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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...

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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.

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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.

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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...

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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.

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Brain and Behavior

Back to Basics: 4 (Free) Online Psychology Courses

I live in a college town.

In fact, I live in the college town in which I used to attend college.

I moved back here a few months ago and I pass my (er, the college's) library daily. It brings back plenty of academic memories -- and, surprisingly, they're not the stressful ones. In the six years that have passed since my graduation, the memories of stress and panic and due dates and overwhelming projects has faded.

But the positive stuff remains: the nights spent in a library study nook with my Intro to Communication textbook and a highlighter. (I loved that class.)

The satisfaction of applying a concept I learned in my 9 a.m. Intro to Logic class to my 2 p.m. Composition class. (I could point out all the major logical fallacies in our assigned reading.)

The scent of the pages of a brand-new textbook. (Am I the only one who thinks that new books sort of smell like cucumbers on the inside?)

I hit the peak of wistful sentimentality last week and found a way to re-create a portion of the academic college experience (without the stress!): watching actual college lectures on Academic Earth.

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History of Psychology: Karl Kahlbaum

You may not be as familiar with Karl Kahlbaum as you are with Emil Kraepelin, one of the most pivotal psychiatrists of his time who developed the modern classification of mental disorders.

But Kahlbaum paved the way for Kraepelin's renowned work and also made some remarkable contributions of his own. In fact, Kahlbaum’s ideas --- along with his assistant Ewald Hecker --- influenced Kraepelin’s two major concepts: manic depression and dementia praecox (what we today call schizophrenia).

According to Richard Noll, associate professor of psychology at DeSales University, in his book American Madness: The Rise and Fall of Dementia Praecox, “What he produced would eventually revolutionize psychiatry once Kraepelin applied Kahlbaum’s concepts in Heidelberg [where Kraepelin lived and worked].”

Like Kraepelin, Kahlbaum was a German psychiatrist. Born in 1828 in Eastern Germany, Kahlbaum studied medicine at several universities: Königsberg, Würzburg and Leipzig. (He passed away in 1899.) After receiving his medical degree, working at a psychiatric clinic and teaching classes at Königsberg University, Kahlbaum began working at a private psychiatric hospital. He bought the hospital in 1867 and renamed the facility after himself (it was named for the previous owner).

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5 Must-Reads on the History of Psychology

Last month I shared with you four must-read pieces (and a podcast), which included the history of Bellevue Hospital’s psychiatric wing, the surgical procedure known as the lobotomy, the first child diagnosed with autism and the often-neglected group of female psychologists.

This month, I’m sharing five more fascinating links that delve into the history of psychology.

1. Psychology instruments.

This link from the University of Toronto’s Department of Psychology discusses the various instruments psychologists employed in their labs. (And there are photos, of course!)

There’s everything from an apparatus that was used to detect color blindness to a German-made “spectroscope” that tested threshold determinations to the “ergograph,” which examined muscle contraction, strength, fatigue and endurance.

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Brain and Behavior

History of Psychology: Cards to Test Your ESP!

In 1870, British explorer Sir Richard Burton allegedly coined the term “extrasensory perception” or ESP. But it wasn’t until the 1930s that the term became popular thanks to Joseph Banks (J.B.) Rhine (1895-1980).

Rhine was actually a botanist who became interested in parapsychology after listening to a lecture from Scottish author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, according to an article in APA’s Monitor on Psychology by Nick Joyce and David B. Baker, Ph.D. Doyle declared that there was scientific evidence to prove that it was possible to talk to the dead.

Rhine wanted to validate parapsychology and began working with his wife Louisa and Professor William McDougall at Duke University in 1927. According to the Rhine Research Center, before Rhine, researchers mostly explored psychic phenomenon by working with mediums to see if an afterlife really existed.

Rhine, however, wanted to know first whether the living had ESP capabilities, so he focused on testing Duke University students instead.

What did he find out?

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Review of Jung vs. Freud in A Dangerous Method

A Dangerous Method, the new David Cronenberg movie -- based upon the 2002 Christopher Hampton stage play entitled, The Talking Cure, (which in turn was based on the 1993 non-fiction book by John Kerr, A Most Dangerous Method) -- is not only about the relationships you see on the screen between Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud and Sabina Spielrein, but a breathtaking metaphor for Freud's depiction of the mind.

A successful effort on a multitude of layers, the movie offers us a rollercoaster ride in a car filled with a motley group of historical characters in psychology and psychoanalysis. The movie depicts the life of Jung and Freud's relationship from the time they first met in 1907 until their professional relationship collapses in 1913 -- a short 6 years. I saw a screening of the movie earlier this month.

But it would be wrong to characterize this as a story only about Jung and Freud's relationship. Instead, it's a larger-than-life tale about the first days of psychoanalysis and Jung's career, set against the backdrop of pre-war Europe, artfully relayed on many different levels.

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5 Must-Reads About the History of Psychology

Every month I write several articles for this blog about the history of psychology. I do this in part because, in order to know where we’re going, we must know where we’ve been.

While researching my posts, I come across many fascinating articles about psychology. Here are five diverse pieces I think you’ll find especially interesting.

1. Checkout Time at the Asylum

Bellevue Hospital is the oldest public hospital in the U.S. and arguably the most notorious. Of course that’s largely because of its psychiatric wing. In this article, writer Mark Harris traces Bellevue’s beginnings along with its famous and infamous residents.

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A Dangerous Method Movie Starts Today

What happens when history collides at the intersection of psychoanalysts Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung over a woman (who also happens to be Jung's patient)?

Find out today with the release of the new David Cronenberg (A History of Violence) flick, A Dangerous Method. It's opening in New York at The Sunshine and Lincoln Plaza and in LA at the Arclight Hollywood and The Landmark.

The movie centers around the relationship between Jung and Freud after the young Dr. Jung (Michael Fassbender) takes on a new Russian patient, Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley). But Jung and his more experienced teacher, Dr. Freud (Viggo Mortensen), both fall under the spell of Sabina, driving a wedge between the two men.
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