Dee McQuillan (UCL), “Excavating an English Psycho-Analyst: James Strachey’s Papers and Work 1909-1945”
To what extent can studying a psychologist’s private life and personality contribute to the understanding of their work? In sharp contrast to his contemporaries, such as Edward Glover, John Rickman or Joan Riviere, James Strachey left an enormous quantity of manuscripts, mostly in the form of personal letters. While Strachey was not an avid writer in his own right — Ernest Jones complained about his lack of productivity — excavating the wealth of personal paperwork that he left presents an ideal opportunity to explore this question.
A new English translation of Ludwig Lange’s important German language work “Neue Experimente über den Vorgang der einfachen Reaction auf Sinneseindrücke” has been posted to the “Classics in the History of Psychology” website. It was in this work that the distinction between sensory and muscular reections was first proposed, eventually leading to much debate among American psychologists over the veracity of mental types. Christopher Green, the administer of the “Classics” website, writes,
This particular article, by Wundt’s future assistant, is significant because it attempted to resolve apparent anomalies in the reaction time data then being generated in Wundt’s Leipzig laboratory by claiming the discovery of distinct “sensory” and “muscular” types of reaction. In doing so, Lange unintentionally set off a debate among Cattell, Baldwin, Titchener, Angell and others that ultimately led to the founding of the American school of Functionalism.
David kindly provided his considerable translation skills gratis for this project, and I am deeply indebted to him for this generous contribution. It extends further the aim of “Classics” project, which was to make primary source material easily and freely available to the many students and researchers working on the psychology’s history.