In 1970 Henri Ellenberger called attention to the previously unrecognized importance of Franz Anton Mesmer's "animal magnetism" in the rise of psychodynamic psychology in the West. This article takes the next step of tracing the course of events that led to Puységur's discovery of magnetic somnambulism and describing the tumultuous social and political climate into which it was introduced in 1784. Beginning from the secret and private publication of his first Mémoires, only a few copies of which remain today, the original core of his discovery is identified and the subsequent development of its implications are examined. Puysègur was initiated into his investigations by Mesmer's system of physical healing, which bears some resemblance to the traditional healing approaches of the East. But Puységur took Mesmer's ideas in an unexpected direction. In doing so, he accomplished a turn toward the psychological that remains one of the distinguishing features of Western culture.
Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain; 1835–1910), American humorist and writer, followed scientific and medical developments, and relished exposing questionable practices and ideas. In his youth, he pondered how phrenologists were assessing character, and in 1855 he copied sections of a phrenology book and a skull diagram into a notebook. Later, in London, he had two phrenological examinations by Lorenzo Fowler—one without and the other after identifying himself. Following his “test,” which produced contrasting results, he began to ridicule phrenologists and phrenology in Tom Sawyer , Huckleberry Finn, and other works. He underwent at least two more head readings in the United States, and in Eddypus , an unfinished work from 1901 to 1902, he maintained that phrenologists base their insights primarily on how people dress and answer questions. Although now lampooning the craniological tenets of phrenology, Twain never seemed to reject the idea of distinct faculties of mind associated with specialized brain organs.
In recent decades, various studies have challenged the traditional view that John Broadus Watson's Behaviorist Manifesto prompted a psychological revolution. However, methodological hindrances underlie all these attempts to evaluate the impact of Watson's study, such as the absence of comparative parameters. This article remedies this problem by conducting a comparative citation analysis involving Watson and eight other representative psychologists of the time: J. R. Angell, H. Carr, J. M. Cattell, J. Dewey, G. S. Hall, W. James, E. L. Thorndike, and E. B. Titchener. Eight important American journals were scrutinized for the period between 1903 and 1923, a decade before and a decade after the publication of Watson's Manifesto. The results suggest that even if Watson's study cannot be taken as revolutionary, it had an impact between 1914 and 1923 that was close to Dewey's, Titchener's, and Thorndike's and higher than Angell's, Carr's, Cattell's, and Hall's, although distant from James's. Finally, some methodological implications of this study are discussed.
Alexander Bain (1818–1903) is well known for his two influential textbooks, The senses and the intellect (1855) and The emotions and the will (1859). In comparison, Bain's Mind and body: The theories of their relation (1872) has been of limited interest to historians, and it is here where he presents one of the first neural network models. This paper addresses the historical foundations of Bain's neural network model and explores some of his primary influences. Additionally, this study addresses some of the reasons Bain's Mind and Body did not receive the historical notice his earlier works garnered.
Historiographies on the phenomenon of “autism” display Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger as the great pioneers. The recent controversy on who was first in “discovering” autism urges research into the question of how scientific discoveries relate to processes of academic reflection and social intervention. The Netherlands provide an interesting case in pioneering work in autism, since Dutch experts described autism in children already in the late 1930s, preceding the first publications on autism in children by Kanner and Asperger. This paper examines the Dutch origins of autism by focusing on Ida Frye's contribution to the teamwork at the Paedological Institute in Nijmegen, which resulted in descriptions of children with autism. The theoretical aim of this paper is to underline the importance of the productive interplay between social interventions and scientific efforts concerning the complex inner world of special children.
This paper presents a historical analysis of the genesis, context, and function of “Operative Psychology,” a little‐known branch of applied psychology developed by employees of the Ministry of State Security in the German Democratic Republic. For 25 years, theories and practices of Operative Psychology were taught to elite agents at the Juridical Academy in Potsdam, introducing them to various “silent” psychological techniques of persuasion, interrogation, and repression. After highlighting the economic and political context that increased the need for “silent” techniques of observation and repression, an overview of the topics that were taught and researched at the chair for Operative Psychology is given. Examples of how these techniques were put into practice are provided and the consequences for the victims of Operative Psychology are discussed. Furthermore, commonalities and differences between Operative Psychology and the use of psychological torture by the CIA during the “war on terror” are discussed and questions regarding the relation between methodological and moral strategies of justification are addressed.