Tag Archives: Mesmerism

Merton, Mesmerists, and More in JHBS 2010

The first issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences for 2010 has just been released online. The winter 2010 issue of JHBS includes four all new articles which explore topics as diverse as mesmerism, race relations, and the golden section, as well as eight book reviews.

In “Merton as Harvard Sociologist: Engagment, Thematic Continuities, and Institutional Linkages” Lawrence Nichols, Professor of Sociology at West Virginia University, examines the importance of the years sociologist Robert Merton (pictured at right) spent at Harvard University. Early intersections of mesmerism and Asian mind-body practices are explored in “The Mesmerists Inquire about “Oriental Mind Powers”: West Meets East in the Search for the Universal Trance,” by David Schmit, of the Department of Psychology at St. Catherine’s University, while in “The Individual and “The General Situation”: The Tension Barometer and the Race Problem at the University of Chicago, 1947-1954″ Leah Gordon, of the School of Education at Stanford University, investigates the triumph of individualistic conceptions of the cause of racial oppression in the post-war United States. In the final article, John Benjafield, Professor Emeritus at Brock University, explores the use of the concept of the golden section in early American psychology. Continue reading Merton, Mesmerists, and More in JHBS 2010

The First Use of Ether for Anesthesia

Mind Hacks has put me on to an article in the Boston Globe about the day that ether was first used to produce anesthesia for the purposes of doing surgery. It begins:

The date of the first operation under anesthetic, Oct. 16, 1846, ranks among the most iconic in the history of medicine. It was the moment when Boston, and indeed the United States, first emerged as a world-class center of medical innovation. The room at the heart of Massachusetts General Hospital where the operation took place has been known ever since as the Ether Dome, and the word “anesthesia” itself was coined by the Boston physician and poet Oliver Wendell Holmes to denote the strange new state of suspended consciousness that the city’s physicians had witnessed. The news from Boston swept around the world, and it was recognized within weeks as a moment that had changed medicine forever. Continue reading The First Use of Ether for Anesthesia