Tag Archives: Behaviorism

Romano-Lax’s Behave: The (Fictionalized) Story of Rosalie Rayner Watson

Way back in the Spring of 2013 we brought you news that author Andromeda Romano-Lax was working on a fictionalized account of the life of psychologist Rosalie Rayner Watson. That book, now titled Behave, has just been published by SoHo Press. A trailer for the book is featured above and a recent Kirkus review of Behave can be found here.

The book is described on the publishers website:

“The mother begins to destroy the child the moment it’s born,” wrote the founder of behaviorist psychology, John B. Watson, whose 1928 parenting guide was revered as the child-rearing bible. For their dangerous and “mawkish” impulses to kiss and hug their child, “most mothers should be indicted for psychological murder.” Behave is the story of Rosalie Rayner, Watson’s ambitious young wife and the mother of two of his children.

In 1920, when she graduated from Vassar College, Rayner was ready to make her mark on the world. Intelligent, beautiful, and unflappable, she won a coveted research position at Johns Hopkins assisting the charismatic celebrity psychologist John B. Watson. Together, Watson and Rayner conducted controversial experiments on hundreds of babies to prove behaviorist principles. They also embarked on a scandalous affair that cost them both their jobs — and recast the sparkling young Rosalie Rayner, scientist and thinker, as Mrs. John Watson, wife and conflicted, maligned mother, just another “woman behind a great man.”

With Behave, Andromeda Romano-Lax offers a provocative fictional biography of Rosalie Rayner Watson, a woman whose work influenced generations of Americans, and whose legacy has been lost in the shadow of her husband’s. In turns moving and horrifying, Behave is a richly nuanced and disturbing novel about science, progress, love, marriage, motherhood, and what all those things cost a passionate, promising young woman.

Special (31 Article!) Issue of Universitas Psychologica

A special issue of the journal Universitas Psychologica dedicated to the history of psychology is now freely available online. The issue includes 31 contributions which explore the history of psychology in a variety of international locales. Articles in this issue include ones on the work of Christian Wolff, the history of psychoanalysis in Chile, a comparative study of behaviorism in Argentina and Brazil, and much, much more.

While most articles are in Spanish a number are written in English. For more on this issue see this post by the Blog da Rede Iberoamericana de Pesquisadores em História da Psicologia. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

Happy reading!

“La Idea de Psicología Racional en la Metafísica Alemana (1720) de Christian Wolff,” Saulo Araujo and Thiago Constâncio Ribeiro Pereira. The abstract reads,

Christian Wolff (1679-1754) fue una figura central en la Ilustración europea del siglo XVIII. Al mismo tiempo, tuvo una importancia particular para el desarrollo histórico de la psicología, pues fue el primero en darle a ésta su significación moderna. Sin embargo, la historiografía tradicional de la psicología no le ha dado el debido reconocimiento. El objetivo de este artículo consiste en presentar los elementos centrales de su psicología racional en su Metafísica Alemana (1720) y mostrar su importancia para los debates psicológicos posteriores. Con ello, esperamos contribuir a la divulgación de un aspecto importante del desarrollo histórico de la psicología.

““MUJERES EXTRAVIADAS”: PSICOLOGÍA Y PROSTITUCIÓN EN LA ESPAÑA DE POSTGUERRA,” by Javier Bandrés, Eva Zubieta, and Rafael Llavona. The abstract reads,

La brutal depresión económica en que se sumió la España de postguerra empujó a muchas mujeres a recurrir a la prostitución como único medio de subsistencia. Las autoridades franquistas habían anulado el decreto abolicionista republicano por lo que el comercio sexual era tolerado. Sin embargo, el auge incontrolado de la prostitución hizo reaccionar a las autoridades y se establecieron cárceles especiales para prostitutas. Se analizan los trabajos de postguerra sobre la psicología de la prostitución de tres personajes situados en instituciones claves de la época: Antonio Vallejo Nágera (Universidad de Madrid, Consejo Nacional de Sanidad), Eduardo Martínez Martínez (Clínica Psiquiátrica Penitenciaria de Mujeres) y Francisco J. Echalecu y Canino (Patronato de Protección a la Mujer). Los textos de estos tres autores y sus investigaciones sobre prostitutas españolas les llevan a caracterizarlas como afectas innatas de psicopatía sexual, deficiencia mental y amoralidad. Este diagnóstico les lleva a justificar su internamiento para reforma en las cárceles especiales para prostitutas. Los trabajos de Vallejo, Martínez y Echalecu fueron instrumentales para justificar el establecimiento de las cárceles especiales. El marco conceptual de la biopsicología de inspiración alemana se puso al servicio del proyecto social de la biopolítica franquista.

“Scientifics exchanges between France and Brazil in the history of psychology – the role of Georges Dumas (1908-1946),” by Carolina S. Bandeira de Melo and Regina de Freitas Campos. The abstract reads, Continue reading Special (31 Article!) Issue of Universitas Psychologica

Who Was Little Albert? The Story Continues…

Little Albert and a rat.
Little Albert and a rat. Source: http://hopkins. typepad.com/guest/images/2007/11/03/tanya8.jpg

For generations, psychology students have been asking the question, “Whatever happened to Little Albert?”, the baby who John B Watson and Rosalie Rayner conditioned to fear furry things back in 1919. Five years ago, it seemed that the question had finally been answered when Hall Beck of Appalachian State University in North Carolina and his colleagues published the results of some intensive archive-snooping. They declared that “Albert B.” (as the baby was called in the original report) had actually been Douglas Merritte, a child who died of hydrocephaly just a few years after the experiment. Now, however, two psychologists in Alberta are disputing that claim, and The Chronicle of Higher Education has just published an article on the matter. Continue reading Who Was Little Albert? The Story Continues…

Special Issue: Behaviorism at 100: The Legacies of Watson’s Behaviorist Manifesto

The Mexican Journal of Behavior Analysis (Revista mexicana de análisis de la conducta) has  published a special issue celebrating the centennial of John B. Watson’s behaviorist manifesto. The full issue is freely available in both Spanish and English. Guest guest edited by Kennon A. Lattal and Alexandra Rutherford, the issue includes articles by a number of prominent historians of psychology. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“John B. Watson’s Behaviorist Manifesto at 100,” by Kennon A. Lattal and Alexandra Rutherford. The abstract reads,

In this introduction to the special issue of the Mexican Journal of Behavior Analysis on Behaviorism at 100: The Legacies of Watson’s Behaviorist Manifesto, we consider Watson’s seminal 1913 Psychological Review article “Psychology as the behaviorist views it” as a contribution in its own time, and reflect on the significance of the article in both contemporary psychology and contemporary behaviorism. Despite its lukewarm reception at the time of its publication and the mixed reviews of its impact even today, it remains one of the touchstone articles in psychology and an undeniably important text in understanding the evolution of 20th century American psychology. The different contributors to the special issue consider Watson’s article in the context of a number of subdisciplines of psychology.

“John B. Watson’s Early Work and Comparative Psychology,” by Donald A. Dewsbury. The abstract reads, Continue reading Special Issue: Behaviorism at 100: The Legacies of Watson’s Behaviorist Manifesto

More HOP Graphic Novels: It’s Harry Harlow’s Turn

Cover of Wire Mothers

AHP has previously posted on the relationship between graphic novels and the history of psychology – in terms of psychology’s interactions with the reading of comics, the lie detector-Wonder Woman link, and the ways its history has periodically found its way into the stories themselves (see Freud’s appearance as a superhero and the Kitty Genovese connection to the Watchmen character Rorschach). Thanks to the newly downloaded comiXology app on my iPad, I have another recommendation for AHP readers: “Wire Mothers: Harry Harlow and the Science of Love“.

Created in 2007 by Jim Ottaviani and Dylan Meconis for G.T. Labs, the novel – as the title makes clear – focuses on the work of psychologist Harry Harlow. It was released as a part of G.T. Labs’ “science of the unscientific” series (bear with me for a bit here) as a companion to “Levitation: Physics and Psychology in the Service of Deception” (which I’ve only just started to read so perhaps more in a future post?).

Although “Wire Mothers” highlights several aspects of Harlow’s career and alludes to the work of Pavlov, Watson, and Skinner, the bulk of the story focuses on Harlow’s best known work with infant rhesus monkeys beginning in the late 1950s. These studies included questions related to the fear responses of these animals (see some original footage), the effects of contact comfort (see The Nature of Love), and the effects of social isolation (see Total Isolation in Monkeys). The authors also seem to capture a fair characterization of Harlow himself.

Overall, the project is well done – ex. the wire and cloth “mothers” will be easily recognizable to Historians of Psychology – and even concludes with a two page list of recommended primary and secondary source readings. This could be a great way to introduce our students to the topic – or perhaps just a fun read this summer when you want to goof off but still feel productive.