21st July BPS/UCL History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar

Professor Vincent Barras (University of Lausanne)
‘Plays between Reason, Language and Gods: The Case of Glossolalia 19-20th Centuries’

Glossolalia, or speaking in tongues, plays a surprisingly important role in discussions between theologians, psychologists, and psychiatrists at the turn of the 20th century on the relationships between religious psychology, mental automatisms, subliminal processes and inner language and in the formation of modern psychology itself. Its role in the formation of modern psychology will be reconstructed, with particular emphasis on the debates around the Swiss theologian Emile Lombard’s masterpiece of 1910, “Concerning glossolalia in the early Christians and similar phenomena.”

Time: 6pm to 7.30 pm.

Location: Arts and Humanities Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet Place, University College London.

UCL and British Psychological Society History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series, 30th June 2014

Dr. Sarah Chaney (UCL)
 
‘A Perversion of Self-Feeling’: The Emergence of Self-Harm in Victorian Asylum Psychiatry
 
This paper explores the emergence of self-harm as a specific category of abnormal individual behaviour in the second half of the nineteenth century, when ‘self-mutilation’ was defined within asylum psychiatry. I will briefly explain the background of the asylum system and psychiatric profession in Western Europe and the USA in this period, and describe how ‘self-mutilation’ emerged from the interest clinicians had in classifying and defining ‘insane’ behaviour. In particular, this was associated with the widespread publicity given to the increasing decision to regard suicidal acts as evidence of mental illness. While it is often assumed today that Victorian writers made no distinction between suicidal and non-suicidal self-injury, I argue that this was not the case. Psychiatrists in the nineteenth century frequently claimed that self-mutilation was not carried out for suicidal reasons, although they differed in their method of applying alternative meaning to such acts.

Finally, I will explore why it was that this distinction was made in this particular period, and what led psychiatrists to draw parallels between different kinds of self-inflicted injury to create a universal category. The concept of self-harm today is often used to refer to an act of injury; this application, I argue, emerged from late nineteenth-century asylum psychiatry. While people had certainly harmed themselves in a variety of ways prior to this period, the late nineteenth century was the first time these diverse acts – from skin-picking to amputation – became regarded as equivalent behaviours. Combining them under the umbrella term ‘self-mutilation’ prompted the idea that some form of universal meaning might also be discoverable. Self-harm became viewed as an act that had meaning beyond the physical nature of any wounds inflicted or the immediate sensations caused; an act that revealed something of the character of an individual; and, in addition, an act that might help to explain the relationship between individual and society.
 
Organiser: Professor Sonu Shamdasani (UCL)
 
Time: 6pm to 7.30 pm.
 
Location:  Arts and Humanities Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet Place, University College London.

UCL and British Psychological Society History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series

Monday 16th June
 
Dr. Graham Richards (UCL)
 
Some Psychological Facets of Creationism
 
This presentation explores the psychological aspects of the debates around Creationism. It explores the  psychological character of the ‘Argument from Design’ and how this has changed over time from Ray, via Paley to current Intelligent Design theorists, the underlying motivations of Creationists, and the relevance to these debates of Paul Tillich’s discussion of ‘types of anxiety,’ and the history of ‘literal’ biblical fundamentalism. It signposts how psychology has the potential to illuminate the Creationism/Intelligent Design issue in ways which might break what is currently a log-jam of ritualised argument and counter-argument.
Organiser: Professor Sonu Shamdasani (UCL)
 
Time: 6pm to 7.30 pm.
 
Location:  Arts and Humanities Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet Place, University College London.

Psychedelics and Psychotherapy: A historical workshop (26 July 2014)

While cultural histories of  psychedelics have become a popular industry, there has been comparatively little work done on the ways in which mind altering substances, such as LSD or psilocybin, have been used by psychiatrists, psychotherapists, and psychologists during the second half of the 20th century. The aim of the workshop is to start a discussion of the various ways in which such compounds have been used within the psy disciplines, as a form of therapy, as tools for psychological exploration, or as theoretical catalysts for various models of the mind.

To register, go to: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/psychedelics-and-psychotherapy-a-historical-workshop-tickets-9569194719

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UCL/British Psychological Society History of the Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series

Monday 24th March
 
Dr. Mike Jay
 
Over the Edge: William Sargant and the Battle for the Mind
 
In his bestselling book of 1957, Battle for the Mind, the psychiatrist William Sargant revealed to the public the secret techniques that had been used to manipulate humanity, in his words, ‘from the Stone Age to Hitler’. His ideas were adopted by public intellectuals including Robert Graves, Aldous Huxley and Bertrand Russell.
 
Sargant’s theory was perhaps the most potent manifestation of postwar psychiatry in British popular culture, both drawing on and contributing to its aura of power and expertise. He presented a stark image of a modern world that had outgrown religious consolation but was not yet rational enough to resist the forms of control that were replacing it.
 
Organiser: Professor Sonu Shamdasani (UCL)
 
Time: 6pm to 7.30 pm.
 
Location:  Arts and Humanities Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet Place, University College London.
 
From the Torrington Place entrance to UCL, enter the campus on Malet Place. After fifty metres, you will find Foser court on the right hand side. Turn right under the underpass, and enter via the second door on the right. The common room is straight ahead.

UCL/British Psychological Society History of the Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series, Monday 25th November

Dr. Andreas Sommer (Cambridge)

 The last Romantic? Carl du Prel (1839-1899) and the Formation of German Experimental Psychology

 Although the philosopher Carl du Prel was arguably the most popular German-language theorist of the unconscious mind immediately preceding Sigmund Freud, his work has received remarkably little attention in histories of the mind sciences. Revered by artists such as Rilke and Kandinsky, du Prel was read by psychologists like William James, Frederic W. H. Myers, Carl Gustav Jung and Freud, who referred to the philosopher in ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’ as “that brilliant mystic”. Taken up and advanced by Frederic W. H. Myers and Edmund Gurney in England, du Prel’s integrative psychological research programme became a competing brand of German physiological psychology and significantly informed the psychological methodologies of William James in the US and Théodore Flournoy in Switzerland. Sketching the formation and reception of du Prel’s ideas, this talk will reconstruct the hardening of epistemological and methodological boundaries of German experimental psychology, partly in response to his radical research programme. Through a discussion of the cultural and political backdrop of late-nineteenth century German science, it also hopes to shed light on factors for the curious neglect of du Prel and his ideas in conventional histories of psychology.

 Organiser: Professor Sonu Shamdasani (UCL)

 Time: 6pm to 7.30 pm.

 Location:

Arts and Humanities Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet Place, University College London. From the Torrington Place entrance to UCL, enter the campus on Malet Place. After fifty metres, you will find Foser court on the right hand side. Turn right under the underpass, and enter via the second door on the right. The common room is straight ahead.

 

Seminar, 11th November 2013

Monday 11th November:Dr. Sushrut Jadhav (UCL)

UCL/British Psychological Society History of the Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series

Seminal Matters: Historical Erasures and Category Errors Concerning Semen Regulation

This seminar is in two parts:

The first part will present evidence to argue that the history of semen related disorders, currently classified as an unique and exotic mental condition amongst South Asians, is deeply flawed as it erases a significant body of western literature. As a result, the phenomena of semen loss is classified it as a South Asian Culture Bound Mental Disorder in the International Classification of Diseases (F48.8, ICD-10).

The second part will demonstrate findings from an experiment that reveals how such diagnoses can be equally constructed amongst White Britons in London. The seminar will conclude by 1) arguing these are key concerns glossed over by global mental health models that abstract local explanations of suffering to the level of a psychopathology, and 2) proposing the term ‘cultural iatrogenesis’ as a new category to be included in the classification of mental disorders.

Organiser: Professor Sonu Shamdasani (UCL)

Time: 6pm to 7.30 pm.

Note Location:
Arts and Humanities Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet Place, University College London.

From the Torrington Place entrance to UCL, enter the campus on Malet Place. After fifty metres, you will find Foser court on the right hand side. Turn right under the underpass, and enter via the second door on the right. The common room is straight ahead.