The January 2016 issue of The Psychologist, the flagship magazine of the British Psychological Society, includes a piece on the history of stereotypes surrounding only children. In “Screwed up, little despots?” Alice Violett notes
Negative perceptions of only children can be traced back to at least 1850 in Britain, and writers who identified themselves as psychologists expressed concerns about only children as early as 1867. Tellingly, the unprecedented concern with only children coincided with an increase in only children in middle-class families, which caused alarm among eugenicists. The increasing popularity of Darwin’s ideas about the importance of environment (as opposed to inborn ‘goodness’ or ‘badness’) in determining human behaviour, may also have had an impact. The only child’s problems were believed to originate in the home, where they supposedly experienced too much adult company and not enough contact with other children. Not unexpectedly, one of the results of the former was said to be the over-indulgence and over-valuation of only children.
The full piece can be read online here.
The September 2013 issue of History of Psychiatry is now online. Included in this issue are articles on the Weberian influence on Karl Jaspers’ (left) work, psychiatric analyses of Bavarian royalty, Swedish child psychiatry, and more. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.
“The theoretical root of Karl Jaspers’ General Psychopathology. Part 2: The influence of Max Weber,” by Tsutomu Kumazaki. The abstract reads,
The present study explores and compares Jaspers’ methodology of psychopathology with Weber’s methodology of sociology. In his works, Weber incorporated the arguments of many other researchers into his own methodology. Jaspers respected Weber as a mentor and presented arguments that were very similar to Weber’s. Both Weber and Jaspers began from empathic understanding, but at the same time aimed for a rational and ideal-typical conceptualization. In addition, their methodologies were similar with respect to their detailed terminology. Such similarities cannot be seen with any other scholars. This suggests that Weber may have played an integral role as a mediator between his contemporary scholars and Jaspers. Thus, Weber may have had the most significant influence on Jaspers.
“The Bavarian royal drama of 1886 and the misuse of psychiatry: New results,” by Heinz Häfner and Felix Sommer. The abstract reads,
The deaths of King Ludwig II of Bavaria and Bernhard von Gudden, Professor of Psychiatry in Munich, in Lake Starnberg near Munich on 13 June 1886 have often been mentioned in the psychiatric-historical literature and in fiction. Continue reading New Hist. of Psychiatry: Karl Jaspers, Bavarian Royals, & More
The BBC’s Radio 4 program Mind Changers, hosted by Claudia Hammond (above), has returned with several all knew episodes dedicated to the history of twentieth century psychology. Now available to listen to online are three episodes that explore the work of James Pennebaker, Abraham Maslow, and Anna Freud, respectively. Full descriptions of these episodes follow below.
James Pennebaker and Expressive Writing
Claudia Hammond returns with the history of psychology series examining the work of the people who have changed our understanding of the human mind. This week she meets the American social psychologist, James Pennebaker, to discuss his work on expressive writing.
Pennebaker’s ground-breaking experiment was published in 1986; he showed that simply writing about one’s emotions can significantly improve one’s health. His work revolutionised how emotions are viewed within psychology. Continue reading New Mind Changers Episodes!
In 1947, Kenneth and Mamie Clark published as study in which children were shown two dolls, one black and one white, and asked a number of questions about them: who was good and bad, who was pretty and ugly, who the children themselves most wanted to be like. The results were that both white and even African-American children preferred the white doll on most dimensions. The study, and others like it, were used as evidence in the Brown v. Board Supreme Court case of 1954 that stuck down segregated schooling in the US.
The study was replicated in 2006 by Kiri Davis, a high school student form New York. Davis found essentially the same result as the Clarks, and presented her study in her award-winning video, “A Girl Like Me.”
Now CNN has commissioned a replication by the University of Chicago child psychologist, Margaret Beale Spencer. Her “pilot study” (133 participants were used) found many of the same prejudices among white children, but seemed to show that many African-American children now have a more positive attitude toward children of their own race. You can read about the CNN study and see some video clips of the study here.
Tip o’ the hat to the Society for the History of Psychology Facebook site, which alerted me to this item.
Breaking News: Two years ago, in August 2007, AHP reported the finding that “infants don’t learn language well from instructional videos.” This has since led to legal claims against Walt Disney Corporation and its Baby Einstein DVD product.
Now Disney is offering to refund all purchases made in US, going back five years. This provides an opportunity to look back at our original coverage, which examined the issue from the perspective of parents’ hopes to help their children become as gifted as possible. This also included a detailed bibliography of histories of giftedness. What has happened since?
Most notably, in terms of linking this story to the typical interests of AHP readers, Kathleen Ann Scott (2007) completed a dissertation comparing print and video as educational media for teaching the development of historical thinking. Although her efforts were not directed at infants, the resulting study can be conceived as setting some limits on how much the scepticism regarding the value of instructional videos can be generalized. She concludes: “readers manifested more and deeper historical understandings in their responses than did their counterparts in the movie group.” And she suggests this is as a result of the greater investment of attentional effort in reading as compared to watching television, which seems consistent with the criticisms of the instructional DVDs.
Several other studies have also been published in the past two years, Continue reading Update: Baby Einstein DVDs to be refunded
Sidney Bijou, the psychologist who developed behaviorist principles into a therapeutic system for children with a range of disorders, died on June 11 at the age of 100. There is an extensive obituary in the New York Times. Bijou worked with radical behaviorist B. F. Skinner in the 1940s, and he came to believe that reinforcing desirable behavior with praise or a hug or just attention would help children who were not responsive to traditional punishments or therapies. Bad behavior was ignored or, if particularly dispurtive, resulted in a short “time out,” which has since become a culturally pervasive technique. Bijou started using his new approach with defiant children, but as the system grew in popularity, it came to be a standard system for helping autistic and attention-deficit children as well, under the name of applied behavior analaysis, or ABA.
American psychiatry and government drug oversight bodies came under attack again this week when a panel of federal drug experts concluded that “powerful antipsychotic medicines are being used far too cavalierly in children, and federal drug regulators must do more to warn doctors of their substantial risks.”
The New York Times article about the panel’s report noted that:
More than 389,000 children and teenagers were treated last year with Risperdal, one of five popular medicines known as atypical antipsychotics. Of those patients, 240,000 were 12 or younger, according to data presented to the committee. In many cases, the drug was prescribed to treat attention deficit disorders. Continue reading Anti-psychotic Drugs, Kids, Gov’t (and Money)