Wrapping Up & Drawing Conclusions

November 18: Anti-Psychiatry


November 20: Looking back over the semester

If you have a few minutes, look back over the readings, units, what we’ve talked about and think about what you found most interesting/helpful and the least interesting/helpful.


Subjectivity & Bias

November 11: Culture-Bound Syndromes




  • If other cultures can have culture-bound syndromes, can we? Or are our ideas about mental illness objective reality?
  • Are depression and PMS culture-bound syndromes? How does it relate to modernity? How is this similar to or different from concepts like neurasthenia?
  • What role should patient experiences play in understanding, treating, or defining disorders?
  • What makes something a “real” disorder versus a culture-bound one?
  • Are some culture-bound syndromes easier to understand than others? Why?
  • What modern/culture-bound illnesses can you think of in your own experience/circles?

November 13: False Memories & Moral Panics




  • Are memories fallible or can they be trusted?
  • If the former, what implications does this have for courts?
  • How do courts try to distinguish false memories from true ones? Is this different from how psychologists do this? What about from how you do this in regard to your own memories?
  • Can Satanic Panic be considered a culture-bound syndrome or should we think about it in some different way? Can culture-bound syndromes exist within small subcultures?
  • How can we explain something like Satanic Panic while taking it seriously as a belief system and experience on the part of the people who reported it?
  • Are supernatural claims primarily about religious beliefs? Are they conversions of trauma into something more understandable to the traumatized person? Are they something else?
  • Are the children at McMartin lying? What does it mean to lie in this context?
  • Who is wrong here? The parents? The child advocates and police? The daycare workers? Do you have to intend to mislead in order to be wrong?
  • What do cases like this mean for how we understand our own memories, or other people’s memories? What does this mean for psychologists and patients? What about for discussions of child abuse?

November 6: Race, Social Pathologies & Sociology



  • How does subjective identity (in this case, being black) shape how a person relates to the world? How does this, in turn, affect how psychological treatment works or ought to work?
  • If we have to take the patient’s (or research subject’s) subjectivity into account, do we also need to take the researcher or counselor’s subjectivity into account? How can we do this? Think here about Moynihan’s identity and how that shaped his interpretation of the problem he was looking at. How might someone else’s interpretation have differed?
  • What is the relationship between psychology and sociology? To what extent are personal problems also social problems, or vice versa?
  • What are the consequences or benefits of treating psychology as an atomized discipline? Are there problems that are purely psychological? What about purely social?
  • Can a family be disordered? What about a group or subculture? Is this the same as an individual being disordered?

Research & Ethics

October 23: Little Albert



  • Are these studies unethical? Why? Would it make a difference if someone consented to the studies? If the participants were adults?
  • How do you prove a theory while also behaving ethically?
  • Does this limit our knowledge? Does it limit it too much?
  • Should we continue using research that was done unethically?

October 28: IRBs, Double-Blind Trials & Professional Norms


Do: Look over TSU’s IRB forms and think about how the ethical issues and professional norms discussed here are put into practice. Are there things missing from the IRB forms? Are there things that don’t make sense?

October 30: WEIRD Research



Do: Pick a topic and look through several recent studies on that topic; what kind of research subjects do the papers involve? Do the authors comment on this? Should they?


  • Do WEIRD subjects bias psychological research? Are there topics where this is a big problem? Are there topics where it isn’t?
  • Why are particular research subjects more common than others?
  • What gets left out of the acronym that might also be important?
  • How could we get around this?
  • Have you ever participated in a study?

November 4: Titicut Follies (1967) & Patient Privacy

Watch: Titicut Follies (you can also watch the film on Kanopy.)

Write: Your final film blog.


  • This documentary was initially banned due to violations of patient privacy. If patients didn’t consent to being filmed, is it an ethical violation for the documentary to be screened?
  • If the patients can’t consent to being filmed, can they consent to how they’re being treated at Bridgewater?
  • Is the knowledge that the public gains by seeing the documentary and the conditions at Bridgewater more important than the patients’ rights to privacy?
  • How do we resolve ethical conundrums like this?
  • What kinds of treatments are used at Bridgewater? How do they line up with things we’ve read in class?
  • What kind of emotions do you feel watching the documentary? Who do you feel empathy for?
  • Does it matter that these patients are at a forensic hospital and are criminals? Do some people cede their right to humane treatment? How differently do you feel about Little Albert versus the patients at Bridgewater? What if you knew what their crimes were?
  • Compare the documentary to Nelly Bly’s expose:
    • To what extent has the asylum changed?
    • To what extent has new technology changed the ethical questions involved in each? Was it a problem or a violation of anyone’s privacy for Nelly Bly to write “Ten Days in a Madhouse”? Can privacy be violated in an investigative report or is it a product of film technology and thus a modern problem?
  • Compare the three films we’ve watched. Are they similar or different? Think about genre, intentions, etc.


REMINDER: You need to complete two blogs on any of the units we have covered so far. Email them to me by next Monday.

Also on Monday, we will begin talking about your final projects. We discussed how you needed to put three things together: a topic/question, data, and a digital methodology. Come to class with an idea for at least two of these things, and we will talk about how to turn that into a workable project.

Read through the instructions page on Digital Humanities for ideas about tools you might use. I also encourage you to think creatively when it comes to data. You could do a mostly traditional research paper, in which case your data would be journal articles and books. On the other hand, you could decide you want to talk about how mental institutions developed in the US. In that case, your data might be architectural plans, data on the locations of the institutions, etc.

Unit-Wide Questions:

  • What theories are (or aren’t) behind these treatments?
  • Where and how is the patient being altered?
  • Do these treatments require you to believe certain things about the brain? About the mind?
  • How does each treatment relate to the theories of mind we talked about earlier?

October 2: Insulin Comas, ECT & Other Physical Therapies



  • Compare the three articles. Why do different people talk about insulin shock therapy so differently?
  • How do these kinds of physical interventions differ from psychosurgery? How do they differ from drug therapies?
  • Do they work? If so, why? How do we know?

October 7: The Drug Revolution

Read: Anne Harrington’s “Depression” from Mind Fixers: Psychiatry’s Troubled Search for the Biology of Mental Illness

Optional reading/listening: “An Epidemic of Depression or the Medicalization of Distress?” (NPR interview with Anne Harrington)


  • How are psychiatric drugs discovered or created today? What about in the past?
  • Does self-experimentation help or hinder the study of new drugs?
  • What about experimentation on patients—does it matter that drugs are being tested on hospitalized patients? Or that drugs tested on schizophrenics are later used for depression?
  • Do these drugs reflect a certain way of thinking about mental illness? How have they changed our ideas about psychology? What about our ideas about specific disorders?
  • What role does advertising play in the history of psychiatric medications?
  • Do popular understandings of psychiatric medications line up with scientific ideas? If not, is this a problem? For who and how?
  • Harrington suggests that diagnoses are strongly linked to available treatments, thus depression only became commonly diagnosed as antidepressants were created. Likewise, we’ve seen that psychotic disorders were the largest concern in eras where less invasive treatments did not exist, and that neurasthenia was invented as medical knowledge of the nervous system advanced. If that’s true, then what era are we in now? How does contemporary scientific knowledge shape what disorders we think are important or common?

October 9: Talk Therapies


Do: Research one type of psychotherapy (look here, here or here for examples) and make a content map to think through the following questions:

  • Where did it come from?
  • What theories or evidence support it?
  • How has it been implemented?
  • What other types of therapy is it related to?


  • How do we measure the efficacy of talk therapies?
  • Is therapy an art or a science? Or both?


Before You Begin: Take the MBTI here, and take a Rorschach inkblot test here. Think about the following questions:

  • What do these tests say (or not say) about you?
  • Think about the process of taking the tests. Does the structure of the test shape your answers?
  • Are you able to interpret the results of the test for yourself or do you need an expert to do it?
  • Does your answer to the previous question shape how you feel about each test? Do you think tests you can interpret for yourself are more or less trustworthy?

Unit-Wide Questions:

  • What is the purpose of testing? What is it useful for? What’s it not useful for? Can these kinds of psychology tests tell you something about yourself? Can your self be quantified?
  • When and why were these tests developed? Does that tell us something about their purpose?
  • Why does the general public embrace some tests, despite psychologists rejecting those tests?
  • Does testing require an oversimplification of theories and people? Can a test encompass all the facets that go into intelligence or personality?
    • Is this problem made better or worse by projective tests? What about structured, supposedly empirical ones? What’s the trade off here?

September 25: IQ

Read: “Science, Ideology, and Ideals: The Social History of IQ Testing”

Optional reading:


  • What is intelligence? Do we have to define it in order to measure it?
  • What did historical IQ tests measure? What about contemporary IQ tests?
  • What are IQ tests good for? Think not just about what they measure, but how they can be used in practice.
  • What do biases in historical IQ tests mean for contemporary tests? Are contemporary tests unbiased, or should we be concerned that biases still exist?

September 30: Psychoanalytic and Projective Testing


Optional reading: “Has Wikipedia Created a Rorschach Cheat Sheet?”


  • Are unstructured projective tests valid? If not, why not?
  • Should Norris’ inkblot results have been used to keep him from being hired?
  • Both the MBTI and the Rorschach inkblot test employ psychoanalytic theories, yet are structured and used in completely different ways. Why is that? Does one type of test make more sense as an expression of psychoanalytic theory, or are both equally valid?
  • Does the MBTI strictly follow Jungian theory? How do these things morph over time? Is this product of testing itself?
  • Compare Hermann Rorschach’s idea of how the inkblot test should work with online tests (examples here and here.) Are these online tests valid? In what sense? What does this say about how specialist knowledge can (or should) be disseminated online?

Brains & Nerves

Unit-Wide Questions:

  • Is the brain the central factor in psychology and related fields? Is there another way we could think about psychology?
  • Is the brain different than the nervous system? How so? Is one responsible for mental states and the other physical ones? Are these two things different?
  • Does thinking about a specific site of illness mean you have to target the same site for intervention? Why or why not? How do contemporary psychologists answer this question in practice?
  • How have our ideas about the brain evolved?
  • Are our contemporary ideas correct? How can we know?
  • Do our contemporary ideas reflect historical ideas about brains? How so?
  • Is the brain the same thing as the mind? What is the relationship between the mind and the brain? Does thinking about this through the lens of behaviorism or Gestalt theory help you draw conclusions? What would believers of each framework say?
  • How do we sort different illnesses into different specialist categories? Why is something a neurological problem rather than medical one? Why are some things mental illnesses and others are neurological disorders? What bearing does this have on treatments?
  • Is there a line between physical disorders and mental ones? If so, where is it? What does our ever-increasing knowledge of the brain mean for this line? What about non-brain science, like research on the effect of the gut microbiome, mean?
  • If ideas about nerves could impact and be impacted by so many other factors (gender, modernity, class, etc.) during the latter half of the 19th century, what modern factors link up to our current ideas about psychology? What recent psychological discoveries or theories have changed how we think about society as a whole?
  • Compare what different kinds of sources can tell us about psychology. Are fictional stories valid? What about patient narratives? What about non-psychologist accounts about other people’s mental illness?
    • What does this say about expertise, whose viewpoints are important, and whose viewpoints get to be heard?
    • What does it say about creativity and objectivity? Is a research study with data more valid than a creative attempt to express a mental state?

September 18: Early American Neurology


Optional reading:

  • Debra Journet, “Phantom Limbs and ‘Body-Ego’: S. Weir Mitchell’s ‘George Dedlow’” (Mosaic, Vol. 23, No. 1, Winter 1990)
  • David G. Schuster, “Personalizing Illness and Modernity: S. Weird Mitchell, Literary Women, and Neurasthenia, 1870-1914” (Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Vol. 79, No. 4, Winter 2005)
  • Barbara Sicherman, “The Uses of a Diagnosis: Doctors, Patients, and Neurasthenia” (Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, Vol. 23, No. 1, January 1977)


  • Why did people become interested in nerves at this time? What material factors created the ability to study the nervous system?
  • What role does modernity play in 19th century understandings of nerves? What about gender?
  • Gilman wrote “The Yellow Wallpaper” after Silas Weir Mitchell recommended the rest cure for her. She stated that she had written the story to show him the error of his ways and even sent him a copy. How do Gilman and Mitchell’s perspectives on treatment differ? Why do they differ?
  • What’s wrong with the protagonist of “The Yellow Wallpaper”? How would we explain her situation today? Is it psychological? Physical? Social?

September 23: Psychosurgery





  • Why did lobotomies become popular?
  • Did they work? For what?
  • Were they ethical? If not, why not? Think about other physical interventions we make to the body; is a lobotomy different from an amputation or other irreversible treatments?
  • How does patient consent play into this? If a patient is ill enough to need a lobotomy, can they give consent? If not, should they simply not be treated?
  • How do we know a treatment works? What does it mean for a treatment to work? Does this require an underlying theory or merely observational data?

Theories of Mind

Unit-Wide Questions:

  • How do we understand behavior and feelings? Are they separate pieces that can be altered one by one? Are they part of a holistic system?
  • What methods do these different theorists use to gain knowledge? Do their methodologies reflect their theories?
  • Which methodologies and theories are still used today? Which aren’t?
  • What other researchers or thinkers do each group cite? Are these things different? Do they line up with their methodologies and theories? For instance, why does Freud cite philosophers and literature?
  • How would these different theories of mind translate into practice? What kind of therapy would you develop if you believed in each theory of mind?
  • Is there a singular self? What is it? How do we come to know it or know about it?
  • Which of these ways of thinking about the mind is most familiar to you? Which have entered popular culture?
  • Which of these ideas allows you to explain yourself, your experiences or your behavior best? Does this line up with which idea has the most empirical support?

September 9: Behaviorism & Conditioning


Optional reading: B.F. Skinner’s “Behaviorism at Fifty” (1963)

September 11: Freud & Psychoanalysis

Before you start reading: list everything you know about Freud here. The results will display as a word cloud, so please use one word answers (or if you have to use two words, smush them together.)


Optional reading:


  • If Freud was wrong about a lot of things, if his research can’t be replicated, if he wasn’t always good for his patients, does that mean his ideas are completely worthless? What can or should we still take from Freud?
  • What value does metaphor and imagination have in a field like psychology, particularly as it becomes more and more empirical and research-driven?
  • Compare Freud to the behaviorists here; does one of these appeal to you more when thinking about how to explain yourself? Is the more appealing one the more empirical one?

September 16: Phenomenology & Altered States


Optional reading:



Below, you will find a list of questions to think about throughout this unit, readings and questions for each class (August 27, August 29 & September 3), and some optional readings that could form the basis of an extra-credit blog or your final project.

Unit-Wide Questions

  • What was the purpose of asylums?
  • What kind of treatment was available for the mentally ill in the 1880s?
  • What did life inside an asylum look like?
  • What kind of information is available to answer questions like these? Is it objective? Does it need to be objective? Think about how a patient’s account might differ from a doctor’s report.
  • Are there some people who need to be committed for their own good? How do we distinguish them? What rights should they have?
  • How can we humanely treat someone who we think isn’t in their right mind?
  • How do we deal with these questions today? How were they dealt with in the 1880s?
  • If our current attitudes and practices are different from historical ones, what lead to changes in the field?
  • Are mentally ill people fundamentally different from mentally healthy people? What can mental illness tell us about mental health?

August 26: A Mysterious Waif at Bellevue



  • What do you think is wrong with the mystery woman? What should be done with her? What would be done with her today?
  • What kind of language do the news articles use? Is there a difference between the three papers?
  • What is is about the mysterious woman that these papers find so fascinating?
  • What information do they have access to? What information would a paper have access to today if a similar incident occurred?

August 28: The Snake Pit

Watch: The Snake Pit (you can stream the film online, but if you want to watch with subtitles, you will need to download the film and the subtitles.)

Write: Your first film blog. Instructions are available here.

September 4: “Ten Days in a Madhouse”

Read: “Ten Days in a Madhouse”

Two notes on the reading:

  • “Ten Days in a Madhouse” was released with two other reports by Nellie Bly; you do not have to read these other reports, which begin under the header “Miscellaneous Sketches.”
  • “Ten Days in a Madhouse” is long (64 pages.) You may choose to skim parts of it as long as you get a sense of the document.


  • What does this report say about the state of mental health care in the 1880s? Could Nellie Bly’s situation have been avoided? If so, how?
  • What should be done to fix the problems Bly reports? What do you think was done?
  • What do you think the popular reaction to Bly’s report was? What about the reaction among physicians and alienists?
  • Is the image of the asylum you saw in The Snake Pit the same as the one put forward in “Ten Days in a Madhouse” or is it different? How so? What do the two have in common? If they’re different, why are they different?
  • What information do we rely on when diagnosing mental illness? The patient’s own words and opinions? Research? Brain scans? Laws? Something else? How do we balance these things?

Optional reading & ideas for extra-credit blogs & projects

Browse the “mental asylum” tag on Undercover Reporting and think about how other undercover reports differ from or are similar to Bly’s.

  • Why have so many reporters gone undercover in asylums and mental hospitals?
  • What long-term impact did Bly have, judging by similar reporting from the 1930s (Frank Smith) or the 1960s (Michael Mok.)
  • What role (if any) does gender play in this? Does it matter that Bly was a woman? How so?
  • How has reporting changed? Do these reporters use similar language or structures for their reports?
  • Could similar undercover work be done today? If so, what does that say about objectivity in psychology?

Browse the “Stunt Girls (and Boys) of the Late 1880s” page on Undercover Reporting

  • Is Bly’s experience in the asylum different from her experiences in jail or in the Magdalen Home? How so?
  • What do similarities between these institutions say about the purpose of asylums in the 1880s?

Research Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute (formerly known as the Central State Hospital for the Insane.) The hospital was criticized by famed reformer Dorothea Dix in the 1840s, and the subject of an undercover report by Frank Sutherland in the 1970s.

  • What changes did Dix want made? What about Sutherland? Are these the same or different?
  • Why was this asylum the target of so much criticism?
  • What kind of information is available about the asylum today? What kind of information isn’t easily available?
  • Dix was part of a larger group of female reformers; what other issues were such reformers interested in? Are these issues linked? If so, how?
  • You can find more primary sources about Dix here, here and here.
  • If you’re really ambitious, go to the Tennessee State Library & Archive located downtown to look at documents related to the hospital.

Watch “Born Sexy Yesterday,” a video-essay about pop culture tropes, and compare this to The Snake Pit and news articles on the mysterious waif at Bellevue. Ask why the trope of the amnesiac woman or the woman without a past is so compelling to audiences across such a large span of time.

Titicut Follies

Titicut Follies is an observational documentary that was intentionally directed to gain the attention of state representatives and mental health professionals in the mid 1900’s. The need for immediate funding and directional aid is seen within the strenuous conditions portrayed at Bridgewater State Hospital. Wiseman, along with his crew and the hospital superintendent unveil the graphic horrors lived by those in a criminally insane institution before ethic codes and mental health awareness.

While the intentions of this film were to gain the audiences’ captivation and support, Wiseman received criticism for invading and exploiting patient privacy. Patients faces and nude bodies were viewed on film, without their consent. However, the superintendent of Bridgewater signed patient privacy wavers (as he was their legal guardian) bypassing the need for patient consent.

The patients observed within Titicut Follies were criminally charged with insanity and placed at Bridgewater for the well being of themselves and those around them. These patients often times did not have active families and were hidden away from the rest of society. Ethically, the film should not have taken place, as these patients were not in the correct state of mind to understand and sign a privacy waiver. However, many believe the film portrayed a side of the mental health field that was desperately needing change.

This film is now used for educational purposes, such as classroom discussion and history of mental health. Titicut Follies portrays human behavior in two different ways: those of the criminally insane and those in authority positions. This is a blatant divide of interaction which results in many of the horrific scenes viewed throughout this film.

Often times, guards and nurses both mentally and physically abuse their patients by hitting, name-calling, spitting, etc. While this is an accurate portrayal of life inside an asylum for the criminally insane, it also provokes human emotion among the audience of the film. This human emotion is what Wiseman hoped to promote a movement for funding mental health hospitals. Although his plan took a different turn, the intentions of Titicut Follies was to help the patients inside.

As we have learned throughout the history of psychology, the task of observation proves to be a valuable tool in learning and categorizing human behavior. Wiseman used observation as method of film to gain emotion and attention among his audience. The exploitation of the conditions at Bridgewater and the criminally insane patients started a discussion amongst families of patients, mental health professionals, and state representatives of the lack of funding and health treatments available. This film is a stepping stone to the mental health awareness era we are currently experiencing. Titicut Follies provides an educational supplement to the first-hand experiences of patients and subjects experiencing mental health issues. #blog

Morals & Ethics in Psychological Research

Before mental health awareness became a movement in the United States, those who were different from the rest of society were often thrown away into asylums- to no longer be a hassle to the world around them. Their rights were diminished and the treatment endured, substantial. If truly mentally ill, with no representative present, does a mentally handicapped person have a say so in their treatment? Today, we would say yes; however in the late 1800’s, testing, treatments, and inhumane observations were implicated upon those who had no say-so in their well-being.

We often think about ethics, morals, and principles in the field of psychology, though it wasn’t until the mid 1900’s that ethic codes were established by the American Psychology Association (APA). Before this, studies focused on finding an explanation to an issue, rather or not there was substantial harm or risk involved. For example, the Monster Study (1939)- which used positive and negative speech therapy on children. Though the results of this study were never published (due to fear of obvious backlash), the children involved harbored more speech imperfections upon completion of the study than before. This is a prime example of unethical research done before modern day advances in psychological research.

Mental asylums contained one of the most profound mistakes in the history of psychological research. Patients were often mistreated, without rights, and subjected to torture for the purpose of studying the humans’ thoughts, behaviors, and motives. Dorothea Dix advocated on behalf of the mentally ill for better living conditions and standards during the mid 1800’s which brought about positive change to mental asylums. The asylums began implementing individual health plans and removed caging, restraints, etc. due to the persuasive work of Ms. Dix. She also challenged the traditional theory that those who were mentally unstable could not be helped, meaning it was possible for treatment and release rather than discarding mentally-unfit individuals.

This movement was the initial start to mental health awareness policies, which continue today. The term ‘moral treatment’ was coined out of this era, and later imposed on psychological research standards in the mid 1900’s. Though the joining of psychology and biology had been warranted for some time, ethical and moral guidelines should have been in place prior to conducting research on humans.

Testing in Psychology

Psychological testing is a recent development in the field of Psychology. For many years, testing of the mind relied on therapists’ interpretations of the material gathered from a patient. However, now with testing such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), testing relies on self interpretation.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator was developed in 1942 by Katherine Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs-Meyers. Though neither of these ladies had a background in psychology, they closely followed works of Freud, Jung, and other intrinsic psychologists. The MBTI is based off of Carl Jung’s 16 different personality types and measures the 5-factor model: openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. This test is usually used to identify qualities and downfalls in an interview process. However, many believe this test is faulty and follows the Barnum-Forer effect principles. This is because the results of the MBTI are often flattering such as: thinker, performer, nurturer, etc. and can be applicable to many people. Another reason skeptics disdain the MBTI, is for it’s test-retest reliability. For example, the first time I took the MBTI, I was told I had an ESTP personality type- the next time, ISTP. How can one be classified as both introverted (E) and extroverted (E) within a 3-month span? While the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a fun personality quiz, the test is wavering in the field of psychology.

As opposed to the MBTI, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (1989) is commonly used in psychology offices to produce an accurate measure of mental illness and other clinical problems. This test may only be administered by trained psychologists, meaning its’ validity is less likely to become compromised. Currently, the MMPI-2 has been updated to include only true and false questions, making the grading of the test more substantial in its interpretation. The test grades on 10 clinical aspects: hypochondriasas, depression, hysteria, psychopathic deviate, femininity/masculinity, psychasthenia, schizophrenia, hypomania, paranoia, and social introversion. However, the results rely on self-reported answers- therefore it is dependent upon the test-takers truthful answers. Over time, the MMPI has been upgraded to improve the conventional interpretations and clinical scales once used by Starke Hathaway, the creator of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory.

Projective testing relies simply on interpretation, as many psychological testing did in the past. For example, the most widely used projective test, the Rorschach test (1918) contains a set of cards containing inkblots- a subject identifies what they see within the inkblots, and the test administrator will then interpret these answers. The clinical diagnosis is then dependent upon ones’ own interpretations of an inkblot as ‘a cow.’ As one can imagine, this test has many negative connotations associated with it. Though the Rorschach test is still used today, its’ results are widely ignored due to its’ online availability and publicism. However, the diversion away from the Rorschach test could be related to the rise of Art Therapy within western culture. Art therapy uses internal feelings (such as emotions, anxiety, and self-esteem) to create artistic interpretations of these feelings. Likewise, the Rorschach test often produces results that are transparent to what a subject is experiencing both internally and externally.

As it relates to introspection, psychological testing is not advanced enough to produce reliable and accurate results. Mentioned above, many of these tests rely on self-reporting in order to produce results. Though we like to think people are honest, many times when taken longitudinally, test results vary. The field of psychology aims to identify peoples’ thoughts, emotions, dreams, etc.; however, it is difficult to do so without truthful answers and/or neural and biological examination. As the field advances, so do technologies and our understanding of personality and human distinctions.


Once you’ve verified your WordPress account, you should be able to post to this blog.

Go to WordPress.com. At the top right, you will see a button that says “Write.”

If you have accepted the invitation to join our course blog, clicking that button should take you to a screen with a blank blog that will post to our course blog.

If you aren’t taken to this screen, try entering this url: https://wordpress.com/posts/my/hist4325.home.blog

Assorted Links

During class discussions, we’ve talked about a lot of things that aren’t covered in the readings. On this page, you’ll find links to articles and videos related to those discussions. These are all optional, but you may find them interesting.

Diagnosing children:

Solitary confinement:


TSU & Class Policies


You are expected to attend class regularly and arrive on time. Because this is a discussion-based course, being present to contribute to discussions is critical to what you get out of the course and also to your grade. Arriving late is disruptive and repeated lateness will be considered equivalent to an absence.

You may be absent two times with no penalty. You may also miss class without penalty for excused absences (these include you or a family member being ill, approved university activities, etc.), if you submit documentation for these absences. TSU policy allows instructors to fail students who incur three or more unexcused absences in a semester.


Your writing in this class should primarily consist of your own ideas expressed in your own words. However, academic work is collaborative in many ways and much of this class centers on dialogue between you and your fellow students. This means that you will sometimes use ideas from others (whether your classmates, our readings, or research you’ve done on your own) in your own writing. In this case, you will need to be careful not to present anyone else’s work as your own. To do this, use proper citations. If you use someone else’s ideas in a blog, say so. If you use someone else’s words, make sure they are in quotation marks. Properly citing any ideas you get from other people is important in academic work, and failure to do so is plagiarism.

My policy on plagiarism is that if you plagiarize in an assignment, you will have to redo the assignment and will receive no better than a 50 on it. You will also have to submit a statement demonstrating that you understand what plagiarism is and will not do it again. I will keep an eye on your work to make sure you abide by this. If you commit plagiarism a second time, you will fail the course. TSU policy also allows for repeated plagiarism to be reported to the Vice President for Student Affairs and the Vice President of Academic Affairs, who may take additional action.

Students in HIST 4325 are warned particularly against the following forms of academic dishonesty:

  • copying the work of other students on assignments (this includes sharing essays with each other and submitting those shared essays as your original work);
  • any copying without quotation marks and appropriate citation from books, newspapers, journals, Internet sources, etc.;
  • any use of facts or ideas paraphrased from another author without appropriate citation;
  • “borrowing” large quantities of another author’s work (or another student) and inserting it as your own, even if it is quoted and cited; and
  • changing several words in another author’s work, believing that it has been “paraphrased,” and inserting this work as your own (even if it has been cited.)


The instructor acknowledges and embraces the fact that all individuals have different learning styles, physical, or mental conditions that may affect their ability to participate in class or course related activities. This instructor will strive to afford all students with appropriate and feasible opportunities to learn and excel in this class. Any student, who has a condition which might interfere with his/her class performance, may arrange for reasonable accommodations by contacting the Office of Disabled Student Services. This office is located in room #117 Floyd Payne Student Center.  The phone number is (615) 963-7400.  You will be provided a document stating what type of classroom accommodations, if any, are to be made by the instructor.  It is your responsibility to give a copy of this document to the instructor as soon as you receive it.  Accommodations will only be provided AFTER the instructor receives the accommodation instructions from ODS; accommodations are not retroactive.


Sexual misconduct, domestic/dating violence, stalking: TSU recognizes the importance of providing an environment free of all forms of discrimination and sexual harassment, including sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.  If you (or someone you know) has experienced or is experiencing any of these incidents, there are resources to assist you in the areas of accessing health and counseling services, providing academic and housing accommodations, and making referrals for assistance with legal protective orders and more.

Please be aware that most TSU employees, including faculty and instructors, are “responsible employees”, meaning that they are required to report incidents of sexual violence, domestic/dating violence or stalking.   This means that if you tell me about a situation involving sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking, I must report the information to the Title IX Coordinator.  Although I have to report the situation, you will still have options about how your situation will be handled, including whether or not you wish to pursue a formal complaint.  Our goal is to make sure you are aware of the range of options available to you and have access to the resources you need. 

You are encouraged to contact TSU’s Title IX Coordinator to report any incidents of sexual harassment, sexual violence, domestic/dating violence or stalking.  The Title IX coordinator is located in the Office of Equity and Inclusion, McWherter Administration Building, Ste. 260 and can be reached at 963-7494 or 963-7438.  For more information about Title IX and TSU’s SART or policies and procedures regarding sexual, domestic/dating violence and stalking please visit:  http://www.tnstate.edu/equity.

If you wish to speak to someone confidentially, who is not required to report, you can contact the TSU Counseling Center, located in the basement of Wilson Hall, at 963-5611 or TSU Student Health Services, located in the Floyd Payne Campus Center room 304, at 963-5084.  You may also contact the following off campus resources:  Sexual Assault Center of Nashville at 1-800-879-1999 or http://www.sacenter.org or the Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic & Sexual Violence at 615-386-9406 or http://www.tncoalition.org .

Harassment & discrimination: Tennessee State University is firmly committed to compliance with all federal, state and local laws that prohibit harassment and discrimination based on race, color, national origin, gender, age, disability, religion, retaliation, veteran status and other protected categories.  TSU will not subject any student to discrimination or harassment and no student shall be excluded from participation in nor denied the benefits of any educational program based on their protected class.  If a student believes they have been discriminated against or harassed because of a protected class, they are encouraged to contact the Office of Equity and Inclusion at McWherter Administration Building, Ste. 260, 615-963-7494 or 963-7438, http://www.tnstate.edu/equity.

Metacognition, or thinking about thinking

Metacognition is a term that refers to thinking about (or being aware of) how you think. On this page, you will find various tools to help you with this process.

One metacognitive method involves thinking about how you would complete a specific task (planning), asking yourself questions about what you’re doing and why while you’re doing the task (self-monitoring), and asking yourself whether your process made sense after you finish the task (reflection.) These steps together form a cycle that can help you with future tasks. In other words: work smarter, not harder.

Bloom’s Taxonomy

Bloom’s Taxonomy is one way of breaking down different steps or levels of thinking. In theory, these steps form a ladder with “remembering” being the simplest step and “creating” being the most complex. In reality, we move up and down the ladder as we work on various tasks.


The MARSI and MAI are two tests to see what metacognitive strategies you use (and which you could probably use more.) These are useful tools to assess what you already do, and to refer to when you’re working on a task.

MARSI: Metacognitive Awareness of Reading Strategies Inventory

MAI: Metacognitive Awareness Inventory

Assignments & Due Dates

  • August 28: Film blog on The Snake Pit (1948)
  • September 9: Asylum blog*
  • September 11: Film blog on Secrets of a Soul (1926)
  • September 18: Theories of Mind blog*
  • September 25: Brain & Nerves blog*
  • October 2: Testing blog*
  • October 9: Project proposal
  • October 11: Last day to withdraw from a class
  • October 14: Treatment blog*; you must complete 2 unit blogs by this point
  • October 23: Psychology in/and/as Politics blog*
  • November 4: Film blog on Titicut Follies (1967)
  • November 6: Research & Ethics blog*
  • November 18: Subjectivity & Bias blog*
  • November 20: Anti-psychiatry blog*; last day of class
  • December 2: Final project due

*You must write 4 blogs in total and must complete 2 during the first half of the semester, but can otherwise choose which blogs to write.

Bold dates are for assignments that are due for all students. Un-bolded dates are for unit blogs.

HIST 4325 Outside the Classroom

One of the questions we’ll talk about throughout the semester is how we know what we know (or what we think we know.) As part of this, I ask you to actively document how these topics come up in your life outside the classroom throughout the semester. How you do this is up to you. You could create a twitter or tumblr account to keep track of how often psychology comes up in your day-to-day life, use hypothes.is to collect and annotate things you read online, or start your own blog to write your observations in… It’s up to you.

The goal of this assignment is for you to actively notice when topics relevant to our course come up in your own life outside of the classroom. Did you see a movie that featured a psychologist? Tweet about it. Did you read a news article that referred to a psychology study? Blog about whether the news article got the research right or wrong. Think about this assignment as an attempt to document your own experiences and as a way to see where your knowledge about psychology and history comes from. 

Something we’ll be talking about throughout the semester is the relationship between scientific knowledge, popular ideas and personal ideas. As more information is available and as psychology has become increasingly empirical, we still gain knowledge from a variety of sources and use those sources to interpret the world around us.

Approaching Sources

When approaching course readings, consider whether the source is a primary or secondary source. Primary sources are historical documents written during the time period they discuss. Secondary sources are documents written about historical events, but after the event took place. In other words, a document about the Civil War written in the 1860s is a primary source, while a document about the Civil War written in 2019 is a secondary source. Secondary sources typically use primary sources to understand and explain a historical event.

If the assigned reading is a primary source, consider the following questions:

  • Who is the author? What are their biases, viewpoints and intentions?
  • Who is the intended audience of the piece? In other words, who does the author imagine reading their work?
  • What kind of document is it? Is it a newspaper article? A research study? How does the document’s genre reflect the intentions of the author and the intended audience?
  • What kind of rhetorical strategies does the author use? What tone does the author strike?
  • What types of evidence does the document use? What kinds does it ignore?

If the assigned reading is a secondary source, consider the following questions:

  • What arguments and explanations are being offered?
  • What kind of evidence is used to make these arguments? What kind of evidence is ignored or left out?
  • Does the document use primary sources to make its arguments? If so, do you agree with the document’s interpretation of those primary sources? Are there alternate interpretations of the primary sources?