Category Archives: Journals

Summer Issue of Revista de Historia de la Psicología

The Summer Issue of Revista de Historia de la Psicología is now online. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below:

“Nicolás Achúcarro (1880-1918): First histopathologist of the Goverment Hospital of the Insane in Washington, D.C.”José M. Gondra (Article written in English). Abstract:

On one of his visits to the Munich Psychiatric Clinic in 1908, Smith Elly Jelliffe asked Alois Alzheimer who the best person would be to set up a histopathology laboratory at the Government Hospital for the Insane in Washington, D.C. Alzheimer replied that Achúcarro was the man for the job. Nicolás Achúcarro was a Basque neuropsychiatrist born in the industrial city of Bilbao. He had been trained in some of the best clinics in Europe before travelling to Munich, where he studied brain injuries in rabbits infected with rabies. In September 1908, he moved to Washington, D.C., launched the histopathological laboratory and published several important articles before returning to Spain in May 1910 to work with Santiago Ramón y Cajal in the biological research laboratory at the University of Madrid. Later, in September 1912, he was invited by the Fordham University of New York to teach in the International Extension Course in Medical and Nervous Diseases, together with the English neurologist Sir Henry Head and the Swiss psychoanalyst Carl G. Jung, among other prominent figures. Drawing on the writings of Achúcarro, letters to his family, and the press of the time, this paper analyzes his work in the United States as well as his contributions to neuroscience before his untimely death in 1918 at the young age of 37.

“Phenomenology, experiments and the autonomy of Psychology: The earlier work of Johannes Linschoten.” René van Hezewijk (Article written in English). Abstract:

Johannes Linschoten was a member of the phenomenologically oriented so-called Utrecht School. He published his Ph.D. Thesis in 1956. In this voluminous work, published in German, he discussed the (then) current theories of binocular spatial perception, reported 130 experiments on the subject, and argued for his own dynamic theory. I discuss some important aspects of this earlier work, the development of his view on the role of phenomenology and experiments in psychology, and the way he used his earlier studies to argue for psychology’s autonomy.

El aprendizaje como contexto determinante de la psicología científica: la Psicología Comparada y la Psicología Funcional. [Learning as a determining context of scientific “psychology: Comparative Psychology and Functional Psychology].” Juan Bautista Fuentes Ortega (Article written in Spanish). Abstract:

In the course of the tradition of reflex physiology and the tradition of comparative animal psychology, a new type of experimental and operative psychology emerges, consisting of the incorporation of temporary associations in the form of “at a distance” links, which establishes a rupture with the corresponding biological methodologies and that entails the construction of the field of learning as the context of scientific psychology. In the light of this historical-epistemological analysis, the limited virtuality that the so-called “biological limits of learning” and the so-called cognitive scientific revolution had for the practice of scientific psychology is analyzed. Finally, it is pointed out the need to distinguish carefully between the scientific practice and the philosophical self-representation that scientists often build around their effective practice.

“La psicotecnia en la URSS: Isaac Spielrein y el VII Congreso Internacional de Psicotecnia de Moscú (1931). [Psychotechnics at the URSS: Isaac Spielrein and the Moscow’s VII International Congress of Psychotechnics (1931)].” Helio Carpintero (Article written in Spanish). Abstract:

This article deals with I. Spielrein’s ideas on psychotechnology. He was a Soviet leading figure in that field, in the days in between the two great wars, and chaired the 7th International Congress of Psychotechnology held in Moscow in 1931.In it he confronted the Marxist doctrine with that maintained by specialist of the democratic European nations. He affirmed the socio-historical character of man, as opposed to the dominant naturalist and biologist conception that dominated in capitalist societies, as well as the use of psychotechnics in those nations as an obstacle to the rise of proletariat to social power, facing the bourgeoisie.

September Issue of History of Psychiatry

The September issue of History of Psychiatry is now online. Included in this issue are pieces on child psychiatry, Nazi euthenasia, psychosurgery, and more. Full details below.

“The Baldovan Institution Abuse Inquiry: A forgotten scandal,” David May. Abstract:

In this paper, I resurrect a long-forgotten inquiry into abuse and maladministration at an institution for people with learning disabilities, the Baldovan Institution near Dundee, that has lain buried in the archives for the past 60 years. I contrast the response to it with the very different response to the similar revelations of the Ely Hospital Inquiry more than a decade later. Whereas Ely opened up the institutional sector to greater public scrutiny and brought with it a formal commitment from the government to shift the balance of care away from the long-term hospital, Baldovan produced recommendations that were limited to the institution and had no impact on public policy or institutional practice. I consider the reasons for this and its implications.

“The influence of Max Weber on the concept of empathic understanding (Verstehen) in the psychopathology of Karl Jaspers,” Massimiliano Aragona. Abstract:

This paper explores key concepts in the writings of Weber in the years preceding the publication of the first edition of Karl Jaspers’ Allgemeine Psychopathologie, focusing on the concept of understanding (Verstehen). This is a key hermeneutic concept and is discussed within the larger context of the epistemological and methodological reflections of both authors. They similarly tried to import the understanding within the humanistic disciplines as a rigorous but anti-reductionist scientific method. However, while Weber tried to mix explanation and understanding according to a legal metaphor, Jaspers retained Dilthey’s sharper distinction between explanation in natural sciences and understanding in humanistic sciences. Finally, Jaspers’ understanding is relatively more empathic, while Weber’s understanding is more rationalistic.

“‘Dementia praecocissima’: The Sante De Sanctis model of mental disorder in child psychiatry in the 20th century,” Giorgia Morgese, Giovanni Pietro Lombardo. Abstract:

The aim of this article is to describe the nosographical contribution of the Italian psychiatrist Sante De Sanctis (1862–1935) to early twentieth-century child psychiatry. De Sanctis first proposed the category of ‘dementia praecocissima’ in 1906, and it was recognized by Kraepelin. Dementia praecocissima has its roots in a theoretical and methodological conception of mental disorder based on ‘psycho-physical proportionalism’ and the ‘law of circle’. This article deals with De Sanctis’s model, which has so far been neglected by historiographers; it shows the pioneering role that this Italian psychiatrist played in child psychiatry in Italy.

“The ‘Poitrot Report’, 1945: The first public document on Nazi euthanasia,” Thomas Müller, Bernd Reichelt. Abstract:

The aim of this paper is to shed light on the so-called ‘Poitrot Report’, submitted to the French Military Government in Baden-Baden, Germany, in December 1945 and published in a reduced German version in 1946. Its author was the French-Moroccan psychiatrist Robert Poitrot, who had been put in charge of the public mental asylums in Südwürttemberg after World War II. Poitrot took responsibility for restoring psychiatric care during the occupation, and was also eager to document Nazi ‘euthanasia’ and to start investigating the role of staff in mental hospitals during National Socialism. Focusing on the ‘Poitrot Report’, this paper also reflects on life in Württemberg mental hospitals and the interaction between French representatives such as Poitrot and regional German medical staff.

“The introduction of leucotomy in Germany: National Socialism, émigrés, a divided Germany and the development of neurosurgery,” Lara Rzesnitzek. Abstract:

Thinking about the chronology of the introduction of leucotomy in Germany sheds new light on the hypothesis of a special ‘radical’ approach of German psychiatry to the treatment of the mentally ill during the period of National Socialism. Moreover, it offers new insights into the transnational and interdisciplinary conditions of the introduction of leucotomy in early divided post-war Germany.

“The Kirkbride buildings in contemporary culture (1850–2015): From ‘moral management’ to horror films,” Francisco Pérez-Fernández, Francisco López-Muñoz. Abstract:

The so-called ‘Kirkbride Plan’ is a type of mental institution designed by the American psychiatrist Thomas Story Kirkbride. The Kirkbride-design asylums were built from 1848 to the end of the nineteenth century. Their structural characteristics were subordinated to a certain approach to moral management: exposure to natural light, beautiful views and good air circulation. These hospitals used several architectural styles, but they all had a similar general plan. The popularity of the model decreased for theoretical and economic reasons, so many were demolished or reused, but at least 25 of the original buildings became protected places. Over the years, surrounded by a legendary aura, these buildings have become a leitmotif of contemporary popular culture: ‘the asylum of terror’.

“How amytal changed psychopharmacy: Off-label uses of sodium amytal (1920–40),” Ariel Gershon, Edward Shorter. Abstract:

In the early 1930s, American neurologist and psychiatrist William Bleckwenn used sodium amytal to render catatonic patients responsive, so that he could engage in talk therapy. Bleckwenn found a new, ‘off-label’ use for this anaesthetic and anxiolytic medication in psychiatry and, in doing so, allowed for important discoveries in the diagnosis and treatment of catatonia. Pharmacological textbooks reveal a ‘label’, while the Index-Catalogue of the Library of the Surgeon-General’s Office reveals explorations ‘off label’ of barbiturates. The ‘off-label’ use of barbiturates facilitated talk therapy, heralding an important shift in psychopharmacy. Drugs previously only used as chemical restraints became a form of treatment for specific psychiatric diseases. The current strictures against off-label prescribing are overprescriptive and close off innovative new uses.

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.