. The issue includes a number of book reviews, as well as the following articles:

“Franz Joseph Gall’s non?cortical faculties and their organs,” Paul Eling and Stanley Finger. Abstract:

Franz Joseph Gall (1758–1828) is remembered for his claims that behavior results from a large number of independent mental faculties, and that these faculties are associated with cortical organs. Apart from the 26 faculties he localized in the cerebrum, he also recognized one faculty (reproductive drive) in the cerebellum. This picture, however, is based on Gall’s presentations in his well?known later works, his four volume Anatomie et Physiologie. These books reflect the outcomes of Gall’s thinking. They were steered by the observations and feedback he received in Vienna and while presenting his theories in the German states and neighboring countries between 1805 and 1807. Examining his lists before what he published in Paris shows how his faculties were changing. Notably, and as shown here, he had previously included several faculties associated with brainstem structures, in addition to the cerebellum, which he would continue to associate with some reproductive behaviors.

“The return of the repressed. On Robert N. Bellah, Norman O. Brown, and religion in human evolution,” Matteo Bortolini. Abstract:

As much as Robert Bellah’s final work, Religion in Human Evolution, has been studied and dissected, no critic underlined the importance of psychoanalysis for its main argument and its theoretical framework. The paper shows the influence exerted by a controversial interpreter of Freud, Norman O. Brown, on Bellah’s ideas, intellectual profile, and writing style in the late?1960s and early 1970s. While in search for a new intellectual voice, Bellah was struck by Brown’s work and began to make intensive use of his book, Love’s Body, both in his teaching and in his research of the early 1970s, during his so?called “symbolic realism” period. While Bellah abandoned Brown’s ideas and style in the mid?1970s, some of the basic intuitions he had during that period still survived as one of the major theoretical intuitions of Religion and Human Evolution.

“Bishop Fulton J. Sheen: America’s public critic of psychoanalysis, 1947–1957,” Paul M. Dennis. Abstract:

This paper examines the role of Bishop Fulton Sheen in the popularization of Freudian psychoanalysis in the United States during the 1940s and 50s. Social historians argue that Freudian ideas were pervasive in American culture during this period. While their claim speaks mainly to the impact of psychoanalysis on the cultural elite and college educated, they also suggest that Freudian ideas affected ordinary men and women. In the former case, the group impacted is small and not representative of the population as a whole; in the latter, the evidence is sparse and impressionistic. Neglected in their consideration is the influence of Fulton Sheen whose opinions on Freud reached an audience of 30,000,000 during the height of the popularity of his TV show, Life is Worth Living. Sheen’s audience was more inclusive and representative of mainstream America. The negative and highly cautionary view of psychoanalysis he presented to many Americans was contrary to that which was promoted to and embraced by many of the college educated and likely shaped both their views of Freud and psychoanalytic therapy.

“A dangerous method? Psychedelic therapy at Modum Bad, Norway, 1961–76”

AHP readers following the literature on the history of psychedelic treatments will be interested in a new piece in press, and now online, at History of Psychiatry:

“A dangerous method? Psychedelic therapy at Modum Bad, Norway, 1961–76,” by Petter Grahl Johnstad. Abstract:

After many years of disregard, the use of psychedelic drugs in psychiatric treatment has re-emerged in recent years. The prospect that psychedelics may again be integrated into mainstream psychiatry has aroused interest in long-forgotten research and experience from the previous phase of psychedelic therapy, which lasted from the late 1940s to the 1970s. This article will discuss one large-scale psychedelic therapy programme at Modum Bad Nervesanatorium, a psychiatric clinic which treated 379 inpatients with psychedelic drugs during the years 1961–76. The psychiatrists there initially regarded the psychedelic treatment as efficacious and without serious negative reactions, but reports of long-term harm have since surfaced. This article discusses how insights from Modum Bad might benefit the new generation of psychedelic treatment efforts.

Winter Issue of Revista de Historia de la Psicología

AHP readers will be interested to know that the Winter Issue of Revista de Historia de la Psicología is now online. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below:

“Comparative Psychology and the Objectification of Mind: Thorndike’s Cats in the Puzzle-Box.” David O. Clark (Article written in English). Abstract:

Animal Intelligence: An Experimental Study of the Associative Process in Animals by Edward L. Thorndike contributed significantly to psychology in the 20th century. In textbooks, the experiment is attributed to Thorndike without qualification. The design looks simple and produces conviction; by trial and error, cats learn to escape from a puzzle-box. But closer reading reveals multiple controls, innovation in statistical methods, and strong theoretical interpretation. This sophistication raises questions: Did a young graduate student do this complicated experiment? Why was this expensive study funded? Is the convention now myth? This paper delves into the complex relationship between James’s functionalist project, Cattell’s mental testing and the comparative psychology of Morgan and Romanes, to conclude that Thorndike’s experiment was the means to provide functionalism with a foundational experiment and consecrate the learning curve as the method of this scientific perspective.

“From Philantrophy and Household Arts to the Scholarly Education of Psychologists and Educators: A Brief History of the University of Columbia’s Teachers College (1881-1930).” Catriel Fierro (Article written in English).

During the professionalization of American psychology towards the end of the 19th century, the pedagogical field, with its institutions, educational departments and teacher’s schools, represented one of the main ‘niches’ or focal points of study and disciplinary application for emerging graduates in the new science. The present study constitutes a historical analysis of Teachers College, an academic and professional institution linked to Columbia University, a pioneer in the education and training of American educators with international projections, between 1881 and 1930. Based on the use of various primary sources and archival documents not analyzed in previous works, a critical contextualization of the emergence of the College, and a narrative of its institutional, scientific and curricular development of the institution are offered. It shows the transit of Teachers College from a nonprofit philanthropic organization to an academic and professional training college of educators and psychologists formally associated with the University of Columbia.

“¿Quién teme al magnetismo animal? Mesmerismo, hipnosis y su fortuna crítica en Portugal en el siglo XIX [Who is afraid of Animal Magnetism? Mesmerism, Hypnosis and their critical fate in 19th century Portugal].” Bruno Barreiros (Article written in Spanish). Abstract:

This article analyses the circulation of theories and practices related to animal magnetism and hypnotism in Portugal throughout the nineteenth century. Initially, special attention was paid to the pioneering experiences and theorisations of an almost unknown author, born in the then Portuguese India, José Custódio de Faria (1756-1819), examining his doctrinal and conceptual opposition to both Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815) and the fluidist and spiritualist currents that subdivided the mesmerism of the time. In a second moment, we will analyze the reception and circulation of these doctrines in Portugal, measuring the impact of Faria’s work in Portugal. We will highlight the authors involved in the process, the intellectual debates and the institutional positions that were raised then. Finally, it is intended to demonstrate that magnetism and hypnotism, often used as synonyms in the documentation, seem to have generated discomfort in scientific and university associations, having often become objects of deliberate silencing, with direct reflection in the historiography itself.

“Contribución a la historia del surgimiento de dispositivos alternativos al asilo en el tratamiento de las psicosis: el caso del hospital de día del HZGA Manuel Belgrano [Contribution to the history of the emergence of alternatives to asylum in the treatment of psychosis: the case of the day hospital of the HZGA Manuel Belgrano].” Jesuán Agrazar y Julieta De Battista (Article written in Spanish). Abstract:

This article addresses the conditions of possibility for the emergence of the Day Hospital of the “General Manuel Belgrano” Hospital in Greater Buenos Aires in 1985 (Argentina). Although day hospitals have a long history at international level and some previous experiences in the country, local studies around this problem are scarce. That is why this work, from a historical-critical perspective, tracks the facility in its origins and in different geographical scenarios, addresses some key experiences in the province and the referents of the time, to approximate the framework that gave rise to the experience of Belgrano. The importance of this case is that it was a beacon institution during the time it was open, as it became a reference for clinical care and professional training. It was also a source of inspiration for the creation of other facilities also dedicated to the psychoanalytic treatment of psychosis in Argentine.

Special Issue: Histories of psychology after Stonewall

A special issue of the American Psychologist dedicated to “Histories of psychology after Stonewall” is now online. The issue is guest-edited by Peter Hegarty and Alexandra Rutherford. Full details below.

“Histories of psychology after Stonewall: Introduction to the special issue,” by Hegarty, Peter; Rutherford, Alexandra. Abstract:

This article introduces the special issue Fifty Years Since Stonewall: The Science and Politics of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity. Here, the commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall uprising frames our discussion of issues of representation that arise in commemorating events in general, and events in the history of psychology in particular. We describe how the articles in the special issue expand the existing narratives about the history of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender psychology that are centered in the United States, focused primarily on sexual orientation and often end, rather than begin, in the time of Stonewall. The international scope of the special issue can suggest new ways to particularize histories of psychology since Stonewall that are centered on the United States. We describe the ideological context that shapes the doing of psychology since Stonewall, the telling of the histories of that psychology, and how “the problem of speaking for others” arises in contexts of power, including the curation of the special issue itself.

“Clinical activism in community-based practice: The case of LGBT affirmative care at the Eromin Center, Philadelphia, 1973–1984,” by Byers, David S.; Vider, Stephen; Smith, Amelia. Abstract:

The Eromin Center was founded in Philadelphia in 1973, aiming to provide lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) affirmative mental health treatment 6 months before the American Psychiatric Association voted to remove homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–II; American Psychiatric Association, 1968). This study of archival records and oral histories with Eromin Center staff and volunteers reveals an iterative and improvisational approach to community-based affirmative care. Rather than waiting for national leadership or institutional change, they aimed to respond directly to otherwise unrecognized needs of LGBT people through psychotherapy and social services—what we are calling clinical activism. Without training or guidance from research, they tended to base their work on their own experiences, an approach with inherent limitations in particular because most of the staff were White, cisgender, and identified as gay and lesbian. They attempted to address these limitations until Eromin’s closing in 1984. Largely overshadowed by the broader policy changes in mental health care, Eromin’s work provides a crucial case study in community-based clinical activism and affirmative practice with continuing salience today.

“From conversion toward affirmation: Psychology, civil rights, and experiences of gender-diverse communities in Memphis,” by Hipp, Tracy N.; Gore, Kayla R.; Toumayan, Amanda C.; Anderson, Mollie B.; Thurston, Idia B. Abstract:

Conversion efforts constitute any attempt to align an individual’s behavior or identity with cisgender and heterosexual norms. The majority of empirical literature on conversion efforts focuses on the experiences of White cisgender gay men. Drawing on a review of the literature, archives, and interviews with local community leaders and stakeholders, this article highlights a broader set of conversion strategies targeted toward Black transgender individuals in Memphis, a community at the heart of the civil rights movement. In addition to the role of ex-gay ministries like Love In Action, this investigation produced themes highlighting the roles of Christian organizations promulgating “church hurt,” structural violence, and gatekeeping to access affirmative care as forms of conversion. We further describe how lack of inclusion within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community, in terms of race, class, and gender identity, has resulted in unequal support for Black transgender individuals and the obscuring of the central role that many transgender individuals, especially those with intersectional marginalized identities, have played in social justice movements. We end with ideas for moving toward affirmation and liberation.

“Content analysis of psychological research with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people of color in the United States: 1969–2018,” by Barnett, Andrew P.; del Río-González, Ana María; Parchem, Benjamin; Pinho, Veronica; Aguayo-Romero, Rodrigo; Nakamura, Nadine; Calabrese, Sarah K.; Poppen, Paul J.; Zea, Maria Cecilia. Abstract:

This article updates previous content analyses that identified a relative paucity of U.S.-based psychological research on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people of color by extending the period covered to 2018. In addition to documenting how many such studies occurred and when, it considers the research questions asked, funding sources, impact, and journal outlets. This richer description of this research area allowed us to describe historically not only when LGBT people of color in the United States were studied but why they were studied, which journals published this work, and which published studies were most influential. We found that the literature starts in 1988 for LGB people of color and in 2009 for transgender people of color and that a significant shift occurred in 2009, with the majority of the articles being published in the last 10 years. Findings suggest that U.S. federal funding and support for LGBT research as well as divisions of the American Psychological Association focused on minoritized identities and their journals played a role in the recent increase. Half of the studies investigated psychological symptoms, and more than a third of studied experiences and psychological processes related to holding multiple minority statuses, many of which focused on potentially deleterious aspects of these identities. These findings indicate that this literature has a significant focus on pathology. Underrepresented groups included cisgender and transgender women; transgender men; older individuals; Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders; American Indians and Alaska Natives; and multiracial individuals.

“Transnormativity in the psy disciplines: Constructing pathology in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and Standards of Care,” by Riggs, Damien W.; Pearce, Ruth; Pfeffer, Carla A.; Hines, Sally; White, Francis; Ruspini, Elisabetta. Abstract:

The psy disciplines (i.e., psychiatry, psychology, psychoanalysis, and psychotherapy) have played a significant role in shaping understandings of transgender people’s lives in ways that are transnormative (i.e., by emphasizing one particular account of what it means to be transgender). This article documents (a) how the rise of the psy disciplines created opportunities for transgender people to access treatment (but that such access often required tacit acceptance of transnormativity), and (b) how transgender people have resisted transnormative accounts within the psy disciplines. More specifically, this article explores how both the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and what is now the World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s Standards of Care, have often enshrined highly regulatory accounts of transgender people’s lives, while also changing over time, in part as a result of the contributions of transgender people. The article concludes by considering recent contributions by transgender people in terms of the use of informed consent models of care and clinical research, and highlights the ongoing marginalization of transgender people in terms of access to ethical, transcompetent care.

“Homosexuality and psychiatry in state-socialist Hungary: Representing women’s same-sex desire in the psychomedical literature,” by Borgos, Anna. Abstract:

This study explores representations of homosexuality in the psychiatric and sexology literature between the 1960s and the 1980s in Hungary with special attention to women. The literature is indicative of how psy sciences interacted with the system of norms on gender and sexual orientation embedded within the social and political context of the era. Examination of these sources shows a predominantly pathologizing-normative discursive framework deployed by experts. The fundamental therapeutic aim was to achieve good social adaptation. In this process, psy experts were influential representatives of the heteronormative society, reinforcing gender norms and state-socialist family ideals. Within the psychological discourses on homosexuality, the case of women had some special characteristics. Their sexual choices were represented as more alterable than men’s and linked to emotional factors in the first place. In women’s case, there was usually no “need” for therapeutic conversion because socially prescribed gender norms worked strongly enough and the lack of sexual pleasure with men was not considered a significant problem. Professional and popular psychiatric and sexology literature on homosexuality indicate that whereas for men, transgressing normative (hetero)sexuality was the stronger taboo, for women, it was the unfulfilled order of marriage and motherhood that was considered the most serious deviance, and lesbian relationships had to be prevented for this reason.

“Sexual offence, diagnosis, and activism: A British history of LGBTIQ psychology,” by Hubbard, Katherine Anne; Griffiths, David Andrew. Abstract:

This article charts the historical period from the 1950s to the 1990s, focusing on the role of Psychology in the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) people in Britain. Psychology has been, and is, central to the social, legal, and medical understandings of biological sex and how best to understand diversity in gender and sexuality. Likewise, gay liberation and liberationist politics also had an effect on Psychology. For the 1950s to 1960s, we outline how psychologists influenced the law in relation to the Wolfenden Report (1957) and how expertise was centrally located within the ‘psy’ disciplines. Following this, in the 1960s to 1970s, activists began to challenge this expertise and became increasingly critical of pathologization and of ‘treatments’ for homosexuality. They did not reject Psychology wholesale, however, and some groups engaged with queer affirmative psychologists who had similar liberatory aims. Finally, for the 1980s to 1998, we highlight the establishment of the Lesbian and Gay Section of the British Psychological Society, which signaled institutional recognition of lesbian and gay psychologists. This is explored against a backdrop of a specific British history of HIV/AIDS and Section 28. The past 50 years have been a battleground of categories in which LGBTIQ people were conflated, compared, and confused. We demonstrate that psychologists (not all of whom adopted a pathologizing perspective), alongside politicians, lawyers, doctors, journalists, and activists, all played a role in the boundary-making practices of this period. Across this entangled history, we demonstrate varied and significant shifts in the legitimacy of professional and personal expertise.

“Queering the history of South African psychology: From apartheid to LGBTI+ affirmative practices,” by Pillay, Suntosh R.; Nel, Juan A.; McLachlan, Chris/tine; Victor, Cornelius J. Abstract:

This article constructs a brief history of how lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) issues have intersected with South African psychology at key sociopolitical moments, filling a gap in current histories. Organized psychology—a primary focus of this analysis—since its first formations in 1948, mostly colluded with apartheid governments by othering queerness as psychopathology or social deviance. The National Party, both homophobic and racist, ruled the country from 1948 until the first democratic elections in 1994. The acceleration of antiapartheid struggles in the 1980s saw progressive psychologists develop more critical forms of theory and practice. However, LGBTI+ issues remained overshadowed by the primary struggle for racial equality and democracy. Psychology’s chameleon-like adaptation to evolving eras resulted in a unified organization when apartheid ended: the Psychological Society of South Africa (PsySSA). Democratic South Africa’s Constitution took the bold step of protecting sexuality as a fundamental human right, galvanizing a fresh wave of LGBTI+ scholarship post-1994. However, LGBTI+ people still suffered prejudice, discrimination, and violence. Additionally, psychology training continued to ignore sexual orientation and gender-affirmative health care in curricula. PsySSA therefore joined the International Psychology Network for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Issues (IPsyNet) in 2007, catalyzing the PsySSA African LGBTI+ Human Rights Project in 2012 and two pioneering publications: a position statement on affirmative practice in 2013, and practice guidelines for psychology professionals working with sexually and gender-diverse people in 2017. This article traces a neglected history of South African psychology, examining the political, social, and institutional factors that eventually enabled the development of LGBTI+ affirmative psychologies.

“Emergence of a transnational LGBTI psychology: Commonalities and challenges in advocacy and activism,” by Horne, Sharon G.; Maroney, Meredith R.; Nel, Juan A.; Chaparro, Reynel A.; Manalastas, Eric Julian. Abstract:

This contribution explores the historical developments of transnational lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) psychology in Colombia, the Philippines, Russia, and South Africa in relationship to U.S. LGBT psychology. LGBTI psychology in these diverse contexts share commonalities but also have important variations in their development and focus within LGBTI concerns. The International Psychology Network for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Issues (IPsyNet) provides a model for international professional psychology collaboration and linkage on behalf of advocacy for LGBTI rights and sexual orientation and gender identity and/or expression concerns. Although there is the risk of transnational LGBTI psychology(ies) reproducing European-North American (Euro-N.A.) “homonationalism” and contributing to neo-colonization, these case examples illustrate the dynamic potential of transnational LGBTI psychology, including the possibilities of psychology to develop LGBTI psychologies drawing from indigenous as well as international structures and platforms, influencing Euro-N.A. models in the process. Finally, this article describes the promise and the limitations of transnational LGBTI psychology, including the role of human rights frameworks, as well as advocacy within professional psychology.