Posts Tagged ‘ history of the human sciences ’

New issue – History of the Human Sciences

The July 2013 issue of History of the Human Sciences is now online and contains the following articles:

How autism became autism: The radical transformation of a central concept of child development in Britain (Bonnie Evans)

This article argues that the meaning of the word ‘autism’ experienced a radical shift in the early 1960s in Britain which was contemporaneous with a growth in epidemiological and statistical studies in child psychiatry. The first part of the article explores how ‘autism’ was used as a category to describe hallucinations and unconscious fantasy life in infants through the work of significant child psychologists and psychoanalysts such as Jean Piaget, Lauretta Bender, Leo Kanner and Elwyn James Anthony. Theories of autism were then associated both with schizophrenia in adults and with psychoanalytic styles of reasoning. The closure of institutions for ‘mental defectives’ and the growth in speech therapy services in the 1960s and 1970s encouraged new models for understanding autism in infants and children. The second half of the article explores how researchers such as Victor Lotter and Michael Rutter used the category of autism to reconceptualize psychological development in infants and children via epidemiological studies. These historical changes have influenced the form and function of later research into autism and related conditions.

‘I am a philosopher of the particular case’: An interview with the 2009 Holberg prizewinner Ian Hacking (Ole Jacob Madsen, Johannes Servan, and Simen Andersen Øyen)

When Ian Hacking won the Holberg International Memorial Prize 2009 his candidature was said to strengthen the legitimacy of the prize after years of controversy. Ole Jacob Madsen, Johannes Servan and Simen Andersen Øyen have talked to Ian Hacking about current questions in the philosophy and history of science.

Adam Smith’s economic and ethical consideration of animals (Nathaniel Wolloch)

This article examines Adam Smith’s views on animals, centering on the singularity of his economic perspective in the context of the general early ethical debate about animals. Particular emphasis is placed on his discussions of animals as property. The article highlights the tension between Smith’s moral sensitivity to animal suffering on the one hand, and his emphasis on the constitutive role that the utilization of animals played in the progress of civilization on the other. This tension is depicted as a precursor of problematic aspects of the modern environmental crisis.

The question-and-answer logic of historical context (Christopher Fear)

Quentin Skinner has enduringly insisted that a past text cannot be ‘understood’ without the reader knowing something about its historical and linguistic context. But since the 1970s he has been attacked on this central point of all his work by authors maintaining that the text itself is the fundamental guide to the author’s intention, and that a separate study of the context cannot tell the historian anything that the text itself could not. Mark Bevir has spent much of the last 20 years repeating a similar counter-argument. Although ‘study the linguistic context’ might be a useful heuristic maxim, Bevir says, it does not express a necessary or sufficient condition for understanding. But Skinner is right, and one of the figures he has consistently identified as a formative inspiration, R. G. Collingwood, has already (in his work of the 1930s) shown why. What Collingwood calls his ‘logic of question and answer’ explains why the historian cannot answer his characteristic ‘intention’ question about past texts without knowing the context of problems to which authors think they are offering solutions. The study of context is neither ‘prior’ (as Bevir incorrectly supposes) nor ‘separate’ (as Skinner inaccurately says), but it is, as Skinner maintains, nevertheless impossible to grasp an author’s intention without it. This ‘logic of question and answer’ also explains why, in history, dismissing the study of context is in fact a pre-judgement of evidence yet unseen.

Moralizing biology: The appeal and limits of the new compassionate view of nature (Maurizio Meloni)

In recent years, a proliferation of books about empathy, cooperation and pro-social behaviours (Brooks, 2011a) has significantly influenced the discourse of the life-sciences and reversed consolidated views of nature as a place only for competition and aggression. In this article I describe the recent contribution of three disciplines – moral psychology (Jonathan Haidt), primatology (Frans de Waal) and the neuroscience of morality – to the present transformation of biology and evolution into direct sources of moral phenomena, a process here named the ‘moralization of biology’. I conclude by addressing the ambivalent status of this constellation of authors, for whom today ‘morality comes naturally’: I explore both the attractiveness of their message, and the problematic epistemological assumptions of their research programmes in the light of new discoveries in developmental and molecular biology.

This issue also contains reviews of the books The Dawn of Critical Neuroscience and Futurist: Noise, Visual Arts and the Occult.

For more information, click here.

New issue – History of the Human Sciences

A new issue of History of the Human Sciences is now online and contains the following two articles which may be of interest to H-Madness readers:

Badness, madness and the brain – the late 19th-century controversy on immoral persons and their malfunctioning brains (Felix Schirmann)

In the second half of the 19th-century, a group of psychiatric experts discussed the relation between brain malfunction and moral misconduct. In the ensuing debates, scientific discourses on immorality merged with those on insanity and the brain. This yielded a specific definition of what it means to be immoral: immoral and insane due to a disordered brain. In this context, diverse neurobiological explanations for immoral mind and behavior existed at the time. This article elucidates these different brain-based explanations via five historical cases of immoral persons. In addition, the article analyses the associated controversies in the context of the period’s psychiatric thinking. The rendering of the immoral person as brain-disordered is scrutinized in terms of changes in moral agency. Furthermore, a present immoral person is discussed to highlight commonalities and differences in past and present reasoning.

Making the cut: The production of ‘self-harm’ in post-1945 Anglo-Saxon psychiatry (Chris Millard)

‘Deliberate self-harm’, ‘self-mutilation’ and ‘self-injury’ are just some of the terms used to describe one of the most prominent issues in British mental health policy in recent years. This article demonstrates that contemporary literature on ‘self-harm’ produces this phenomenon (to varying extents) around two key characteristics. First, this behaviour is predominantly performed by those identified as female. Second, this behaviour primarily involves cutting the skin. These constitutive characteristics are traced back to a corpus of literature produced in the 1960s and 1970s in North American psychiatric inpatient institutions; analysis shows how pre-1960 works were substantially different. Finally, these gendered and behavioural assertions are shown to be the result of historically specific processes of exclusion and emphasis.

For a complete table of contents, click here.

New issue – History of the Human Sciences

The October 2012 issue of History of the Human Sciences is now online and includes the following articles:

Contested psychiatric ontology and feminist critique: ‘Female Sexual Dysfunction’ and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (Katherine Angel)

In this article I discuss the emergence of Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD) within American psychiatry and beyond in the postwar period, setting out what I believe to be important and suggestive questions neglected in existing scholarship. Tracing the nomenclature within successive editions of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), I consider the reification of the term ‘FSD’, and the activism and scholarship that the rise of the category has occasioned. I suggest that analysis of FSD benefits from scrutiny of a wider range of sources (especially since the popular and scientific cross-pollinate). I explore the multiplicity of FSD that emerges when one examines this wider range, but I also underscore a reinscribing of anxieties about psychogenic aetiologies. I then argue that what makes the FSD case additionally interesting, over and above other conditions with a contested status, is the historically complex relationship between psychiatry and feminism that is at work in contemporary debates. I suggest that existing literature on FSD has not yet posed some of the most important and salient questions at stake in writing about women’s sexual problems in this period, and can only do this when the relationship between ‘second-wave’ feminism, ‘post-feminism’, psychiatry and psychoanalysis becomes part of the terrain to be analysed, rather than the medium through which analysis is conducted.

Freud’s social theory: Modernist and postmodernist revisions (Alfred I. Tauber)

Acknowledging the power of the id-drives, Freud held on to the authority of reason as the ego’s best tool to control instinctual desire. He thereby placed analytic reason at the foundation of his own ambivalent social theory, which, on the one hand, held utopian promise based upon psychoanalytic insight, and, on the other hand, despaired of reason’s capacity to control the self-destructive elements of the psyche. Moving beyond the recourse of sublimation, post-Freudians attacked reason’s hegemony in quelling disruptive psycho-dynamics and, focusing upon the social domain, they sought strategies to counter the oppressive (repressive) social restrictions and conformist impositions impeding individual freedom that result from thwarted desire. Postmodern celebration of desire at the expense of reason and sublimation leaves the Enlightenment prospects altogether and moves psychoanalysis into a new terrain, where the very notion of rationality and an autonomous ego upon which much of Freudianism rests has been deconstructed. Thus the debate that begins with Freud’s social theories reflects the deeper divisions, which arose with postmodern ethics and discarded Cartesian–Kantian notions of personal identity. Here we consider the moral framework in which Freudian social theory sits and a contrasting understanding of agency that confronts his modernist conception. In that debate, we discern the larger humanist confrontation with postmodernity. Yet, all who engaged Freud shared some version of his utopian ethos, albeit radically restructuring the theory upon which social reform might occur.

The enigma of the brain and its place as cause, character and pretext in the imaginary of dementia (Alan Blum)

An analysis of the collective engagement with the disease known as Alzheimer’s and the dementia reputed of it reveals recourse to a socially standardized formula that attributes causal agency to the brain in the absence of clinching knowledge. I propose that what Baudrillard calls the model of molecular idealism stipulates such a neurological view of determinism in order to provide caregivers with reassurance in the face of the perplexing character of dementia and the depressing reactions to mortality that it brings to the surface.

The issue also contains a review of the book Portrait of the Psychiatrist as a Young Man: The Early Writing and Work of R.D. Laing, 1927–60.

For more information and a complete table of contents, click here.

New issue – History of the Human Sciences

A new issue of History of the Human Sciences, guest-edited by Elizabeth Valentine, is now available online. It is a special issue devoted to parapsychology, occultism and spiritualism and includes the following contributions:

“Psychical research and parapsychology interpreted: Suggestions from the international historiography of psychical research and parapsychology for investigating its history in the Netherlands” (Ingrid Kloosterman)

One of the reasons the history of parapsychology and its ancestor psychical research is intriguing is because it addresses a central issue: the boundaries of science. This article provides an overview of the historiography of parapsychology and presents an approach to investigate the Dutch history of parapsychology contributing to the understanding of this central theme. In the first section the historical accounts provided by psychical researchers and parapsychologists themselves are discussed; next those studies of sociologists and historians understanding parapsychology as deviant and even potentially revolutionary are dealt with; third, more contemporary studies are examined whereby enterprises such as parapsychology are understood as central to the culture in which they arose. On the basis of this analysis a new direction in the historiography of the subject is suggested in the fourth section, centred upon the relation between parapsychology and psychology in the Netherlands throughout the 20th century. In the Netherlands not only were pioneering psychologists such as Gerard Heymans (1857–1930) actively involved in experiments into telepathy, the first professor in parapsychology in the world – Wilhelm Tenhaeff (1894–1981) – was appointed in 1953 at Utrecht University and in the 1970s and 1980s parapsychology had its own research laboratory at Utrecht University in the division of psychology. This unique situation in the Netherlands deserves scholarly attention and makes an interesting case to investigate the much-neglected connections between the fields of psychology and parapsychology in the 20th century. The connections between psychology and parapsychology might help us to understand why parapsychology came to be regarded as a pseudoscience.

“Psychical research and the origins of American psychology: Hugo Münsterberg, William James and Eusapia Palladino” (Andreas Sommer)

Largely unacknowledged by historians of the human sciences, late-19th-century psychical researchers were actively involved in the making of fledgling academic psychology. Moreover, with few exceptions historians have failed to discuss the wider implications of the fact that the founder of academic psychology in America, William James, considered himself a psychical researcher and sought to integrate the scientific study of mediumship, telepathy and other controversial topics into the nascent discipline. Analysing the celebrated exposure of the medium Eusapia Palladino by German-born Harvard psychologist Hugo Münsterberg as a representative example, this article discusses strategies employed by psychologists in the United States to expel psychical research from the agenda of scientific psychology. It is argued that the traditional historiography of psychical research, dominated by accounts deeply averse to its very subject matter, has been part of an ongoing form of ‘boundary-work’ to bolster the scientific status of psychology.

“Hallucination or materialization? The animism versus spiritism debate in late-19th-century Germany” (Heather Wolffram)

This article considers a long-neglected episode in the disciplinary evolution of the border sciences in Germany: the so-called animism versus spiritism debate. While historians have long acknowledged the significance of this dispute, which introduced a range of new hypotheses and nomenclature to the field, there has been little detailed analysis of it. Looking closely at the arguments of the main combatants, this article attempts to highlight not just the complex multi-frontal conflicts that took place during the late 19th century between academic psychologists, spiritists and psychical researchers over the parameters and proper objects of the nascent field of psychology, but also the epistemological and methodological battles between spiritists and psychical researchers over the nature of both psychology and the unconscious. It is concluded that researchers such as Hartmann and Aksakow in their pursuit of a new scientific psychology based on the phenomena of the unconscious were just as representative of contemporary psychology as were Wundt and his colleagues.

“Spooks and spoofs: Relations between psychical research and academic psychology in Britain in the inter-war period” (Elizabeth R. Valentine)

This article describes the relations between academic psychology and psychical research in Britain during the inter-war period, in the context of the fluid boundaries between mainstream psychology and both psychical research and popular psychology. Specifically, the involvement with Harry Price of six senior academic psychologists: William McDougall, William Brown, J. C. Flugel, Cyril Burt, C. Alec Mace and Francis Aveling, is described. Personal, metaphysical and socio-historical factors in their collaboration are discussed. It is suggested that the main reason for their mutual attraction was their common engagement in a delicate balancing act between courting popular appeal on the one hand and the assertion of scientific expertise and authority on the other. Their interaction is typical of the boundary work performed at this transitional stage in the development of psychology as a discipline.

“Psychology and psychical research in France around the end of the 19th century” (Régine Plas)

During the last third of the 19th century, the ‘new’ French psychology developed within ‘the hypnotic context’ opened up by Charcot. In spite of their claims to the scientific nature of their hypnotic experiments, Charcot and his followers were unable to avoid the miracles that had accompanied mesmerism, the forerunner of hypnosis. The hysterics hypnotized in the Salpêtrière Hospital were expected to have supernormal faculties and these experiments opened the door to psychical research. In 1885 the first French psychology society was founded. The research carried out by this society may seem surprising: its members – Charles Richet in particular – were interested in strange phenomena, like magnetic lucidity, ‘mental suggestion’, thought-reading, etc. Very quickly, psychologists applied themselves to finding rational explanations for these supposedly miraculous gifts. Generally, they ascribed them to unconscious or subconscious perceptual mechanisms. Finally, after a few years, studies of psychical phenomena were excluded from the field of psychology. However, during the 4th International Congress of Psychology, which took place in Paris in 1900, the foundation of an institute devoted to the study of psychical phenomena was announced, but Pierre Janet and Georges Dumas founded within it the Société Française de Psychologie, from which psychical research was excluded. As for Charles Richet, disappointed by the psychologists, he devoted himself to the development of a new ‘science’ which he called ‘Métapsychique’. Several hypotheses have been put forward to account for this early research undertaken by the French psychologists, pertaining as much to parapsychology as to scientific psychology.

“Metapsychics in Spain: Acknowledging or questioning the marvellous?” (Annette Mülberger and Mónica Balltondre)

The present article deals with a kind of parapsychology called metapsychics (metapsíquica) as conceived and practised in Spain between 1923 and 1925. First we focus on the reception of a treatise by Richet that evoked both support (Ferrán) and criticism (Mira). Then we examine some experiments on clairvoyance performed at the Marquis of Santa Cara’s home, dealing chiefly with the rise and fall of a case of prodigious vision. The analysis gives special attention to the question of how metapsychics was understood and to which discussions it gave rise. The authors argue that the project of metapsychics must be understood within a frame of two tendencies, namely, the increasing popularization and the demarcation of science that were under way in modern society.

“Sándor Ferenczi and the problem of telepathy” (Júlia Gyimesi)

Sándor Ferenczi, the great representative of the Budapest School of Psychoanalysis, had a lifelong interest in psychical phenomena. Although his ideas on the psychoanalytical understanding of spiritualistic phenomena and telepathy were not developed theories, they had a strong influence on some representatives of psychoanalysis, and thus underlay the psychoanalytic interpretation of telepathy. Ferenczi’s ideas on telepathy were interwoven with his most important technical and theoretical innovations. Thus Ferenczi’s thoughts on telepathy say a lot about his psychoanalytical thinking and attitudes, and illuminate the significance of his greatest innovations in the context of psychical research.

“The Fukurai affair: Parapsychology and the history of psychology in Japan” (Miki Takasuna)

The history of psychology in Japan from the late 19th century until the first half of the 20th century did not follow a smooth course. After the first psychological laboratory was established at Tokyo Imperial University in 1903, psychology in Japan developed as individual specialties until the Japanese Psychological Association was established in 1927. During that time, Tomokichi Fukurai, an associate professor at Tokyo Imperial University, became involved with psychical research until he was forced out in 1913. The Fukurai affair, as it is sometimes called, was not documented in textbooks on the history of Japanese psychology prior to the late 1990s. Among earlier generations of Japanese psychologists, it has even been taboo for discussion. Today, the affair and its after-effects are considered to have been a major deterrent in the advancement of clinical psychology in Japan during the first half of the 20th century.

For more information, click here.

New issue – History of the Human Sciences

hhsA new issue of History of the Human Sciences is available online. It is a special issue devoted to Michel Foucault and contains the following articles:

Foucault across the disciplines: introductory notes on contingency in critical inquiry (Colin Koopman)

Foucault is one of the most widely cited thinkers across social sciences and humanities disciplines today. Foucault’s appeal, and ongoing value, across the disciplines has much to do with the power of his thought and his method to help us see the contingency of practices we take to be inevitable. It is argued in this introductory article that Foucault’s emphasis on contingency is as misunderstood as it is influential. I distinguish two senses of contingency in Foucault. A first sense, widely acknowledged, concerns Foucault’s facility at showing that a taken-for-natural practice is in fact contingently produced. A second sense, widely neglected, concerns the facility of Foucauldian methods for grasping how a given practice was contingently produced. The second sense of contingency opens up possibilities for practical transformation that the former sense of contingency largely leaves to the side.

Déraison (Ian Hacking)

Michel Foucault’s famous book on madness first appeared in 1961 as Folie et Déraison. When it was reissued in 1972, ‘Déraison’ had dropped from the title, but it remained dense in the text, often capitalized or italicized. No two texts, abridgements, or translations of the madness book are identical with respect to the word. It is translated as ‘unreason’, but what does it mean? How did Foucault use it? Why did he come to downplay it? The relationships between déraison and painting and writing are explored. It is noted that the idea of ‘archaeology of knowledge’ is introduced in connection with a discussion of folie and déraison as displayed in Racine’s Andromaque.

In praise of counter-conduct (Arnold I. Davidson)

Without access to Michel Foucault’s courses, it was extremely difficult to understand his reorientation from an analysis of the strategies and tactics of power immanent in the modern discourse on sexuality (1976) to an analysis of the ancient forms and modalities of relation to oneself by which one constituted oneself as a moral subject of sexual conduct (1984). In short, Foucault’s passage from the political to the ethical dimension of sexuality seemed sudden and inexplicable. Moreover, it was clear from his published essays and interviews that this displacement of focus had consequences far beyond the specific domain of the history of sexuality. Security, Territory, Population (Foucault, 2007) contains a conceptual hinge, a key concept, that allows us to link together the political and ethical axes of Foucault’s thought. Indeed, it is Foucault’s analysis of the notions of conduct and counter-conduct in his lecture of 1 March 1978 that seems to me to constitute one of the richest and most brilliant moments in the entire course. It is astonishing, and of profound significance, that the autonomous sphere of conduct has been more or less invisible in the history of modern (as opposed to ancient) moral and political philosophy. This article argues that a new attention should be given to this notion, both in Foucault’s work and more generally.

Foucault and the politics of our selves (Amy Allen)

Exploring the apparent tension between Foucault’s analyses of technologies of domination – the ways in which the subject is constituted by power–knowledge relations – and of technologies of the self – the ways in which individuals constitute themselves through practices of freedom – this article endeavors to makes two points: first, the interpretive claim that Foucault’s own attempts to analyse both aspects of the politics of our selves are neither contradictory nor incoherent; and, second, the constructive claim that Foucault’s analysis of the politics of our selves, though not entirely satisfactory as it stands, provides important resources for the project of critical social theory.

Toward a left art of government: from ‘Foucauldian critique’ to Foucauldian politics (James Ferguson)

Many contemporary uses of Foucauldian modes of analysis to ‘critique power’ (as it is often put) today lead to a rather sterile form of political engagement, in which denunciation (the politics of the ‘anti’) takes the place of positive political programs, and the strategies of government that such positive programs necessarily entail. Attention to some of Foucault’s own remarks about politics hints at a different political sensibility, in which empirical experimentation rather than moralistic denunciation takes center place. This article identifies some examples of such experimentation that come out of recent research on the politics of social assistance in southern Africa, and draws conclusions regarding the prospects for developing a ‘left art of government’.

‘Could you define the sense you give the word “political”’? Michel Foucault as a political philosopher (Hans Sluga)

Foucault’s political thinking is focused on the concept of power relations. Under the influence of Nietzsche he proposes two different accounts of how power is related to human action. Nietzsche had argued, on the basis of a reading of Kant’s antinomies of pure reason, for two different accounts of that relationship. On the one hand, he had sought to understand action as a phenomenon of the will to power; on the other, he had also spoken of the will to power as an aspect of human agency. On Nietzsche’s views, we need to assert both positions even though they are for us irreconcilable. In his writings on power and action Foucault finds himself driven into adopting a similarly dual view. While he speaks of action in the nineteen seventies as subsidiary to power relations, he reverses himself in the nineteen eighties by treating power as a feature of human action. Just like Nietzsche, he offers us no way of reconciling these two distinct accounts.

Political science after Foucault (Mark Bevir)

This article concerns the relevance of postfoundationalism, including the ideas of Michel Foucault, for political science. The first half of the article distinguishes three forms of postfoundationalism, all of which draw some of their inspiration from Foucault. First, the governmentality literature draws on Marxist theories of social control, and then absorbs Foucault’s focus on power/knowledge. Second, the post-Marxists combine the formal linguistics of Saussure with a focus on hegemonic discourses. Third, some social humanists infuse Foucauldian themes into the New Left’s focus on culture, agency and resistance. The second half of the article then describes a research program that may bring together these varieties of postfoundationalism. This research program includes aggregate concepts that overtly allow for the constitutive role of meanings in social life and the contingent nature of these meanings. The concepts are: situated agency, practice and power. A postfoundational research program also needs concepts that demarcate a historicist form of explanation, that is, concepts such as narrative, tradition and dilemma. Finally, this research program contains specific empirical focuses to link these aggregate and explanatory concepts back to governmentality, post-Marxism and social humanism.

Archaeological choreographic practices: Foucault and Forsythe (Mark Franko)

Although Michel Foucault never wrote of dance as an example of a bodily discipline in the classical age, he did affect the art of contemporary ballet through his influence on the work of William Forsythe. This article interprets Foucault’s influence on Forsythe up until the early 1990s and also examines how Forsythe’s choreography ‘responded’ to issues of agency, inscription and discipline that characterize Foucault’s thought on corporeality. Ultimately, it asks whether Forsythe’s use of Foucauldian theory leads to a reinterpretation of inscription in Foucault.

Foucault on painting (Catherine M. Soussloff)

Michel Foucault’s understanding of painting oriented him and his readers to an alternative history of art through a means or an approach well known to philosophers and literary critics, that of irony. A close reading of the first chapter of The Order of Things shows that Foucault rejected the traditional interpretations of art history generated by a focus on the intentions of the individual artist, the identification of the subjects portrayed, and the expectations of a genre, relying instead on a synthesis of the approaches to painting given by Merleau-Ponty and Jacques Lacan, which converged with his ironic approach.

For more information, click here.

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

New issue – History of the Human Sciences

hist human sciencesThe February 2011 issue of History of the Human Sciences is now out and includes an article by Anne Sealey entitled “The strange case of the Freudian case history: the role of long case histories in the development of psychoanalysis”. The abstract reads:

Sigmund Freud’s five long case histories have been the focus of seemingly endless fascination and criticism. This article examines how the long case-history genre developed and its impact on the professionalization of psychoanalysis. It argues that the long case histories, using a distinctive form that highlighted the peculiarities of psychoanalytic theory, served as exemplars in the discipline. In doing so, the article extends John Forrester’s work on ‘thinking in cases’ to show the practical implications of that style of reasoning. The article illustrates how the form disappeared once the theoretical basis of the movement was set. The genre never became institutionalized, although the content of the five long case histories did, because of Freud’s accepted role as theoretician of psychoanalysis.

Another article, by Stewart Justman, is entitled “From medicine to psychotherapy: the placebo effect” and its abstract reads:

If placebos have been squeezed out of medicine to the point where their official place is in clinical trials designed to identify their own confounding effect, the placebo effect nevertheless thrives in psychotherapy. Not only does psychotherapy dispose of placebo effects that are less available to medicine as it becomes increasingly technological and preoccupied with body parts, but factors of the sort inhibiting the use of placebos in medicine have no equivalent in psychology. Medicine today is disturbed by the placebo effect in a way psychotherapy is not. Psychotherapy does not have to grapple with such a disconcerting paradox as successful sham surgery, and unlike those physicians who once pretended to treat the patient’s body while actually attempting to treat the mind, the psychotherapist can treat the mind in all frankness. Perhaps it is because psychotherapy is less burdened by doubts about the placebo effect that it was able to come to its aid when it was orphaned by medicine. It is vain to expect something with so long a history as the placebo effect to disappear from the practices of healing.

More information, as well as a complete table of contents, can be found at here.

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