Special Issue: Psychopathological Fringes: Knowledge Making and Boundary Work in 20th Century Psychiatry

A just-released special issue from History of the Human Sciences, “Psychopathological Fringes: Knowledge Making and Boundary Work in 20th Century Psychiatry,” will interest AHP readers. Full titles, authors, and abstracts below.

“Exploring the fringes of psychopathology: Boundary entities, category work and other borderline phenomena in the history of 20th century psychopathology,” by Nicolas Henckes, Volker Hess, and Marie Reinholdt. Abstract:

This special issue of History of the Humane Sciences intends to shed light on a series of psychopathological entities that do not target well defined conditions and experiences, but rather aim at delimiting zones of uncertainty that defy psychopathology’s order of things: mild diagnoses or subthreshold disorders, borderline conditions, culture bound syndromes, or ideas of dimensions and dimensionality. While these categories have come to play an increasingly central role in psychiatric and psychological thinking during the last 50 years, historians and social scientists have had remarkably little to say about how they have been created, what they have been used for, and what kind of realities they have helped to shape. In this introductory article we propose the concept of ‘psychopathological fringes’ to refer to these categories that are located somewhere at the border of psychopathological classifications and refer to zones of conceptual underdetermination. The notion of fringes serves to highlight both the conceptually and the socially marginal nature of the conditions, personal identities, and worlds delimited by these categories. The fringes of psychopathology are zones of vagueness, of epistemic uncertainty, and moral ambiguity. This introduction proposes a first incursion in these zones. It suggests some of the reason why they might have had attracted little interest in the past and why they may be more salient recently. It follows some analytical clues that might help chart a way through it and proposes a map through the collection of articles included in this issue.

“Feeling and smelling psychosis: American alienism, psychiatry, prodromes and the limits of ‘category work’,” by Richard Noll. Abstract: Continue reading Special Issue: Psychopathological Fringes: Knowledge Making and Boundary Work in 20th Century Psychiatry

The Persuasive Rhetoric of a Manifesto (1870): Ribot’s Promise of an “Independent” Psychological Science

A special issue of Centaurus on “The promises of science. Historical perspectives,” guest edited by Annette Mülberger and Jaume Navarro includes an article of interest to AHP readers.

The persuasive rhetoric of a manifesto (1870): Ribot’s promise of an “independent” psychological science,” by Annette Mülberger. Abstract:

Here, I take a closer look at a manifesto in the history of psychology: the introduction to the book entitled “La psychologie anglaise contemporaine.” It was published in 1870 and written by the French psychologist and philosopher Théodule Ribot (1839–1916). First, I review the use of the label “manifesto” in the historiography of psychology. Then the aim, rhetoric, and arguments of Ribot’s text are examined, as well as the intellectual atmosphere surrounding it. Through this research, I hope to contribute to a better understanding of the aims and some immediate reactions to Ribot’s text. My analysis focuses on his understanding of psychology as “independent science.” Ribot’s manifesto contains criticism of the prevalent philosophies of his time, namely eclectic spiritualism and the positivistic schools. Within this setting, Ribot tried to present his psychology as ideologically neutral, aiming at revealing “psychological facts.” My interpretation portrays Ribot’s tone as optimistic, framed in terms of a promise and an invitation; I see his text as primarily an attempt to attract collaborators through a broadly defined scientific project. He envisaged an almost boundless field of empirical research, based on the promise of intellectual freedom and scientific progress.

History of Psychiatry: Hysteria in WWI, Leucotomy in Western Australia, and More

A new issue of History of Psychiatry is now online. Full titles, authors, and abstracts below.

“‘A more perfect arrangement of plants’: the botanical model in psychiatric nosology, 1676 to the present day,” by Daniel Mason and Honor Hsin. Abstract:

Psychiatric classification remains a complex endeavour; since the Enlightenment, nosologists have made use of various models and metaphors to describe their systems. Here we present the most common model, botanical taxonomy, and trace its history from the nosologies of Sydenham, Sauvages and Linnaeus; to evolutionary models; to the later contributions of Hughlings-Jackson, Kraepelin and Jaspers. Over time, there has been a shift from explicit attempts to pattern disease classification on botanical systems, to a more metaphorical use. We find that changes in the understanding of plants and plant relationships parallel changes in the conceptualization of mental illness. Not only have scientific discoveries influenced the use of metaphor, but the language of metaphor has also both illuminated and constrained psychiatric nosology.

“Psychiatry in Portugal: Key actors and conceptual history (1884–1924),” by José Morgado Pereira. Abstract: Continue reading History of Psychiatry: Hysteria in WWI, Leucotomy in Western Australia, and More

Newly Digitized Melanie Klein Archive at the Wellcome Library

The Melanie Klein archives, held at the Wellcome Library, have now been digitized and are available to consult online:

as a result of a collaborative effort by the Melanie Klein Trust and the Wellcome Library, the entire Melanie Klein archive has now been digitised and is available to study online. This new digital collection contains over 350 items (files and folders) and over 30,000 images.

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Some items in the archive, for example child clinical material concerning a patient who could still be identifiable, have been digitised but kept in restricted form until a specified future date. All other material, however, is freely available, and it is no longer necessary to join the Wellcome Library to study it.

The full Klein archive can be found here.

Grand Opening of the National Museum of Psychology!

The National Museum of Psychology is opening its doors! The Museum’s grand opening will take place Wednesday, June 27th from 4-7pm. Admission is free for this special event and you can RSVP here. Permanent exhibits exploring psychology’s history as a profession, a science, and agent of social change. Particular exhibit highlights include:

  • the history of mental health and illness
  • explorations of the brain, sensation, and perception
  • the study of animal training and behavior
  • and studies of gender, race, and social learning.

Also featured a rotating gallery, curated by students in the Center’s Museum and Archives certificate program. The Museum will be open regularly starting June 28 on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday from 11-4 and Thursday from 11-8.

The National Museum of Psychology is part of the Drs. Nicholas and Dorothy Cummings Center for the History of Psychology at the University of Akron, which also includes the Archives of the History of American Psychology (be still my heart!).

 

Asperger’s Children: The Origins of Autism in Nazi Vienna

A new book  on Hans Asperger will interest AHP readers: Asperger’s Children: The Origins of Autism in Nazi Vienna by Edith Sheffer. As described on the publisher’s site:

Hans Asperger, the pioneer of autism and Asperger syndrome in Nazi Vienna, has been celebrated for his compassionate defense of children with disabilities. But in this groundbreaking book, prize-winning historian Edith Sheffer exposes that Asperger was not only involved in the racial policies of Hitler’s Third Reich, he was complicit in the murder of children.

As the Nazi regime slaughtered millions across Europe during World War Two, it sorted people according to race, religion, behavior, and physical condition for either treatment or elimination. Nazi psychiatrists targeted children with different kinds of minds—especially those thought to lack social skills—claiming the Reich had no place for them. Asperger and his colleagues endeavored to mold certain “autistic” children into productive citizens, while transferring others they deemed untreatable to Spiegelgrund, one of the Reich’s deadliest child-killing centers.

In the first comprehensive history of the links between autism and Nazism, Sheffer uncovers how a diagnosis common today emerged from the atrocities of the Third Reich. With vivid storytelling and wide-ranging research, Asperger’s Children will move readers to rethink how societies assess, label, and treat those diagnosed with disabilities.

 

Sebastián Gil-Riaño on “Relocating Anti-Racist Science”

A forthcoming article in The British Journal for the History of Science, available now online,  on mid-twentieth century anti-racist science may be of interest to AHP readers.

Relocating anti-racist science: the 1950 UNESCO Statement on Race and economic development in the global South,” by Sebastián Gil-Riaño. Abstract:

This essay revisits the drafting of the first UNESCO Statement on Race (1950) in order to reorient historical understandings of mid-twentieth-century anti-racism and science. Historians of science have primarily interpreted the UNESCO statements as an oppositional project led by anti-racist scientists from the North Atlantic and concerned with dismantling racial typologies, replacing them with population-based conceptions of human variation. Instead of focusing on what anti-racist scientists opposed, this article highlights the futures they imagined and the applied social-science projects that anti-racist science drew from and facilitated. The scientific experts who participated in drafting the first UNESCO Statement on Race played important roles in late colonial, post-colonial and international projects designed to modernize, assimilate and improve so-called backward communities – typically indigenous or Afro-descendent groups in the global South. Such connections between anti-racist science and the developmental imaginaries of the late colonial period indicate that the transition from fixed racial typologies to sociocultural and psychological conceptualizations of human diversity legitimated the flourishing of modernization discourses in the Cold War era. In this transition to an economic-development paradigm, ‘race’ did not vanish so much as fragment into a series of finely tuned and ostensibly anti-racist conceptions that offered a moral incentive for scientific elites to intervene in the ways of life of those deemed primitive.

May Issue of History of Psychology: Temperament, Psychical Research, and More

The May 2018 issue of History of Psychology is now online. Full titles, authors, and abstracts below.

“Temperamental workers: Psychology, business, and the Humm-Wadsworth Temperament Scale in interwar America,” by Kira Lussier. Abstract:

This article traces the history of a popular interwar psychological test, the Humm-Wadsworth Temperament Scale (HWTS), from its development in the early 1930s to its adoption by corporate personnel departments. In popular articles, trade magazines, and academic journals, industrial psychologist Doncaster Humm and personnel manager Guy Wadsworth trumpeted their scale as a scientific measure of temperament that could ensure efficient hiring practices and harmonious labor relations by screening out “problem employees” and screening for temperamentally “normal” workers. This article demonstrates how concerns about the epistemological and scientific credibility of the HWTS were intimately entangled with concerns about its value to business at every step in the test’s development. The HWTS sought to measure the emotional and social dimensions of an individual’s personality so as to assess their suitability for work. The practice of temperament testing conjured a vision of the subject whose emotional and social disposition was foundational to their own capacity to find employment, and whose capacity to appropriately express, but regulate, their emotions was foundational to corporate order. The history of the HWTS offers an instructive case of how psychological tests embed social hierarchies, political claims, and economic ideals within their very theoretical and methodological foundations. Although the HWTS itself may have faded from use, the test directly inspired creators of subsequent popular personality tests, such as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

“Pierre Janet and the enchanted boundary of psychical research,” by Renaud Evrard, Erika Annabelle Pratte, and Etzel Cardeña. Abstract: Continue reading May Issue of History of Psychology: Temperament, Psychical Research, and More

Call for Papers! Living Well: Histories of Emotions, Wellness & Human Flourishing

AHP readers may be interested in a just released call for papers for a special issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences:

CFP: Living Well: Histories of Emotions, Wellness & Human Flourishing
A special issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences
Submission deadline: November 1, 2018

Organized by the Forum for History of Human Science in honor of historian John C. Burnham (1929-2017), this special issue will bring together historical studies that analyze how the social and behavioral sciences have attended to the meanings and conditions of living well and human flourishing. We are interested in accounts that consider what these sciences, as well as popular works that draw on them, have said about living well, in its spiritual, psychological, cultural, social, economic, and/or political dimensions.

We welcome article-length submissions that explore the development, implementation, and critique of social and behavioral science research and theoretical frameworks in this area. In addition, we are interested in studies that consider the uptake of such work in the broader society, at the level of ideas, social practices, popular culture, and/or public policy. We welcome manuscripts that engage with the topics, geographical areas, and theoretical approaches that Burnham used himself. But we are equally interested in manuscripts that advance other lines of analysis.

Possible topics of historical investigation include:

– self-help and other advice literature
– humanistic psychology, positive psychology, and happiness studies
– work on mindfulness and resilience
– studies of the emotions
– research from behavioral economics
– social justice movements’ use of the behavioral sciences to challenge the conditions and inequalities impeding human flourishing at the levels of the individual, group, and/or society
– social and behavioral scientific studies of “bad habits” and strategies for overcoming them
– critiques of scholarly work and popular accounts of living well, happiness, and/or positive thinking
– the biopolitics of living well
-the relationship between popular and expert views of how to live well and flourish
– the sponsorship of studies on well-being and the use of such work by communities, groups, private organizations, philanthropy, business, and government.

Send manuscript submissions of approximately 10,000, including notes and references, by November 1, 2018 to guest editors Mark Solovey (mark.solovey@utoronto.ca) and Debbie Weinstein (debbie_weinstein@brown.edu). The guest editors also welcome preliminary inquiries about the appropriateness of particular subject matters and lines of analysis. All submissions should follow the format outlined in the journal’s Author Guidelines. Submissions selected by the guest editors will be peer-reviewed per the standard procedures of the journal.