Tag Archives: film

New JHBS: William McDougall, the Chicago Committee on the Behavioral Sciences, & More

William McDougall, 1938The Fall 2016 issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences is now online. Articles in this issue explore the work done by psychologist William McDougall (right) during his time in the United States, the Chicago Committee on the Behavioral Sciences during the mid-twentieth century, the development of the National Anthropological Film Center, and more. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“WILLIAM MCDOUGALL, AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGIST: A RECONSIDERATION OF NATURE-NURTURE DEBATES IN THE INTERWAR UNITED STATES,” by ANNE C. ROSE. The abstract reads,

The British-born psychologist William McDougall (1871–1938) spent more than half of his academic career in the United States, holding successive positions after 1920 at Harvard and Duke universities. Scholarly studies uniformly characterize McDougall’s relationship with his New World colleagues as contentious: in the standard view, McDougall’s theory of innate drives clashed with the Americans’ experimentation into learned habits. This essay argues instead that rising American curiosity about inborn appetites—an interest rooted in earlier pragmatic philosophy and empirically investigated by interwar scientists—explains McDougall’s migration to the United States and his growing success there. A review of McDougall’s intellectual and professional ties, evolving outside public controversy, highlights persistent American attention to natural agency and complicates arguments voiced by contemporaries in favor of nurture.

“WALKING THE TIGHTROPE: THE COMMITTEE ON THE BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES AND ACADEMIC CULTURES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO, 1949–1955,” PHILIPPE FONTAINE. The abstract reads,

The Chicago Committee on the Behavioral Sciences occupies a special place in the eponymous movement. Involving prominent figures such as psychologist James G. Miller and neurophysiologist Ralph W. Gerard, this committee embodied the common belief among behavioral scientists that a cross-disciplinary approach using natural science methods was key to understanding major issues facing mid-century American society. This interdivisional committee fell under the jurisdiction of both the natural and social sciences. As such, its flagship project, an institute of mental sciences, had to face the reluctance both of natural scientists who thought it inadequately scientific and of social scientists who regard its efforts as too narrow in scope and too biological in orientation. Though it failed in its main objective to create an institute, the committee was a formidable instrument of intellectual stimulation and socialization for its members. It provided them with an opportunity to familiarize themselves with each other’s scientific backgrounds, practices and jargons, realize the significance of academic cultural differences and learn ways to accommodate them.

“DOCUMENTING HUMAN NATURE: E. RICHARD SORENSON AND THE NATIONAL ANTHROPOLOGICAL FILM CENTER, 1965–1980,” by ADRIANNA LINK. The abstract reads,

This article analyzes the development of the National Anthropological Film Center as an outgrowth of the Smithsonian’s efforts to promote a multidisciplinary program in “urgent anthropology” during the 1960s and 1970s. It considers how film came to be seen as an ideal tool for the documentation and preservation of a wide range of human data applicable to both the behavioral and life sciences. In doing so, it argues that the intellectual and institutional climate facilitated by the Smithsonian’s museum structure during this period contributed to the Center’s initial establishment as well its eventual decline. Additionally, this piece speaks to the continued relevance of ethnographic film archives for future scientific investigations within and beyond the human sciences.

“ON THE PRAGMATICS OF SOCIAL THEORY: THE CASE OF ELIAS’S “ON THE PROCESS OF CIVILIZATION”,” by FILIPE CARREIRA DA SILVA and MARTA BUCHOLC. The abstract reads,

This paper proposes a new approach to the study of sociological classics. This approach is pragmatic in character. It draws upon the social pragmatism of G. H. Mead and the sociology of texts of D. F. McKenzie. Our object of study is Norbert Elias’s On the Process of Civilization. The pragmatic genealogy of this book reveals the importance of taking materiality seriously. By documenting the successive entanglements between human agency and nonhuman factors, we discuss the origins of the book in the 1930s, how it was forgotten for 30 years, and how in the mid-1970s it became a sociological classic. We explain canonization as a matter of fusion between book’s material form and its content, in the context of the paperback revolution of the 1960s, the events of May 1968, and the demise of Parsons’ structural functionalism, and how this provided Elias with an opportunity to advance his model of sociology.

FHHS Sponsored Session: “Human Science Fictionalized: A Novel, a Visual Narrative and an Indie Film”

This November’s History of Science Society (HSS) meeting features a session sponsored by HSS’s special interest group the Forum for History of Human Science (FHHS). The HSS meeting runs November 3rd through 6th in Atlanta, Georgia. The session “Human Science Fictionalized: A Novel, a Visual Narrative and an Indie Film,” organized by Ben Harris (right), will take place on the morning of Sunday November 6th. Full details follow below.

Sunday Nov. 6, 9-11 am
Session 87. Human Science Fictionalized: A Novel, a Visual Narrative and an Indie Film
Chair(s): John Carson, University of Michigan
Commentator(s): Nadine Weidman, Harvard University
Organizer(s): Ben Harris, University of New Hampshire

A Novelist’s Perspective, Andromeda Romano-Lax, Independent Scholar
An Artist’s Perspective, Matteo Farinella, Independent Scholar and Columbia University
Putting Stanley Milgram on Film, Gina Perry, University of Melbourne

Summary:

In studies of science popularization the focus is usually on non-fiction. But what about fictionalized portraits of science? This session looks at three attempts to bring the human and neuro- sciences to the public through fiction. Among the questions explored are: how is the fact/fiction boundary negotiated? how do a “fact writer” and a “fiction writer” think about popularization differently? What are the different relationships that they have to their sources, or that they envision with their audiences? Andromeda Romano-Lax is a successful novelist whose most recent work, Behave (2016), dramatizes the life and career of Rosalie Rayner, wife and former student of behaviorist John Watson. Matteo Farinella is an illustrator and artist with a doctorate in neuroscience. His visual narrative, Neurocomic (2013, co-authored with Hana Roz), portrays the history of neuroscience through a young man’s a voyage of discovery in a land of giant neurons and encounters with famous scientists. Gina Perry is an Australian journalist who used her investigative and narrative skills to write a Behind the Shock Machine (2013), a history of Stanley Milgram’s obedience studies. Now a doctoral student in psychology, she will review Experimenter, Michael Almereyda’s 2016 film about Milgram and his work. Our commentator is Nadine Weidman, a historian of science at Harvard University known for her work on public controversy and popularization in the twentieth century human sciences. Our Chair is John Carson, a historian at the University of Michigan and Director of Undergraduate Studies for its Program in Science, Technology, and Society.

Come back tomorrow for a roundup of all the history of human science related programming at HSS!

Special Issue on Cinema and Neuroscience

The first issue of 2016 of the Journal of the History of the Neurosciences is a special issue devoted to “Cinema and Neuroscience: Development and Application of Cinematography in the Field of the Neurosciences.” Full article titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

Introduction: “Cinema and Neuroscience: Development and Application of Cinematography in the Field of the Neurosciences,” by Geneviève Aubert. No abstract.

“Capturing Motion and Depth Before Cinematography,” by Nicholas J. Wade. The abstract reads,

Visual representations of biological states have traditionally faced two problems: they lacked motion and depth. Attempts were made to supply these wants over many centuries, but the major advances were made in the early-nineteenth century. Motion was synthesized by sequences of slightly different images presented in rapid succession and depth was added by presenting slightly different images to each eye. Apparent motion and depth were combined some years later, but they tended to be applied separately. The major figures in this early period were Wheatstone, Plateau, Horner, Duboscq, Claudet, and Purkinje. Others later in the century, like Marey and Muybridge, were stimulated to extend the uses to which apparent motion and photography could be applied to examining body movements. These developments occurred before the birth of cinematography, and significant insights were derived from attempts to combine motion and depth.

“The Dercum-Muybridge Collaboration and the Study of Pathologic Gaits Using Sequential Photography,” by Douglas J. Lanska. The abstract reads, Continue reading Special Issue on Cinema and Neuroscience

Mediating Shell Shock: The 1918 Film ‘War Neuroses’ as Clinical Controversy

sgt-bissettBPS’ May volume of The Psychologist includes an insightful historical piece by Edgar Jones (out of the Institute for Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience at King’s College London). His article, Filming Trauma, assesses the influence and controversy in Britain surrounding the clinical research of Arthur Hurst on treatment of shell shock as a medical emergency within their military forces.

Jones identifies Hurst’s provocative footage of disordered movement as having lasting historical impact on our comprehension of how shell shock presented itself and was understood by contemporaries of the first World War; he then asserts the film was a non-representative and highly mediated rendition of the condition as experienced by the soldiers in that context. Jones goes on to elucidate the skeptical response of other psychiatric professionals to Hurst’s methods and claims to unprecedented and outstanding therapeutic efficacy, for which Hurst provided little explanation or followup.

An engaging read! Find it as pdf, or post.

J. of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences: LSD as Psychotherapy & Psychiatric Film

US President John F. Kennedy signs the Kefauver Harris Drug Amendments of 1962.

The April 2014 issue of Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences includes several items that may be of interest to AHP’s readers. Titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Efficacy and Enlightenment: LSD Psychotherapy and the Drug Amendments of 1962,” by Matthew Oram. The abstract reads,

The decline in therapeutic research with lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) in the United States over the course of the 1960s has commonly been attributed to the growing controversy surrounding its recreational use. However, research difficulties played an equal role in LSD psychotherapy’s demise, as they frustrated researchers’ efforts to clearly establish the efficacy of treatment. Once the Kefauver Harris Drug Amendments of 1962 introduced the requirement that proof of efficacy be established through controlled clinical trials before a drug could be approved to market, the value of clinical research became increasingly dependent on the scientific rigor of the trial’s design. LSD psychotherapy’s complex method of utilizing drug effects to catalyze a psychological treatment clashed with the controlled trial methodology on both theoretical and practical levels, making proof of efficacy difficult to obtain. Through a close examination of clinical trials performed after 1962, this article explores how the new emphasis on controlled clinical trials frustrated the progress of LSD psychotherapy research by focusing researchers’ attention on trial design to the detriment of their therapeutic method. This analysis provides a new perspective on the death of LSD psychotherapy and explores the implications of the Drug Amendments of 1962.

“Neuro Psychiatry 1943: The Role of Documentary Film in the Dissemination of Medical Knowledge and Promotion of the U.K. Psychiatric Profession,” by Edgar Jones. The abstract reads,

In 1943, Basil Wright produced a documentary film about the treatment of servicemen and civilians with psychological disorders at Mill Hill Emergency Medical Service Hospital. Funded by the Ministry of Information, Neuro Psychiatry was shot to convince influential clinicians and policy makers in North America that the British had developed expertise in the management of psychiatric casualties. By emphasizing novel and apparently effective interventions and excluding severe or intractable cases from the film, Wright encouraged an optimistic sense of achievement. Filmed at a time when victory was considered an eventual outcome, the picture presented a health service to which all had access without charge. Children and unemployed women, two groups excluded under the 1911 National Insurance Act, had been required to pay for healthcare in the prewar period and were shown receiving free treatment from the Emergency Medical Service. However, the therapeutic optimism presented in the film proved premature. Most U.K. battle casualties arose in the latter half of the conflict and follow-up studies failed to confirm the positive outcome statistics reported in the film. Aubrey Lewis, clinical director of the hospital, criticized research projects conducted at Mill Hill for a lack of rigor. The cinematographic skills of Wright and director Michael Hankinson, together with their reformist agenda, created a clinical presentation that emphasized achievements without acknowledging the limitations not only of the therapies offered by doctors but also the resources available to a nation at war.

“The Cost of War—Then and Now: Commentary on ‘Neuro Psychiatry 1943’,” by Heiner Fangerau. The abstract reads,

In his essay “Neuro Psychiatry 1943: The Role of Documentary Film in the Dissemination of Medical Knowledge and Promotion of the U.K. Psychiatric Profession” Edgar Jones provides a detailed case study of a single movie that was made under unusual wartime conditions. From this case, he builds a general analysis of the interpretation and portrayal of scientific expertise that shaped the production, distribution, and reception of this genre of documentary. The paper provides a fresh perspective for the historical analysis of film documentaries, while remaining highly topical and germane to present-day issues in medicine and health care.

The film that Jones studied was produced in a British hospital where war victims (mostly soldiers) were treated for war neuroses. The filmmakers documented the therapies employed and the apparently successful posttreatment reintroduction of patients into military service and civilian work. They hoped to convince informed audiences, especially those outside Britain in the United States and Canada, about the effectiveness of the British Health Care Service in …