Tag Archives: race

Twentieth Century American Psychiatry in BoHM

The winter issue of the Bulletin of the History of Medicine has just been released online. Included in this issue are two articles on the history of psychiatry in the twentieth century United States.

The first of these articles, by Laura D. Hirshbein, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan, investigates the diagnostic category of involutional melancholia. Ascribed to post-menopausal women with depressive symptoms and particular personality traits, this diagnosis was incorporated into the more general diagnosis of major depressive disorder in the latter half of the twentieth century. The social and medical circumstances surrounding involutional melancholia’s emergence and eventual disappearance are charted in Hirshbein’s article.

In the second of these articles, Dennis Doyle, of Mississippi State University, documents the existence of a Harlem psychiatric facility in the late 1940s and 1950s. The article looks at the Lafargue Clinic, named after the french Marxist Paul Lafargue (pictured at right), and documents the diagnostic decisions undertaken at this interracial clinic. Continue reading Twentieth Century American Psychiatry in BoHM

Early Wundt & Harlem Mental Health in JHMAS

The most recent issue of the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences contains two articles that will be of interest to historians of psychology.

“’A Fine New Child’: The Lafargue Mental Hygiene Clinic and Harlem’s African American Communities, 1946–1958″ by Dennis Doyle and “Physiological Optics, Cognition and Emotion: A Novel Look at the Early Work of Wilhelm Wundt” by Claudia Wassmann.  Abstracts for both are below.

“’A Fine New Child’: The Lafargue Mental Hygiene Clinic and Harlem’s African American Communities, 1946–1958″ by Dennis Doyle

Dennis DoyleIn 1946, the Lafargue Mental Hygiene Clinic, a small outpatient facility run by volunteers, opened in Central Harlem. Lafargue lasted for almost thirteen years, providing the underserved black Harlemites with what might be later termed community mental health care. This article explores what the clinic meant to the African Americans who created, supported, and made use of its community-based services. While white humanitarianism often played a large role in creating such institutions, this clinic would not have existed without the help and support of both Harlem’s black left and the increasingly activist African American church of the “long civil rights era.” Not only did St. Philip’s Church provide a physical home for the clinic, it also helped to integrate it into black Harlem, creating a patient community. Continue reading Early Wundt & Harlem Mental Health in JHMAS

Watson Apologizes, Retires Over Race Remarks

James WatsonLast week we ran the story of DNA co-discoverer and Nobel prize-winner James Watson making remarks to the effect that Africans are not as intelligent as Europeans. Later in the week he apologized for those remarks, saying that he could not himself believe that he had said the things he was quoted as saying. A day later he retired from his senior position at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York. Further details can be found here.

DNA Co-Discoverer in Race Row

James WatsonThis story is only tangentially related to the history of psychology, but it was so striking that I had to pass it on. According to a BBC story, James Watson, who is most famous for having co-discovered the DNA molecule with Francis Crick, has had a planned lecture canceled at the Science Museum in London because he has claimed that Africans are inherently less intelligent than Europeans. Specifically, in an interview published in the Sunday Times, he said that he is: Continue reading DNA Co-Discoverer in Race Row