Congress of the Spanish Society for the History of Psychology in Sevilla

The Spanish Society for the History of Psychology is happy to announce its XXXIII Symposium, to be held in Sevilla from April 15 to April 17, 2020. The Symposium will be hosted by the Department of Experimental Psychology at the Universidad de Sevilla.

Proposals for oral presentations and posters, as well as panels or monographic sessions on any aspect of the history of the human, behavioral and social sciences will be welcome. Particularly encouraged this year are submissions dealing with the following issues:

  • History of Psychology in Spain
  • History of Psychology in Ibero-America
  • Women in the History of Psychology
  • History and Systems of Psychology
  • Historiography of Psychology
  • Miscellanea

Keynote lectures

Opening Conference

Image of José Luis Pinillos. A multi-sided approach to his figure and work. Dr. Enrique Lafuente (UNED, Madrid)

SEPEX Conference

The Birth of Psychotherapy from the Turmoil of American Religion. Dr. Christopher D. Green (York University, Toronto, Canada)


Proposals for oral presentations should contain a 700-word abstract (Spanish and English), including a short bibliography. They should be informative enough to enable the Scientific Committee to do its evaluative task properly.

Proposals for panels (monographic sessions) should contain a 500 word rationale (Spanish and English), including a short bibliography, plus a brief abstract of some 300 words (Spanish and English) for each of the contributions submitted. Panels should consist of 3 to 5 contributions.

Proposals for posters should contain a 300-word abstract (Spanish and English), including a short bibliography.

Travel stipends

A limited number of travel stipends will be provided by the SEHP to students contributing to the Symposium and duly applying for them. Registrations should be sent to by February 1, 2020. Registration requirements can be found on the SEHP’s blog.


Those students wishing to submit their research papers to the SEHP’s “Juan Huarte de San Juan” and/or “Antonio Caparrós” awards are kindly requested to send their manuscripts to the SEHP’s mail address: by February 1, 2020. Requirements can be consulted at the SEHP’s website.

Symposium venue

All scientific sessions will be held at the Faculty of Psychology, Assembly Hall, in Ramón and Cajal Campus, Camilo José Cela St. (District of Nervión), Sevilla.

Organizing Committee

Natividad Sánchez, Gabriel Ruiz, Esperanza Quintero, Estrella Díaz, Luis Gonzalo de la Casa, Juan Carlos López y Juan Pedro Vargas (Departamento de Psicología Experimental. Universidad de Sevilla).

Scientific Committee

Alexandra Rutherford (York University), Annette Mülberger (Universidad de Barcelona), Arthur Arruda Leal (Universidad Federal de Río de Janeiro), Manuel Sánchez de Miguel (Universidad del País Vasco), Noemí Pizarroso (UNED, Madrid) y Natividad Sánchez (Universidad de Sevilla).

Winter Issue of Revista de Historia de la Psicología

AHP readers will be interested to know that the Winter Issue of Revista de Historia de la Psicología is now online. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below:

“Comparative Psychology and the Objectification of Mind: Thorndike’s Cats in the Puzzle-Box.” David O. Clark (Article written in English). Abstract:

Animal Intelligence: An Experimental Study of the Associative Process in Animals by Edward L. Thorndike contributed significantly to psychology in the 20th century. In textbooks, the experiment is attributed to Thorndike without qualification. The design looks simple and produces conviction; by trial and error, cats learn to escape from a puzzle-box. But closer reading reveals multiple controls, innovation in statistical methods, and strong theoretical interpretation. This sophistication raises questions: Did a young graduate student do this complicated experiment? Why was this expensive study funded? Is the convention now myth? This paper delves into the complex relationship between James’s functionalist project, Cattell’s mental testing and the comparative psychology of Morgan and Romanes, to conclude that Thorndike’s experiment was the means to provide functionalism with a foundational experiment and consecrate the learning curve as the method of this scientific perspective.

“From Philantrophy and Household Arts to the Scholarly Education of Psychologists and Educators: A Brief History of the University of Columbia’s Teachers College (1881-1930).” Catriel Fierro (Article written in English).

During the professionalization of American psychology towards the end of the 19th century, the pedagogical field, with its institutions, educational departments and teacher’s schools, represented one of the main ‘niches’ or focal points of study and disciplinary application for emerging graduates in the new science. The present study constitutes a historical analysis of Teachers College, an academic and professional institution linked to Columbia University, a pioneer in the education and training of American educators with international projections, between 1881 and 1930. Based on the use of various primary sources and archival documents not analyzed in previous works, a critical contextualization of the emergence of the College, and a narrative of its institutional, scientific and curricular development of the institution are offered. It shows the transit of Teachers College from a nonprofit philanthropic organization to an academic and professional training college of educators and psychologists formally associated with the University of Columbia.

“¿Quién teme al magnetismo animal? Mesmerismo, hipnosis y su fortuna crítica en Portugal en el siglo XIX [Who is afraid of Animal Magnetism? Mesmerism, Hypnosis and their critical fate in 19th century Portugal].” Bruno Barreiros (Article written in Spanish). Abstract:

This article analyses the circulation of theories and practices related to animal magnetism and hypnotism in Portugal throughout the nineteenth century. Initially, special attention was paid to the pioneering experiences and theorisations of an almost unknown author, born in the then Portuguese India, José Custódio de Faria (1756-1819), examining his doctrinal and conceptual opposition to both Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815) and the fluidist and spiritualist currents that subdivided the mesmerism of the time. In a second moment, we will analyze the reception and circulation of these doctrines in Portugal, measuring the impact of Faria’s work in Portugal. We will highlight the authors involved in the process, the intellectual debates and the institutional positions that were raised then. Finally, it is intended to demonstrate that magnetism and hypnotism, often used as synonyms in the documentation, seem to have generated discomfort in scientific and university associations, having often become objects of deliberate silencing, with direct reflection in the historiography itself.

“Contribución a la historia del surgimiento de dispositivos alternativos al asilo en el tratamiento de las psicosis: el caso del hospital de día del HZGA Manuel Belgrano [Contribution to the history of the emergence of alternatives to asylum in the treatment of psychosis: the case of the day hospital of the HZGA Manuel Belgrano].” Jesuán Agrazar y Julieta De Battista (Article written in Spanish). Abstract:

This article addresses the conditions of possibility for the emergence of the Day Hospital of the “General Manuel Belgrano” Hospital in Greater Buenos Aires in 1985 (Argentina). Although day hospitals have a long history at international level and some previous experiences in the country, local studies around this problem are scarce. That is why this work, from a historical-critical perspective, tracks the facility in its origins and in different geographical scenarios, addresses some key experiences in the province and the referents of the time, to approximate the framework that gave rise to the experience of Belgrano. The importance of this case is that it was a beacon institution during the time it was open, as it became a reference for clinical care and professional training. It was also a source of inspiration for the creation of other facilities also dedicated to the psychoanalytic treatment of psychosis in Argentine.

The uses of trauma in experiment: Traumatic stress and the history of experimental neurosis, c. 1925–1975

A recent piece in the September 2019 issue of Science in Context will be of interest to AHP readers. Ulrich Koch explores “The uses of trauma in experiment: Traumatic stress and the history of experimental neurosis, c. 1925–1975.” Abstract:

The article retraces the shifting conceptualizations of psychological trauma in experimental psychopathological research in the middle decades of the twentieth century in the United States. Among researchers studying so-called experimental neuroses in animal laboratories, trauma was an often-invoked category used to denote the clash of conflicting forces believed to lead to neurotic suffering. Experimental psychologists, however, soon grew skeptical of the traumatogenic model and ultimately came to reject neurosis as a disease entity. Both theoretical differences and practical circumstances, such as the technical challenge of stabilizing neurotic symptoms in rats, led to this demise. Yet, despite their reservations, experimental psychologists continued to employ traumatic stimuli to produce psychopathological syndromes. In the 1960s, a new understanding of trauma evolved, which emphasized the loss of control experienced by traumatized animal subjects. These shifting ideas about trauma, I argue, reflect both varying experimental cultures, epistemic norms as well as changing societal concerns.

December 2019 issue of History of Psychiatry

The December 2019 issue of History of Psychiatry is now online. Titles, authors, and abstracts follow below:

“Women neuropsychiatrists on Wagner-Jauregg’s staff in Vienna at the time of the Nobel award: ordeal and fortitude,” Lazaros C Triarhou. Abstract:

This article profiles the scientific lives of six women physicians on the staff of the Clinic of Neurology and Psychiatry at the University of Vienna in 1927, the year when its Director, Julius Wagner-Jauregg, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. They were all of Jewish descent and had to leave Austria in the 1930s to escape from the National Socialist regime. With a solid background in brain science and mental disorders, Alexandra Adler, Edith Klemperer, Annie Reich, Lydia Sicher and Edith Vincze pursued academic careers in the USA, while Fanny Halpern spent 18 years in Shanghai, where she laid the foundations of modern Chinese psychiatry, before going to Canada. At the dawn of their medical careers, they were among the first women to practise neurology and psychiatry, both in Austria and overseas.

“The invisible woman: Susan Carnegie and Montrose Lunatic Asylum,” by Sharlene D Walbaum. Abstract:

In 1779, Susan Carnegie (1743–1821) persuaded the Town Council of Montrose, Scotland, to build a safe haven for those suffering from both poverty and mental illness. As a result, Montrose Lunatic Asylum became not only the first public asylum in Scotland, but among the first in the English-speaking world. Carnegie – born 175 years before women could vote – championed a humane and science-based response to mental illness. Montrose Asylum practised moral treatment a decade before Tuke and Pinel. As a champion of the new mental science, her enduring influence resulted in the hiring of the young W.A.F. Browne. Her story enriches the current wave of scholarship on Scottish psychiatry in particular, and on women in psychiatry in general.

“Humane treatment versus means of control: coercive measures in Norwegian high-security psychiatry, 1895–1978,” by Magne Brekke Rabben, Øyvind Thomassen. Abstract:

This article analyses the use of coercive measures in two national institutions for high-security psychiatry in Norway – Kriminalasylet (Criminal Asylum) and Reitgjerdet – during the period 1895–1978. Historical study of coercion in psychiatry is a fruitful approach to new insight into the moral and ethical considerations within the institutions. We approach the topic through a qualitative study of patient case files and ward reports from the institutions’ archives, as well as a comprehensive quantification of the coercive measures used. The data show shifting considerations of humane treatment and changes in the respect for human dignity in the institutions’ practices. They also show that technological developments, such as the introduction of new psychopharmaceuticals, did not necessarily lead to higher standards of treatment.

“Neurasthenia, psy sciences and the ‘great leap forward’ in Maoist China,” by Wen-Ji Wang. Abstract:

The present study looks into the much-neglected history of neurasthenia in Maoist China in relation to the development of psy sciences. It begins with an examination of the various factors that transformed neurasthenia into a major health issue from the late 1950s to mid-1960s. It then investigates a distinctive culture of therapeutic experiment of neurasthenia during this period, with emphasis on the ways in which psy scientists and medical practitioners manoeuvred in a highly politicized environment. The study concludes with a discussion of the legacy of these neurasthenia studies – in particular, the experiment with the famous ‘speedy and synthetic therapy’ – and of the implications the present study may have for future historical study of psychiatry and science.

“‘Am I mad?’: the Windham case and Victorian resistance to psychiatry,” by Dan Degerman. Abstract:

This article revisits the notorious trial of William Windham, a wealthy young man accused of lunacy. The trial in 1861–2 saw the country’s foremost experts on psychological medicine very publicly debate the concepts, symptoms and diagnosis of insanity. I begin by surveying the trial and the testimonies of medical experts. Their disparate assessments of Windham evoked heated reactions in the press and Parliament; these reactions are the focus of the second section. I then proceed to examine criticism of psychiatry in the newspapers more generally in the 1860s, outlining the political resistance to psychiatry and the responses of some leading psychiatrists. In conclusion, I consider what this says about the politics of medicalization at the time.

“Rape of the lock: note on nineteenth-century hair fetishists,” by Diederik F Janssen. Abstract:

The ostensibly bizarre crime of braid-cutting invited occasional alienist inferences from the late 1850s onwards, until it entered mid-1880s police profiles and forensic-psychiatric taxonomies as a corollary of perversion, specifically sadism and fetishism. Cases were rare, but were reported as late as the mid-1930s and enduringly cited as encompassing a staple variety of fetishism. This note briefly reconstructs entries in German, French and English forensic psychiatry, sexual psychopathology and psychoanalysis.

“Madness, Medicine and Miracle in Twelfth-Century England,” by Claire Trenery. Abstract:

This monograph provides a fresh perspective on how madness was defined and diagnosed as a condition of the mind in the Middle Ages and what effects it was thought to have on sufferers. Records of miracles that were believed to have been performed by saints reveal details of illnesses and injuries that afflicted medieval people. In the twelfth century, such records became increasingly medicalized and naturalized as the monks who recorded them gained access to Greek and Arabic medical material, newly translated into Latin. Nonetheless, by exploring nuances and patterns across the cults of five English saints, this book shows that hagiographical representations of madness were shaped as much by the individual circumstances of their recording as they were by new medical and theological standards.

Psychiatry and Its Discontents

A new book from Andrew Scull may interest AHP readers. Psychiatry and Its Discontents is described by the publisher:

Written by one of the world’s most distinguished historians of psychiatry, Psychiatry and Its Discontents provides a wide-ranging and critical perspective on the profession that dominates the treatment of mental illness. Andrew Scull traces the rise of the field, the midcentury hegemony of psychoanalytic methods, and the paradigm’s decline with the ascendance of biological and pharmaceutical approaches to mental illness. The book’s historical sweep is broad, ranging from the age of the asylum to the rise of psychopharmacology and the dubious triumphs of “community care.” The essays in Psychiatry and Its Discontents provide a vivid and compelling portrait of the recurring crises of legitimacy experienced by “mad-doctors,” as psychiatrists were once called, and illustrates the impact of psychiatry’s ideas and interventions on the lives of those afflicted with mental illness.