CCHP’s Psychology Film Club

AHP readers may be interested in a Psychology Film Club organized by the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology (CCHP). The club has a couple of events coming up this fall. As part of the club, everyone watches a film ahead of time and then the CCHP hosts a Facebook live event where a panel of experts discusses the film, taking questions and comments from virtual attendees.

On Thursday, September 24, from 7-8pm (ET) the Club will be discussing One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The panel for the event includes CCHP Director Cathy Faye, along with:

Dr. Jennifer Bazar, Curator of the Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Center, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Dr. Brianne Collins, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Providence University, Otterburne, Manitoba, Canada

Dr. Charles Waehler, Associate Professor of Counseling Psychology, The University of Akron, Akron, Ohio, USA

For more info, see the Facebook event.

Fall issue of Revista de Historia de la Psicología

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

1. Bernardo Houssay, Horacio Rimoldi y la formación de investigadores en Psicología: Una bisagra entre CONICET y las Universidades Argentinas. [Bernardo Houssay, Horacio Rimoldi and the training of researchers in psychology: A hinge between CONICET and Argentine universities] María Andrea Piñeda. (Article written in Spanish).

In Argentina, between the mid-1950s and 1970s, successive political and economic crises were accompanied by transformations in the university system and in science and technology policies. At the same time, the figure of the professional psychologist emerged with a clinical-psychoanalytic profile and competences with diffuse and controversial limits regarding the medical field. Management sectors of CONICET and of some universities argued that this profile was not very conducive to the scientific development of psychology and they came together on a researchers training project. A key figure in fostering this mission was the prestigious Argentine academic Horacio Rimoldi. He was a disciple of the Nobel Prize winner and first President of CONICET Bernardo Houssay, and he directed a psychometry laboratory at Loyola University (United States). The reconstruction of a web of relationships, strategies and resources used to achieve this goal is made from the analysis of a voluminous documentary corpus that includes more than 100 letters between academics.

2. Towards a History of Psychology in Portugal: The Contribution of Sílvio Lima’s A Psicología em Portugal (1949). [Para una Historia de la Psicología en Portugal: La contribución de La Psicología en Portugal (1949) de Sílvio Lima]. Manuel Viegas Abreu. (Article written in Englsih).

In the panorama of the portuguese scientific production in the area of psychology, there is a lack of a history of psychology in Portugal. The purpose of this article is to analyze the proposals that Sílvio Lima (1904-1993) presented in the 1949 synopsis entitled Psychology in Portugal as a contribution to fill this gap. Bearing in mind the validity of the proposals, the synopsis project deserves to be resumed and expanded. In order to contribute to this purpose, the present paper includes an “Addendum” with the main bibliographic references of the protagonists mentioned in the synopsis

3. Las Memorias de José Luis Pinillos. Un documento para la Historia de la Psicología en España. [The Memoirs of José Luis Pinillos. A document for the History of Psychology in Spain]. Enrique Lafuente. (Article written in Spanish).

The Memoirs is an unpublished and likely unfinished manuscript which was written by the renowned Spanish psychologist José Luis Pinillos (1919-2013) when he was over 90 years old. Composed with the help of one of his daughters, these autobiographical remembrances deal in particular detail with the years of childhood and youth of its author -what Pinillos himself once called his “first life”. Among the most remarkable aspects of its contents, the attention paid to Pinillos’s war experience is worth emphasizing. The aim of this paper is to go through the various issues dealt with in these Memoirs, as well as comment on their most salient features. The paper concludes by stressing the value of this unique document as a privileged observatory of its author’s life experience and personality.

4. El conductismo atravesando América. Un estudio sociobibliométrico de la Revista Interamericana de Psicología y la Revista Latinoamericana de Psicología en sus primeras cuatro décadas. [Behaviorism across America. A sociobibliometric study of Interamerican Journal of Psychology and the Revista Latinoamericana de Psicología in its first four decades]. Fernando Andres Polanco, Josiane Sueli Beria, Hugo Klappenbach, Rubén Ardila (Article written in Spanish).

Behaviorism was an influential psychological approach in the 20th century. This research investigates the circulation in two magazines of recognized trajectory in America, where the totality of their original articles published in their first four decades were analyzed sociobibliometrically. The most productive authors and institutions came from Latin America and the Caribbean (LAyC), with a significant number of invisible schools. Publications on verbal behavior, behavior modification and social behavior were highlighted in both journals. In the analysis of references, authors and productions of the experimental analysis of behavior, behavior modification and interbehavior stand out. In the RIP, Anglo-Saxon references dominated, while in the RLP an average level of bibliography from ALyC was found. It is concluded that there was a high and diverse circulation, production and promotion of behaviorism in both journals.


5. Introducción: Philipp Lersch y la psicología del adoctrinamiento. [Philipp Lersch and the psychology of indoctrination]. Enric Novella. (Article written in Spanish).

This article presents the (first) translation into Spanish of the important conference on the psychology of indoctrination delivered on 5th June 1968 at the Bavarian Academy of Sciences by the German psychologist Philipp Lersch (1898-1972). After noting the current occurrence of different practices of ideological manipulation and indoctrination, the origins of the most elaborate versions of these practices in the decades following the Second World War are described, as well as the first systematic investigations into their complex psychological foundations. Subsequently, the great milestones of Lersch’s academic and intellectual career are reviewed along with his main contributions in areas such as the study of expression, personality theory, social psychology and cultural criticism. And, finally, the main lines of his “psychological-structural” analysis of the main phenomena and particularities of the human psyche that make subjects vulnerable to indoctrination are briefly otlined: the ability to doubt, the propensity to guilt feelings and the need to live in a certain sensory frame of reference.

6. The psychology of indoctrination. Philipp Lersch. (Translation into Spanish).

Forthcoming in HHS: Hormones, Cognitive Enhancement, Handedness, ‘Normal’

Several pieces forthcoming in History of the Human Sciences may be of interest to AHP readers. Full details below.

‘The Revolution is to the human mind what the African sun is to vegetation’: Revolution, heat, and the normal school project,” Caroline Warman. Abstract:

This article focuses on a slightly earlier period in its investigation of the meanings of and associations with the term normal than Cryle and Stephens have done in their recent book. It looks at the establishment and rapid demise of the Ecole normale (normal school) in Paris in 1794–5, founded on the same model as a school for the manufacture of arms that had operated in spring 1794, and suggests that this model was not only responsible for some of the problems the Ecole normale experienced, setting up unachievable expectations of rapid efficacy, but also had an impact on what its name was assumed to mean. Moving between, on the one hand, an analysis of explicit (and opposing) definitions of what the term normal meant, and, on the other, an account of how the Ecole normale was set up and what it was set up to do, this paper agrees with Cryle and Stephens that the term was ‘formed in controversy’, and fills in the intellectual and philosophical context from which the notion of the statistical norm would emerge.

Types, norms, and normalisation: Hormone research and treatments in Italy, Argentina, and Brazil, c. 1900–50,” Chiara Beccalossi. Abstract:

Displacing the physiological model that had held sway in 19th-century medical thinking, early 20th-century hormone research promoted an understanding of the body and sexual desires in which variations in sex characteristics and non-reproductive sexual behaviours such as homosexuality were attributed to anomalies in the internal secretions produced by the testes or the ovaries. Biotypology, a new brand of medical science conceived and led by the Italian endocrinologist Nicola Pende, employed hormone research to study human types and hormone treatments to normalise individuals who did not conform to accepted medical norms. Latin American medical doctors, eugenicists, and sexologists took up biotypology with enthusiasm. This article considers the case studies of Italy, Argentina, and Brazil, and analyses the work of medical doctors who adopted a biotypological mode of reasoning and employed to various extents hormone therapies in their practice. By focusing on hormone therapies that aimed to normalise secondary sexual characteristics and the sexual instinct, the article suggests that while the existence of normality was contested to the point that a number of medical scientists argued that no such thing existed, the pursuit of normality was carried out in very practical terms through the new medical technologies hormone research had introduced.

Limitless? Imaginaries of cognitive enhancement and the labouring body,” Brian P. Bloomfield, Karen Dale. Abstract:

This article seeks to situate pharmacological cognitive enhancement as part of a broader relationship between cultural understandings of the body-brain and the political economy. It is the body of the worker that forms the intersection of this relationship and through which it comes to be enacted and experienced. In this article, we investigate the imaginaries that both inform and are reproduced by representations of pharmacological cognitive enhancement, drawing on cultural sources such as newspaper articles and films, policy documents, and pharmaceutical marketing material to illustrate our argument. Through analysis of these diverse cultural sources, we argue that the use of pharmaceuticals has come to be seen not only as a way to manage our brains, but through this as a means to manage our productive selves, and thereby to better manage the economy. We develop three analytical themes. First, we consider the cultural representations of the brain in connection with the idea of plasticity – captured most graphically in images of morphing – and the representation of enhancement as a desirable, inevitable, and almost painless process in which the mind-brain realizes its full potential and asserts its will over matter. Following this, we explore the social value accorded to productive employment and the contemporary (biopolitical) ethos of working on or managing oneself, particularly in respect of improving one’s productive performance through cognitive enhancement. Developing this, we elaborate a third theme by looking at the moulding of the worker’s productive body-brain in relation to the demands of the economic system.

An even-handed debate? The sexed/gendered controversy over laterality genes in British psychology, 1970s–1990s,” Tabea Cornel. Abstract:

This article provides insight into the entwinement of the allegedly neutral category of handedness with questions of sex/gender, reproduction, dis/ability, and scientific authority. In the 1860s, Paul Broca suggested that the speech centre sat in the left brain hemisphere in most humans, and that right-handedness stemmed from this asymmetry. One century later, British psychologists Marian Annett and Chris McManus proposed biologically unconfirmed theories of how handedness and brain asymmetry were passed on in families. Their idea to integrate chance into genetic models of handedness was novel, and so was their use of computerized statistics to parse out the incidence of handedness genotypes and phenotypes. Notwithstanding significant conceptual and methodological overlaps, McManus and Annett did not collaborate and proposed competing theories. I analyse the sexed/gendered dimensions of their controversy by drawing on published literature, unpublished documents, and oral history interviews. I first attend to the epistemological importance of sex/gender. Both psychologists published several iterations of their models, which increasingly relied on questions of sex/gender and reproduction. Annett additionally linked handedness with stereotypically gendered cognitive abilities. Second, I argue that using masculine-coded computer technologies contributed to Annett’s professional marginalization whereas similar methods endowed McManus with surplus authority. Finally, I show that Annett’s complicity in stabilizing sociocultural hierarchies within her theory mirrored her personal experience of marginalization based on sex/gender, age, education, and lack of institutional affiliation. This analysis exemplifies the entanglement of cognitive and social factors in scientific controversies and adds to the literature on 20th-century British women psychologists.

New Isis: The Unmusical Ear, Normal Child Development on Film

The September 2020 issue of Isis includes two articles of interest to AHP readers. Full details below.

The Unmusical Ear: Georg Simon Ohm and the Mathematical Analysis of Sound,” Melle Jan Kromhout. Abstract:

This essay presents a detailed analysis of Georg Simon Ohm’s acoustical research between 1839 and 1844. Because of its importance in Hermann von Helmholtz’s subsequent study of sound and hearing, this work is rarely considered on its own terms. A thorough assessment of Ohm’s articles, however, can greatly enrich our understanding of later developments. Based on study of Ohm’s published writings, as well as a lengthy unpublished manuscript, the essay argues that his acoustical research foreshadows an important paradigmatic shift at a time of discursive instability prior to Helmholtz’s influential contributions. Using Ohm’s own dismissal of his supposedly “unmusical ears” as a conceptual frame, the essay describes this shift as a move away from understanding sound primarily in a musical context and toward an increasingly mathematical approach to sound and hearing. As such, Ohm’s work also anticipates a more general change in the role of the senses in nineteenth-century scientific research.

Normal Development: The Photographic Dome and the Children of the Yale Psycho-Clinic,”
Carola Ossmer. Abstract:

This essay traces the history of normality’s development through a photographic research program that itself began with a critique of that very concept. In the 1920s, a group of child development researchers around the psychologist and physician Arnold Gesell constructed the photographic dome—at once laboratory, observatory, and film studio—to assess normal mental development. Although seeking to challenge standardized measurements of the normal, the researchers created a set of developmental norms that shaped a universal understanding of what constituted a normal child. This essay examines the foundation of this pervasive knowledge by tracking the material factors of visual technology and media production: organizing scientific research like film production, Gesell and his team began to think of development in photographic sequences. Film technology configured their ideas about the individuality of every child, gave rise to a democratic variety of norms, and linked the scientific laboratory with private households and public life. The essay thus argues that visual technologies, beyond merely providing a scientific method and a means of popular distribution, constituted far-reaching theories regarding the normal child. This media-material perspective demonstrates that focusing on visual technologies in science can help to denaturalize knowledge about human nature.

Book Forum: Pain, Pleasure, and the Greater Good, by Cathy Gere

AHP readers may be interested in a Book Forum, in Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, dedicated to Cathy Gere’s recent Pain, Pleasure, and the Greater Good. Contributions from the Forum include:

Pain, Pleasure and the Greater Good by Cathy Gere: The abhorrent consequences of consequentialism,” by Tim Lewens.

Pain, pleasure, and the greater good by Cathy Gere: History as moral work,” by Katja Guenther.

Pain, Pleasure, and the Greater Good, by Cathy Gere: Reply by the Author,” by Cathy Gere.

The Psychologist: “The aftermath of the Hans Asperger exposé”

AHP readers may be interested in a piece in the September 2020 issue of the British Psychological Society’s The Psychologist magazine, “The aftermath of the Hans Asperger exposé” by Rabbi David Ariel Sher. As Sher writes,

Perhaps the most shocking discovery Czech shared on that day was a medical note from Spiegelgrund hospital concerning a two-year-old girl named Herta Schreiber. Am Spiegelgrund was founded in the summer of 1940 on the grounds of the Steinhof Hospital in Vienna. It was led by Erwin Jekelius, a former colleague of Asperger and a leading figure of the Nazi ‘euthanasia’ programme. It was here that children who did not meet the Nazi criteria of ‘racial purity’ and ‘hereditary worthiness’ were sent. Almost 800 children were killed at Spiegelgrund between 1940-1945, many by poisoning or through the administration of barbiturates over a period of time; the cause of the children’s death was listed as ‘pneumonia’ on documentation.

On 27 June 1941, Asperger assessed Herta at his clinic. In brief notes he wrote that ‘At home the child must be an unbearable burden to her mother, who has to care for five healthy children.’ Using the euphemistic language characteristic of German state documents of the period, Asperger wrote; ‘Permanent placement at Spiegelgrund seems absolutely necessary.’ A few days later, on 1 July, Herta was admitted to Spiegelgrund and on 2 September, a day after her third birthday, Herta died of ‘pneumonia’, the cause of death regularly induced at Spiegelgrund. Herta was not even afforded dignity in death; her brain was preserved and used for research alongside hundreds of organs of other Spiegelgrund victims. The hospital only released these for burial in 2002.

The full piece can be read online here.

Unraveling: Remaking Personhood in a Neurodiverse Age

AHP readers may be interested in a soon-to-be-released book, Unraveling: Remaking Personhood in a Neurodiverse Age by Matthew J. Wolf-Meyer. The book is described as follows:

Twentieth-century neuroscience fixed the brain as the basis of consciousness, the self, identity, individuality, even life itself, obscuring the fundamental relationships between bodies and the worlds that they inhabit. In Unraveling, Matthew J. Wolf-Meyer draws on narratives of family and individual experiences with neurological disorders, paired with texts by neuroscientists and psychiatrists, to decenter the brain and expose the ableist biases in the dominant thinking about personhood.

Unraveling articulates a novel cybernetic theory of subjectivity in which the nervous system is connected to the world it inhabits rather than being walled off inside the body, moving beyond neuroscientific, symbolic, and materialist approaches to the self to focus instead on such concepts as animation, modularity, and facilitation. It does so through close readings of memoirs by individuals who lost their hearing or developed trauma-induced aphasia, as well as family members of people diagnosed as autistic—texts that rethink modes of subjectivity through experiences with communication, caregiving, and the demands of everyday life.

Arguing for a radical antinormative bioethics, Unraveling shifts the discourse on neurological disorders from such value-laden concepts as “quality of life” to develop an inclusive model of personhood that honors disability experiences and reconceptualizes the category of the human in all of its social, technological, and environmental contexts.


Preface: Blind-Man-and-World

Introduction: Let’s Build a New Nervous System

  1. Neurological Subjectivity: How Neuroscience Makes and Unmakes People through Neurological Disorder
  2. Symbolic Subjectivity: How Psychoanalysis and the Communication of Meaning Disable Individuals
  3. Materialist Subjectivity: How Technology and Material Environments Make Personhood Possible
  4. Cybernetic Subjectivity: The Fusion of Body, Symbol, and Environment in the Facilitated Person
  5. Facilitated Subjectivity, Affective Bioethics, and the Nervous System
    Epilogue: Living and Dying in the Nervous System

Forthcoming in History of Human Sciences: The Psychosocial Dreamer, French Structural Anthropology

Two articles forthcoming in History of the Human Sciences, now available online, may interest AHP readers.

A ‘commonsense’ psychoanalysis: Listening to the psychosocial dreamer in interwar Glasgow psychiatry,” Sarah Phelan. Abstract:

This article historicises a dream analytic intervention launched in the 1930s by Scottish psychiatrist and future professor of psychological medicine at the University of Glasgow (1948–73), Thomas Ferguson Rodger (1907–78). Intimate therapeutic meetings with five male patients are preserved within the so-called ‘dream books’, six manuscript notebooks from Rodger’s earlier career. Investigating one such case history in parallel with lecture material, this article elucidates the origins of Rodger’s adapted, rapport-centred psychotherapy, offered in his post-war National Health Service, Glasgow-based department. Oriented in a reading of the revealing fourth dream book, the article unearths a history of the reception and adaptation of psychoanalysis from within a therapeutic encounter and in a non-elite context. Situating Rodger’s psychiatric development in his Glasgow environment, it then contextualises the psychosocial narrative of the fourth book in relation to contrasting therapeutic commitments: an undiluted Freudianism and a pragmatic ‘commonsense’ psychotherapy, tempered to the clinical psychiatric, and often working-class, interwar Glasgow context. An exploration of pre-recorded dreams, transcribed free associations, and ‘weekly reports’ reveals that in practice, Rodger’s Meyerian attitude worked productively with Freudian techniques to ennoble the patient’s psychosocial testimony and personal wisdom. This psychotherapeutic eclecticism underpinned and made visible the patient’s concurrent faith in and resistance to psychoanalytic interpretation. Chronicling a collaborative route to psychotherapeutic knowledge within a discrete encounter, the article situates post-war treatment values in the interwar impasse of outpatient psychiatry.

Parallel structures: André Leroi-Gourhan, Claude Lévi-Strauss, and the making of French structural anthropology,” Jacob Collins. Abstract:

This article reframes our understanding of French structural anthropology by considering the work of André Leroi-Gourhan alongside that of Claude Lévi-Strauss. These two anthropologists worked at opposite poles of the discipline, Lévi-Strauss studying cultural objects, like myths and kinship relations; Leroi-Gourhan looking at material artifacts, such as stone tools, bones, arrowheads, and cave paintings. In spite of their difference in focus, these thinkers shared a similar approach to the interpretation of their sources: Each individual object was meaningful only as part of a larger whole. For Lévi-Strauss, structuralism was designed to unlock features of the human mind; for Leroi-Gourhan, to uncover the material processes that underlay human life. Again, in spite of their difference in orientation, both structuralisms produced similar theories of human society. Whether ‘primitive’ or ‘advanced’, all societies functioned the same way: Their institutions worked harmoniously, beyond the intentions of any individual actors, to preserve the stability of the group. This eliminated the basis for thinking one society was superior to another. Finally, the article argues that both Lévi-Strauss and Leroi-Gourhan believed that structural anthropology could found a ‘new humanism’, and thereby rescue modernity from moral degeneration. This ‘new humanism’ could not only produce a universal description of human nature, but also help rethink French colonialism, broker new geopolitical alliances, and prevent the erasure of world cultures. Structural anthropology thus imagined a tight relationship between its social-scientific work and its political-moral mission.

Testing Hearing: The Making of Modern Aurality

AHP readers may be interested in a new book, Testing Hearing: The Making of Modern Aurality, edited by Viktoria Tkaczyk, Mara Mills, and Alexandra Hui. The volume is described as,

Testing Hearing: The Making of Modern Aurality argues that the modern cultural practices of hearing and testing have emerged from a long interrelationship. Since the early nineteenth century, auditory test tools (whether organ pipes or electronic tone generators) and the results of hearing tests have fed back into instrument calibration, human training, architecture, and the creation of new musical sounds. Hearing tests received a further boost around 1900 as a result of injury compensation laws and state and professional demands for aptitude testing in schools, conservatories, the military, and other fields. Applied at large scale, tests of seemingly small measure-of auditory acuity, of hearing range-helped redefine the modern concept of hearing as such. During the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the epistemic function of hearing expanded. Hearing took on the dual role of test object and test instrument; in the latter case, human hearing became a gauge by which to evaluate or regulate materials, nonhuman organisms, equipment, and technological systems. This book considers both the testing of hearing and testing with hearing to explore the co-creation of modern epistemic and auditory cultures. The book’s twelve contributors trace the design of ever more specific tests for the arts, education and communication, colonial and military applications, sociopolitical and industrial endeavors. Together, they demonstrate that testing as such became an enduring and wide-ranging cultural technique in the modern period, one that is situated between histories of scientific experimentation and many fields of application.

Table of Contents

Testing Hearing: An Introduction
Alexandra Hui, Mara Mills, and Viktoria Tkaczyk

Sorting and Screening Human Hearers:
Testing the Culturally Molded Ear

Testing Hearing with Speech
Mara Mills

The Testing of a Hundred Listeners: Otto Abraham’s Studies on “Absolute Tone Consciousness”
Viktoria Tkaczyk

Murray Island versus Aberdeenshire: Contextualizing the Cross-Cultural Hearing Tests of the Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to Torres Straits, 1898-1899
Sebastian Klotz

Designing Instruments, Calibrating machines

Hearing Perfection
Emily I. Dolan

Opelt’s Siren and the Technologies of Musical Hearing
Alexander Rehding

The Software Passes the Test When the User Fails It:Constructing Digital Models of Analog Signal Processors
Jonathan Sterne

Managing Sound, Assessing Space

To Hear As I Do: The Concessions of Hearing in Taiwan’s Noise Management System
Jennifer Hsieh

Testing Spatial Hearing and the Development of Kunstkopf Technology, 1957-1981
Stefan Krebs

Absorption, Transmission, Reflection: Testing Materials in the Laboratory
Roland Wittje

World as Testbed:
Testing beyond Human Auditory Perception

Of Silent Sirens and Pied Pipers: Auditory Thresholds and High-Frequency Technologies of Animal Control
Joeri Bruyninckx

Testing the Underwater Ear: Hearing, Standardizing, and Classifying Marine Sounds from World War I to the Cold War
Lino Camprubí and Alexandra Hui

This Is Not a Test: Listening with Günther Anders in the Nuclear Age
Benjamin Steege

Hans-Jörg Rheinberger and Trevor Pinch