History of Psychology Articles

3 Things You Didn’t Know About Carl Jung’s Psychosis

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

3 Things You Didn't Know About Carl Jung's PsychosisAs the founder of one of the most influential schools of psychological thought — analytical psychology — Carl Jung (also known as CG Jung) experienced what today we might call a form of psychosis. It probably wasn’t a complete psychotic break, because Jung still functioned in his daily life.

His psychosis began when he was 38 years old, when he started finding himself haunted by visions in his head and started hearing voices. Jung himself worried about this “psychosis” — things that today we’d might say were consistent with symptoms of schizophrenia (a term he also used to describe himself during this period).

Jung didn’t let these visions and hallucinations slow him down, and continued seeing patients and actively engaging in his professional life. In fact, he so enjoyed the unconscious mind he had unleashed, he found a way to summon it whenever he wanted.

The Origins of Anxiety

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

The Origins of AnxietyAccording to author and psychiatrist Jeffrey P. Kahn, M.D., in his book Angst: Origins of Anxiety & Depression, today’s disorders might’ve been yesterday’s valuable social instincts.

Today’s panic disorder might’ve prevented our ancestors from venturing to potentially dangerous places, far away from their families and tribes.

Today’s social anxiety might’ve maintained social hierarchies and peace in primitive times.

Today’s obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) might’ve helped our ancestors keep tidy and safe nests.

Rethinking the Diagnosis of Depression

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Rethinking the Diagnosis of Depression Most people diagnosed with depression today aren’t depressed, according to Edward Shorter, a historian of psychiatry, in his latest book How Everyone Became Depressed: The Rise and Fall of the Nervous Breakdown

Specifically, about 1 in 5 Americans will receive a diagnosis of major depression in their lifetime. But Shorter believes that the term major depression doesn’t capture the symptoms most of these individuals have. “Nervous illness,” however, does.

“The nervous patients of yesteryear are the depressives of today,” he writes.

And these individuals aren’t particularly sad. Rather, their symptoms fall into these five domains, according to Shorter: nervous exhaustion; mild depression; mild anxiety; somatic symptoms, such as chronic pain or insomnia; and obsessive thinking.

3 Reasons Why I Am a DSM Agnostic

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

3 Reasons Why I Am a DSM AgnosticMy first introduction to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), was standing in the kitchen of my parents’ home and witnessing my father in full rant.

My dad was a psychiatrist/ psychoanalyst of the old school. Which is to say he was brilliant, but also a man of his particular age. Which is to further say his fury was directed at the APA for taking homosexuality as a diagnosable mental illness out of the manual. It was 1973.

Hardly aware of what he was so upset about, I did hear him dramatically declare that he was withdrawing his membership in the APA. My dad loved being a psychoanalyst and he loved being a physician but he wasn’t that crazy (you should forgive the word) about being a psychiatrist. His prescription pad gathered dust as he focused on talk therapy. So his threat to quit the APA wasn’t idle. But it wasn’t like he was giving up his beloved couch.

History of Psychology Roundup: From Racy Rumors to Notorious Researchers

Saturday, November 10th, 2012

History of Psychology Roundup: From Racy Rumors to Notorious Researchers As writer Pearl Buck said, “If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday.”

Tracking how psychology has evolved throughout the centuries helps us better understand psychology today. That’s why every month we dig around to find the most interesting articles and videos on the renowned — and sometimes notorious — people and places that have led to where we are right now.

In last month’s roundup, we talked about psychology’s controversial figures and tall tales. This month is no exception. There are links about infamous psychologists John Watson and John Philippe Rushton. There are also links to psychology’s beginnings with early concepts of mental disease and the functionalist school.

History of Psychology Roundup: From Anti-Psychiatry to Broadmoor

Saturday, October 13th, 2012

History of Psychology Roundup: From Anti-Psychiatry to BroadmoorIt’s been a while since I’ve shared my favorite posts on the history of psychology. So let’s dig right in.

This month we’ve got pieces on everything from infamous psychology cases to a radical anti-psychiatry experiment to life in a high-security psychiatric hospital to the passing of one of psychiatry’s greatest critics.

“Psychology’s Tall Tales”

If you’ve ever taken an intro psychology course, you know about Phineas Gage and Kitty Genovese. Both individuals – and their compelling stories – have been used to illustrate some of psychology’s most recognized theories.

After an iron rod tore through his skill, Phineas Gage supposedly became a different man – an uninhibited, surly alcoholic who couldn’t hold down a job. His case provided convincing evidence that our frontal lobes play a pivotal role in personality and judgment.

Kitty Genovese’s murder was used to substantiate the bystander effect. This phenomenon occurs when the presence of other people prevents them from stepping in and helping in an emergency situation.

But were these cases truly solid evidence? In this piece in APA’s gradPSYCH magazine, writer Beryl Lieff Benderly takes a look at what really happened in these infamous stories. I bet this wasn’t covered in your psychology textbook.

History of Psychology Roundup: From Shell Shock to Don Juan Syndrome

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

History of Psychology Roundup: From Shell Shock to Don Juan Syndrome The history of psychology is littered with fascinating insights not only into the human mind and psyche, but also into the researchers who did the delving. Every month I share a few fascinating links about the rich history of psychology.

This month I’m sharing everything from resources on shell shock and how it was perceived during World War I, to the legitimate diagnosis of Don Juan syndrome, to American psychologist Joseph Jastrow.

Let’s dig in…

The Making of War Neuroses

In this post, Mind Hacks, one of my favorite websites, links to a piece in the Journal of the History of Medicine about a 1917 film featuring soldiers affected by “shell shock.” (The entire footage is on YouTube.) Maj. Arthur Hurst, who’s described as a curious figure, filmed these soldiers for one year as they were treated at a UK hospital. Interestingly, some of the before shots were reenacted, and according to the article, Hurst also “openly used deception as a therapeutic measure.”

History of Psychology: The Birth and Demise of Dementia Praecox

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

History of Psychology: The Birth and Demise of Dementia Praecox  “…[He] was a twenty-five-year-old graduate of the University of Zurich Medical School who had just completed his doctoral thesis on the forebrain of reptiles, had never held formal employment as a clinician or researcher, did not enjoy treating living patients during his medical training, preferred to spend his time studying the brains of the dead, and had little formal training in psychiatry.”

This is a description from Richard Noll’s fascinating book, American Madness: The Rise and Fall of Dementia Praecox, of the man who’d become the most influential psychiatrist in the U.S. in the first few decades of the 20th century — and the one who’d bring dementia praecox to America.

Swiss-born Adolf Meyer didn’t just have little formal training in psychiatry; he essentially knew nothing about it. Fortunately, in 1896, 29-year-old Meyer got the crash course he needed when he set off on a tour of European psychiatric facilities.

History of Psychology Round-Up: From Phineas to Film

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

History of Psychology Round-Up: From Phineas to FilmEvery month I share several interesting links about the history of psychology.

Last month you learned about everything from America’s first sport psychologist to Freud’s infamous patient, the Wolf Man, to what led to the rise and demise of mental asylums.

This month I share everything from recent findings on Phineas Gage to the use of film in studying worker safety and satisfaction to the real relationship between Carl Jung and his patient Sabina Spielrein.

“How I Became a Historian of Psychiatry”

I’m always curious how people enter their respective professions. (Plus, part of me has always wanted to be an historian. This is why I love writing these posts — and I’m addicted to the History Channel’s “Pawn Stars…”) The informative blog History of Psychiatryhas started a super-interesting series that delves into how individuals became historians of psychiatry. So far they’ve featured these three historians.

History of Psychology: How A Marshmallow Shaped Our Views of Self-Control

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

History of Psychology: How A Marshmallow Shaped Our Views of Self-Control Imagine that you’re 4 years old and that it’s 1968.

You’re brought into a small room, a “game room,” with a table, chair and three sugary snacks. You’re asked to pick one treat. You choose the marshmallow. Then you’re told that you can either have the marshmallow right away by ringing a bell, or wait a few minutes and get two marshmallows. Then you’re left alone for 15 minutes.

This seemingly simple experiment conducted by Austrian-born clinical psychologist Walter Mischel at Stanford University became known as “The Marshmallow Study.” But don’t let the silly name fool you. This study tested over 600 kids at the Bing Nursery School and has become one of the longest-running studies in psychology.

What Mischel actually wanted to explore had zero to do with kids’ desire for sweets, of course. The lead investigator wanted to test the concept of delayed gratification.

History of Psychology Round-Up: From The Wolf Man To Prozac

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

History of Psychology Round-Up: From The Wolf Man To ProzacWhile researching the history of psychology, I come across a lot of interesting information. Every month I share five pieces, podcasts or videos that you might find fascinating, too.

Last month we talked about Alan Turing, Carl Jung and the famous Robbers Cave Experiment.

This month we’ve got quite the array of topics and in various mediums, including a podcast and a few videos. You’ll learn about the first sport psychologist, the infamous Wolf Man, the history of treating depression, mental asylums and a recent film featuring psychology’s masterminds.

History of Psychology Round-Up: From Alan Turing to Carl Jung

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

History of Psychology Round-Up: From Alan Turing to Carl JungEvery month I share five fascinating articles or podcasts I’ve recently come across while researching the history of psychology.

This month you’ll find everything from information about Alan Turing to Phineas Gage to Carl Jung to the infamous Robbers Cave Experiment.

Alan Turing

This year marks a century since Alan Turing’s birth. A mathematician and code-breaker, Turing also was the founder of computer science and artificial intelligence. Nature has a variety of articles and a podcast on everything from Turing’s famous 1936 paper to his other interests. Also, here’s another podcast that explores Turing’s tragic life and his incredible contributions.

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