Category Archives: Journals

Between Shell Shock and PTSD? ‘Accident Neurosis’ and Its Sequelae in Post-War Britain

The August issue of Social History of Medicine includes a piece that may interest AHP readers:

Between Shell Shock and PTSD? ‘Accident Neurosis’ and Its Sequelae in Post-War Britain,” by Ryan Ross. Abstract:

This article focuses on the concept of ‘accident neurosis’, popularised by neurologist Henry Miller in studies published in 1961. It aims to realise two goals. First, it introduces Miller’s concept of accident neurosis to the broader history of trauma—to a field, that is, more preoccupied with military traumata and clear-cut psychiatric aetiologies. Secondly, I use Miller’s studies, and the considerable legacy they created, to reflect on how historians of trauma construct historical narratives, asking whether there is sufficient appreciation of the ways in which events seem to leak into or retroactively animate one another.

New History of the Human Sciences: Child Experts in the Swedish Press, Historiography of Brain and Mind Sciences

The July 2019 issue of History of the Human Sciences is now online. A number of articles in this issue may interest AHP readers, particularly Peter Skagius’s piece on the presence of child psychology and psychiatry experts in Swedish newspapers and Alfred Freeborn’s review article on the recent historiography on the brain and mind sciences. Full issue contents are detailed below.

“Social types and sociological analysis,” by Charles Turner. Abstract:

Social types, or types of persons, occupy a curious place in the history of sociology. There has never been any agreement on how they should be used, or what their import is. Yet the problems surrounding their use are instructive, symptomatic of key ambivalences at the heart of the sociological enterprise. These include a tension between theories of social order that privilege the division of labour and those that focus on large-scale cultural complexes; a tension between the analysis of society in terms of social groups and an acknowledgement of modern individualism; sociology’s location somewhere between literature and science; and sociology’s awkward response to the claim – made by both Catholic conservatives and Marxists – that modern industrial and post-industrial society cannot be a society of estates. These ambivalences may help to explain why the attempts to use social types for the purpose of cultural diagnosis – from the interesting portrait of arbitrarily selected positions in the division of labour to more ambitious guesswork about modern culture’s dominant ‘characters’ – have been unconvincing.

“‘That they will be capable of governing themselves’: Knowledge of Amerindian Difference and early modern arts of governance in the Spanish Colonial Antilles,” by Timothy Bowers Vasko. Abstract:

Contrary to conventional accounts, critical knowledge of the cultural differences of Amerindian peoples was not absent in the early Conquest of the Americas. It was indeed a constitutive element of that process. The knowledge, strategies, and institutions of early Conquest relied on, and reproduced, Amerindian difference within the Spanish Empire as an essential element of that empire’s continued claims to legitimate authority. I demonstrate this through a focus on three parallel and sometimes overlapping texts: Ramón Pané’s Indian Antiquities; Peter Martyr d’Anghierra’s First Decade; and the first systematic attempt to govern colonized populations in the Americas, the Laws of Burgos. Not only did each text furnish the necessary material upon which the claims to intellectual, and so civilizational, superiority that were central to the justification of empire could be sustained. What is more, they transformed Amerindian difference from an object of knowledge into a subject of governance.

“‘Mere chips from his workshop’: Gotthard Deutsch’s monumental card index of Jewish history,” by Jason Lustig. Abstract:

Gotthard Deutsch (1859–1921) taught at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati from 1891 until his death, where he produced a card index of 70,000 ‘facts’ of Jewish history. This article explores the biography of this artefact of research and poses the following question: Does Deutsch’s index constitute a great unwritten work of history, as some have claimed, or are the cards ultimately useless ‘chips from his workshop’? It may seem a curious relic of positivistic history, but closer examination allows us to interrogate the materiality of scholarly labor. The catalogue constitutes a total archive and highlights memory’s multiple registers, as both a prosthesis for personal recall and a symbol of a ‘human encyclopedia’. The article argues that this mostly forgotten scholar’s work had surprising repercussions: Deutsch’s student Jacob Rader Marcus (1896–1995) brought his teacher’s emphasis on facticity to the field of American Jewish history that he pioneered, catapulting a 19th-century positivism to the threshold of the 21st century. Deutsch’s index was at an inflection point of knowledge production, created as historians were shifting away from ‘facts’ but just before new technologies (also based on cards) enabled ‘big data’ on a larger scale. The article thus excavates a vision of monumentality but proposes we look past these objects as monuments to ‘heroic’ scholarship. Indeed, Deutsch’s index is massive but middling, especially when placed alongside those of Niklas Luhmann, Paul Otlet, or Gershom Scholem. It thus presents a necessary corrective to anointing such indexes as predecessors to the Internet and big data because we must keep their problematic positivism in perspective.

“Brains and psyches: Child psychological and psychiatric expertise in a Swedish newspaper, 1980–2008,” Peter Skagius. Abstract:

Most children and families have not had direct contact with child psychological and psychiatric experts. Instead they encounter developmental theories, etiological explanations and depictions of childhood disorders through indirect channels such as newspapers. Drawing on actor–network theory, this article explores two child psychological and psychiatric modes of ordering children’s mental health discernible in Sweden’s largest morning newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, during the years 1980 to 2008: a psychodynamic mode and a neuro-centered mode. In the article I show how these two relatively contemporaneous modes greatly differed in how they enacted children’s mental health. The psychodynamic mode stressed the parents’ role in structuring and affecting the child’s unconscious and saw them as the primary cause of any mental illness. In contrast, the neuro-centered mode highlighted that mental issues were related to the child’s brain and proposed different solutions depending on whether the child’s brain functioned in a ‘normal’ or ‘atypical’ manner. Each mode moreover suggested differing contexts to their discussions, with the psychodynamic mode solely discussing the parental milieu while the neuro-centered mode mainly focused on how society affected children with ‘atypical’ brains. The two modes thus had significantly diverging implications for the reader on how to understand and manage children and their psychological well-being. I further argue in the article for the relevance of actor–network theory in historical studies of psychology and psychiatry.

“The many lives of state capitalism: From classical Marxism to free-market advocacy,” by Nathan Sperber. Abstract:

State capitalism has recently come to the fore as a transversal research object in the social sciences. Renewed interest in the notion is evident across several disciplines, in scholarship addressing government interventionism in economic life in major developing countries. This emergent field of study on state capitalism, however, consistently bypasses the remarkable conceptual trajectory of the notion from the end of the 19th century to the present. This article proposes an intellectual-historical survey of state capitalism’s many lives across different ensembles of writing: early Marxist pronouncements on state capitalism at the time of the Second International; theories of state capitalism evolved in the first half of the 20th century in response to the European experience of war and fascism; dissident portrayals of the Soviet Union as state-capitalist; post-Second World War theories of state-monopoly capitalism in the Western Bloc; examinations of state capitalism as a development strategy in ‘Third World’ nations in the 1970s and 1980s; and finally, today’s scholarship on new patterns of state capitalism in emerging economies. Having contextualized each of these strands of writing, the article goes on to interrogate definitional and conceptual boundaries of state capitalism. It then maps out essential institutional features of state-capitalist configurations as construed in the literature. In sharp contrast to 20th-century theories of state capitalism, present-day scholarship on the topic tends to retreat from the integrated critique of political economy, shifting its problematics of state-market relations to meso- and micro-levels of analysis.

“Hannah Arendt, evil, and political resistance,” by Gavin Rae. Abstract:

While Hannah Arendt claimed to have abandoned her early conception of radical evil for a banal one, recent scholarship has questioned that conclusion. This article contributes to the debate by arguing that her conceptual alteration is best understood by engaging with the structure of norms subtending each conception. From this, I develop a compatibilist understanding that accounts for Arendt’s movement from a radical to a banal conception of evil, by claiming that it was because she came to reject the foundationalism of the former for the non-foundationalism of the latter, where norms are located from an ineffable ‘source’ diffusely spread throughout the society. While it might be thought that this means that such norms are all-encompassing to the extent that they determine individual action, I appeal to her notions of plurality, action, and natality, to argue that she defends the weaker claim that moral norms merely condition action. This demonstrates how Arendt’s conceptions of evil complement one another, highlights her understanding of the action–norms relation, and identifies that there is built into Arendt’s conception(s) of evil a resource for resisting totalitarian domination.

Review article: “The history of the brain and mind sciences,” by Alfred Freeborn. Abstract:

This review article critically surveys the following literature by placing it under the historiographical banner of ‘the history of the brain and mind sciences’: Fernando Vidal and Francisco Ortega, Being Brains: Making the Cerebral Subject (New York: Fordham University Press, 2017); Katja Guenther, Localization and its Discontents: A Genealogy of Psychoanalysis & the Neuro Disciplines (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015); Stephen Casper and Delia Gavrus (eds), The History of the Brain and Mind Sciences: Technique, Technology, Therapy (Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2017); Jonna Brenninkmeijer, Neurotechnologies of the Self: Mind, Brain and Subjectivity (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016). This framework highlights contemporary attempts to historicize the integrative project of neuroscience and set the correct limits to interdisciplinary collaboration. While attempts to critically engage with the ‘neuro’ rhetoric of contemporary neuroscientists can seem at odds with historians seeking to write the history of neuroscience from the margins, it is argued that together these two projects represent a positive historiographical direction for the history of the neurosciences after the decade of the brain.

Eysenck Controversy Continues

A recent review article and accompanying editorial in the Journal of Health Psychology, and a subsequent editorial in the British Medical Journal, may interest AHP readers. The pieces address Hans Eysenck and his colleague Ronald Grossarth-Maticek’s work on health topics and the call for an inquiry into the ethically and scientifically problematic findings reported in numerous publications. Full details below.

Personality and fatal diseases: Revisiting a scientific scandal,” by Anthony J Pelosi. Abstract:

During the 1980s and 1990s, Hans J Eysenck conducted a programme of research into the causes, prevention and treatment of fatal diseases in collaboration with one of his protégés, Ronald Grossarth-Maticek. This led to what must be the most astonishing series of findings ever published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature with effect sizes that have never otherwise been encounterered in biomedical research. This article outlines just some of these reported findings and signposts readers to extremely serious scientific and ethical criticisms that were published almost three decades ago. Confidential internal documents that have become available as a result of litigation against tobacco companies provide additional insights into this work. It is suggested that this research programme has led to one of the worst scientific scandals of all time. A call is made for a long overdue formal inquiry.

The Hans Eysenck affair: Time to correct the scientific record,” by David F Marks. Abstract:

The Journal of Health Psychology publishes here Dr Anthony Pelosi’s analysis of questionable science by one of the world’s best-known psychologists, the late Professor Hans J Eysenck. The provenance of a huge body of data produced by Eysenck and Ronald Grossarth-Maticek is highly controversial. In Open letters to King’s College London and the British Psychological Society, this editor is requesting a thorough investigation of the facts together with retraction or correction of 61 publications. Academic institutions have a conflict of interest concerning allegations of misconduct, which is why I believe that the only way forward is to have a National Research Integrity Ombudsperson to investigate allegations.

Hans Eysenck: controversialist or worse?,” by Richard Smith. No abstract.

Special Issue: Psychology and psychiatry in the global world: Historical perspectives

A special issue of History of Psychology on the topic of “Psychology and psychiatry in the global world: Historical perspectives” is now online. Full details below.

“Psychology and psychiatry in the global world: Historical perspectives,” by Pols, Hans; Wu, Harry Yi-Jui. Abstract:

Introduces articles in the special issue of History of Psychology, Psychology and Psychiatry in the Global World Part I. The special issue seeks to consolidate and extend the historical analysis of psychology and psychiatry in the global world by bringing together seven articles detailing how theories, techniques, and practices have been translated, adapted, and appropriated in the colonial and postcolonial eras. The contributions demonstrate that it is fruitful to conduct research in the history of psychiatry and psychology together as broader ideational frameworks such as social Darwinism, eugenics, degeneration, and mental hygiene have inspired the development of psychological and psychiatric insights as well as the adoption of their intervention strategies worldwide.

“Racial degeneration, mental hygiene, and the beginning of Peruvian psychiatry, 1922–1934,” Rios-Molina, Andres. Abstract:

Between 1922 and 1934, three pamphlets and a series of articles on mental hygiene were published in important newspapers in Lima, Peru. Their authors were Hermilio Valdizán and Honorio Delgado, two members of the first generation of psychiatrists in the country. These mass publications aimed to educate the population on what mental illness was, as well as its causes and symptoms. In addition, they sought to promote the figure of the psychiatrist as a specialist in “madness” whose recommendations should be heeded in family life. To that end, these publications contained true cases, related in melodramatic language, in order to reach a broader audience. Beyond their educative intention, these publications used ideas that Peruvian elites held about racial differentiation, because they were aimed at White and mestizo readers and had the express intention of preventing racial “degeneration.” The analysis of this primary source material is complemented with other texts by Valdizán that sought to comprehend the manifestations of insanity among Native Peruvians, for which he used degeneration theory to explain the degree of “backwardness” observed among the races that were considered inferior. This article seeks to analyze the viewpoints held on racial differences by the most significant members of Peru’s first generation of psychiatrists, in which degeneration theory was key in explaining the differences between human groups and in justifying the superiority of Whites and Western culture in the Peruvian state’s mestizo identity initiative.

Child delinquency and intelligence testing at Santiago’s Juvenile Court, Chile, 1929–1942,” Vetö, Silvana. Abstract:

This article deals with intelligence testing conducted at Santiago’s Juvenile Court, in Chile, between 1929 and 1942. It is based on an analysis of 56 court records containing psychological or psychopedagogical reports filed by the Section for Observation and Classification at Santiago’s House of Juveniles, an institution created in 1929 as part of the Juvenile Protection Law. To understand the purposes for juvenile intelligence testing in this field, several articles published at the time by the key actors involved in these institutions will also be analyzed. The results of this research signal, first, that psychology did indeed play a role in the juvenile justice system by laying the groundwork for the idea that it was necessary to measure and diagnose intelligence. The Binet–Simon Intelligence Scale, developed in France between 1904 and 1911 and adapted for Chile between 1922 and 1925, was systematically administered to juveniles in Santiago’s Juvenile Court; the results were deployed as technical–scientific recommendations at the service of the presiding juvenile judge. On the one hand, this instrument, supposedly scientific and objective, helped legitimize the nascent field of psychology. On the other, it emerged as a useful tool in its own right to assess children. Second, the notions of intelligence underpinning these practices, while certainly in debt to the American approaches from which they were appropriated, managed to forge a more balanced stance between nature and nurture, positioning intelligence testing as a way of conceiving of and planning to prevent crime and reeducate juveniles.

“Picturing ethnopsychology: A colonial psychiatrist’s struggles to examine Javanese minds, 1910–1925,” Broere, Sebastiaan. Abstract:

This article explores C. F. Engelhard’s struggles to construct psychometric devices for the Netherlands Indies between 1910 and 1925. A young Dutch psychiatrist, Engelhard moved to the Netherlands Indies in 1916, where he applied his clinical experience to subject Javanese individuals to mental assessment devices. He imagined that basic picture tests and one’s orientation in time provided apt solutions to the cross-cultural challenges facing him. To turn his prototypes into actual tests, Engelhard had to leave his daily work environment and move into the surrounding villages. Aided by local chiefs and his assistant, Soekirman, he managed to set up temporary testing sites, where he examined hundreds of Javanese individuals. Yet despite his attempts to transform Javanese farmers into subjects capable of taking a psychological test, the Javanese remained free to make—or fail to make—meaning out of Engelhard’s images. Even though the psychiatrist went to great lengths in taking into account the particular social and cultural features of psychological practice in a colonial context, a vast chasm remained to exist between him and his test takers. This article examines Engelhard’s practices against the backdrop of his training as a Western psychiatrist, colonial ideology in the Netherlands Indies, and the reception of his research by other colonial scientists with a wide range of attitudes about “the native mind.”

Summer 2019 Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences

The summer 2019 issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences is now online. Full details follow below.

“The professionalization of psychologists as court personnel: Consequences of the first institutional commitment law for the “feebleminded”,” by Ingrid G. Farreras. Abstract:

The first law providing for the permanent, involuntary institutionalization of “feeble?minded” individuals was passed in Illinois in 1915. This bill represented the first eugenic commitment law in the United States. Focusing on the consequences of this 1915 commitment law within the context of intelligence testing, eugenics, and the progressive movement, this paper will argue that the then newly devised Binet–Simon intelligence test facilitated the definition and classification of feeble?mindedness that validated feeble?mindedness theory, enabled the state to legitimize the eugenic diagnosis and institutionalization of feeble?minded individuals, and especially empowered psychologists to carve out a niche for themselves in the courtroom as “experts” when testifying as to the feeble?mindedness of individuals.

“1784: The Marquis de Puységur and the psychological turn in the west,” by Adam Crabtree. Abstract:

In 1970 Henri Ellenberger called attention to the previously unrecognized importance of Franz Anton Mesmer’s “animal magnetism” in the rise of psychodynamic psychology in the West. This article takes the next step of tracing the course of events that led to Puységur’s discovery of magnetic somnambulism and describing the tumultuous social and political climate into which it was introduced in 1784. Beginning from the secret and private publication of his first Mémoires, only a few copies of which remain today, the original core of his discovery is identified and the subsequent development of its implications are examined. Puysègur was initiated into his investigations by Mesmer’s system of physical healing, which bears some resemblance to the traditional healing approaches of the East. But Puységur took Mesmer’s ideas in an unexpected direction. In doing so, he accomplished a turn toward the psychological that remains one of the distinguishing features of Western culture.

“Psychology’s own mindfulness: Ellen Langer and the social politics of scientific interest in “active noticing”,” by Shayna Fox Lee. Abstract:

Ellen Langer’s mindfulness construct is presented as “indigenous” to disciplinary psychology. Langer’s early work laid the foundations for the research program she would come to call the psychology of possibility. Studying inattentive behavior (mindlessness) and intentionally reflective cognition (mindfulness) placed her work directly in line with the theoretical priorities of the 1970s and influenced the direction of research in several subdisciplines related to social cognition. Positioning Langer’s work at an intersection crossed by various discourse communities in psychology explains much of its influence within the discipline. However, its relevance is additionally related to a broader field of research and application also employing the terminology of mindfulness. While superficially synonymous, the majority of mindfulness research is distinguished from Langer’s due to differences in origination, definition, and goals. Comparative assessments are used as a lens through which to interrogate the social politics of mindfulness theories’ burgeoning success over the past half century.

“Documenting the multisensory and ephemeral: Navajo Chantway singers and the troubles of a “science” of ceremonialism,” by Adam Fulton Johnson. Abstract:

Even as American ethnology in the late?nineteenth century continued to accumulate data about indigenous groups for comparative study, the surgeon?turned?ethnographer Washington Matthews found standardized documentary methods constricting, unable to reflect the complexity of a community’s spiritual practices. Through studies of Navajo Indians in the 1880s and 90s, Matthews experimented with documentation techniques to capture the multisensorial and ephemeral elements of Navajo healing ceremonialism, such as the design of sandpaintings that were later destroyed as the rites concluded. Investigating his ethnographic strategies and his relationships with Navajo knowledge stewards, this article charts Matthews’ emerging conviction in social immersion and bonding with indigenous informants, tenets that predated the rise of cultural relativism in anthropology. The article argues that his experience among and tutelage from Navajo medicine “singers” reshaped Matthews’ documentary practices to emphasize the irreducibility of cultural facets to tabular columns, raising doubts about then?dominant theories of social evolution.