Tag Archives: Vygotsky

New JHBS: Catholic Church and Psychoanalysis, Vygotsky on Thinking and Speech, & More

The Spring 2018 issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences is now online.  Full titles, authors, and abstracts below.

““A disease of our time”: The Catholic Church’s condemnation and absolution of psychoanalysis (1924–1975),” by Renato Foschi, Marco Innamorati, and Ruggero Taradel. Abstract:

The present paper is focused on the evolution of the position of the Catholic Church toward psychoanalysis. Even before Freud’s The Future of an Illusion (1927), psychoanalysis was criticized by Catholic theologians. Psychoanalysis was viewed with either contempt or with indifference, but nonpsychoanalytic psychotherapy was accepted, especially for pastoral use. Freudian theory remained for most Catholics a delicate and dangerous subject for a long time. From the center to the periphery of the Vatican, Catholic positions against psychoanalysis have varied in the way that theological stances have varied. In the middle decades of the twentieth century, some Catholics changed their attitudes and even practiced psychoanalysis, challenging the interdict of the Holy Office, which prohibited psychoanalytic practice until 1961. During the Cold War, psychoanalysis progressively became more and more relevant within Catholic culture for two main reasons: changes in psychoanalytic doctrine (which began to stress sexuality to a lesser degree) and the increasing number of Catholic psychoanalysts, even among priests. Between the 1960s and the 1970s, psychoanalysis was eventually accepted and became the main topic of a famous speech by Pope Paul VI. This paper illustrates how this acceptance was a sort of unofficial endorsement of a movement that had already won acceptance within the Church. The situation was fostered by people like Maryse Choisy or Leonardo Ancona, who had advocated within the Church for a sui generis use of psychoanalysis (e.g., proposing a desexualized version of Freudian theories), despite warnings and prohibitions from the hierarchies of the Church.

“The final chapter of Vygotsky’s Thinking and Speech: A reader’s guide,” René van der Veer Ekaterina Zavershneva. Abstract:

The seventh and last chapter of Vygotsky’s Thinking and Speech (1934) is generally considered as his final word in psychology. It is a long chapter with a complex argumentative structure in which Vygotsky gives his view on the relationship between thinking and speech. Vygotsky’s biographers have stated that the chapter was dictated in the final months of Vygotsky’s life when his health was rapidly deteriorating. Although the chapter is famous, its structure has never been analyzed in any detail. In the present article we reveal its rhetorical structure and show how Vygotsky drew on many hitherto unrevealed sources to convince the reader of his viewpoint.

“Japanese-American confinement and scientific democracy: Colonialism, social engineering, and government administration,” by Karin Alejandra Rosemblatt and Leandro Daniel Benmergui. Abstract:

During World War II, the U.S. Indian Service conducted social science experiments regarding governance among Japanese Americans imprisoned at the Poston, Arizona, camp. Researchers used an array of techniques culled from anthropological culture and personality studies, psychiatry, psychology, medicine, and public opinion research to probe how the personality traits of the confined Japanese?Americans and camp leaders affected the social interactions within each group and between them. The research drew on prior studies of Indian personality in the US Southwest, Mexico’s Native policies, and indirect colonial rule. Researchers asked how democracy functioned in contexts marked by hierarchy and difference. Their goal was to guide future policies toward US “minorities“ and foreign races in post?war occupied territories. We show how researchers deployed ideas about race, cultural, and difference across a variety of cases to create a universal, predictive social science, which they combined with a prewar romanticism and cultural relativism. These researchers made ethnic, racial, and cultural difference compatible with predictive laws of science based on notions of fundamental human similarities.

New HoP: Split-Brain Research, Vygotsky in Argentina, & More

Lev Vygotsky
Lev Vygotsky

The November 2016 issue of History of Psychology is now online. Articles in this issue explore split brain research, Vygotsky’s influence in Argentina, recent changes in Swedish psychology, and more. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“The other side of the brain: The politics of split-brain research in the 1970s–1980s,” by Michael E. Staub. The abstract reads,

In the course of the 1970s and 1980s, theories derived from neuropsychological research on the bisected brain came rapidly to achieve the status of common sense in the United States and Canada, inflecting all manner of popular and academic discussion. These theories often posited that the right hemisphere was the seat of creative expression, whereas the left hemisphere housed rationality and language. This article analyzes the political and cultural implications of theories about the split brain. Gender relations, educational reform, management theory, race relations, and countercultural concepts about self-expression all quickly came to be viewed through the lens of left-brain/right-brain neuropsychological research. Yet these theories were often contradictory. On the one hand, some psychophysiological experiments premised that the brain was inherently plastic in nature, and thus self-improvement techniques (like mindfulness meditation) could be practiced to unfurl the right hemisphere’s intuitive potentialities. On the other hand, other psychophysiological experiments concluded that Native Americans as well as African Americans and persons from “the East” appeared inherently to possess more highly developed right-brain talents, and therefore suffered in the context of a left-hemisphere-dominated Western society. In both instances, psychologists put neuroscientific research to political and social use. This article thus connects a story from the annals of the neurosciences to the history of psychological experimentation. It analyzes the critical impact that speculative ideas about the split brain were to have not only on the post-1960s history of psychology but also on what soon emerged after the 1990s as the social neuroscience revolution.

“Professional reinventions: Swedish psychologists, 1990–2010,” by Peter Skagius and Ann-Charlotte Münger. The abstract reads, Continue reading New HoP: Split-Brain Research, Vygotsky in Argentina, & More

HHS Special Issue: “Vygotsky in His, Our and Future Times”

The April 2015 issue of History of the Human Sciences is dedicated to “Vygotsky in His, Our and Future Times.” Guest edited by Gordana Jovanovic, the special issue includes a set of introductory reflections from Jerome Bruner on “The Uneasy Relation of Culture and Mind.” A further 10 articles explore various aspects of Vygotsky’s life and work, including the role of history in his work, an examination of the ban on his works in Russia, and his time as a theatre critic. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

Guest editorial: “Vygotsky in his, our and future times,” by Gordana Jovanovic. No abstract provided.

Introductory Reflections: “The uneasy relation of culture and mind,” by Jerome Bruner. No abstract provided.

“Vicissitudes of history in Vygotsky’s cultural-historical theory,” by Gordana Jovanovic. The abstract reads,

The aim of this article is to explore the ways and forms in which history is present, represented and used in Vygotsky’s theorizing. Given the fact that Vygotsky’s theory is usually described as a cultural-historical theory, the issue of history is necessarily implicated in the theory itself. However, there is still a gap between history as implicated in the theory and an explicit theorizing of history – both in Vygotsky’s writings and in Vygotskian scholarship. Therefore it is expected that it would be fruitful to shed light on some possible pathways that can bridge this gap. The prevailing theoretical role of history in Vygotsky’s theory is to serve as a general framework which provides tools for the development of higher psychic functions. Thus, history is recognized as a formative context of psychic life. Further, history appears in Vygotsky’s writings also as a projected better future. All these uses of history presuppose an idea of history as linear progress. But Vygotsky also argues for a stronger epistemological claim – that history is the most powerful explanatory principle. After conceptual and theoretical reflection on history, some limitations of Vygotsky’s historicizing of the history of psychic development will be pointed out and related to general epistemological problems of historicizing. Finally, Vygotsky’s cultural-historical theory, an edifice built up in the 1930s but relying on the rich philosophical and psychological legacy available up to that time, will be positioned against the pluralistic, postmodern and hermeneutic turn in contemporary social and human sciences.

“Mediation: An expansion of the socio-cultural gaze,” by Harry Daniels. The abstract reads, Continue reading HHS Special Issue: “Vygotsky in His, Our and Future Times”

New Issue: Psychologia Latina

The November 2011 issue of Psychologia Latina has just been released online. Included in this issue are five all new Spanish language articles on prison psychology in Spain, Radical Behaviorism, the unconscious, and the work of a student of Luis Simarro (left). Full titles, authors, and abstracts, in both Spanish and English, follow below.

“El Psicólogo de Prisiones en España” (“The Prison Psychologist in Spain,”) by Francisco Pérez Fernández, Joanne Mampaso Desbrow, and Nereida Bueno Guerra.

In this article, we make an analysis by historical and political landmarks of the various laws and regulations that have affected, modulated and modified the psychologists’ participation in Spanish jails and other similar facilities since the General Prison Law 1/1979 was approved. In this way, we will provide a historical overview of their activities, functions, their role in the field of legal penitentiary psychology and the value of their social contribution over the last thirty years.

En este artículo se procede a un análisis por hitos históricos y políticos de las diferentes legislaciones y reglamentos que han afectado, modulado y modificado la participación del psicólogo en las cárceles españolas y otros centros de cumplimiento de condena partir de la aprobación de la Ley Orgánica General Penitenciaria 1/1979. De este modo, ofreceremos una panorámica histórica de su actividad, sus funciones, su papel en el ámbito de la psicología jurídico-penitenciaria y el valor de su aportación social a lo largo de los últimos treinta años.

“El Conductismo en la Historia de la Psicología: Una Crítica de la Filosofía del Conductismo Radical” (“Behaviorism in the History of Psychology: A Critique of the Radical Behaviorism Philosophy”,) by Juan Bautista Fuentes. Continue reading New Issue: Psychologia Latina

Vygotsky and the Kharkov School

VygotskyIn a recent issue of History of Psychology, 11(2), announced just as AHP was preparing to break for the summer, Anton Yasnitsky and Michel Ferrari published an article adding significant depth to our understanding of the development of Vygotsky’s theories following his death.

Between the death of Vygotsky in 1934 and the discovery of Vygotsky’s work in the West in 1962, Vygotskian psychology was developed through research done by the first generation of Vygotsky’s students and their followers, primarily associated with the Kharkov School. Surprisingly, these studies carried out in the 1930s, of great importance for the development of virtually all subsequent Vygotskian psychology, still remain largely unknown; this represents a significant gap in understanding the history of Vygotskian psychology as an empirical study of consciousness. This paper provides a systematic overview of the research agenda of the Kharkov group between 1931 and 1941 and provides new insights into the early development of Vygotskian psychology.

Students interested in pursuing this topic further will find a related bibliography at AHP here, originally provided as part of a discussion of Vygotsky’s pre-history in Late Imperial Russia.

Whatever happened to Pavlov’s Brain?

Vladimir BekhterevThe strange saga of Albert Einstein’s brain was told in Carolyn Abraham’s 2001 book Possessing Genius. (The free Wikipedia version is here.) But what about the brains of famous figures in the history of psychology? Well, if they were Russian — such as Ivan Pavlov or Lev Vygotsky — then they may have ended up in Vladimir Bekhterev’s “Pantheon of Brains” in St. Petersburg. (It has been long speculated that Bekhterev, who died unexpectedly on Chirstmas Eve 1927, was “offed” by Stalin after having examined the Soviet leader and declared him to be insane.) Perhaps fittingly, Bekhterev’s brain also ended up in the “Pantheon.”

See the Mind Hacks item on it here, and the abstract of the Brain article here.

Psychology at High School in Late Imperial Russia

ResearchBlogging.orgIn the latest History of Education Quarterly, 48(2), Andy Byford examines the role of education in promoting psychology as a science at the turn of the twentieth century in Russia.

…psychology lacked the status of an independent academic discipline at Russian universities. It was taught only as a component of philosophy and had the reputation of the latter’s ‘‘handmaiden.’’ Its scientific credentials within philosophy departments were, moreover, under constant attack from physiologists, neurologists and psychiatrists, who sought to redefine the discipline from a biological point of view, and at times even denied psychology the right to legitimate existence.

In fact it was only in the sphere of education that psychology was able to portray itself as a respectable science in its own right, especially in relation to pedagogy, whose own academic legitimacy, as a lowly practical professional discipline, was even more problematic than that of psychology. Yet the eminent status of psychology in the educational realm (as the ‘‘scientific foundation’’ of pedagogy) had to be continuously maintained, which was how teachers became the most important ‘‘interested’’ public to whom psychologists of different persuasions promoted the idealized visions of their discipline.

For those not familiar with the history of Russian psychology, Byford’s article provides a fascinating look at the period in which Lev Vygotsky — who undertook graduate training at the newly created Moscow Institute of Psychology — developed as a student and teacher. See below the fold for annotated references. Continue reading Psychology at High School in Late Imperial Russia