Hans Asperger, the pioneer of autism and Asperger syndrome in Nazi Vienna, has been celebrated for his compassionate defense of children with disabilities. But in this groundbreaking book, prize-winning historian Edith Sheffer exposes that Asperger was not only involved in the racial policies of Hitler’s Third Reich, he was complicit in the murder of children.
As the Nazi regime slaughtered millions across Europe during World War Two, it sorted people according to race, religion, behavior, and physical condition for either treatment or elimination. Nazi psychiatrists targeted children with different kinds of minds—especially those thought to lack social skills—claiming the Reich had no place for them. Asperger and his colleagues endeavored to mold certain “autistic” children into productive citizens, while transferring others they deemed untreatable to Spiegelgrund, one of the Reich’s deadliest child-killing centers.
In the first comprehensive history of the links between autism and Nazism, Sheffer uncovers how a diagnosis common today emerged from the atrocities of the Third Reich. With vivid storytelling and wide-ranging research, Asperger’s Children will move readers to rethink how societies assess, label, and treat those diagnosed with disabilities.
A recent episode of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Science Friction series explores psychologists Muzafer and Carolyn Wood Sherif’s Robbers Cave Experiment and earlier iterations of this now infamous study. Notably, the episode features interviews with several participants from the experiments. Listen to the full “Lost Boys” episode here.
This essay revisits the drafting of the first UNESCO Statement on Race (1950) in order to reorient historical understandings of mid-twentieth-century anti-racism and science. Historians of science have primarily interpreted the UNESCO statements as an oppositional project led by anti-racist scientists from the North Atlantic and concerned with dismantling racial typologies, replacing them with population-based conceptions of human variation. Instead of focusing on what anti-racist scientists opposed, this article highlights the futures they imagined and the applied social-science projects that anti-racist science drew from and facilitated. The scientific experts who participated in drafting the first UNESCO Statement on Race played important roles in late colonial, post-colonial and international projects designed to modernize, assimilate and improve so-called backward communities – typically indigenous or Afro-descendent groups in the global South. Such connections between anti-racist science and the developmental imaginaries of the late colonial period indicate that the transition from fixed racial typologies to sociocultural and psychological conceptualizations of human diversity legitimated the flourishing of modernization discourses in the Cold War era. In this transition to an economic-development paradigm, ‘race’ did not vanish so much as fragment into a series of finely tuned and ostensibly anti-racist conceptions that offered a moral incentive for scientific elites to intervene in the ways of life of those deemed primitive.
“Temperamental workers: Psychology, business, and the Humm-Wadsworth Temperament Scale in interwar America,” by Kira Lussier. Abstract:
This article traces the history of a popular interwar psychological test, the Humm-Wadsworth Temperament Scale (HWTS), from its development in the early 1930s to its adoption by corporate personnel departments. In popular articles, trade magazines, and academic journals, industrial psychologist Doncaster Humm and personnel manager Guy Wadsworth trumpeted their scale as a scientific measure of temperament that could ensure efficient hiring practices and harmonious labor relations by screening out “problem employees” and screening for temperamentally “normal” workers. This article demonstrates how concerns about the epistemological and scientific credibility of the HWTS were intimately entangled with concerns about its value to business at every step in the test’s development. The HWTS sought to measure the emotional and social dimensions of an individual’s personality so as to assess their suitability for work. The practice of temperament testing conjured a vision of the subject whose emotional and social disposition was foundational to their own capacity to find employment, and whose capacity to appropriately express, but regulate, their emotions was foundational to corporate order. The history of the HWTS offers an instructive case of how psychological tests embed social hierarchies, political claims, and economic ideals within their very theoretical and methodological foundations. Although the HWTS itself may have faded from use, the test directly inspired creators of subsequent popular personality tests, such as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.
“Pierre Janet and the enchanted boundary of psychical research,” by Renaud Evrard, Erika Annabelle Pratte, and Etzel Cardeña. Abstract:
Among the founders of French psychology, Pierre Janet (1859–1947) is recognized for both his scientific and institutional roles. The psychology born at the turn of the 20th century was initially partly receptive to, but then engaged in, a battle with the “psychical marvelous,” and Janet was no exception. He was involved in the split between psychology and parapsychology (or “metapsychics” in France), developed at that time, playing several successive roles: the pioneer, the repentant, and the gatekeeper. At first, he was involved in so-called experimental parapsychology, but quickly chose not to engage directly in this kind of research any longer. Janet seemed to become embarrassed by his reputation as psychical researcher, so he increased his efforts to side with the more conventional thought of his time. Janet’s attitude, in this, is an example of how French nascent psychology has explored “marvelous phenomena” before recanting. Yet this aspect of Janet’s work has been rarely commented on by his followers. In this article, we describe the highlights of his epistemological journey.
“Pluralism and heterogeneity as criticism: Undergraduate history and systems of psychology courses in Argentinian psychology education (1983–2017),” by Catriel Fierro. Abstract:
Multiple studies have analyzed the aims, resources, and approaches to undergraduate and graduate history of psychology education in several countries. Argentina is one of the countries with the highest historiographical production in Latin America. However, to date, there are no published studies on the collective debates among professionals, institutions, and associations that were instrumental in the development of the historiography of science becoming a mandatory part of the curriculum in Argentinian psychology programs. This study describes and analyzes the role of undergraduate history of psychology courses in official debates that took place during the last 30 years regarding Argentinian psychologists’ training and education, in the context of regional and international historiography. Data was retrieved from several primary sources, such as minutes and official dossiers, working documents on accreditation standards, and nationwide curricular diagnoses on undergraduate psychology education, as well as individual scholars’ ideas. Our findings suggest that, in line with regional and international historiography, history of psychology courses in Argentina have repeatedly been considered as core content in debates and discussions about psychology education, from the restoration of democracy in 1983 to the present day, in which they are currently considered to be mandatory minimum curricular content. Although throughout its history Argentinian psychology has largely been reduced to the teaching of Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis, historical education has been perceived as a gateway toward a more plural and critical local psychology. We conclude by discussing some potential and actual concerns that pose a threat to Argentinian undergraduate history courses.
“The (ab)normal-social-personality catena: Exploring The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology during the interwar years,” by Ian J. Davidson. Abstract:
This article is a cocitation network analysis of The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology (JASP) from 1925 to 1942. The analysis was conducted to help shed light on the historical roots of the intellectual and institutional relationships among social, personality, and abnormal psychology. JASP was a main venue for the boundary work of early- to mid-twentieth-century American psychologists. One of the main goals of these various research communities was to appropriate psychoanalytic and sociological concepts into preferred methods and approaches that favored an individualistic, quantifiable, and ultimately normal subject. Five major research communities are identified using the citations, and historically contextualized: Community #1, Measuring Social Aspects; Community #2, Psychometrics; Community #3, Operationalizing Psychoanalysis; Community #4, Introversion Studies; and Community #5, Experimental Social Psychology. This analysis demonstrates how disciplinary psychologists, at least within JASP, were united by the work of delimiting their research from closely aligned fields studying the same concepts—even while psychologists’ methodological commitments to experimentalism or psychological testing might have ostensibly divided them. Possible future research incorporating post-World War II research and dynamic networking approaches is recommended.
“Poetry corner,” by Eric P. Charles. Abstract:
Presents a piece of poetry by A. A. Milne who is now best known as the author of the Winnie the Pooh (1926) book but was quite well reputed before its publication for his plays and his poetry, including collections such as When We Were Very Young (1924). The style of “Veridical Perception” will be familiar to any who have read his work.
Organized by the Forum for History of Human Science in honor of historian John C. Burnham (1929-2017), this special issue will bring together historical studies that analyze how the social and behavioral sciences have attended to the meanings and conditions of living well and human flourishing. We are interested in accounts that consider what these sciences, as well as popular works that draw on them, have said about living well, in its spiritual, psychological, cultural, social, economic, and/or political dimensions.
We welcome article-length submissions that explore the development, implementation, and critique of social and behavioral science research and theoretical frameworks in this area. In addition, we are interested in studies that consider the uptake of such work in the broader society, at the level of ideas, social practices, popular culture, and/or public policy. We welcome manuscripts that engage with the topics, geographical areas, and theoretical approaches that Burnham used himself. But we are equally interested in manuscripts that advance other lines of analysis.
Possible topics of historical investigation include:
– self-help and other advice literature
– humanistic psychology, positive psychology, and happiness studies
– work on mindfulness and resilience
– studies of the emotions
– research from behavioral economics
– social justice movements’ use of the behavioral sciences to challenge the conditions and inequalities impeding human flourishing at the levels of the individual, group, and/or society
– social and behavioral scientific studies of “bad habits” and strategies for overcoming them
– critiques of scholarly work and popular accounts of living well, happiness, and/or positive thinking
– the biopolitics of living well
-the relationship between popular and expert views of how to live well and flourish
– the sponsorship of studies on well-being and the use of such work by communities, groups, private organizations, philanthropy, business, and government.
Send manuscript submissions of approximately 10,000, including notes and references, by November 1, 2018 to guest editors Mark Solovey (email@example.com) and Debbie Weinstein (firstname.lastname@example.org). The guest editors also welcome preliminary inquiries about the appropriateness of particular subject matters and lines of analysis. All submissions should follow the format outlined in the journal’s Author Guidelines. Submissions selected by the guest editors will be peer-reviewed per the standard procedures of the journal.
The relationship between prisons and mental illness has preoccupied prison administrators, physicians, and reformers from the establishment of the modern prison service in the nineteenth century to the current day. Here we take the case of Pentonville Model Prison, established in 1842 with the aim of reforming convicts through religious exhortation, rigorous discipline and training, and the imposition of separate confinement in its most extreme form. Our article demonstrates how following the introduction of separate confinement, the prison chaplains rather than the medical officers took a lead role in managing the minds of convicts. However, instead of reforming and improving prisoners’ minds, Pentonville became associated with high rates of mental disorder, challenging the institution’s regime and reputation. We explore the role of chaplains, doctors, and other prison officers in debating, disputing, and managing cases of mental breakdown and the dismantling of separate confinement in the face of mounting criticism.
Every day, Americans make decisions about their privacy: what to share and when, how much to expose and to whom. Securing the boundary between one’s private affairs and public identity has become a central task of citizenship. How did privacy come to loom so large in American life? Sarah Igo tracks this elusive social value across the twentieth century, as individuals questioned how they would, and should, be known by their own society.
Privacy was not always a matter of public import. But beginning in the late nineteenth century, as corporate industry, social institutions, and the federal government swelled, increasing numbers of citizens believed their privacy to be endangered. Popular journalism and communication technologies, welfare bureaucracies and police tactics, market research and workplace testing, scientific inquiry and computer data banks, tell-all memoirs and social media all propelled privacy to the foreground of U.S. culture. Jurists and philosophers but also ordinary people weighed the perils, the possibilities, and the promise of being known. In the process, they redrew the borders of contemporary selfhood and citizenship.
The Known Citizen reveals how privacy became the indispensable language for monitoring the ever-shifting line between our personal and social selves. Igo’s sweeping history, from the era of “instantaneous photography” to the age of big data, uncovers the surprising ways that debates over what should be kept out of the public eye have shaped U.S. politics and society. It offers the first wide-angle view of privacy as it has been lived and imagined by modern Americans.
Scientific communities have frequently denied claims that later prove justified: such episodes are used in debates about the conventions that govern decisions about matters of fact. Instructive cases of such decisions and reversals occurred during a serious crisis of facts that erupted in Enlightenment Europe from the 1780s. Establishment of scientific facts relied on appropriate groups to produce and judge them, but during such periods of radical social instability, these systems were in trouble. Notions of popular superstition and of over-sophisticated imagination were then used to manage fact claims. Plebeians were reckoned superstitious and incapable of imagination; genteel elites could seem too prone to imaginative fancy, too skeptical of received doctrine. Examples of the late Enlightenment fact crises especially evident during controversies around animal magnetism, which seemed to dramatize refined vulnerability to imagination, and around aeroliths, the widespread and allegedly vulgar superstition that stones could fall to Earth, illuminate issues of authority and evidence that continue decisively to affect public sciences, traditional customs, and their claims to produce effective factual knowledge.
“Ethopathology and Civilization Diseases: Niko and Elisabeth Tinbergen on Autism,” by Marga Vicedo. Abstract:
The idea that some diseases result from a poor fit between modern life and our biological make-up is part of the long history of what historian of medicine Charles Rosenberg has called the “progress-and-pathology narrative.” This article examines a key episode in that history: 1973 Nobel laureate Niko Tinbergen’s use of an evolutionary framework to identify autism as a pathogenic effect of progress. Influenced by British psychiatrist John Bowlby’s work, Tinbergen and his wife Elisabeth saw autistic children as victims of environmental stress caused mainly by mothers’ failure to bond with their children and to protect them from conflicting situations. However, the author argues that their position was not “environmental.” For them, autism was due to a failure of socialization but the mechanisms that explain that failure were established by biological evolution. Situating their views within the context of Niko’s concern about the derailment of biological evolution by cultural evolution, this article shows that their ideas are of special significance for understanding the persistence of the view that civilization poses a risk to human health.
“When Ernest Jones First Arrived in Toronto, or Reappraising the Bruce Letter,” by
Philip Kuhn. Abstract:
In July 1962, Toronto-based surgeon, Herbert Bruce, wrote a private and confidential letter to social worker and historian Cyril Greenland with some memories and impressions of Sigmund Freud’s lifelong friend and biographer, Ernest Jones, in Toronto (1908–1913). In the letter, Bruce described Jones as a ‘sexual pervert’. Despite Bruce’s condemnation of Jones, historians and biographers have largely ignored this controversial aspect of Jones’ impression in Toronto. The article traces how scholars have handled the existence of the Bruce letter, and the consequences for how this history has been understood. In the latter half of the article, the author considers how the existence of this letter offers insights into how the Toronto medical establishment regarded Ernest Jones.
“Psychiatry in American Medical Education: The Case of Harvard’s Medical School, 1900–1945,” by Tara H. Abraham. Abstract:
As American psychiatrists moved from the asylum to the private clinic during the early twentieth century, psychiatry acquired a growing presence within medical school curricula. This shift in disciplinary status took place at a time when medical education itself was experiencing a period of reform. By examining medical school registers at Harvard University, records from the Dean’s office of Harvard’s medical school, and oral histories, this paper examines the rise in prominence of psychiatry in medical education. Three builders of Harvard psychiatry—Elmer E. Southard, C. Macfie Campbell, and Harry C. Solomon—simultaneously sought to mark territory for psychiatry and its relevance, and in doing so, I argue, capitalized on three related elements: the fluidity that existed between psychiatry and neurology, the new venues whereby medical students gained training in psychiatry, and the broader role of patrons, professional associations, and certification boards, which sought to expand psychiatry’s influence in the social and cultural life of twentieth-century America.
This paper discusses C. G. Jung’s fascination with the art of alchemy. We shall look at some of the diverse theories and practices that lie behind the monolithic term ‘alchemy’; at the appeal of this ‘hermetic philosophy’ to Jung for the support and development of his psychology, his notion of alchemy as the historical link between ancient gnosis and the modern psychology of the unconscious; and his argument that it acted ‘like an undercurrent to the Christianity that ruled on the surface.’ We shall examine some of the alchemical works from which he drew inspiration and meet some of the authorities (Hermes Trismegistus, Paracelsus, Dorn, Khunrath) who were influential figures not only in the history of alchemy but also in his psychology.
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