New on Aeon’s Psyche: Donald Winnicott’s views of the psyche

In a recent piece on Aeon‘s new digital magazine Psyche may interest AHP readers. The piece, “For Donald Winnicott, the psyche is not inside us but between us,” explores the work of psychoanalyst Winnicott. As James Barnes writes,

Winnicott’s legacy is often defined in relation to the central position he enjoyed in what became known as the ‘Middle School’ of British psychoanalysis. This title is apt for Winnicott, not just because he sat between the warring neo-Freudian sides in the United States and the United Kingdom – between the ‘Ego-psychology’ and the ‘Kleinian’ schools respectively – but because he saw the area in between self and other as the proper domain of mental life and the place where it develops. He largely circumvented the subject-object dualism inherent in the Freudian model of mind (which both the Ego-psychologists and the Kleinians subscribed to) and espoused, or at least regularly insinuated, a fundamentally unitary conception of self and other.

Virtual #HistSTM Week on History of Psychology

AHP readers will be interested in this week’s Virtual #HistSTM dedicated to “History of Psychology,” the full schedule for which is provided above. Interested readers can sign up for the Virtual #HistSTM mailing list, including Zoom links for all sessions, here. Founded by Sarah Qidwai,

The Virtual HistSTM Community is a digital community for historians of science, technology and medicine. This group was created after it became clear that some academics/graduate students/ECRs were interested in forming a digital community because of the COVID-19 disruptions. We’re a new group and still formulating our agenda. There are currently 150+ members on our mailing list. Our primary objective is to support members during this uncertain time.

May 2020 Social History of Medicine: Women who kill, addiction treatment, and anti-psychiatry discourse

Several pieces in the May 2020 issue of Social History of Medicine may be of interest to AHP readers. Details below.

The Pathologisation of Women Who Kill: Three Cases from Ireland,” by Lynsey Black. Abstract:

Women who kill are frequently subject to discourses of pathology. This article examines the cases of three women convicted of murder in Ireland following Independence in 1922 and explores how each woman was constructed as pathologised. Using archival materials, the article demonstrates that diagnoses were contingent and imbricated with notions of gender, morality, dangerousness, and class. For two of the women, their pathologisation led to them being certified as insane and admitted to the Central Criminal Lunatic Asylum. However, pathologisation could be mediated by respectable femininity. The article also explores the pathways which facilitated judgements of pathology, including the acceptance of a framework of degeneracy, or hereditary insanity, and examines how women could be redeemed from the diagnoses of ‘insanity’.

‘The Only Trouble is the Dam’ Heroin’: Addiction, Treatment and Punishment at the Fort Worth Narcotic Farm,” by Holly M Karibo. Abstract:

In 1929, the U.S. federal government approved two ground-breaking programs designed to treat drug addiction. Emerging at a time when many began to worry about a supposed rising tide of drug use across the country, the establishment of narcotic hospitals at Lexington, Kentucky and Fort Worth, Texas marked a watershed moment in the treatment of addiction. This article traces the institutional history of one of those facilities, the Fort Worth Narcotic Farm, and the experiences of the men who found themselves under its care. It argues that, on the surface, the creation of the farm model seemed like a hopeful alternative to strict incarceration models. Its creation reflected shifting notions of addiction: namely, that addiction is not simply a crime, but it is also a disease with serious public health implications. Yet, the establishment of the hospital as places to both treat and punish addicts was their inherent and fundamental flaw. Central to this was the concept of the “prisoner-patient,” a person forced to undergo treatment as a result of criminal charges. Not only did patients express their frustration with the prison-like setting at Fort Worth, but recidivism rates remained high throughout the facility’s operation. Ultimately, lawmakers and politicians would use these recidivism rates as part of a broader push for more punitive drug legislation in the post-World War II period. By placing the history of addiction into conversation with mass incarceration studies, this article shows that the roots of the punishment model employed in the last quarter of the twentieth century were interwoven into seemingly “progressive” treatment models dating back to at least the 1930s. Indeed, the very failures of early addiction treatment models that arose by mid-century helped to justify an expanding criminal justice model in the post-1960s era.

MIND, Anti-Psychiatry, and the Case of the Mental Hygiene Movement’s ‘Discursive Transformation’,” by Jonathan Toms. Abstract:

During the 1970s the National Association for Mental Health (NAMH) re-labelled itself MIND, becoming a rights-based organisation, critiquing psychiatry and emphasising patients’ citizenship. Its transformation has been coloured by attributions of the influence of anti-psychiatry. This article argues that the relevance of anti-psychiatry has been over-simplified. It examines MIND’s history as part of the psychiatric strategy known as mental hygiene. This movement’s agenda can be understood as paradigmatic of much that anti-psychiatry renounced. However, building on the sociologist Nick Crossley’s description of the interactional nature of Social Movement Organisations in the psychiatric field, this article shows that a ‘discursive transformation’ can be deduced in core elements of mental hygienist thinking. This transformation of discourse clearly prefigured important elements of anti-psychiatry, and also fed into MIND’s rights approach. But it must be appreciated on its own terms. Its distinctiveness under MIND is shown in its application to people with learning disabilities.

BBC Radio 4: The New Anatomy of Melancholy

AHP readers may be interested in a new 12-episode series from BBC Radio 4, “A New Anatomy of Melancholy.” The series is described as follows,

In 1621, Robert Burton published The Anatomy of Melancholy. It was the first attempt in the modern western world to understand and categorise causes, symptoms and treatments of that universal human experience.

Writing from Oxford where he was a life-long scholar, librarian of Christ Church and a vicar, Burton drew on the writing of others and also his own experiences.

Writer Amy Liptrot, delves into this remarkable attempt at understanding the human condition to find out what we can learn and how far we have come in four centuries.

The first six episodes of the twelve episode series can be listened to online now.

Forthcoming in HHS: Sexology and erotic print culture, Kinsey and the psychoanalysts

Two pieces forthcoming in History of the Human Sciences will be of interest to AHP readers. Details below.

More than a case of mistaken identity: Adult entertainment and the making of early sexology,” Sarah Bull. Abstract:

Sexology emerged as a discipline during a period of keen concern about the social effects of sexually explicit media. In this context, sex researchers and their allies took pains to establish the respectability of their work, a process that often involved positioning sexual science in opposition to erotic literature and images. This article argues that this presentation of sexual science obfuscated sex researchers’ complex relationship with erotic print culture, which during the late 19th and early 20th centuries provided sexual scientists with access to explicit material that served as evidence for theories about human sexuality, facilitated transnational exchanges of sexual-scientific thought by bringing sex research across borders, and introduced sex research to wider audiences. Erotic print culture can thus be seen as one of several fields that contributed to the interdisciplinary development of sexology and facilitated the diffusion of sexual-scientific theories. Sex researchers’ shifting, often ambivalent relationship with erotic print and its producers emphasizes that while the boundaries of sexology were extremely porous, they were also heavily policed: Working to establish a modern, respectable new branch of science, sexual scientists reframed the output of other fields of enquiry as products of their own, blotted their reliance on these sources from the historical record, and denigrated them in public writing.

Kinsey and the psychoanalysts: Cross-disciplinary knowledge production in post-war US sex research,” Katie Sutton. Abstract:

The historical forces of war and migration impacted heavily on the disciplinary locations, practitioners, and structures of sexology and psychoanalysis that had developed in the first decades of the 20th century. By the late 1940s, the US was fast becoming the world centre of each of these prominent fields within the modern human sciences. During these years, the work of Alfred C. Kinsey and his team became synonymous with a distinctly North American brand of empirical sex research. This article offers the most nuanced account to date of the shifting relationship between these two fields in the late 1940s to mid 1950s. It argues that this was more collaborative and mutually influential than previous historians have assumed, even as, following the publication of the first ‘Kinsey report’, tensions grew between the Indiana team and the conservative brand of psychoanalysis that by this stage dominated 1950s North American psychiatry. A keen sense of professional competitiveness accelerated the growing split between these two fields, as Kinsey’s team developed a distinctly modern, technologized brand of statistically oriented sexology that contrasted with the older patient case history, and assumed a very different approach to conservative analysts on ideas of homosexuality and ‘normal’ sexual behaviour. Yet this story of divergence is also tempered through consideration of other aspects of ‘situated knowledge’ such as religion and gender identity, even as accounts of cross-disciplinary competitiveness are expanded by contrasting Kinsey’s positions on psychoanalysis with those of contemporaries such as Harry Benjamin.