New issue – History of the Human Sciences

hist human sciences

The April issue of History of the Human Sciences is now out and includes the following articles:

“Crackpots and basket-cases: a history of therapeutic work and occupation” (Jennifer Laws)

The abstract reads:

Despite the long history of beliefs about the therapeutic properties of work for people with mental ill health, rarely has therapeutic work itself been a focus for historical analysis. In this article, the development of a therapeutic work ethic (1813—1979) is presented, drawing particular attention to the changing character and quality of beliefs about therapeutic work throughout time. From hospital factories to radical ‘antipsychiatric’ communities, the article reveals the myriad forms of activities that have variously been considered fit work for people with mental health problems. While popular stereotypes of basket-weaving paint a hapless portrait of institutional work, a more nuanced reading of therapeutic work and its political and philosophical commitments is advanced. The article concludes by arguing that the non-linear and inherently contested development of therapeutic work is less the effect of paradigmatic shifts within the therapeutic professions, but rather evidence of a broader human struggle with work.

“‘The dangers of this atmosphere’: a Quaker connection in the Tavistock Clinic’s development” (Sebastian Kraemer)

The abstract reads:

During the Second World War, through innovations in officer selection and group therapy, the army psychiatrists John Rickman and Wilfred Bion changed our understanding of leadership. They showed how soldiers under stress could develop real authority through their attentiveness to each other. From contrasting experiences 25 years earlier each had seen how people in groups are moved by elemental forces that undermine judgement and thought. This article arose from my experiences as a trainee at the Tavistock Clinic, where the method of reflective work discussion, giving individuals seated in a circle the choice to speak or to remain silent, seemed similar to a Quaker meeting. Many decades later I found that this association had a basis in fact. Among other influences on Bion — a childhood in India, distinguished service in the First World War, and a surgical apprenticeship with Wilfred Trotter — there is a little-acknowledged Quaker source, in John Rickman, for Bion’s radical work in the army that led to new methods of training and organizational consultancy in the postwar Tavistock.

More information, as well as a complete table of contents, can be found at http://hhs.sagepub.com/content/vol24/issue2/?etoc

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