The May 2017 issue of History of Psychology is now online. Articles in this issue explore neurohistory, the influence of Titchener’s Oxford years on his thought, and gender and psychoanalysis in 1940s Britain. The issue also features a special section devoted to “Debating the New History of Psychology.” Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.
“Historiography, affect, and the neurosciences,” by Larry S. McGrath. Abstract:
Recent historiography has put to rest debates over whether to address the neurosciences. The question is how? In this article, I stage a dialogue between neurohistory and the history of the emotions. My primary goal is to survey these two clusters and clarify their conceptual commitments. Both center on the role of affect in embodied subjectivity; but their accounts widely diverge. Whereas neurohistorians tend to treat affects as automatic bodily processes, historians of the emotions generally emphasize that affects are meaningful and volitional activities. This divergence entails contrasting understandings of selfhood, embodiment, and historical change. More importantly, I argue, it reflects a broader realm of disputes within the neurosciences. The divisions among methodologies and commitments testify to the importance of historians’ selection of evidence as well as the critical perspectives they can bring to scientific debates. The neurosciences do not offer readymade theories. Secondarily, I take stock of the shared limitations of neurohistory and the history of the emotions. Both conceptualize the biological bases of affection as a universal ground for historical inquiry. By reexamining this transhistorical approach to neuroscientific evidence, I suggest that historiography might widen the horizon of interdisciplinary scholarship beyond the present options.
The February 2017 issue of History of the Human Sciences is now online and includes a number of articles that may be of interest to AHP’s readers. Articles in this issue tackle: the relationship between Sigmund Freud and Chilean physiologist Alejandro Lipschütz, information overload in postwar America, Frédéric LePlay and scientific observation, the Susan Isaacs’ interwar work on progressive education and psychanalysis, and the patient-analyst relationship in psychoanalysis and telepathy-like experiences. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.
“Sigmund Freud and Alejandro Lipschütz: Psychoanalysis and biology between Europe and Chile,” by Silvana Vetö and Marcelo Sánchez. The abstract reads,
This article deals with the relationship between the creator of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, and the Latvian-born Chilean professor of physiology – and endocrinologist and anthropologist – Alejandro (or Alexander) Lipschütz. Up till now, the historiography of psychoanalysis in Chile has ignored the existence of this relationship, that is to say, the fact that there exists an interesting exchange of correspondence as well as references to Lipschütz in some important works published by Freud and in Freud’s correspondence with the Hungarian psychoanalyst Sándor Ferenczi. There are also references to works on psychoanalysis carried out by Lipschütz in Chile. The Freud–Lipschütz relationship allows us to examine two interesting topics in contemporary historiographical approaches to psychoanalysis. First, it permits us to reflect on the connections that Freud and Ferenczi sought to establish between psychoanalysis and biology (endocrinology in particular) as a strategy to address criticism of the scientific foundations of psychoanalysis and, therefore, to help legitimize psychoanalysis in the field of science. Second, the relationship between Freud, working in a culturally influential city such as Vienna, and Lipschütz, working in a ‘peripheral’ country such as Chile, paves the way to reflect on the consequences of a history of psychoanalysis written from the perspective of the ‘margins’. This is a history that focuses not on regions where early industrialization and modernization processes, along with an important academic and scientific tradition, help explain the interest in and reception of psychoanalysis, but on regions where different sets of conditions have to be examined to explain appropriation and dissemination processes.
The Spring 2016 issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences is now online. Articles in this issue explore the work of V. M. Bekhterev, patient experiences of “subconscious conflict” in prewar America, the history of the Rorschach test in Britain, and the mid-twentieth century relationship between the Carnegie Corporation and the Social Science Research Council. Full titles, authors and abstracts follow below.
“V. M. BEKHTEREV IN RUSSIAN CHILD SCIENCE, 1900S–1920S: “OBJECTIVE PSYCHOLOGY”/“REFLEXOLOGY” AS A SCIENTIFIC MOVEMENT,” by ANDY BYFORD. The abstract reads,
In the early 20th century the child population became a major focus of scientific, professional and public interest. This led to the crystallization of a dynamic field of child science, encompassing developmental and educational psychology, child psychiatry and special education, school hygiene and mental testing, juvenile criminology and the anthropology of childhood. This article discusses the role played in child science by the eminent Russian neurologist and psychiatrist Vladimir Mikhailovich Bekhterev. The latter’s name is associated with a distinctive program for transforming the human sciences in general and psychology in particular that he in the 1900s labelled “objective psychology” and from the 1910s renamed “reflexology.” The article examines the equivocal place that Bekhterev’s “objective psychology” and “reflexology” occupied in Russian/Soviet child science in the first three decades of the 20th century. While Bekhterev’s prominence in this field is beyond doubt, analysis shows that “objective psychology” and “reflexology” had much less success in mobilizing support within it than certain other movements in this arena (for example, “experimental pedagogy” in the pre-revolutionary era); it also found it difficult to compete with the variety of rival programs that arose within Soviet “pedology” during the 1920s. However, this article also demonstrates that the study of child development played a pivotal role in Bekhterev’s program for the transformation of the human sciences: it was especially important to his efforts to ground in empirical phenomena and in concrete research practices a new ontology of the psychological, which, the article argues, underpinned “objective psychology”/“reflexology” as a transformative scientific movement.
Despite the easily recognizable nature of the Rorschach ink blot test very little is known about the history of the test in Britain. We attend to the oft-ignored history of the Rorschach test in Britain and compare it to its history in the US. Prior to the Second World War, Rorschach testing in Britain had attracted advocates and critiques. Afterward, the British Rorschach Forum, a network with a high proportion of women, developed around the Tavistock Institute in London and The Rorschach Newsletter. In 1968, the International Rorschach Congress was held in London but soon after the group became less exclusive, and fell into decline. A comparative account of the Rorschach in Britain demonstrates how different national institutions invested in the ‘projective hypothesis’ according to the influence of psychoanalysis, the adoption of a nationalized health system, and the social positioning of ‘others’ throughout the twentieth century. In comparing and contrasting the history of the Rorschach in Britain and the US, we decentralize and particularize the history of North American Psychology.
Despite its critics, Linstrum shows how psychology mobilized to take part in Britain’s counter-insurgency campaigns in Kenya and Malaya. Colonial administrators borrowed tools from psychology to conduct interrogations and suppress dissent. The colonial state attempted to cast doubt on the psychological maturity of the colonized, articulating Third World nationalism itself as a kind of pathology. Britain’s representatives aimed to actively reshape thoughts and feelings in their quest to win “hearts and minds.”
Linstrum’s book challenges rigid definitions of scientists in the service of empire, complicating earlier narratives which portrayed psychologists as powerful supporters of colonial discourse. Psychology’s intended role was to aid the technocratic administration of a waning empire. While attempting to make the colonized knowable and predictable, British psychologists unintentionally exposed the dysfunctions inherent in European society, challenging the notion of an irrational, inferior “other.”