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

Continue Reading


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.

Continue Reading


History of Psychology Round-Up: From Phineas to Film

Every 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.

Continue Reading

Children and Teens

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.

Continue Reading


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

While 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.

Continue Reading


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

Every 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.

Continue Reading


History of Psychology: Asylums for the Wealthy

Money may not buy you love. But in the 19th century, if you were well off, it could snag you a “home-away-from-home” private hospital. These rich-only places were a far cry from the overcrowded and filthy public asylums of the day, according to this article in March's issue of Monitor on Psychology.

The terrible conditions of public asylums that prompted physicians to open their homes to wealthy psychiatric patients. Rich patients could expect tranquil, scenic environments and -- for that time ­-- state-of-the-art treatments. Boris Sidis was one of the physicians who established a private hospital.

Continue Reading


History of Psychology Round-Up: From Psychoanalysis’s Birthplace to Britain’s Last Rites

Every month I share the most interesting articles I’ve come across while writing about the history of psychology.

This month, you'll find everything from the birthplace of psychoanalysis in America -- hint: it’s not New York City -- to the founder of cognitive psychology to an entire series on mental illness and last rites.

Let's get started...

Continue Reading

Brain and Behavior

History of Psychology: A New Twist in the Case of Little Albert

In 1920, behaviorist John Watson and his graduate student-turned-wife Rosalie Rayner conducted a conditioning experiment that everyone who’s ever taken an intro psychology course knows all too well: They taught 9-month-old Albert to fear a variety of stimuli that were seemingly innocuous to him from the start.

The most famous example involved a rat. When a rat was first placed alongside Little Albert, he appeared interested and unafraid. When the researchers paired the rat with a loud noise, over time, Albert got scared.

In fact, Albert would start crying at the mere sight of the rat, even though the noise was gone. It turned out that Albert's newfound fear also extended beyond the rat. He started fearing other furry objects.

Watson used this experiment to substantiate his theory that babies were blank states, and the environment was powerful in influencing them. This experiment was always considered controversial, and many psychologists were curious if Albert’s learned fears continued into adulthood. (That's because Watson and Rayner never deconditioned him.)

But no one knew Little Albert’s identify or his fate... until a few years ago.

Continue Reading


A Glimpse into Marriage Advice from the 1950s

As divorce rates in the U.S. were rising by the end of World War II, so were fears over the state of marriage and family life. Skyrocketing rates sent many couples to seek expert advice to bolster their marriages.

During this time, the idea that marriage could be saved -- and a divorce prevented -- with enough work gained ground, according to Kristin Celello, assistant professor of history at Queens College, City University of New York, in her fascinating book Making Marriage Work: A History of Marriage and Divorce in the Twentieth-Century United States. A slew of experts stepped in to help American couples strengthen their unions -- and with some interesting suggestions.

These experts, however, weren’t necessarily trained therapists or even anyone who had anything to do with psychology. Take marriage expert Paul Popenoe, for example. He was incredibly well-known and established one of America’s first marriage counseling centers in the 1930s, made regular media appearances and contributed to Ladies Home Journal -- and he was a horticulturalist.

The marriage prescriptions of the 1950s could be summed up in one sentence: It was mainly a woman’s job to foster a happy marriage and steer it away from divorce.

Continue Reading


Carl Jung’s Five Key Elements to Happiness

I love reading Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist credited with being the developer of analytical psychology.

I especially enjoy his book Memories, Dreams, Reflections. His work is very challenging, however, so to get my Jung fix, I also read a bunch of interviews that he gave that were printed in the collection C.G. Jung Speaking. They are a fascinating read.

In 1960, journalist Gordon Young asked Jung, "What do you consider to be more or less basic factors making for happiness in the human mind?"

Jung answered with the five following elements...

Continue Reading


History of Psychology Roundup: From Maslow’s Bio to James’s Letters

Every month I feature some of the most interesting pieces I’ve come across about the history of psychology. (For instance, check out this post and this post.)

This month there’s everything from a thorough biography of America’s most important psychologist to a slideshow about one neurologist’s use of photographs to substantiate lobotomy’s success. Hope you find them fascinating!

1. “Abraham Maslow and the All-American Self”

In this detailed piece in The New Atlantis, writer and contributing editor Algis Valiunas discusses essentially anything and everything you’d want to know about Abraham Maslow. Maslow was one of the founders of humanistic psychology and is best known for creating Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Valiunas describes Maslow as “the most important American psychologist since William James, and perhaps the most important psychologist altogether since Carl Jung.” In the article, he reveals bits of Maslow’s difficult childhood, roundabout education and influences and provides an in-depth discussion of his research and philosophies.

Continue Reading