Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Visiting Scholar, Rhine Research Center
Alvarado, C.S., & Zingrone, N.L. (2012). “Classic Text No. 90: ‘The Pathology and Treatment of Mediomania’, by Frederic Rowland Marvin (1874).” History of Psychiatry, 23, 229–244. (for reprints wtite to the first author email@example.com).
During the nineteenth century there were several examples of attempts to pathologize mediumship. One of them was the work of US physician Frederic Rowland Marvin (1847–1918), who is the author of this Classic Text. The excerpt presented here comes from the second part of Marvin’s book, The Philosophy of Spiritualism and the Pathology and Treatment of Mediomania (1874). Marvin argued for a diagnosis he called ‘mediomania’, conceived by him as a neurosis of uterine aetiology that could assume epidemic dimensions. His views are consistent with nineteenth-century somatic ideas of psychopathology as well as with ideas about the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of women.
Evrard, R., & Rabeyron, T. (2012). “Les Psychanalystes et le Transfert de Pensée: Enjeux Historiques et Actuelles” [Psychoanalysts and Thought-Transference: Historical and Current Issues]. L’Evolution Psychiatrique, 77, 589-598. (For reprints write to the first author firstname.lastname@example.org)
The concept of “thought transference” has a special position within the psychoanalytic field. It is first an object on the sidelines because it originated in the psychical sciences of the late nineteenth century. It is also an object extracted by psychoanalysis to the darkness of the occultism, Freud considering the thought transference as being its true nucleus. But it is also a foreign body because even if it was apprehended by different authors, it remains poorly integrated into the psychoanalytic corpus. In this review of the literature, we try to show how this concept had first played a heuristic role vis-à-vis the theorizing of transference and countertransference. We then see how it was taken over by successive generations of analysts as well as heated debate it engendered, participating to the division of the field of psychotherapy. Finally, we will bring out the relevance of this concept in terms of clinical and current theoretical issues.
Lamont, P. (2012). “The Making of Extraordinary Psychological Phenomena.” Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 48, 1-15. For reprints write to the author: Peter.Lamont@ed.ac.uk)
This article considers the extraordinary phenomena that have been central to unorthodox areas of psychological knowledge. It shows how even the agreed facts relating to mesmerism, spiritualism, psychical research, and parapsychology have been framed as evidence both for and against the reality of the phenomena. It argues that these disputes can be seen as a means through which beliefs have been formulated and maintained in the face of potentially challenging evidence. It also shows how these disputes appealed to different forms of expertise, and that both sides appealed to belief in various ways as part of the ongoing dispute about both the facts and expertise. Finally, it shows how, when a formal psychology of paranormal belief emerged in the twentieth century, it took two different forms, each reflecting one side of the ongoing dispute about the reality of the phenomena.
Mülberger, A., & Balltondre, M. (2013). “En el Umbral de lo Desconocido: Un Caso de Visión Extraordinaria en la España de Primo de Rivera.” Dynamis, 33, 195-216. For reprints write to the first author: email@example.com
In this article we analyze the reactions of scientists and intellectuals about a sensational case: the supposed vision through opaque materials, by the son of the Marquis of Santa Cara, which attracted the attention of Spanish society around 1924. Some well-known scientists and intellectuals such as Cabrera, Torres Quevedo, Gimeno and Valle-Inclán, certified the authenticity of the phenomenon. In this study we attempt to understand the issues behing this event by reviewing the theories circulated at the time about new types of rays and unknown psychic faculties. In the context of a Spain dominated by Primo Rivera regime, two engineers advanced metapsychic explanations of a patriotic type, while the Marquis used his social position to support the case and to promote its scientific study in the field of metapsychics. However, the great aristocrat and his promoters had a serious setback from their encounter with the famous illusionist Houdini and the critique of psychiatrist Rodríguez Lafora, who interpreted the feat as the product of suggestion. [CSA’s translation of the Spanish abstract].
Sommer, A. (2013). “Normalizing the Supernormal: The Formation of the ‘Gesellschaft Für Psychologische Forschung’ (‘Society for Psychological Research’), c. 1886–1890.” Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 49, 18-44. Available in text form here.
This paper traces the formation of the German “Gesellschaft für psychologische Forschung” (“Society for Psychological Research”), whose constitutive branches in Munich and Berlin were originally founded as inlets for alternatives to Wundtian experimental psychology from France and England, that is, experimental researches into hypnotism and alleged supernormal phenomena. By utilizing the career trajectories of Max Dessoir and Albert von Schrenck-Notzing as founding members of the “Gesellschaft,” this paper aims to open up novel perspectives regarding extra-scientific factors involved in historically determining the epistemological and methodological boundaries of nascent psychology in Germany.
Rabeyron, T., & Evrard, R. (2012). “Perspectives historiques et contemporaines sur l’occulte dans la correspondance Freud-Ferenczi” [Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on Occultism in the Freud-Ferenczi Correspondence]. Recherches en Psychanalyse, No. 13, 97-111. (For reprints write the first author firstname.lastname@example.org)
The correspondence between Freud and Ferenczi sheds light on their common interest about thought transference and the way they shared in the intimacy of these letters, their experiences and their personal thinking about this topic. While Ferenczi was the main investigator of these writings about thought transference, Freud also proposed in this correspondence his first reflections concerning his two major cases about telepathy: the oyster poisoning and the twins prophecy. We propose in this paper an historical and detailed analysis of this correspondence in order to show its current relevance, especially in the understanding of some psychological processes concerning contemporary clinical aspects of exceptional experiences.
Timms, J. (2012). Phantasm of Freud: Nandor Fodor and the psychoanalytic approach to the supernatural in interwar Britain. Psychoanalysis and History, 14, 5-27.
The paper examines the appearance of “psychoanalytic psychical research” in interwar Britain, notably in the work of Nandor Fodor, Harry Price and others, including R. W. Pickford and Sylvia Payne. The varying responses of Sigmund Freud and Ernest Jones to the area of research are discussed. These researches are placed in the context of the increasingly widespread use of psychoanalytic and psychological interpretations of psychical events in the period, which in turn reflects the penetration of psychoanalysis into popular culture. The saturation of psychical research activity with gender and sexuality and the general fascination with, and embarrassment about, psychical activity is explored.
Timms, J. (2012). Ghost-hunters and psychical research in interwar England. History Workshop Journal, 74, 88-104.
This article examines the relation between popular ‘ghost-hunting’ – typically the pursuit of eccentric aristocrats and opportunistic journalists – and scientific psychical research in interwar England. Scholars of the history of English hauntings have demonstrated that belief in ghosts often mirrors social values and reflects the cultural trends of the age in which it arises. Scholars of the history of psychical research, in contrast, have focused upon the intellectual nature of the discipline, overlooking the important dynamic between psychical research and popular ghost-hunting. The present account builds upon the work of scholars from both fields to elucidate the practice of popular ghost-hunting in interwar England and to highlight its largely unexplored intersection with psychical research. It focuses on the way in which psychical researcher Harry Price persevered in trying to establish ghost-hunting as a legitimate science while at the same time playing to its popular appeal. Price’s efforts allow historians to trace some preliminary connections between the ideas and practices of the ‘occult’ in the period and broader themes such as the relation between heritage and modernization and the public perception of science and the supernatural.