Tag Archives: sex

Preparing girls for motherhood, c.1930-1970

Angela DavisIn a recent issue of History of Education, 37(5), Angela Davis examines the post-Depression debates regarding the proper behaviour of mothers and, more specifically, the preparation of young girls to take on that role.

This article investigates how girls were educated about sex, pregnancy and childbirth during the years 1930 to 1970. Based on the results of 92 oral-history interviews with Oxfordshire women, it explores how national debates surrounding sex education influenced what girls in Oxfordshire were taught. In addition, it examines how successful the women themselves thought this education had been in equipping them for maternity and whether they believed women could indeed be educated for motherhood.

The result is a fascinating look at the contexts in which many of the contemporary theories of mothering have emerged. (Related readings are provided below the fold.) Continue reading Preparing girls for motherhood, c.1930-1970

Sex & Propaganda in The Psychologist

The latest issue of the British Psychological Society’s flagship journal The Psychologist contains a fascinating article by Herbert A. Friedman on the use of sex in wartime propaganda during World War II. Often the strategy was to drop leaflets from the sky that contained pictures of nude women and/or that accused other men (allied soldiers or those who had evaded military service) of having their way with the soldiers’ girlfriends and wives “back home” while they were on the front fighting. Friedman argues that the strategy usually failed, the leaflets becoming favored keepsakes of the soldiers rather than lowering morale, as intended.

The full article can be found here on the new all-on-line edition of The Psychologist. (Congrats to BPS on this new venture!) Just “flip” to page 84 to find it.

Back in May, AHP posted an item about the website on which this article is based here.

Freud and the sexual drive before 1905

Sigmund FreudIn a recent article published in History of the Human Sciences, 21(3), Patricia Cotti traces the development of Freud’s “sexual drive.”

A close study of Freud’s use of the terms Trieb, Impuls, etc., allows an insight into Freud’s sources of inspiration, through which I interrogate the importance he gradually granted the concept of drive before 1905. Freud first tentatively introduced the notion of ‘sexual drive forces’, then developed the hypothesis of a ‘communication drive’. There was much hesitancy in his defining the notion of sexual drive. He eventually adopted a concept widely used by psychiatrists at the time, which played a part in the recurrence of an innate — then hereditary — theory in psychoanalysis.

This article is the latest in a series by Cotti, several of which have previously been published in Psychoanalysis and History (2004 and 2008).

History of Sexual Propaganda

Mind Hacks has alerted me to a fascinating webpage on the history of “Sex and Psychological Operations” in the military. The site was written by Herbert A. Friedman, a retired Sgt. Major in the US Army. It surveys a wide array of attempts to use sexually explicit text and images for propaganda purposes, usually directed at enemy soldiers, running from World War II up to the Vietnam war. Examples from a number of different countries are shown, including Germany, Japan, Britain, Italy, the USSR, Korea, Vietnam and the US.

The website is particularly notable for the large collection of rare illustrated ephemera on display.

When We Waged War on Comic Books

Adam West as Batman, with Burt WardThere is currently a great deal of fuss over the degree to which video games and the internet are damaging the minds of young people with images of sex and violence. In the 1970s, it was television that was widely feared to be warping our children’s psychological development. And before that, in the 1950s, comic books were thought to be the nefarious culprits. The pressure eventually became so great that comic book publishers took to censoring themselves (lest the government take to censoring or even banning them, as a number of states did).

The origin of the hysteria (to use the term of the day) was a book entitled Seduction of the Innocent by a psychoanalytic psychiatrist named Fredric Wertham. Continue reading When We Waged War on Comic Books

Sexology Before Havelock Ellis

Havelock EllisHavelock Ellis is often regarded as the virtual founder of the scholarly study of sex. The problem with “giants” of this sort, however, is that the tend to block out whatever is standing behind them. The matter of what stood behind Ellis is addressed in an article by Ivan Crozier (U. Edinburgh) titled, “Nineteenth-Century British Psychiatric Writing about Homosexuality before Havelock Ellis: The Missing Story,” published in the latest issue of the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences (2008, 63(1), 65-102). According to the abstract: Continue reading Sexology Before Havelock Ellis

Tracing the History of Syphilis

15syph1901.jpgIs Columbus responsible for bringing Syphilis to Europe?

According to an article that appeared in yesterday’s New York Times (“Genetic Study Bolsters Genetic Link to Syphilis“), a researcher team at Emory University believes they have found “the strongest evidence yet linking the first European explorers of the New World to the origin of sexually transmitted syphilis.”

The study was published in the online journal: Neglected Tropical Diseases (published by the Public Library of Science) this past Monday. In a summary of their methodology and principal findings, the authors write that:

Continue reading Tracing the History of Syphilis

The “Other Woman” of British Psychology

Elizabeth ValentineThe most recent issue of the The Psychologist, the flagship journal of the British Psychological Society, marked the launch of a new historical column, “Looking Back,” edited by Julie Perks of Staffordshire University.

The first of the new columns, by Elizabeth Valentine of Royal Holloway, University of London, focuses on the life and career of Nellie Carey, a student of Charles Spearman’s at University College London during the 1910s. In a series of articles in the British Journal of Psychology between 1914 and 1916 Carey explored aspects of color perception, mental imagery, school subjects, and intelligence. She abruptly withdrew from UCL in 1920 and disappeared from the membership roles of the BPS in 1925. Valentine’s article explores what became of so promising a student. Continue reading The “Other Woman” of British Psychology

Kinsey Reports did little more than reset expectations

Time magazine: Aug. 24, 1953 The key message of the Kinsey Reports (1948, 1953) — that there is a wide range of “normal” sexual behaviours — has been lost on contemporary society, according to a BBC documentary aired as part of the new Medical Matters podcast.  Instead, the teenage “average” of 1950 has become the “minimum expectation” of today… for everyone.  The result?  Performance anxiety: no one can measure up.

If there is a stronger populist argument for a having firm grip on our history, I haven’t seen it.

Get the MP3 here.  (Resources and related coverage below.)

Continue reading Kinsey Reports did little more than reset expectations

Podcast: Psychiatry and Homosexuality

This week, All in the Mind rebroadcast a documentary from This American Life on the deletion of homosexuality from the DSM in 1973.  (Read the transcript or get the MP3.)

It’s a fascinating examination of a topic rarely discussed.

Homosexuality was once labeled a mental disease by psychiatry.  But in 1973 the challenge came from within.  The American Psychiatric Association had a change of heart.  And with the tweak of the 81-word definition of sexual deviance in its own diagnostic manual, lives were reclaimed, and values confronted.  Reporter and narrator Alix Spiegel tells the gripping story from the inside, revealing the activities of a closeted group of gay psychiatrists who sowed the seeds of change, amongst them her own grandfather, president-elect of the APA at the time.

AHP has previously presented a bibliography of the histories homosexuality in psychology, but a more precise version (specific to the APA decision in 1973) is appended below.

Continue reading Podcast: Psychiatry and Homosexuality