Time Capsule

1784 On March 4, King Louis XVI appointed a royal commis sion to study Franz Mesmer's cures using "animal magnetism." The commission, formed at Mesmer's urging, was chaired by Benjamin Franklin, included chemist Antoine Lavoisier, and was charged with examining the scientific validity of Mesmer's methods.

1903 On March 3, Congress expanded its immigration restrictions by prohibiting immigration of, to use its terms, "feeble-minded persons, epileptics, insane persons, persons insane in the last five years," and persons with two or more episodes of insanity at any time in their lives.

1947 On March 3, Life magazine carried an uncritically optimistic article about the effects of prefrontal lobotomy surgery. The article was titled "Psychosurgery: Operation to Cure Sick Minds Turns Surgeon's Blade Into an Instrument of Mental Therapy." The article was accompanied by a cartoon showing a tyrannical frontal lobe subdued by the operation.

1969 On March 1, T. Keith Glennan, Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), announced the establishment of the NASA Office of Life Sciences. One division of the office was to undertake physiological and psychological research, beginning with studies of the effects of isolation and confinement on performance. The first office of life sciences received ambivalent support within NASA, but its successors performed many valuable studies.

1988 Shelley E. Taylors's and Jonathon D. Brown's article "Illusion and well-being: a social psychological perspective on mental illness" was published on March 2 in Psychological Bulletin. The article reviewed evidence that unrealistically positive self-perceptions are related to good mental health.

Further Reading

Source: APA Historical Database, created and maintained by Warren R. Street, Central Washington University, and published as "A Chronology of Noteworthy Events in American Psychology" (APA, 1994).