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

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.”

Shell Shocked

Professor Edgar Jones, Ph.D, also discusses shell shock in June’s issue of APA’s Monitor on Psychology. Specifically, he shares the story of psychologist Charles S. Myers and how he persuaded the British army to take shell shock seriously. Myers’s principles are still followed today.

Hypersexual Disorder: An Encounter with Don Juan in the Archives

Greg Eghigian, Ph.D, talks about Don Juan syndrome, a diagnosis given to various types of male hypersexuality, in this Psychiatric Times post. He also includes an excerpt from a 19th century physician and discusses the different causal theories over time. Here’s a peek at the excerpt:

He is seized with a violent and continued satyriasis, and with such salacity, that he pursued beyond measure his wife, his daughters, and all those females who came in his way. This man, formerly so pious, so modest, fell into the most erotic delirium, and abandoned himself without measure to proposals and acts the most indecent. This state increased for about three months, during which time his mind and strength became weakened; when, following a violent passion, which was occasioned by the refusal of his wife, lassato viro et satiate, he fell into a convulsion . . .4

Today in the History of Psychology

This interesting website from Central Washington University lets you enter any date of the year to see what happened on that day in the history of psychology. (I could do this for hours!)

For instance, here’s what happened on July 4th:

1841 — Wilhelm T. Preyer was born. Preyer’s contributions were in the areas of color vision and child development. Preyer wrote the first book that specifically addressed child psychology, The Mind of the Child (1881).

1911 — The first mental hospital in the province of Alberta, located in Ponoka, was opened for the admission of patients. Alberta was part of the Northwest Territories until 1905 and its residents with mental illness were previously treated in Manitoba provincial institutions at the rate of one dollar per day.

1936 — The journal Nature published a short report by Hans Selye titled “A Syndrome Produced by Diverse Nocuous Agents.” This was the first published description of Selye’s “general adaptation syndrome” and described stressor-induced stages of alarm, adaptation, and exhaustion. The article, submitted on May 18, 1936, aroused considerable controversy and research.

1971 — The first Symposium of the International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development was held in Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

The Intrepid Joseph Jastrow

The Department of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison features an excerpt about Joseph Jastrow (1863 –1944), an American experimental psychologist who received his doctorate degree from the first psychology lab in the U.S. (G. Stanley Hall’s at Johns Hopkins).

In it you’ll learn about Jastrow’s background along with his contributions to psychology (and his later diatribes against behaviorism and the followers of Freud).


?What interesting pieces have you read lately about the history of psychology?
Please share in the comments section.


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

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.

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APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2018). History of Psychology Roundup: From Shell Shock to Don Juan Syndrome. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 25, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 15 Jul 2012)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.