Psychology in national socialism: The question of “professionalization” and the case of the “Ostmark”

A new piece in History of Psychology will interest AHP readers: “Psychology in national socialism: The question of “professionalization” and the case of the “Ostmark,” by Wieser, M., & Benetka, G. Abstract:

This article presents a contextualization and revaluation of competing narratives concerning the history of psychology in Nazi Germany. Since the 1980s, this debate revolves around the supposed “professionalization” of the discipline from Hitler’s rise to power until the end of World War II. The question whether or not academic psychology has profited from collaborating with the Nazi regime during the war is not just of historical interest, but also carries strong political and moral implications. Recently, the established narrative concerning the professionalization of German psychology under National Socialism was called into question by Wolfgang Schönpflug. According to his argumentation, psychology did not benefit from the war, but had to suffer considerable losses on terms of personnel and quality in teaching and research. After reconstructing the historical context and the political implications of the debate, we propose to take a different perspective on the question of “professionalization.” Three case examples of psychologists from Austria whose career advanced significantly during the war are provided to shed light on the multitude of opportunities that emerged for those who offered their psychological expertise during the war. In conclusion, it is argued that professionalization should be understood as a theoretical framework that stimulates further historical research on a local level, not as a dogmatic judgment about the state of the discipline as a whole.

Cyber Solace: Historicizing an Online Forum for Patients with Depression, 1990–1999

A new piece in the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences will interest AHP readers: “Cyber Solace: Historicizing an Online Forum for Patients with Depression, 1990–1999,” by Daniel Huang. Abstract: (ASD) was an online forum for patients with depression that operated in the 1990s on the computer network Usenet. At its peak, the forum had an estimated readership of 57,000 and saw upwards of 500 posts a day. Aligning with recent efforts by historians to deinstitutionalize the history of psychiatry, this study traces the emergence of ASD as a new extramural space for mental health care in the 1990s. Its users created a unique therapeutic milieu informed by the consumer-survivor movement and 1990s cyberculture. As ASD grew in size and complexity, its users sought to redesign their forum, opening what had previously been a technological black box. Working by a process of inscription—a concept described by science and technology studies scholar Madeleine Akrich—they created a unique psychiatric constituency whose attitude towards technologies of mental health care was neither submissive nor subversive. Rather, the forum’s users developed their own notions of patient empowerment and lay expertise in psychiatry.

August 2022 Issue of History of Psychology

The August 2022 issue of History of Psychology is now available online. Titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

““Um, mm-h, yeah”: Carl Rogers, phonographic recordings, and the making of therapeutic listening.” Guenther, Katja. Abstract:

Listening seems to be a simple and natural act. We sit back, look at the speaker, and take in what she says. And yet, we also know that good listening is a skill, an art, that if done correctly, can be transformative. This article looks into the history of listening as a therapeutic practice placing emphasis on the ways it has been shaped by media technologies. Sketching the development of the concept and practice of “empathic,” “reflective,” or “active listening” through the career of humanistic psychologist Carl R. Rogers, the article shows how Rogers’ use of phonographic recordings changed not only his practice of listening, but ultimately also the ideals that shaped that practice. The technology of recording offered Rogers and his colleagues the opportunity to listen to themselves to learn how to listen well, thus allowing them to study, and to adjust, their own role in the therapeutic situation.

“The quest for objectivity and measurements in phrenology’s “bumpy” history.” Finger, Stanley; Eling, Paul. Abstract:

Phrenology is based on correlating character traits with visible or palpable cranial bumps (or depressions) thought to reflect underlying brain areas differing in size and levels of activity. Franz Joseph Gall, who introduced the doctrine during the 1790s, relied heavily on seeing and feeling skulls when he formulated his theory, as did Johann Spurzheim, who served as his assistant until 1813 and then set forth on his own. But Peter Mark Roget, a British critic of the doctrine, first assailed these methods as too subjective in 1818, and never changed his mind. George Combe, a Scotsman who admired Spurzheim, introduced calipers and other measuring instruments during the 1820s, hoping to make phrenology more like the admired physical sciences. In the United States, the Fowlers also called for more numbers, including measuring distances between the cortical sites above the organs of mind. Nonetheless, phrenologists realized they faced formidable barriers when it came to measuring the physical organs of mind, as opposed to basic skull dimensions. This essay examines the subjectivity that left phrenology open to criticism and shows how some phrenologists tried to overcome it. It also shows how vision and touch remained features of phrenological examinations throughout the numbers-obsessed 19th century.

“A neglected and forgotten episode of Nazi Race Psychology in Occupied Poland: A critical analysis by T. Tomaszewski (1945).” Pisula, Wojciech; Mamzer, Hanna; Mirecki, Jacek; Lauterbach, Reinhard; Doli?ski, Dariusz. Abstract:

In the 1930s and 1940s, the Nazis used science as a tool for shaping state policy. One of the most abhorrent aspects of scientific collaboration with the Nazis at that time was the broadly defined field of “race psychology.” In this article, we focus on German comparative research on the psychology of Poles and Germans, as analyzed by Tadeusz Tomaszewski, who is considered to be one of the founders of contemporary Polish psychology. We illuminate this episode from the history of science by providing a full translation of Tomaszewski’s article published in 1945 on a research project led by Rudolf Hippius conducted in 1942 in Pozna? (in occupied Poland) in the name of the political interests and ideology of the Nazi regime. We also shed light on the historical context of Tomaszewski’s article, which facilitates the understanding of the core ideas of race/ethnic psychology per se; the sociohistorical context also provides the framework in which the other research articles that we refer to must be read. Reading Tomaszewski’s text today will enhance our understanding of the relationship between science and politics, and serve as a warning for researchers today.

“Problems and possibilities concerning the concept of psychoanalytic pedagogy in the light of the work of Susan Isaacs in the malting house school.” Szabó, Dóra. Abstract:

In the first decades of the 20th century, high hopes were raised of the adaptability of psychoanalysis into the pedagogical field. According to this new discourse, the possibilities of educational application became one of the most important research areas within the psychoanalytical community. However, several definitional and technical questions have remained unexplained. The aim of this article is to highlight the theoretical and methodological difficulties and opportunities regarding the concept of the so-called “psychoanalytically informed pedagogy” through the examination of the Malting House School, a unique and well-documented nursery in British educational history. This article focuses on Susan Isaacs’ educational practice from 1924 until 1927 and its connection with psychoanalytic theory. Isaacs’ critical reflections concerning her work at the Malting House School can offer a different perspective not just to the historical examination of psychoanalytic pedagogy, but generally to the scientific relationship between theory and practice.

News & Notes
“Society for the History of Psychology news and notes.” Bonfield, Stephan. Abstract:

Cheiron’s Book Prize Committee is pleased to announce that the recipient of the 2022 Prize is Nadine Weidman, Lecturer on the History of Science at Harvard University, for her book Killer Instinct: The Popular Science of Human Nature in Twentieth-Century America. In other news from the Society for the History of Psychology, Marjorie Lorch has recently published an article on how the concept of a matched control group was initially developed in neuropsychological testing. Lorch, M. P. (2022). Defining ‘normal’: Methodological issues in Aphasia and intelligence research. Cortex, 153, 224–234.

“Commentary on a recent event.” Jackson Jr., John P. Abstract:

On May 14, 2022, a gunman walked into a supermarket in Buffalo, NY, and opened fire on the customers, killing 10 and injuring three. The alleged killer published a document explaining he chose a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood to maximize the likelihood of killing Black people. He believed in the “Great Replacement” theory that Jews were conspiring to commit “White Genocide” by having inferior races outbreed the superior White race. The 180-page “Manifesto” relied on a mix of Internet memes, plagiarized arguments from a similar killing in New Zealand, links to White nationalist and antisemitic websites, and citations to scientific publications. Overwhelmingly, the scientific publications cited in the document were from psychology. In this brief article, the author contends that psychologists need to ask themselves why an alleged deranged killer took his inspiration from psychology and not, for example, human genetics. The answer is that geneticists have recognized the responsibility that comes along with inquiry. While researchers are free to pursue any questions they desire, scientific and editorial standards still need to be met for disciplinary integrity. The heart of academic freedom is the ability and responsibility to distinguish responsible scholarship from its pretender. Psychology must do better.

Call for Papers: Outsiders, Outcasts and Eccentrics: Experiences of Deviancy and Deviant Experiences -Workshop

Call for Papers: Outsiders, Outcasts and Eccentrics: Experiences of Deviancy and Deviant Experiences -Workshop

Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence in the History of Experiences
Faculty of Social Sciences, Tampere University, Finland
7–8 June 2023
Deadline for submissions: 13 January 2023.

The concepts of deviance and deviancy once anchored a great many social scientific and humanistic studies. Beginning in the 1990s, however, scholars began to question their usefulness, with some declaring the study of deviance a dead field. Nevertheless, historians have found the theme of deviance productive, contributing to the study of a number of social processes, including marginalisation, pathologisation, social control, segregation, enhancement and criminalisation. What is clear is that to study those behaviours, thoughts, feelings, and people conventionally deemed deviant is to also study how societies define and enforce normality. The deviant thus has offered a way to defamiliarise the normal and, as result, provided insights into how the mundane itself is made.

Is it possible then to revisit the study of social deviance in a fresh way? Recent interest in the history of human subjectivity offers one possible way to do so. Studies in areas like the history of emotions, the history of persuasion, the history of madness, and the history of sexuality – to name just a few – have increasingly tried to emphasise the experiences and agency of historical actors. This workshop takes its inspiration from this research and focuses on the history of experiencing deviance. By critically assessing the use of the concept of deviance in historical discourse, the workshop also aims at evaluating the relevance of the study of deviance today.

This workshop invites scholars at all levels to consider different forms and experiences of deviance. Proposals for papers are welcome. Topics might include:

  • Experiences outside conventional norms
  • The experiences of being labelled and treated as a deviant
  • Experiences of deviance on the part of those enforcing social norms
  • Interpreting biographical experiences (lives) of the so-called deviants by experts
  • Experiences of institutions of social control

For individual paper proposals, please submit a title, 200-word abstract, and contact details to Johanna Annola (Tampere University), Greg Eghigian (Penn State University) and Katariina Parhi (Tampere University) at by 13 January 2023. Accepted contributors will be notified by 31 January 2023.

The workshop will be organised in Tampere University, Finland. The travel and accommodation costs of the participants will be covered. The workshop will result in an edited volume by a high-impact publisher.

The workshop is hosted by the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence in the History of Experiences (HEX). HEX focuses on historical experiences, historical explanations and historical knowledge, and their place in the current world. The conceptual and methodological innovation of HEX is the renewal of how experience is defined and used as a key part of historical analysis.

Gerd Jüttemann’s “Historical Psychology”: Why it should have succeeded, why it was ignored, and what that means for the future

AHP readers may be interested in a piece in the Theory & Psychology: “Gerd Jüttemann’s “Historical Psychology”: Why it should have succeeded, why it was ignored, and what that means for the future,” by Fabian Hutmacher. Abstract:

Over recent years, several publications have drawn attention to the fact that mainstream psychology has neglected cross-temporal variability and the historicity of the human psyche. One of the early proponents of a historical perspective on psychological matters is German psychologist Gerd Jüttemann. Despite his pioneer work and his continued publication efforts from the 1980s until today, his ideas have largely been ignored by the academic discourse, both inside and outside Germany. The question is: Why? Based on a brief overview of his writings, this article argues that it was not (only) a result of Jüttemann being at odds with the zeitgeist, but was also caused by conceptual problems as well as practical obstacles. Understanding why historical psychology remained at the brink of the academic discipline can help contemporary scholars to develop a perspective on the historicity of the human psyche that has a better chance to be heard.

Against well-being: A critique of positive psychology

A new piece in the History of the Human Sciences will interest AHP readers: “Against well-being: A critique of positive psychology,” Luciano E. Sewaybricker and Gustavo M. Massola. Abstract:

More than two decades after his seminal paper ‘Subjective Well-Being’, Ed Diener wrote that he substituted happiness with well-being to obtain scientific credibility. Are the arguments echoed in positive psychology rigorous enough to justify this substitution? This article focuses on the historical examination of the word happiness, covering the lexical universes of ancient Greek, Latin, and English, seeking to identify the connections between them. We found that arguments for such substitution are sustained by a fragile appreciation of the semantic depth of happiness. Although it favors quantification, the current understanding of well-being obliterates the plurality of the debate about happiness and the recognition of other ideals of life. Thus, we conclude that well-being and happiness are semantically close, but conceptually, metaphysically, and empirically distinct, demanding, as objects, particular investigations.

The David B. Baker Fellowship in the History of Psychology

Applications are now being accepted for 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.


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 The successful applicant will be notified by January 30, 2023. All onsite research must be completed by January 30, 2024.

For or against the molecularization of brain science?: Cybernetics, interdisciplinarity, and the unprogrammed beginning of the Neurosciences Research Program at MIT

A new article in History of the Human Sciences may interest AHP readers: “For or against the molecularization of brain science?: Cybernetics, interdisciplinarity, and the unprogrammed beginning of the Neurosciences Research Program at MIT,” by Youjung Shin. Abstract:

It was no accident that the first neuroscience community, the Neurosciences Research Program (NRP), took shape in the 1960s at MIT, the birthplace of cybernetics. Francis O. Schmitt, known as the founding father of the NRP, was a famous biologist and an avid reader of cybernetics. Focusing on the intellectual and institutional context that Schmitt was situated in, this article unveils the way that the brain was conceptualized as a distinct object, requiring the launch of a new research community in the US. In doing so, this article moves beyond the dominant narratives on the triumph of molecularization of the brain at the beginning of neuroscience. Instead, it argues that what brought researchers together in the name of neuroscience was not just a molecule but an aspiration to develop biological theories of the brain/mind, which resonated with biologists in a postwar context and was materialized through support for basic research. The article highlights the tension over the computerization and molecularization of the brain, which shaped the interdisciplinary gathering of neuroscientists in the context of growing interest in basic research. Thereby, this article reveals the rise of theoretical concerns in brain science that reflect the distinct desires and concerns of biologists in the US at an intellectual and institutional level. By revisiting the launch of the NRP with a focus on Schmitt, the article sheds light on the historical contingencies in launching the new community as neuroscience in the US and their meaning for the locality and transiency of (inter)disciplinarity in brain science.

New History of the Human Sciences: Patients and Paperwork, Behavioral Economics, and More

The July-October issue of History of the Human Sciences is now online. Title, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Documenting insanity: Paperwork and patient narratives in psychiatric history,” Liana Glew. Abstract:

Paperwork plays a key role in a how institutions accommodate, refuse, or manage disabled people. This article develops modes for reading paperwork that build on each other, beginning with (a) recognizing the institutional pressures at work in shaping bureaucratic practices, then (b) considering how a person’s relationship to disability influences how they might encounter these practices, and ultimately (c) noticing how the encounter between disabled/mad people and an institution might create something new, what the author calls archival excess. These methods for reading are in conversation with disability studies, medical humanities, and document studies, and ultimately work toward a goal adapted from the principles of Disability Justice: recognizing the wholeness of disabled subjects in institutional archives.

“The ultimate think tank: The rise of the Santa Fe Institute libertarian,” Erik Baker. Abstract:

Why do corporations and wealthy philanthropists fund the human sciences? Examining the history of the Santa Fe Institute (SFI), a private research institute founded in the early 1980s, this article shows that funders can find as much value in the social worlds of the sciences they sponsor as in their ideas. SFI became increasingly dependent on funding from corporations and libertarian business leaders in the 1990s and 2000s. At the same time, its intellectual work came to focus on the underlying principles of adaptation, innovation, and decentralized coordination supposedly at work in ‘complex systems’ from biological ecosystems to markets and firms. This research cast the ideas of the libertarian economist Friedrich Hayek into a new scientific idiom. SFI also became a space where figures in business, media, academia, and politics could come to learn to see the world in a particular way—to acquire the subjectivity of what I call ‘the Santa Fe Institute libertarian’. At SFI, visitors did not simply learn the principles of neo-Hayekian complex system science. They came to see themselves as agents of social evolution, providing the spark that the free-market system needed to produce new technologies and new solutions to social problems without top-down political direction. For the Institute’s corporate and libertarian financiers, SFI was not just a space where intellectuals described the world in favored ideological terms, but a space where elite actors became committed to the project of making a new political-economic order.

“On some antecedents of behavioural economics,” Kristian Bondo Hansen, Thomas Presskorn-Thygesen. Abstract:

Since its inception in the late 1970s, behavioural economics has gone from being an outlier to a widely recognized yet still contested subset of the economic sciences. One of the basic arguments in behavioural economics is that a more realistic psychology ought to inform economic theories. While the history of behavioural economics is often portrayed and articulated as spanning no more than a few decades, the practice of utilizing ideas from psychology to rethink theories of economics is over a century old. In the first three decades of the 20th century, several mostly American economists made efforts to refine fundamental economic assumptions by introducing ideas from psychology into economic thinking. In an echo of contemporary discussions in behavioural economics, the ambition of these psychology-keen economists was to strengthen the empirical accuracy of the fundamental assumptions of economic theory. In this article, we trace, examine, and discuss arguments for and against complementing economic theorizing with insights from psychology, as found in economic literature published between 1900 and 1930. The historical analysis sheds light on issues and challenges associated with the endeavour to improve one discipline’s theories by introducing ideas from another, and we argue that these are issues and challenges that behavioural economists continue to face today.

“Measuring non-Han bodies: Anthropometry, colonialism, and biopower in China’s south-western borderland in the 1930s and 1940s,” Jing Zhu. Abstract:

This article examines the biopower of non-Han bodies by considering the intersections of anthropology, racial science, and colonial regimes. During the 1930s and 1940s, when extensive anthropometric research was being undertaken on non-Han populations in the south-western borderlands of China, several anthropologists studied non-Han groups under the aegis of frontier administration. Chinese scholars sought to generate the physical characteristics of ethnic minority groups in the south-west of China through the methodology of body measurement, in order to identify forms of social and political intervention in the management of the non-Han population in wartime. This article examines the global transmission of Western social science in China, highlighting the local reception of Western racial taxonomy. Non-Han bodies were represented as a subcategory of the Mongolian/‘Yellow’ race through anthropometric research. The body measurements of non-Han people were used to demonstrate physical similarities between the Han and various ethnic minority groups in order to evoke a unified Zhonghua minzu (Chinese ethnicity) that embraced both the Han Chinese and frontier ethnic minority groups.

“Alfred Vierkandt’s notion of the social group,” Sandro Segre. Abstract:

German sociologist Alfred Vierkandt is hardly remembered today. This may seem surprising. Several prominent sociologists from the German-speaking countries contributed to the Handwörterbuch der Soziologie (1931), which Vierkandt edited and published. However, Vierkandt did not interact with any of them significantly, and this publication brought no recognition of the importance of his sociological oeuvre in Germany, the United States, or elsewhere. His key notion of the social group found no acknowledgment among other contemporary or later sociologists, even though several of them used this notion and discussed social groups in their own writings. Moreover, those who paid close attention to his writings, like Abel and Hochstim, evaluated them quite critically. Both before and after World War II, Vierkandt remained a solitary and relatively unknown author.

“Psychometric origins of depression,” Susan McPherson, David Armstrong. Open access. Abstract:

This article examines the historical construction of depression over about a hundred years, employing the social life of methods as an explanatory framework. Specifically, it considers how emerging methodologies in the measurement of psychological constructs contributed to changes in epistemological approaches to mental illness and created the conditions of possibility for major shifts in the construction of depression. While depression was once seen as a feature of psychotic personality, measurement technologies made it possible for it to be reconstructed as changeable and treatable. Different types of scaling techniques (Likert versus dichotomous scales) enabled the separation of depressive personality from reactive depression, paving the way for measuring the severity and intensity of emotions. Techniques to test sensitivity to change provided a means of demonstrating the efficacy of new psychoactive drug treatments. Later, more advanced techniques of precision scaling enabled the management of a new measurement problem, clinician unreliability, associated with the growing number of professionals involved in mental health care. Through statistical management of unreliability, the construct of depression has dramatically reduced over this period from hundreds of questionnaire items to potentially just two. Exploring the history of depression through this lens produces an alternative narrative to those that have emerged as a result of medicalisation and the actions of individuals and pressure groups.

“Fairbairn, Winnicott, and Guntrip on the social significance of schizoids,” Gal Gerson. Abstract:

The mid-century object relations approach saw the category of schizoids as crucial to its own formation. Rooted in a developmental phase where the perception of the mother as a whole and real person had not yet been secured, the schizoid constitution impeded relationships and forced schizoids to communicate through a compliant persona while the kernel self remained isolated. Fairbairn, Winnicott, and Guntrip thought that schizoid features underlay many other pathologies that earlier, Freudian psychoanalysis had misidentified. To correct this, a move to the attachment-oriented theory was necessary, triggering the development of the object relations perspective as a distinct and independent approach. While playing this role in the development of object relations theory, the schizoid category also attracted a note of disapproval. Fairbairn, Winnicott, and Guntrip described schizoids as harmful to society through their everyday actions and through the ideas they propagated. This judgemental nuance highlights an aspect of the alliance between object relations theory and the contemporary welfare state ideology. Culminating in the Beveridge plan, that ideology framed citizenship as comprehensive engagement with society on multiple levels. Citizenship was not just a political activity but also a personally rewarding one, as it allowed expression to each person’s wishes in ways that benefited others. Inability to engage and be rewarded in this way marked obstinate classes and produced rigid and conservative ideologies that opposed the welfare state. Object relations theory described the schizoid condition along similar lines and castigated its consequences for similar reasons.

“‘You never need an analyst with Bobby around’: The mid-20th-century human sciences in Sondheim and Furth’s musical Company,” Jeffrey Rubel. Open access. Abstract:

This article offers a case study in how historians of science can use musical theater productions to understand the cultural reception of scientific ideas. In 1970, Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s musical Company opened on Broadway. The show engaged with and reflected contemporary theories and ideas from the human sciences; Company’s portrayal of its 35-year-old bachelor protagonist, his married friends, and his girlfriends reflected present-day theories from psychoanalysis, sexology, and sociology. In 2018, when director Marianne Elliott revived the show with a female protagonist, Company once again amplified contemporary dilemmas around human sciences expertise—this time, the biological fertility clock. Through Company, Sondheim and Furth—and later Elliott—constructed arguments about modern society that paralleled those put forth by contemporary human scientists, including psychoanalytic models of the mind, the lonely crowd phenomenon, and shifting conceptions of masculinity and femininity. Because of their wide popularity and potential for readaptation, musicals such as Company offer a promising source base for analyzing the relationship between contemporary society and scientific expertise in specific historical contexts.

“Psychoanalysis and anti-racism in mid-20th-century America: An alternative angle of vision,” Tom Fielder. Abstract:

The conventional historiography of psychoanalysis in America offers few opportunities for the elaboration of anti-racist themes, and instead American ‘ego psychology’ has often been regarded as the most acute exemplar of ‘racist’ psychoanalysis. In this article, consistent with the historiographical turn Burnham first identified under the heading of ‘the New Freud Studies’, I distinguish between histories of psychoanalytic practitioners and histories of psychoanalytic ideas in order to open out an alternative angle of vision on the historiography. For psychoanalytic ideas were in fact omnipresent within American culture at mid-century, and they played a fundamental role in the psychological reworking of race that unfolded in the work of social scientists, literary artists, and cultural critics in the 1940s and early Cold War years, culminating in the Brown v. Board of Education ruling of 1954, a major landmark in the civil rights narrative. By pursuing the implications of psychoanalysis in anti-racist struggles at mid-century, and with particular attention to Richard Wright and his autobiographical novel Black Boy, I move towards unearthing an alternative historical account of the intersection between psychoanalysis and race, which offers new ways for psychoanalysis and the history of the human sciences to think about this period.

“Lesbian and bisexual women’s experiences of aversion therapy in England,” Helen Spandler, Sarah Carr. Open access. Abstract:

This article presents the findings of a study about the history of aversion therapy as a treatment technique in the English mental health system to convert lesbians and bisexual women into heterosexual women. We explored published psychiatric and psychological literature, as well as lesbian, gay, and bisexual archives and anthologies. We identified 10 examples of young women receiving aversion therapy in England in the 1960s and 1970s. We situate our discussion within the context of post-war British and transnational medical history. As a contribution to a significantly under-researched area, this article adds to a broader transnational history of the psychological treatment of marginalised sexualities and genders. As a consequence, it also contributes to LGBTQIA+?history, the history of medicine, and psychiatric survivor history. We also reflect on the ethical implications of the research for current mental health practice.

“From class origins to individual psychopathology: Spousal murder according to state socialist Czechoslovak criminology,” Kate?ina Lišková, Lucia Moravanská. Abstract:

Over the course of 40 years of state socialism, the explanation that Czechoslovak criminologists gave for spousal murder changed significantly. Initially attributing offences to the perpetrator’s class origins, remnants of his bourgeois way of life, and the lack of positive influence from the collective in the long 1950s, criminologists then refocused their attention solely on the individual’s psychopathology during the period known as ‘Normalization’, which encompassed the last two decades of state socialism. Based on an analysis of archival sources, including scholarly journals and expert reports, and following Ian Hacking’s insight that ‘kinds of people come into being’ through the realignment of systems of knowledge, this article shows how new kinds of spousal murderer emerged as a result of shifting criminological expertise. We explain the change as the result of the psychiatrization of criminology that occurred in Czechoslovakia at a time when the regime needed to consolidate after the upheavals of the Prague Spring of 1968. The criminological framing of spousal murder as belonging squarely in the individualized realm of the private sphere reflected the contemporaneous effort of the regime to enclose the private as a sphere of relative state non-interference.

“From the margins to the NICE guidelines: British clinical psychology and the development of cognitive behaviour therapy for psychosis, 1982–2002,” David J. Harper, Sebastian Townsend. Abstract:

Although histories of cognitive behaviour therapy have begun to appear, their use with people with psychosis diagnoses has received relatively little attention. In this article, we elucidate the conditions of possibility for the emergence of cognitive behaviour therapy for psychosis (CBTp) in England between 1982 and 2002. We present an analysis of policy documents, research publications and books, participant observation, and interviews with a group of leading researchers and senior policy actors. Informed by Derksen and Beaulieu’s articulation of social technologies, we show how CBTp was developed and stabilised through the work of a variety of overlapping informal, academic, clinical, professional, and policy networks. The profession of clinical psychology played a key role in this development, successfully challenging the traditional ‘division of labour’ where psychologists focused on ‘neurosis’ and left ‘psychosis’ to psychiatry. Following Abbott’s systems approach to professions, we identify a number of historical factors that created a jurisdictional vulnerability for psychiatry while strengthening the jurisdictional legitimacy of clinical psychology in providing psychological therapies to service users with psychosis diagnoses. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence played a significant role in adjudicating jurisdictional legitimacy, and its 2002 schizophrenia guidelines, recommending the use of psychological therapies, marked a radical departure from the psychiatric consensus. Our analysis may be of wider interest in its focus on social technologies in a context of jurisdictional contestation. We discuss the implications of our study for the field of mental health and for the relationship between clinical psychology and psychiatry.

“The pragmatic use of metaphor in empirical psychology,” Rami Gabriel. Abstract:

Metaphors of mind and their elaboration into models serve a crucial explanatory role in psychology. In this article, an attempt is made to describe how biology and engineering provide the predominant metaphors for contemporary psychology. A contrast between the discursive and descriptive functions of metaphor use in theory construction serves as a platform for deliberation upon the pragmatic consequences of models derived therefrom. The conclusion contains reflections upon the possibility of an integrative interdisciplinary psychology.

“The conundrum of the psychological interface: On the problems of bridging the biological and the social,” James Rupert Fletcher, Rasmus H. Birk. Open access. Abstract:

In this article, we consider how certain types of contemporary biosocial psychiatric research conceptualise and explicate biology-social relations. We compare the historic biopsychosocial model to recent examples of social defeat research on schizophrenia and cultural neuroscience work on affective disorders. This comparison reveals how the contemporary turn towards the ‘biosocial’ within psychiatric research relies upon ideas of the psychological as an interface. This is problematic because psychological notions of ‘experience’ are used as the central mechanics of biosocial processes, but lack any meaningful engagement with considerable debates within psychology and cognitive science about what the mind, and indeed the psychological, actually is, its relationship to social life, and how we should study it. The psychological interface is therefore vital to these biosocial hypotheses but is remarkably underdeveloped in comparison to its biological and sociological components. We argue that biosocial psychiatric research could gain a great deal from engaging with contemporary theorisations of experience and being more critical of vague appeals to psychological phenomena.

Capturing minds: Towards a methods critique of questionnaire-based mental health surveys


A new open access piece in Theory & Psychology may interest AHP readers: “Capturing minds: Towards a methods critique of questionnaire-based mental health surveys,” Ger Wackers and Marthe Schille-Rognmo. Abstract:

Mental health surveys of general populations use psychometric instruments derived from psychiatric symptom checklists and assessment scales. Mental health surveys of this type have become so ubiquitous and influential that the psychometric methods that are at the heart of them seem to be beyond reproach. Are these the right tools to do the job of capturing the minds of general populations? This article pursues a critical assessment of psychometric instruments embedded in mental health surveys through a historical reconstruction of the major epistemic shifts in the investigative practices through which these psychometric instruments developed. The reconstruction traces a strong influence of physics and physicists’ notion of fundamental measurement of quantities on psychologists’ attempts to measure mental phenomena. Surveys employing these instruments inherit unresolved methodological issues from their psychophysical predecessors: problems of causal inference from mathematical abstractions (correlations) and reification of mental entities from theoretical concepts.