Attachment and the archive: Barriers and facilitators to the use of historical sociology as complementary developmental science

AHP readers may be interested in a recent piece published in Science in Context: “Attachment and the archive: barriers and facilitators to the use of historical sociology as complementary developmental science,” by Robbie Duschinsky. Argument:

This article explores historical sociology as a complementary source of knowledge for scientific research, considering barriers and facilitators to this work through reflections on one project. This project began as a study of the emergence and reception of the infant disorganized attachment classification, introduced in the 1980s by Ainsworth’s student Mary Main, working with Judith Solomon. Elsewhere I have reported on the findings of collaborative work with attachment researchers, without giving full details of how this came about. Here, I will offer personal reflections arising from the process, and my work in what Hasok Chang has called history as “complementary science.”

NYT: “Overlooked No More: Margaret McFarland, Mentor to Mister Rogers”

NYT: “Fred Rogers and Margaret McFarland in 1978. Her advice was so valuable to Rogers that he took “extensive handwritten notes” and recorded their meetings on audiocassettes, a producer said. Credit…Jim Judkis/Fred Rogers Productions”

The New York Times‘ Overlooked series, which provides obituaries for individuals whose deaths were initially overlooked by the newspaper, has recently turned attention to psychologist Margaret McFarland. McFarland, a consultant to the classic children’s television show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, has come to the fore more than 30 years after her death in a moment where there has been a resurgence of interest in Fred Rogers and his television legacy (including a podcast, documentary, and feature film dedicated to the man and his influence).

As the New York Times writes,

Rogers was ordained as a minister and was invited to appear as Mister Rogers on a show in Canada in the early 1960s. He returned to Pittsburgh in 1966 to start “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” on WQED-TV. The show aired for the first time nationally, on public television stations, in 1968. McFarland became his chief consultant.

She and Rogers met nearly every week to discuss scripts and songs that Rogers had written. Her advice became so valuable to Rogers that he took “extensive handwritten notes” and recorded their meetings on audiocassettes, “which I often overheard him replaying in his office,” recalled Arthur Greenwald, a producer and writer who worked with Rogers.

She would work on the show for 20 years, and spoke regularly with Rogers until around her death in 1988. (Rogers died in 2003.)

The full Overlooked obituary can be read online here.

Congress of the Spanish Society for the History of Psychology in Sevilla

The Spanish Society for the History of Psychology is happy to announce its XXXIII Symposium, to be held in Sevilla from April 15 to April 17, 2020. The Symposium will be hosted by the Department of Experimental Psychology at the Universidad de Sevilla.

Proposals for oral presentations and posters, as well as panels or monographic sessions on any aspect of the history of the human, behavioral and social sciences will be welcome. Particularly encouraged this year are submissions dealing with the following issues:

  • History of Psychology in Spain
  • History of Psychology in Ibero-America
  • Women in the History of Psychology
  • History and Systems of Psychology
  • Historiography of Psychology
  • Miscellanea

Keynote lectures

Opening Conference

Image of José Luis Pinillos. A multi-sided approach to his figure and work. Dr. Enrique Lafuente (UNED, Madrid)

SEPEX Conference

The Birth of Psychotherapy from the Turmoil of American Religion. Dr. Christopher D. Green (York University, Toronto, Canada)


Proposals for oral presentations should contain a 700-word abstract (Spanish and English), including a short bibliography. They should be informative enough to enable the Scientific Committee to do its evaluative task properly.

Proposals for panels (monographic sessions) should contain a 500 word rationale (Spanish and English), including a short bibliography, plus a brief abstract of some 300 words (Spanish and English) for each of the contributions submitted. Panels should consist of 3 to 5 contributions.

Proposals for posters should contain a 300-word abstract (Spanish and English), including a short bibliography.

Travel stipends

A limited number of travel stipends will be provided by the SEHP to students contributing to the Symposium and duly applying for them. Registrations should be sent to by February 1, 2020. Registration requirements can be found on the SEHP’s blog.


Those students wishing to submit their research papers to the SEHP’s “Juan Huarte de San Juan” and/or “Antonio Caparrós” awards are kindly requested to send their manuscripts to the SEHP’s mail address: by February 1, 2020. Requirements can be consulted at the SEHP’s website.

Symposium venue

All scientific sessions will be held at the Faculty of Psychology, Assembly Hall, in Ramón and Cajal Campus, Camilo José Cela St. (District of Nervión), Sevilla.

Organizing Committee

Natividad Sánchez, Gabriel Ruiz, Esperanza Quintero, Estrella Díaz, Luis Gonzalo de la Casa, Juan Carlos López y Juan Pedro Vargas (Departamento de Psicología Experimental. Universidad de Sevilla).

Scientific Committee

Alexandra Rutherford (York University), Annette Mülberger (Universidad de Barcelona), Arthur Arruda Leal (Universidad Federal de Río de Janeiro), Manuel Sánchez de Miguel (Universidad del País Vasco), Noemí Pizarroso (UNED, Madrid) y Natividad Sánchez (Universidad de Sevilla).

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.

The uses of trauma in experiment: Traumatic stress and the history of experimental neurosis, c. 1925–1975

A recent piece in the September 2019 issue of Science in Context will be of interest to AHP readers. Ulrich Koch explores “The uses of trauma in experiment: Traumatic stress and the history of experimental neurosis, c. 1925–1975.” Abstract:

The article retraces the shifting conceptualizations of psychological trauma in experimental psychopathological research in the middle decades of the twentieth century in the United States. Among researchers studying so-called experimental neuroses in animal laboratories, trauma was an often-invoked category used to denote the clash of conflicting forces believed to lead to neurotic suffering. Experimental psychologists, however, soon grew skeptical of the traumatogenic model and ultimately came to reject neurosis as a disease entity. Both theoretical differences and practical circumstances, such as the technical challenge of stabilizing neurotic symptoms in rats, led to this demise. Yet, despite their reservations, experimental psychologists continued to employ traumatic stimuli to produce psychopathological syndromes. In the 1960s, a new understanding of trauma evolved, which emphasized the loss of control experienced by traumatized animal subjects. These shifting ideas about trauma, I argue, reflect both varying experimental cultures, epistemic norms as well as changing societal concerns.