November 18: Anti-Psychiatry
- Thomas Szasz, “The Myth of Mental Illness”
- “Overdiagnosis” interview with Allen Frances (this is a 2 minute video clip of the former chair of the DSM revisions)
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.
November 18: Sanity in an Insane World
- Szasz and Laing are both part of the anti-psychiatry movement; are their arguments about psychiatry similar or different?
- Are you persuaded by either or both of them? Why or why not?
- What historical practices or circumstances were they responding to? Do those things still exist? In other words, did anti-psychiatry make sense in its time period and does it still make sense now?
- What are Szasz and Laing trying to reform? If psychologists and psychiatrists are typically trying to reform the individual, are anti-psychiatrists doing something different?
November 20: Diagnosing Normal
October 14: Fascism
- Were Nazi leaders mentally ill? If not, were they mentally healthy? Is there a third category between the two, or illnesses that we can’t diagnose?
- What about other kinds of bad people (school shooters, terrorists, serial killers, racists, etc.)?
- What are the benefits or consequences of labeling bad behavior as an illness? In other words, what does calling a fascist ill do?
- Is there a gap between psychological science and common sense understandings of illness and health? If so, why and can it be bridged?
October 16: Draeptomania, Dysaethesia aethiopica & Race as Pathology
- Peter Breggin on psychiatry as an instrument of social control
- “An ‘Epeleptick’ Bondswoman: Fits, Slavery, and Power in the Antebellum South”
- Are the two readings similar? How so?
- What sociopolitical factors explains similarities or differences?
- How is psychological science used to shape the world/politics?
- Link to asylum unit
- Link to IQ testing
- What can be done to avoid racism in psychology? What solutions won’t work, in your opinion?
- If psychological diagnoses can be used to reaffirm racism, can they also be used to push back against racism? If so, what would this look like?
October 21: Radical therapies and Social Critiques
November 11: Culture-Bound Syndromes
- “The Diseases You Only Get if You Believe in Them”
- “Are mental illnesses such as PMS and depression culturally determined?”
- “Is PMDD real?”
- 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
- Mysterious Skin (2004) (warning: this film includes graphic sexual violence and discussions of child sexual abuse)
- PBS page on Wolk County case
- Susan Clancy’s The Trauma Myth and Abduction
- NPR interview with Clancy
- 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 Read: Moynihan’s “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action” (concentrate on Chapter IV. The Tangle of Pathology) “The Black Family in the Age of Incarceration” “Racial self-help” or blaming the victim”? Ask: 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?
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
- Wiki pages on the Belmont Report & the Kefauver-Harris Amendment
- “Are Randomized Controlled Trials Revelant to Clinical Practice?”
- “Regulations That Are Killing Us”
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
- Psychology is WEIRD
- The WEIRD Evolution of Human Research
- This Fundamental Oversight in Psych Studies Could Reset Years of Research
- “The Weirdest People in the World,” the paper that coined the WEIRD acronym
- Greg Downey’s “We agree it’s WEIRD but is it WEIRD enough?”
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
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.
- 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
- “Insulin Shock Therapy” (1941)
- “Advances in Insulin Coma Therapy” (1960)
- IF YOU ONLY READ ONE THING, READ THIS ONE: “Performing a Cure for Schizophrenia” (2007)
- 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
- 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?
- 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?
- 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
- Stephen J. Gould’s Mismeasure of Man (1981)
- Charles Murray’s The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (1994)
- Lewis Terman’s “The Uses of Intelligence Tests” (1916)
- “Discipline, Subjectivity and Personality: An Analysis of the Manuals of Four Psychological Tests” (2001)
- 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
- “What’s Behind the Rorschach inkblot test?”
- “On the Eerie, Enduring Power of the Rorschach Test”
- “Why the Myers-Briggs Test is Totally Meaningless”
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?
- 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
- “The ‘Father of American Neurology’ Prescribed Women Months of Motionless Milk-Drinking”
- “The Yellow Wallpaper” (1892)
- “New York Neurologists and the Specification of American Medicine”
- 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
- “My Lobotomy” (listen to the audio at the top of the page; read the oral histories from Helen Culmer, Wolfhard Baumgartel, and Patricia and Glen Moen)
- “Panel Discussion on Neurosurgery” (1941)
- “Howard Dully’s Journey”
- “Prefrontal Lobotomy in Chronic Schizophrenia” (1943): this article contains 5 case histories that describe patients before and after receiving lobotomies.
- “The Lobotomist” (2008 PBS documentary)
- “Lobotomy’s Back” (1997)
- 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?
- 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
- John B. Watson’s “Psychology as a Behaviorist Views It” (1913)
- “Drool: Ivan Pavlov’s Real Quest” (New Yorker, 2014)
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.)
- “Freud the Philosopher”
- One case study on wiki: Anna O., Dora, Little Hans, or Rat Man
- One article on Freud’s legacy: “Why Freud Survives”, “Why Freud Still Matters, When He Was Wrong About Almost Everything”, “Therapy Wars: The Revenge of Freud”, “Freud is Widely Taught at Universities, Except in the Psychology Department”, “As a Therapist, Freud Fell Short, New Research Suggests”
- If you are not familiar with basic Freudian concepts, read: “What are the most interesting ideas of Sigmund Freud?” for a quick introduction.
- Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams (1900)
- “Who Am I? The Self/Subject According to Psychoanalytic Theory”
- “The Role of Long Case Histories in the Development of Psychoanalysis”
- Secrets of a Soul (you can stream it here or on YouTube.)
- 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
- “My Twelve Hours as a Madman” (Maclean’s, 1953)
- James Chapman’s “The Early Symptoms of Schizophrenia” (1966)
- Steven J. Novak’s “LSD before Leary: Sidney Cohen’s Critique of 1950s Psychedelic Drug Research” (Isis, Vol 88, No. 1, March 1997)
- Browse the Albert Hoffman Library
- Humphrey Osmond’s “A Review of the Clinical Effects of Psychotomimetic Agents” (1957)