Tag Archives: Isis

New Isis: Psychopathy in Germany & Helmholtz’s Musicology!

The June 2015 issue of Isis, the official journal of the History of Science Society, is now online. Included in the issue are two articles of special interest to AHP readers: Greg Eghigian (right) documents the history of psychopathy in Germany, while Julia Kursell, in the issue’s Focus Section on “The History of Humanities and the History of Science,” describes Hermann von Helmholtz’s work on musicology. Full details, including abstracts, follow below.

“A Drifting Concept for an Unruly Menace: A History of Psychopathy in Germany,” by Greg Eghigian. The abstract reads,

The term “psychopath” has enjoyed wide currency both in popular culture and among specialists in forensic psychiatry. Historians, however, have generally neglected the subject. This essay examines the history of psychopathy in the country that first coined the term, developed the concept, and debated its treatment: Germany. While the notion can be traced to nineteenth-century psychiatric ideas about abnormal, yet not completely pathological, character traits, the figure of the psychopath emerged out of distinctly twentieth-century preoccupations and institutions. The vagueness and plasticity of the diagnosis of psychopathy proved to be one of the keys to its success, as it was embraced and employed by clinicians, researchers, and the mass media, despite attempts by some to curb its use. Within the span of a few decades, the image of the psychopath became one of a perpetual troublemaker, an individual who could not be managed within any institutional setting. By midcentury, psychopaths were no longer seen as simply nosological curiosities; rather, they were spatial problems, individuals whose defiance of institutional routine and attempts at social redemption stood in for an attributed mental status. The history of psychopathy therefore reveals how public dangers and risks can be shaped and defined by institutional limitations.

“A Third Note: Helmholtz, Palestrina, and the Early History of Musicology,” by Julia Kursell. The abstract reads, Continue reading New Isis: Psychopathy in Germany & Helmholtz’s Musicology!

The Story of Aaron Beck & Cognitive Therapy in Isis

The December 2014 issue of Isis, the official journal of the History of Science Society, features on article on the work of psychiatrist Aaron Beck (above). Adopting a biographical approach, the article describes how Beck came to articulate his cognitive therapy as a new mode of psychotherapy. Full title, author, and abstract follow below.

“The “Splendid Isolation” of Aaron T. Beck,” by Rachael I. Rosner. The abstract reads,

Aaron T. Beck’s Cognitive Therapy (CT) is a school of psychotherapy, conceived in the 1960s, that is celebrated by many clinicians for having provided the scientific antidote to all that was wrong with psychoanalysis. This essay situates the origins of CT in the crisis of legitimacy in psychiatry in the 1960s and 1970s, when, among many charges, psycho-analysts had to face the accusation that analysis was not adequately scientific. Beck actually began his career as both a psychoanalyst and an experimentalist. Contrary to common triumphalist accounts, Beck created CT to be a neutral space, not a partisan one, in turbulent times. Other notable psychoanalysts also sought compromise, rather than partisanship, to bridge the transition to biomedical science. The biographical approach of this essay to the origins of Beck’s CT both situates him historiographically and articulates the complex experiences of a generation of psychoanalysts otherwise opaque to standard narratives.

New Isis: Organizational Revolution and the Human Sciences, Neurohistory, & More

The March 2014 issue of Isis, the official journal of the History of Science Society, is now online. Included in this issue are a number of items of interest to AHP readers, including a special Focus section on Neurohistory. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“The Organizational Revolution and the Human Sciences,” by Hunter Heyck. The abstract reads,

This essay argues that a new way of understanding science and nature emerged and flourished in the human sciences in America between roughly 1920 and 1970. This new outlook was characterized by the prefiguration of all subjects of study as systems defined by their structures, not their components. Further, the essay argues that the rise of this new outlook was closely linked to the Organizational Revolution in American society, which provided new sets of problems, new patrons, and new control technologies as “tools to think with” for researchers in this period. As examples of this new way of thinking and of the multidirectional traffic connecting control technologies, the Organizational Revolution, and the social sciences, the essay looks at Chester Barnard and his book The Functions of the Executive, at Warren Weaver and his essays on communication theory and on science and “organized complexity,” and at the works of J. C. R. Licklider and Robert Taylor on human/computer symbiosis through computer-based communications.

Focus: Neurohistory and History of Science

“Neuroscience, Neurohistory, and the History of Science: A Tale of Two Brain Images,” by Steve Fuller. The abstract reads,

This essay introduces a Focus section on “Neurohistory and History of Science” by distinguishing images of the brain as governor and as transducer: the former treat the brain as the executive control center of the body, the latter as an interface between the organism and reality at large. Most of the consternation expressed in the symposium about the advent of neurohistory derives from the brain-as-governor conception, which is rooted in a “biologistic” understanding of humanity that in recent years has become bound up in various nefarious “neoliberal” political and economic agendas. However, given the sophisticated attitude that neurohistory’s leading champion, Daniel Smail, displays toward evolutionary theory’s potential impact on historical practice, he is perhaps better understood as part of the brain-as-transducer tradition. This tradition, largely suppressed in current representations of neuroscience, has a strong theological provenance, ultimately concerned with our becoming attuned to the divine frequency, not least by extending the powers of the human nervous system through technology. This essay sympathetically explores the implications of this perspective for historical practice.

“Neurohistory in Action: Hoarding and the Human Past,” by Daniel Lord Smail. The abstract reads, Continue reading New Isis: Organizational Revolution and the Human Sciences, Neurohistory, & More

History of the Human Sciences in Isis

The most recent issue of Isis, the journal of the History of Science Society, includes two articles on the history of the human sciences. Leila Zenderland explores the work of Max Weinreich (above) on culture and personality at the Yiddish Scientific Institute, while in the issue’s Focus section, Global Currents in National Histories of Science: The “Global Turn” and the History of Science in Latin America, Julia Rodriguez looks at the historiography of the human sciences in Latin America. Full titles, authors, and abstracts – along with human science related book reviews – follow below.

“Social Science as a “Weapon of the Weak”: Max Weinreich, the Yiddish Scientific Institute, and the Study of Culture, Personality, and Prejudice,” by Leila Zenderland. The abstract reads,

This essay examines Max Weinreich’s efforts to turn “culture and personality studies” into social and psychological weapons that could be used to combat the effects of prejudice. It focuses on language choice, audience, and purpose in the production of such knowledge by and for a Yiddish-speaking Eastern European population. During the 1930s, Weinreich led the Yiddish Scientific Institute, a research organization headquartered in Poland but affiliated with neither a state nor a university. He was profoundly influenced by a year spent at Yale and a trip through the American South visiting segregated African-American universities. In his 1935 study Der veg tsu undzer yugnt [The Way to Our Youth], Weinreich blended European, Soviet, American, and African-American research traditions to examine the effects of prejudice on child and adolescent development; he also considered the ways members of “despised minorities” could use such science. In 1940 he fled to New York and in 1946 published Hitler’s Professors, the first book analyzing the uses of the human sciences to advance Nazi state-sponsored antisemitism. In examining Weinreich’s Yiddish and English writings, this essay explores the broader relationship of social science not only to state power but also to statelessness and powerlessness.

“Beyond Prejudice and Pride: The Human Sciences in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Latin America,” by Julia Rodriguez. The abstract reads,

Grappling with problematics of status and hierarchy, recent literature on the history of the human sciences in Latin America has gone through three overlapping phases. First, the scholarship has reflected a dialogue between Latin American scientists and their European colleagues, characterized by the “center/periphery” model of scientific diffusion. Next, scholars drew on postcolonial theory to undermine the power of the “center” and to recover the role of local agents, including both elites and subalterns. In the wake of numerous studies embracing both models, the way has been cleared to look at multiple dimensions simultaneously. Histories of the human sciences in the complex multicultural societies of Latin America provide an unusually direct path to integration. Moreover, this dynamic and multilayered approach has the potential to address ambivalences about authority and power that have characterized previous analyses of the production and application of knowledge about the human condition.

Book Reviews
Peter Lamont. Extraordinary Beliefs: A Historical Approach to a Psychological Problem. Review by: Michael Pettit.

Nicolas Langlitz. Neuropsychedelia: The Revival of Hallucinogen Research since the Decade of the Brain. Review by: Chris Elcock

Melissa M. Littlefield; Jenell M. Johnson, eds. The Neuroscientific Turn: Transdisciplinarity in the Age of the Brain. Review by: Stephen Jacyna

Paul Wouters, Anne Beaulieu, Andrea Scharnhorst, & Sally Wyatt. (Eds.). Virtual Knowledge: Experimenting in the Humanities and the Social Sciences. Review by: Joshua W. Clegg.

Bedwetting & Cold War Social Science in Isis

The June 2010 issue of Isis, the official journal of the History of Science Society, has just been released online. Included in this issue are a number of articles of interest to historians of psychology, many of them featured as part of a Focus section dedicated to New Perspectives on Science and the Cold War.

In the first section of the issue, Deborah Blythe Doroshow explores how classical conditioning principles were used by psychologists in the 1930s to create a bedwetting alarm. The Focus section includes three articles on social science during the Cold War. These tackle the nature of social science during the Cold Ward, mathematical models of rationality that developed during this period, and the science fiction-esque goals of social science. All the articles featured in the Focus section are currently available online for free. Titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“An Alarming Solution: Bedwetting, Medicine, and Behavioral Conditioning in Mid-Twentieth-Century America,” By Deborah Blythe Doroshow, Program in the History of Science and Medicine, Yale University. The abstract reads:

This article explores the history of the bedwetting alarm, invented in 1938 by two psychologists to cure enuresis, or bedwetting, using the principles of classical conditioning. Infused with the optimism of behaviorism, the bedwetting alarm unexpectedly proved difficult to implement in practice, bearing a multitude of unanticipated complications that hindered its widespread acceptance. Continue reading Bedwetting & Cold War Social Science in Isis