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

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

History of Psychology Roundup: From Maslows Bio to Jamess LettersEvery 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.

2. “Go Rest, Young Man

In the short story “The Yellow Wallpaper,” writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman recounts the rest cure that physician Silas Weir Mitchell prescribed for “nervous” women, including her: a lot of food, forced bedrest and alone time. But Mitchell’s treatment for nervous men was completely different.

As writer and English professor Anne Stiles explains in this Monitor on Psychology piece, “While Mitchell put worried women to bed, he sent anxious men out West to engage in prolonged periods of cattle roping, hunting, roughriding and male bonding.” Here, Stiles discusses these differences along with the famous patients who enjoyed the West Cure.

3.  “The Early Psychiatrist: A Piercing Eye and Commanding Presence

As late as the 20th century, a psychiatrist’s ability to command a strong and confident presence was seen as essential in treating patients. Professor Greg Eghigian gives several examples of famous physicians who used these tactics to their advantage in this article in the Psychiatric Times.

His roster includes the hypnotizing Jean-Martin Charcot and the self-assured developers of the lobotomy Egas Moniz and Walter Freeman.

4. Walter Freeman’s Photographs

Speaking of lobotomy, apparently neurologist Walter Freeman was an avid photographer and took pre- and post-surgery pictures of his patients. He used these images as proof in presentations and publications that the lobotomy was successful. (Ironically enough it’s taking these photos that would lead to his license being revoked.)

This is a slideshow that features some of Freeman’s images and is narrated by Miriam Posner, UCLA’s digital humanities program coordinator.

5. Letters of William James

William James is known as the father of American psychology, authored the pioneering work The Principles of Psychology and made many other contributions to psychology. This is a collection of his letters published in The Atlantic Monthly in 1920. The magazine also published two additional installments of his letters.

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

Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. is an Associate Editor and regular contributor at Psych Central. Her Master's degree is in clinical psychology from Texas A&M University. In addition to writing about mental disorders, she blogs regularly about body and self-image issues on her Psych Central blog, Weightless.

One comment: View Comments / Leave a Comment
APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2018). History of Psychology Roundup: From Maslow’s Bio to James’s Letters. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 29, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 18 Feb 2012)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.