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

UCL/British Psychological Society History of the Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series
UCL Health Humanities Centre/Institute of Advanced Studies

 

Monday 15 February 2016

 

Dr. Shaul Bar-Heim (Birbeck)

 

‘The apostolic function’: Michael Balint and the postwar GP

 

What started in the early 1950s as a small informal peer-group of GPs, based in the Tavistock Clinic, became by the 1960s one of the most influential medical movements of the postwar era: the Balint movement. Named after the British-Hungarian psychoanalyst, Michael Balint, the theoretical assumption behind Balint Groups was that many doctors – and especially family doctors – do not know yet how to use one of the most important medical tools, namely, what Balint described as the ‘drug doctor.’. This was particularly true, he believed, in psychosomatic illnesses and medical cases with a clear psychosocial nature.

 

This paper will contextualize the emergence of the Balint movement within the heyday of welfarist ideology, where GPs were encouraged to take a parental role in running the emotional economy of domestic lives in their communities. Thus, patients and doctors were invited to adopt a psychoanalytical language which focuses on internal feelings, emotions, and unconscious behavior of the individual. At the same time, however, a new kind of medical authority emerged – one which played a crucial role as a social and ethical guidance in the postwar British welfare 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.

 

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 1 February 2016 Dr. Irina Sirotkina (Russian Academy of Sciences, Institute for the History of Science and Technology, Moscow) Kinaesthesia and the Avant-garde 

With a project as much anthropological as artistic, the re-creation of the human being and the renewal of human feelings, the avant-garde could not and did not ignore kinaesthesia. Filipo Marinetti conceived of a new art of touch — ‘tactilism’; with the futurist artist Benedetta Cappa, he created palpable ‘tables for the travelling hand.’ Avant-garde artists reassessed the ideas of theosophy and anthroposophy about ‘higher sensitivity’ — an unmediated access through feelings to the other, higher world. Vassily Kandinsky wrote on ‘fine sensitivity’ as a direct perception of ‘abstraction’ and on ‘abstract motion’ and dance, and Mikhail Matiushin experimented with ‘enlarged vision’ which included kinaesthesia and other feelings.Many of the avant-garde artists were athletic and adroit, danced, played in theatre and cinema, fought and engaged in sport. They were eager to use kinaesthesia as a creative resource: Vladimir Mayakovsky, for example, insisted on composing verses in motion.

 

The avant-garde stressed practical ‘know how,’ the skill, the art of doing, in opposition to theoretical ‘knowing what.’ For making such knowledge, kinaesthesia is indispensable. In Russia, the post-Revolutionary cult of labour, the production art (proizvodstvennoe iskusstvo) and constructivism facilitated the growth of such knowledge, an alternative to academic forms. Yet it was initiated earlier, by the Russian Formalists, who adored dance, sport, theatre and the circus. By questioning the traditional hierarchy in which practice is inferior to theory, the avant-garde artists contemplated a “kinaesthetic turn” in the humanities. A century later, on the way to legitimating this new kind of knowledge, the avant-garde artists are still in the avant-garde.

 

 

 

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 25 January 2016 Professor Hilary Marland (University of Warwick) Disordered in morals and mind: prisoners and mental illness late nineteenth-century England

From the early nineteenth century to the current day reformers, policy makers, prison governors and medical officers have grappled with relentlessly high levels of mental illness in prisons. Since the creation of ‘modern’ and specialised prisons and prison regimes, prison regimes and conditions – the separate system, solitary confinement and overcrowding – were criticised for their impact on the mental wellbeing of their inmates. This paper explores the management of mentally ill prisoners in the late nineteenth century, paying particular attention to Liverpool Borough Prison. Managing mentally ill prisoners – male and female – became a significant part of the prison surgeons’ workload and a drain on the prison’s resources. Drawing on underexploited prison archives, official papers, medical literature, and asylum casebooks, this paper examines the efforts of prison officers to cope with mental illness among prison populations, and how these drew on, reflected and reinforced late nineteenth-century preoccupations with the criminal mind. 

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 Health Humanities Centre/British Psychological Society History of the Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series

Thursday 29 October 2015
Dr. Matthew Smith (University of Strathclyde)
Getting on in Gotham: Preventing Mental Illness in New York City, 1945-1980

 

In 1962, the authors of the Mental Health in the Metropolis: The Midtown Manhattan Project made a startling claim: fewer than 1 in 5 (18.5%) Manhattanites were in good mental health. Although a third of the population was believed to suffer only from mild symptoms, a quarter were believed to be incapacitated by their mental health problems. Such figures merely underlined the argument made by many American psychiatrists following the Second World War: that mental illness was rife in American society and that the only way to stop its spread was to undertake preventive action. Responding positively to this rhetoric was President Kennedy who a year later passed the Community Mental Health Act, which had prevention at its core. By 1980, however, preventive psychiatry was on the wane, to be eclipsed by psychopharmacology. This paper examines how preventive approaches to mental illness were conceptualised and introduced in New York City, paying particular attention to the perceived relationship between the urban environment and mental health.
Organiser: Professor Sonu Shamdasani (UCL)
Time: 6.15pm to 7.45 pm (note different time).

Location: (note different location): Seminar Room 11, Institute of Advanced Studies, 1st Floor, South Wing, Wilkins Building, University College London, Gower Street. 
Directions: From the front gates to the main UCL campus Gower Street, head diagonally across the quad and enter. Turn right, and go up the stairs or lift to the first floor. Take the corridor to the left. Room 11 is on the right hand side.

Bloomsbury and Psychoanalysis at UCL, 12th September 2015

UCL Health Humanities Centre and Seikei University present a one-day conference:

Conversations between Bloomsbury & Psychoanalysis: Mutual Influence or Incomprehension

Featuring Sally Alexander (Goldsmiths College), Fuhito Endo (Seikei University), Dee McQuillan (UCL), Kunio Shin (Tsuda College Tokyo), Helen Tyson (QMUL).

11.30am-5.30pm, 12th September, Room 103, 51 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PN.

For further details see:

Bloomsbury and psychoanalysis conference

Register at Eventbrite

Supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science

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

Monday 13 July  2015

 

Professor Robert Segal (University of Aberdeen)

 

The Course of Modern Psychoanalyzing About Myth

 

This talk will trace the history of psychoanalysing about myth through the major figures:  Freud, Rank, Roheim, Arlow, Bettelheim, Jung. and Campbell.  Myth has never been just an unconscious expression of the Oedipus complex and over the years has become much more.

Robert Segal is the author of The Poimandres as Myth: Scholarly Theory and Gnostic Meaning, Religion and the Social Sciences: Essays on the ConfrontationJoseph Campbell: An Introduction. Explaining and Interpreting Religion, Theorizing about Myth and Myth: A Very Short Introduction, among other works.

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.

Brainwash: History, Cinema and the Psy-Professions

 

brainwash

The Hidden Persuaders project group  at Birkbeck, University of London will be holding a two-day conference on 3-4th July on the Psy-professions in cinema. To register, see https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/brainwash-history-cinema-and-the-psy-professions-tickets-16380168525

The history of cinema, like the history of psychoanalysis, psychiatry and psychotherapy, percolates with Western suspicions that our minds are susceptible to covert, even unconscious manipulation. Cinema and psychoanalysis—two essential exponents of subjectivity in the twentieth century—have been celebrated as royal roads to the unconscious, catalysts for our dreams, and means of self-discovery and human emancipation. But cinema and psychotherapy, Freudian or otherwise, have also been castigated for their special capacity to tap the unconscious, and as tools for mind control, even as they have depicted and shaped understanding of what it means to have or to manipulate a mind. 

 Early cinema had frequently explored the hypnotic processes it was accused of inducing. But the intersecting fears of mind control at the movies and in the consulting room seemingly entered a new stage of complexity with the Cold War. New theoretical and visual languages of ‘brainwashing’ emerged, and the ideas of Pavlov and of Freud were often placed side by side. In the decades after 1950 (the year in which the word ‘brainwashing’ was coined), film further explored subliminal interference. Roles for ‘psy’ experts working for shadowy organisations were to feature, and the dangers of psychological experiment returned again and again. 

 Visions of ‘conditioning’ and ‘programming’ resonated on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Work such as Shivers (1981) by the Polish filmmaker Marczewski explored the communist indoctrination of young people. In the West, films such as The Mind Benders (1963), The Ipcress File (1965), A Clockwork Orange (1971) and The Parallax View (1974) played upon conjoined political and psychological terrors of brainwashing.  Most famous, ironic, and perhaps most imitated of all works in this tradition was The Manchurian Candidate (1962). Meanwhile, many specialist commentators in the human sciences explored the vulnerability of the ‘captive mind’, considered the psychic effects of ‘totalitarianism’, the nature of induced desires and manufactured anxieties, advertising, not to mention extreme sensory experiences (and deprivation) in shaping behaviour and thought. The limits of an individual—or a group’s—capacity to remember, to will, to know, and to organize were probed; and terms such as ‘regression’ and ‘automatism’ gained a substantial new purchase.

 In this workshop we ask whether the Cold War obsession with brainwashing was a break with past narratives and anxieties over mental manipulation and suggestion. We consider how far cinema, television and video have been caught up in this history of hidden or coercive persuasion, and how far they have changed the terms of debate. What forms of human experimentation inspired interest in brainwashing, and vice versa?  And how and why did depictions of automatism on screen so often connect to fears of the ‘psy’ professions?

 In addressing these questions we revisit some iconic and obscure brainwashing sagas of the past. By re-examining Cold War films and some of their precursors, we invite discussion of the representation of coercively altered states of consciousness—the dangerous spell that film and ‘the talking cure’ have been said to exert. We ask: how have ‘suggestion’, ‘hypnosis’, ‘automatism’ and ‘brainwashing’ featured in these stories? What plot lines and visual aesthetics has ‘brainwashing’ inspired? Why did the clinical expert feature so prominently in such films? How and why have fears of brainwashing figured in the critique of the therapeutic encounter? What should we make of the role of hypnosis in the early warnings about the dangers of cinema (and its darkened rooms)?How might we map and historicise such fears and fantasies? Do the same fears recur, the same plots unfold, or do hypnosis and brainwashing play out differently, in Europe and the US, East and West, pre-war and post-war? 

For more information about the The Hidden Persuaders project, led by Daniel Pick at Birkbeck, University of London and funded by the Wellcome Trust, see their website: http://www.bbk.ac.uk/hiddenpersuaders/