Fairbairn, Winnicott, and Guntrip on the social significance of schizoids

AHP readers will be interested in a new piece in History of the Human Sciences: “Fairbairn, Winnicott, and Guntrip on the social significance of schizoids,” by Gal Gerson. Abstract:

The mid-century object relations approach saw the category of schizoids as crucial to its own formation. Rooted in a developmental phase where the perception of the mother as a whole and real person had not yet been secured, the schizoid constitution impeded relationships and forced schizoids to communicate through a compliant persona while the kernel self remained isolated. Fairbairn, Winnicott, and Guntrip thought that schizoid features underlay many other pathologies that earlier, Freudian psychoanalysis had misidentified. To correct this, a move to the attachment-oriented theory was necessary, triggering the development of the object relations perspective as a distinct and independent approach. While playing this role in the development of object relations theory, the schizoid category also attracted a note of disapproval. Fairbairn, Winnicott, and Guntrip described schizoids as harmful to society through their everyday actions and through the ideas they propagated. This judgemental nuance highlights an aspect of the alliance between object relations theory and the contemporary welfare state ideology. Culminating in the Beveridge plan, that ideology framed citizenship as comprehensive engagement with society on multiple levels. Citizenship was not just a political activity but also a personally rewarding one, as it allowed expression to each person’s wishes in ways that benefited others. Inability to engage and be rewarded in this way marked obstinate classes and produced rigid and conservative ideologies that opposed the welfare state. Object relations theory described the schizoid condition along similar lines and castigated its consequences for similar reasons.

History of Emotional Experiences beyond the History of Emotions Framework

A new piece in History of Psychology on the history of emotions may interest AHP readers: “Emotional experiences,” by Javier Moscoso. Abstract:

This article pleads for a history of emotional experiences that allows for the understanding of complex emotional phenomena in the past that are not easily accommodated within the history of emotions framework. Following the avenues opened by the anthropology of experience, the article considers different ways in which the history of emotional experiences should allow transhistorical and cross-cultural comparisons.

Beyond narratives: German critical psychology revisited

AHP readers will be interested in a new piece in History of Psychology: “Beyond narratives: German critical psychology revisited,” by Wolfgang Schönpflug. Abstract:

In 2 articles, this journal has presented critical psychology (CP), which emerged in Germany during the 1980s, as an exemplary paradigm that committed itself to both scientific and political objectives and became a victim of Cold-War confrontations. The presentation was mainly based on narratives and writings circulating within CP itself. I have reexamined the case using archival materials and supplementary literary sources. This allows for a more complete and balanced account of postwar psychology and the contemporary political situation in general. In particular, I argue against Teo’s hypothesis that CP was an indigenous paradigm that had to assert itself against American psychology. Marxism, constructivism, and subject orientation are analyzed as principal components of CP, and a claim for sole representation is identified as a predominant reason for the isolation of CP within German psychology. Finally, I briefly report on CP following the collapse of Soviet communism and comment on the present historicization of CP.

Did Little Albert actually acquire a conditioned fear of furry animals? What the film evidence tells us

AHP readers may be interested in the latest article in the ongoing (and seemingly never-ending) Little Albert saga, now in History of Psychology : “Did Little Albert actually acquire a conditioned fear of furry animals? What the film evidence tells us,” by Russell A. Powell and Rodney M. Schmaltz. Abstract:

Watson and Rayner’s (1920) attempt to condition a fear of furry animals and objects in an 11-month-old infant is one of the most widely cited studies in psychology. Known as the Little Albert study, it is typically presented as evidence for the role of classical conditioning in fear development. Some critics, however, have noted deficiencies in the study that suggest that little or no fear conditioning actually occurred. These criticisms were primarily based on the published reports of the study. In this article, we present a detailed analysis of Watson’s (1923) film record of the study to determine the extent to which it provides evidence of conditioning. Our findings concur with the view that Watson and Rayner’s conditioning procedure was largely ineffective, and that the relatively weak signs of distress that Albert does display in the film can be readily accounted for by such factors as sensitization and maturational influences. We suggest that the tendency for viewers to perceive the film as a valid demonstration of fear conditioning is likely the result of expectancy effects as well as, in some cases, an ongoing mistrust of behaviorism as dehumanizing and manipulative. Our analysis also revealed certain anomalies in the film which indicate that Watson engaged in some “literary license” when editing it, most likely with a view toward using the film mainly as a promotional device to attract financial support for his research program.

The relational mind: In between history, psychology and anthropology

A new piece in History of Psychology may interest AHP readers: “The relational mind: In between history, psychology and anthropology,” by Youval Rotman. Abstract:

The article examines the new psychological language that developed in late antiquity to formulate a personal relationship with the one God. This language used the Greek term for the soul, the psuch? (Latin anima), and defined it as the relational faculty of the human mind. The perception of the human mind as relational became instrumental to formulate the experience of conversion, that is, a mental and emotional process of self-transformation, psychological in the modern sense of the term. The article analyzes the psychological perspective of the ancient authors who developed the idea of the relational faculty to connect to God by using modern theories that perceive the human mind as relationally configured. In order to analyze ancient and modern writers together, the article develops a new methodological approach to move in between ancient and modern writings without falling into the pit of anachronism. This approach enables the author to define a common theoretical field for historical analysis and psychoanalysis, and to use the historical evidence in order to evaluate and challenge the modern psychoanalytic prism. To bridge between the two disciplines, the present article uses anthropology. Thanks to its psychological aspect, anthropology of religion validates the two-way relationship between history and psychoanalysis. Anthropological field research on the beliefs in tree spirits conducted by the author in an animistic environment has revealed a relational psychological language in the core of the animistic belief, and provides the missing link to connect history and psychoanalysis.

The Snake Pit: Mixing Marx with Freud in Hollywood

A new article forthcoming in History of Psychology will interest AHP readers: “The Snake Pit: Mixing Marx with Freud in Hollywood,” by Ben Harris. Abstract:

In 1948, the motion picture The Snake Pit was released to popular and critical acclaim. Directed by Anatole Litvak, the film told of the mental illness and recovery of one patient, who survived overcrowding and understaffing and was treated by a neo-Freudian psychiatrist known as Dr. Kik. It was based on a novel of the same title by Mary Jane Ward, who had been treated at Rockland State Hospital in New York. Building upon exposés of horrid hospital conditions in the press, The Snake Pit helped motivate reforms in the treatment of the mentally ill. Via unpublished correspondence and drafts of the film’s screenplay, this article explores the populist and antifascist themes in The Snake Pit, which came from the director, screenwriters, and the politics of the immediate post-WWII era. It also describes the case history of Mary Jane Ward and her treatment by Gerard Chrzanowski, the real “Dr. Kik.”

Nudge Economics as Libertarian Paternalism

AHP readers may be interested in a new open access piece in Theory, Culture & Society: “Nudge Economics as Libertarian Paternalism,” by Nicholas Gane. Abstract:

Given the growing prominence of nudge economics both within and beyond the academy, it is a timely moment to reassess the philosophical and political arguments that sit at its core, and in particular what Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein call libertarian paternalism. The first half of this paper provides a detailed account of the main features of this form of paternalism, before moving, in the second half, to a critical evaluation of the nudge agenda that questions, among other things, the gendered basis of paternalistic governance; the idea of ‘nudging for good’; and the political values that underpin nudge. The final section of this paper builds on the existing work of John McMahon by asking whether libertarian paternalism should be understood as a new, hybrid form of neoliberalism, or, rather, as a post-neoliberal form of governance that has emerged out of, and flourished in, the post-crisis situation.

Information: A Historical Companion

AHP readers may be interested in a new edited book: Information: A Historical Companion.
Edited by Ann Blair, Paul Duguid, Anja-Silvia Goeing, and Anthony Grafton the book is described as “a landmark history that traces the creation, management, and sharing of information through six centuries.”

Thanks to modern technological advances, we now enjoy seemingly unlimited access to information. Yet how did information become so central to our everyday lives, and how did its processing and storage make our data-driven era possible? This volume is the first to consider these questions in comprehensive detail, tracing the global emergence of information practices, technologies, and more, from the premodern era to the present. With entries spanning archivists to algorithms and scribes to surveilling, this is the ultimate reference on how information has shaped and been shaped by societies.

Written by an international team of experts, the book’s inspired and original long- and short-form contributions reconstruct the rise of human approaches to creating, managing, and sharing facts and knowledge. Thirteen full-length chapters discuss the role of information in pivotal epochs and regions, with chief emphasis on Europe and North America, but also substantive treatment of other parts of the world as well as current global interconnections. More than 100 alphabetical entries follow, focusing on specific tools, methods, and concepts—from ancient coins to the office memo, and censorship to plagiarism. The result is a wide-ranging, deeply immersive collection that will appeal to anyone drawn to the story behind our modern mania for an informed existence.

Tells the story of information’s rise from 1450 through to today
Covers a range of eras and regions, including the medieval Islamic world, late imperial East Asia, early modern and modern Europe, and modern North America
Includes 100 concise articles on wide-ranging topics:
Concepts: data, intellectual property, privacy
Formats and genres: books, databases, maps, newspapers, scrolls and rolls, social media
People: archivists, diplomats and spies, readers, secretaries, teachers
Practices: censorship, forecasting, learning, political reporting, translating
Processes: digitization, quantification, storage and search
Systems: bureaucracy, platforms, telecommunications
Technologies: cameras, computers, lithography
Provides an informative glossary, suggested further reading (a short bibliography accompanies each entry), and a detailed index
Written by an international team of notable contributors, including Jeremy Adelman, Lorraine Daston, Devin Fitzgerald, John-Paul Ghobrial, Lisa Gitelman, Earle Havens, Randolph C. Head, Niv Horesh, Sarah Igo, Richard R. John, Lauren Kassell, Pamela Long, Erin McGuirl, David McKitterick, Elias Muhanna, Thomas S. Mullaney, Carla Nappi, Craig Robertson, Daniel Rosenberg, Neil Safier, Haun Saussy, Will Slauter, Jacob Soll, Heidi Tworek, Siva Vaidhyanathan, Alexandra Walsham, and many more.

On some antecedents of behavioural economics

AHP readers may be interested in a new article now available from History of the Human Sciences: “On some antecedents of behavioural economics,” by Kristian Bondo Hansen and Thomas Presskorn-Thygesen. Abstract:

Since its inception in the late 1970s, behavioural economics has gone from being an outlier to a widely recognized yet still contested subset of the economic sciences. One of the basic arguments in behavioural economics is that a more realistic psychology ought to inform economic theories. While the history of behavioural economics is often portrayed and articulated as spanning no more than a few decades, the practice of utilizing ideas from psychology to rethink theories of economics is over a century old. In the first three decades of the 20th century, several mostly American economists made efforts to refine fundamental economic assumptions by introducing ideas from psychology into economic thinking. In an echo of contemporary discussions in behavioural economics, the ambition of these psychology-keen economists was to strengthen the empirical accuracy of the fundamental assumptions of economic theory. In this article, we trace, examine, and discuss arguments for and against complementing economic theorizing with insights from psychology, as found in economic literature published between 1900 and 1930. The historical analysis sheds light on issues and challenges associated with the endeavour to improve one discipline’s theories by introducing ideas from another, and we argue that these are issues and challenges that behavioural economists continue to face today.

Decolonizing madness? Transcultural psychiatry, international order and birth of a ‘global psyche’ in the aftermath of the Second World War

AHP readers may be interested in a new open access article in the Journal of Global History: “Decolonizing madness? Transcultural psychiatry, international order and birth of a ‘global psyche’ in the aftermath of the Second World War” by Ana Anti?. Abstract:

This article offers a transnational account of the historical origins and development of the concept of ‘global psyche’ and transcultural psychiatry. It argues that the concept of universal, global psyche emerged in the aftermath of the Second World War and during decolonization, when West European psychiatry strove to leave behind its colonial legacies and lay the foundation for a more inclusive conversation between Western and non-Western mental health communities. In the second half of the twentieth century, leading ‘psy’ professionals across the globe set about identifying and defining the universal psychological mechanisms supposedly shared among all cultures (and ‘civilizations’). The article explores this far-reaching psychiatric, social and cultural search for a new definition of ‘common humanity’, relating it to the social and political history of decolonization, and to the post-war reconstruction and search for stable peace. It provides a transnational account of a series of interlinked developments and trends around the world in order to arrive at a global history of the decolonization of mental health science.