Tag Archives: neurology

Framing women’s scientific labour at the Burden Neurological Institute through archival photography

‘Triple exposure shows Lady Janet Shipton flinching from light’, Life, ‘Electronic Patterns of the Brain’ / ‘The Love Machine Tests Compatibility’, 9 April 1956. BURD/A/06/113, BNI

Over on the Science Museum Group Journal site, David Saunders (a PhD student at the Centre for the History of the Emotions, Queen Mary University of London), has written a good read entitled Wired-up in white organdie: framing women’s scientific labour at the Burden Neurological Institute

Using untapped photographic collections in the Burden Neurological Institute’s (BNI) papers, Saunders work addresses a lacuna in the historiography of science that has overlooked the prominent roles women have played in the history of the BNI. 

The work does not, however, treat the photos as “providing an unproblematic ‘window’ onto the experiences of these scientific workers, this article contends that the photographs in question ‘frame’ women’s labour in particular ways so as to devalue, obscure and erase their contributions to the BNI’s much-lauded achievements.” 

Rather, the article “considers three such frames: the objectification of women as the subjects, rather than the practitioners, of neuroscientific research; the elision of women’s scientific, domestic, and familial roles; and the visual equation of women’s labour with that of the machine.”

Read the entirety here!

New History of Psychiatry: DSM, Phrenology, War Psychiatry, & More

The December 2016 issue of History of Psychiatry is now online. Articles in this issue explore psychiatric classification in the DSM, Italian colonial psychiatry, the phrenological studies of skulls, and more. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Italian colonial psychiatry: Outlines of a discipline, and practical achievements in Libya and the Horn of Africa,” by Marianna Scarfone. The abstract reads,

This article describes the establishment of psychiatry in Italy’s former colonies during the period 1906–43, in terms of the clinical and institutional mechanisms, the underlying theories and the main individuals involved. ‘Colonial psychiatry’ (variously called ‘ethnographic’, ‘comparative’ or ‘racial’ psychiatry) – the object of which was both to care for mentally afflicted colonists and local people and also to understand and make sense of their pathologies – received most attention in colonial Libya, starting in the first months of the Italian occupation (1911–12) and then taking institutional form in the 1930s; in the colonies of what was known as ‘Italian East Africa’, on the other hand, less was said about psychiatric care, and practical achievements were correspondingly limited.

“Natural kinds, psychiatric classification and the history of the DSM,” by Jonathan Y Tsou. The abstract reads, Continue reading New History of Psychiatry: DSM, Phrenology, War Psychiatry, & More

Freud’s Visit to New England

Sigmund Freud x 4Today’s New York Times has an article by the psychoanalyst Leon Hoffman about Sigmund Freud’s only visit to the United States, which started a century ago today.  As is well known, Freud was invited by Granville Stanley Hall to give a series of lectures at the celebrations for the 20th anniversary of Clark University in Worcester, MA, of which Hall was President. Freud’s lectures, given in German, were translated and became the book The Origin and Development of Psychoanalysis, which has been in print ever since. Hoffman, however, focuses on Freud’s relationship with the Boston neurologist, James Jackson Putnam, who invited Freud to his retreat in the Adirondacks, where Putnam became a convert to the Austrian’s system of psychotherapy. Two years later Putnam would become the first president of the American Psychoanalytic Association.

Knowing that all was not well with Hoffman’s fawning treatment of the encounter, I forwarded the article to the email lists of the Society for the History of Psychology (APA, Div 26) and of Cheiron to see what their reactions might be. Historian of psychology Ben Harris (U. New Hampshire) wrote back in short order. I think his words are better than any summary I might provide.

The errors in Leon Hoffman’s account of psychotherapy in America before Freud provide a mini tutorial in how one’s professional affiliations can bias one’s historical views. Continue reading Freud’s Visit to New England