Biometry against Fascism: Geoffrey Morant, Race, and Anti-Racism in Twentieth-Century Physical Anthropology

A new piece in Isis may interest AHP readers: “Biometry against Fascism: Geoffrey Morant, Race, and Anti-Racism in Twentieth-Century Physical Anthropology,” by Iris Clever. Abstract:

This essay introduces an anthropological practice that remains largely unexplored in the historical literature on racial science: biometrics. In the early twentieth century, biometricians analyzed skull measurements using novel statistical methods to demonstrate racial biological differences. Drawing on new archival material, the essay reveals how these biometric data practices challenged racist anthropology. Between 1934 and 1952, Geoffrey Morant, an expert on biometry and race in Karl Pearson’s Biometric Laboratory in London, mobilized biometry to debunk Nazi racial theories. He informed the public about Nazism’s fallacies in The Races of Central Europe (1939) and his UNESCO pamphlet The Significance of Racial Differences (1952). Unlike anti-racism campaigners such as Ashley Montagu, however, Morant did not dismiss the biological reality of race in his fight against Nazi racism. The essay shows that the coexistence of anti-racist and racializing practices was not paradoxical but, rather, an important feature of the anthropological study of human variation in the twentieth century.

Psychoanalytic practice in the light of psychiatric patient records: The elusive history of Freudian-inspired psychotherapy (Strasbourg, 1940s–1970s)

AHP readers may be interested in a new piece in History of the Human Sciences: “Psychoanalytic practice in the light of psychiatric patient records: The elusive history of Freudian-inspired psychotherapy (Strasbourg, 1940s–1970s),” Florent Serina. Abstract:

This article delves into a problem that is still seldom addressed by historians—namely, the use of medical records testifying to the implementation of a psychoanalytically inspired treatment within a psychiatric institution for historical research. Based on publications, a broad spectrum of medical patient records, and interviews with former practitioners, it more broadly addresses issues related to the attention to patients’ voices at the University Psychiatric Clinic of Strasbourg, a central institution of psychiatric care in Northeastern France that was once considered a bastion of French Freudianism. Eventually, it contends with the fundamentally elusive nature of medical patient records when it comes to talking cures, highlighting the challenges and limitations inherent in the historical exploitation of this type of source.

Mortality among those certified under lunacy legislation in Scotland during World War I

A new piece in History of Psychiatry may interest AHP readers: “Mortality among those certified under lunacy legislation in Scotland during World War I,” by Margaret White. Abstract:

Mortality in asylum populations increased during World War I. This paper seeks to analyse the mortality data from Scotland, where governmental statistics allow comparison between different lunacy institutions, poorhouses and prisons, as well as people certified under lunacy legislation but living in the community. Detailed study is made of two Lothian asylums, the Royal Edinburgh Asylum and the Midlothian and Peebles District Asylum, and the 1918 influenza pandemic is considered in the asylum context. Similarities and differences between the situation in Scotland and that in England and Wales are discussed, and parallels are drawn with the Covid-19 pandemic in Scotland.

Trauma and loss in the Adult Attachment Interview: Situating the unresolved state of mind classification in disciplinary and social context

A new open-access piece in History of the Human Sciences will interest AHP readers: “Trauma and loss in the Adult Attachment Interview: Situating the unresolved state of mind classification in disciplinary and social context,” Lianne Bakkum, Carlo Schuengel, Sarah L. Foster, R. M. Pasco Fearon, and Robbie Duschinsky. Abstract:

This article examines how ‘trauma’ has been conceptualised in the unresolved state of mind classification in the Adult Attachment Interview, introduced by Main and Hesse in 1990. The unresolved state of mind construct has been influential for three decades of research in developmental psychology. However, not much is known about how this measure of unresolved trauma was developed, and how it relates to other conceptualisations of trauma. We draw on previously unavailable manuscripts from Main and Hesse’s personal archive, including various editions of unpublished coding manuals, and on Main–Bowlby correspondence from the John Bowlby Archive at the Wellcome Trust in London. This article traces the emergence of the unresolved state of mind classification, and examines the assumptions about trauma embedded in the construct. These assumptions are situated both in the immediate context of the work of Main and Hesse and in terms of wider discourses about trauma in the period. Our analysis considers how a particular form of trauma discourse entered into attachment research, and in doing so partly lost contact with wider disciplinary study of trauma.

Reflections upon having been elected a fellow of APA

A new piece, now available online at History of Psychology, will interest AHP readers: “Reflections upon having been elected a fellow of APA,” Burman, J. T. Abstract:

In this article, the author offers his reflections on being elected Fellow of the American Psychological Association as an historian of psychology. The author didn’t start out as an historian. His bachelor and doctorate are both in psychology. But he did also certainly choose to leave psychology, then to return with a different perspective. So this election feels like an affirmation of that decision, and an endorsement of the scholarship that resulted: his service to science by other means, after he was himself “revised and resubmitted.” Nearly two decades after his original departure from experimental psychology, the author has decided that “science” is the set of tested- and defended boundaries of what we think we know, which move as they’re renegotiated. In other words, science is the shared collection and discussion of what has been accepted to be the case (as well as the process of careful revision). But it’s also then the history of science that provides evidence to answer the philosophical “demarcation problem,” not science itself.

The degree course in psychology in Rome in the history of Italian psychology

AHP readers will be interested in a new online first article in History of Psychology: “The degree course in psychology in Rome in the history of Italian psychology,” Lombardo, G. P., & Romano, A. Abstract:

Italian academic psychology found its first location in the Anthropological Museum of the Faculty of Natural Sciences at the University of Rome, where in 1890 a Laboratory of Experimental Psychology was established. In 1905, the first three Chairs of Experimental Psychology at the Universities of Turin, Rome, and Naples were created. These were followed in the subsequent years by others, until 1930, in other academic institutions. After many years and a long period of crisis linked to the fascist regime, only after the World War II (WWII), with the rebirth of the country, did psychology gradually rebuild its status as a scientific discipline. Within this framework of the renewal of society and university studies, in 1971, two degree courses were instituted in Rome and Padua. Based on research in central and local academic archives and on an analysis of the secondary literature, the gestation phase of the 4-year degree course in Psychology, the progressive establishment of the Psychology Departments, and the 5-year reform of the courses up to the birth of the first Faculty of Psychology at an Italian university are reconstructed. The aim of this article is to propose a well-founded discontinuist historiographical reading of the process of sedimentation of psychological experimentation that, after being born in the Faculty of Sciences and later transferring to the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, also led to important developments in the Faculty of Education, with the recognition of an autonomous academic space of scientific discipline with a degree course, departments and finally the Faculty of Psychology.

Psychological experiments on student self-government: The early impact of Wilhelm Mann’s work in Chile and the German Empire

A new online first piece in History of Psychology will interest AHP readers: “Psychological experiments on student self-government: The early impact of Wilhelm Mann’s work in Chile and the German Empire,” Millán, J. D., Salas, G., & Marsico, G. Abstract:

One of the most important successes in the history of psychology in Chile was the foundation in 1908 of the first experimental psychology laboratory in Santiago by the German psychologist Wilhelm Mann (1974–1943). Four years later, Mann give a shift to his classical experimental psychology research to intervene in the discussions about German School Reform (1900–1920). Mann used Chile as a “testing ground” for explore the viability of student self-government published in three papers. The method used to verify the early impact of Mann’s papers was the quantitative analysis of citations with Publish or Perish software using a Google Books database and Scripta Paedagogica. The reception of Mann’s texts was analyzed using the context of citation and the functions and use of those citations. The three unknow Mann’s papers about Student Self-Government published in 1913 and his citations. The results shows that Mann’s critics and recommendations published in one of his papers was the fourth more citated in a database of 16 foundational German works of to self-student government. Finally, this Mann’s article was cited and used in an ideological way to argue in favor of reactionary and conservative opinions of school democratization in German Empire teacher circles. Mann’s diagnosis and critical suggestions was recognized by prominent German philosophers and pedagogues. Precisely Mann criticized the Student Republics as the only way to stimulate the student self-government for their artificial character and especially for the loss of students’ psychological individuality.

The crying boss: Activating “human resources” through sensitivity training in 1970s Sweden

AHP readers will be interested in a new open-access article in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences: “The crying boss: Activating “human resources” through sensitivity training in 1970s Sweden,” Linnea Tillema. Abstract:

This article examines the introduction of “sensitivity training” to 1970s Swedish work life. Drawing upon a range of empirical materials, I explore the politics that were involved in the process of translating and adapting this group dynamic method to the Swedish context and consider how its proponents argued for its value. By approaching sensitivity training as an attempt to govern, shape, and regulate both human beings and the work organizations of which they were a part, I argue that sensitivity training presents an unexpectedly early example of a governing rationality that has elsewhere been described and theorized as “neoliberal.” The fact that sensitivity training was established in Swedish work life already in the early 1970s thus challenges the historiography of neoliberal modes of government, which have elsewhere been associated with a neoliberal shift in state policies occurring in the 1980s and 1990s. The article demonstrates how emotionally liberating practices in the late 1960s and early 1970s were embraced by some of the most politically influential actors in contemporary Swedish society, such as the corporate sector and the trade unions. As blue-collar trade unions and social democrats voiced increasingly far-reaching demands concerning workplace democracy and improved workplace conditions, advocates of sensitivity training presented their method as crucial to the process of “democratizing” and “humanizing” Swedish work life. Intimately associated with the new therapies of humanistic psychology, sensitivity training was used within the corporate sector to foster a more emotional and authentic leadership style that would embrace the values of emotional awareness, self-expression, and self-actualization. The crying boss emerged in this context as a key figure in the project of creating a “democratic” and psychologically satisfying organization. Yet, sensitivity training was also described as a means for companies to make better use of what was now asserted as their most important economic asset: the human being. From the outset, the idealistic vision of an emotionally liberated, democratic workplace was thus entangled with a specific kind of economic rationality, in which the emotionally liberated, self-actualizing individual emerged as a capital or asset that would be better utilized if the organization allowed—even encouraged—employees to engage in their own well-being and self-optimization.

Rosenhan revisited: Successful scientific fraud

A new piece in History of Psychiatry will interest AHP readers: “Rosenhan revisited: successful scientific fraud,” Andrew Scull. Abstract:

The publication of David Rosenhan’s ‘On being sane in insane places’ in Science in 1973 played a crucial role in persuading the American Psychiatric Association to revise its diagnostic manual. The third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III) in its turn launched a revolution in American psychiatry whose reverberations continue to this day. Rosenhan’s paper continues to be cited hundreds of times a year, and its alleged findings are seen as crucial evidence of psychiatry’s failings. Yet based on the findings of an investigative journalist, Susannah Cahalan, and on records she shared with the author, we now know that this research is a spectacularly successful case of scientific fraud.