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On Holy Ground
Did you know that the word psychology literally translates to "study of the soul"? For most people, during great swathes of human history, it has been religion, and those who spoke in the name of religions, who have provided answers to questions about who and what we are and what health and illness are. Thus, an archive of psychology is necessarily also an archive of religious and philosophical writings.
PsycBOOKS Classic Books collection represents that well. (Indeed, the oldest work in the collection is Saint Augustine's, 1620, Of the Citie of God.) The religious books also reflect the changes in the world in which they were written. Thus, a certain "because I said so" tone to the works expands to include ever-more appeals to reason and nature, as history moves past the cultural movements of the 17th and 18th centuries in which intellectuals challenged ideas grounded in faith in order to advance knowledge through the scientific method.
I've searched PsycBOOKS from the 17th to mid-19th century, limiting my findings by keyword "religion" and books not chapters. Unsurprisingly, the search is robust and returns almost 100 works. The titles are fascinating (as are the snatches I actually read), flashing messages from the lighthouses of our past. Here are just a few:
- Digby, K. (1644). Two treatises in the one of which, the nature of the bodies; in the other, the nature of man's soule; is looked into: In a way of discovery, of the immortality of reasonable soules.
- Mosley, N. (1653). Psychosophia: or, Natural & divine contemplations of the passions & faculties of the soul of man, in three books
- Hale, M. (1677). The primitive origination of mankind, considered and examined according to the light of nature.
- Smith, S. S. (1815). A comprehensive view of the leading and most important principles of natural and revealed religion: Digested in such order as to present to the pious and reflecting mind, a basis for the superstructure of the entire system of the doctrines of the Gospel.
- Cogitans, J. (1824). The spiritual mustard pot: containing a demonstration of the existence of God; answers to three objections to the divine origin of the scriptures; and an essay on the origin of religion.
- Rauch, F. A. (1844). Psychology; or, A view of the human soul; including anthropology, adapted for the use of colleges.
- Voltaire, & Rousseau, J. J. (1845). Voltaire and Rousseau against the atheists; or, Essays and detached passages from those writers in relation to the being and attributes of God.
For all the constant chatter we hear about how we live in a time of heady change, an hour spent in the PsycBOOKS classic books collection can put history into better perspective.
Our country is reeling from a sobering stretch of anti-American riots in many parts of the world from Tunisia to Australia. Most distressingly, in Libya, Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other embassy personnel were killed. The reason? A bad film by a criminally reckless man who cynically manipulated a reactive population.
When an expression of speech is as repellent as this movie or Westboro Baptists picketing military funerals as an anti-gay protest, it is terribly hard to see why it must be protected. So the question becomes, how is it worth it? How do we answer to the families that have just lost a son or daughter, husband or wife, who are looking for a reason and get a high-minded "concept" like freedom of expression?
The only way I have to make sense of the sometimes horrifically expensive cost to "free" speech is to remember what the alternative is, and for that we look to our history.
Without free expression, the great Library of Alexandria burned, the art of renaissance Florence was smashed, and the music of Mahler and Mendelssohn was silenced. Without that protection, Athens executed Socrates for "corrupting youth" and the Inquisition forced Galileo to deny that the earth moves round the sun.
Without that protection, these 101 authors, a small percentage of those whose voices have been stilled by the state some time and some place, were banned as dangerous:
- de Beauvoir
- Darwin, Charles
- Darwin, Erasmus
- de Staël
- Dos Passos
- Dumas fils
- Dumas père
- Freud, Anna
- Freud, Sigmund
- García Lorca
- Mann, Heinrich
- Mann, Klaus
- Mann, Thomas
- de Sade
Of all of our databases, PsycBOOKS, and particularly the classic books, is an archive of humanity's past. Part of its mission is to safeguard and pass on the great works, to ensure that they are not lost. We can't forget that many of these books were suppressed as seditious in their own time.
In the coming months, we'd like to celebrate some of those works and examine the controversies that roiled their times: the Protestant Reformation, the Great Awakening, Darwin's and Chambers's ideas of transmutation and deep time that challenged Christian orthodoxy, the work of the encyclopediasts in France that fueled the Jacobite rebellion, Einstein and Freud's challenges to what we knew about the universes without and within. What do they have to do with psychology? Everything.
The best thing we can do for any country and its future and the best answer we have for the grieving families of our first amendment martyrs? Though we protect it, do not watch this anti-Islam video; instead read something that was once considered subversive but was too brilliant to be quelled. To paraphrase Adlai Stevenson's eulogy of Eleanor Roosevelt: It's better to light a single candle than to curse the eternal darkness.
Cause and Effect
While compiling lists of new PsycBOOKS releases over the past few years, I've been struck by the fact that we have an awful lot of books with the word "phrenology" in the title.
At last count, there were 17 books in PsycBOOKS classic books. Thinking them a quaint relic, I was on the way to writing a "we've come a long way, baby" piece about the "pseudoscience," when something happened: I stopped and read the abstracts and then some of the text itself and actually thought about how what I read fit into the history of behavioral science.
And, yes, there is some material that is absurd and even offensive by today's standards, but there is also a great deal of proof that phrenology is at the root of much of our current science. As psychologist Edwin G. Boring wrote, "it is almost correct to say that scientific psychology was born of phrenology, out of wedlock with science," as out of the mid-19th-century phrenological tradition came the first comprehensive, premodern statement of a theory of cerebral localization.
PsycBOOKS has an excellent collection of the pivotal works of phrenology. They include the following:
- Bain, A. (1861). On the study of character, including an estimate of phrenology. London: Parker, Son, and Bourn.
- Combe, G. A. (1835). System of phrenology (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Marsh, Capen & Lyon.
- Fowler, Mrs. L. N. (1854). Familiar lessons on physiology and phrenology, for children and youth in two volumes. New York, NY: Fowler & Wells.
- Fowler, O. S. (1859). Creative and sexual science, or, manhood, womanhood and their mutual inter-relations: Love, its laws, power, etc.…as taught by phrenology. New York, NY: Fowler & Wells.
- Fowler, O. S., & Fowler, L. N. (1859). New illustrated self-instructor in phrenology and physiology; with over 100 engravings; together with the chart and character of. New York, NY: Fowler & Wells.
- Sizer, N. (1882). Forty years in phrenology; embracing recollections of history, anecdote, and experience. New York, NY: Fowler and Wells.
- Spurzheim, J. G. (1834). Phrenology, or the doctrine of the mental phenomena: Vol. 1. Physiological part with plates and Vol. 2. Philosophical part (3rd American ed.). Boston, MA: Marsh, Capen & Lyon.
In the last century, phrenology was a widely accepted theory of how the mind worked. It looked like science, had the respect of both professionals and educated lay people, was widely applied in the care of the sick, and had its own journals. Wouldn't you like to jump ahead 100 years and see today's science through the lens of tomorrow's discoveries?
What Is in a Name?
Forgive me. I was going to do a piece on Jonathan Edwards and how the Great Awakening irrevocably changed the Colonial psyche — PsycBOOKS has wonderful materials by Edwards — but it is June, the sun and schools are out, and the ice-cream truck bell is heard in our land. So let's revisit schisms and redemption on a grayer day. Today, let's have fun.
I've talked about how one of the delights of PsycBOOKS classic books is the sheer breadth of subject matter. You know what's really a kick each month? Titles. Since I don't know what's coming, it's like every month a piñata full of mysterious little time capsules is delivered. Some of them make you say "Ah!," some of them "Ew!," and some of them "Eh?" Here's a collection with a little of each.
- Sex and internal secretions: A survey of recent research, © 1932, by Allen, Edgar (Ed.)
- Modern materialism and emergent evolution, © 1929, by McDougall, William
- Hypnosis and you, © 1956, by Tawney, Howard D.; Benson, Ben
- The voice of experience, © 1933, by Anonymous [Love that this is by Anonymous]
- New observations on the natural history of bees (2nd ed.), © 1808, by Huber, Francis
- The psychology of dress: An analysis of fashion and its motive, © 1929, by Hurlock, Elizabeth B.
- The psychology of speculation: The human element in stock market transactions, © 1926, by Harper, Henry Howard; Jones, Haydon (Illus.) [Note the year on this one]
- Round the world with a psychologist, © 1927, by Martin, Lillien J. [Be still my heart]
- The riddle of the universe at the close of the nineteenth century, © 1900, by Haeckel, Ernst; McCabe, Joseph (Trans.)
- The little book of life after death, © 1904, by Fechner, Gustav Theodor; Wadsworth, Mary C. (Trans.) [always wanted to know how this turns out]
- The economy of happiness, © 1906, by MacKaye, James
- Scottish philosophy: A comparison of the Scottish and German answers to Hume (4th ed.), © 1907, by Pringle-Pattison, A. Seth [What would you do to avoid reading this one?]
- Sex & character (authorised translation from 6th German ed.), © 1906, by Weininger, Otto
- Why worry? © 1908, by Walton, George Lincoln [you need to ask?]
- Autosuggestion and salesmanship or imagination in business, © 1923, by Scott, Frank Lincoln
- Blondes and brunets (5th ed.), © 1916, by Blackford, Katherine M. H.; Newomb, Arthur (Ed.)
- Nature's secrets revealed; Scientific knowledge of the laws of sex life and heredity, or Eugenics: Vital information for the married and marriageable of all ages; a word at the right time to the boy, girl, young man, young woman, husband, wife, father and mother; also, timely help, counsel and instruction for every member of every home; together with important hints on social purity, heredity, physical manhood and womanhood by noted specialists, embracing a department on ethics of the unmarried by Professor T W Shannon, introduced by Bishop Samuel Fallows, medical department by W J Truitt, © 1917, by Shannon T. W.; Truitt, W. J. [Phew]
Summer is a coming in! Read something wonderful.
A Whitman's Sampler
Not to go all Forrest Gump on you, but the monthly list of PsycBOOKS new releases is sort of like that fabled box of chocolates he was prone to go on about. This month's in particular had me repeatedly opening tables of contents and chapter PDFs to sample the contents. Some were quickly closed, but some more than lived up to the promise of the title.
Part of the fascination of this monthly list is the intoxicating breadth of topics that fit under the aegis of the Classic Book and the wonderful jumble they come in each month. Though this month psychology bedrock figures like Wilhelm Wundt and William James are represented, so are others who you might not immediately place in psychology but who contribute in some important way to our information on the human condition.
Three such this month are cultural pioneer Jane Addams, inspirational sailor Joshua Slocum, and for a bit of comic relief, sexual behavior expert William Lee Howard.
A New Conscience and An Ancient Evil was Jane Addams's (1912) powerful and disturbing assessment of the evil of prostitution and its causes. Addams — progressive, pacifist, founder of Hull House, and the first American woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize — exposed the horrific economic and social conditions that forced children and girls into prostitution, using her book as a bully pulpit to draw people to her cause with its searing descriptions of their lives. Few people have single-handedly done so much to advance the rights of children and women; a tireless writer, lecturer, and activist, she was gifted in building coalitions and bringing about tangible reforms.
Sailing Alone Around the World is Joshua Slocum's (1900) account of his solo circumnavigation (the first undertaken) in his vessel Spray, the starship Enterprise of its day. The journey and book created a sensation, with one reviewer noting, "Boys who do not like this book ought to be drowned at once." An exploration of the human spirit and our interaction with the natural world, Sailing Alone was a predecessor of works such as Saint-Exupéry's Night Flight or the recent Krakauer Into Thin Air.
Facts for the Married (Howard, 1912) is an interesting analog to Jane Addams's account of the harsh realities of women's lives in the tenements. For all the genuinely useful and open information it contains about human sexuality, this is one of those works that shows starkly how much difference 100 years can make in culture. From our perspective, while it is evident that Mr. Howard had the highest regard for women, it is less evident that he'd ever actually met one. For example, his exhortation to a husband on his wedding night to "remember that what to you is an incident in life, is to your bride all LIFE — everything or nothing" today prompts snorts of derision, as well as a suspicion that our feminine predecessors were engaged in similar eye rolling and peals of laughter.
The last update to the PsycBOOKS Classic Books added one of the true landmark texts of psychology: The Jukes: A Study in Crime, Pauperism, Disease, and Heredity (Dugdale, 1910). As the Introduction to this, the fourth edition, states:
The Jukes has long been known as one of those important books that exert an influence out of all proportion to their bulk. It is doubtful if any concrete study of moral forces is more widely known, or has provoked more discussion, or has incited a larger number of students to examine for themselves the immensely difficult problems presented by the interaction of "heredity" with "environment." Its achievement, moreover, is attributable to the qualities of the work itself, as much as to the unusual nature of its subject matter. It is not too much to say that when the first edition of "The Jukes" was published, it was the best example of scientific method applied to a sociological investigation.
For a generation of students who may not know the name, the Jukes (a pseudonym that actually encompassed a composite of 42 related families) were a family with an unusually high percentage of "social undesirables" made famous (or infamous) by Dugdale's research. Dugdale was a sociologist and member of the executive committee of the Prison Association of New York. Delegated to investigate jails throughout upstate New York, he came across six related family members at one jail. Thus began a years-long meticulous study of the family.
He created detailed genealogical charts traced back to Max, a frontiersman born between 1720 and 1740. Max begat a line consisting of more than 76 convicted criminals, 18 brothel-keepers, 120 prostitutes, over 200 relief recipients and 2 cases of "feeble-mindedness." Dugdale also assigned a dollar amount to how much the family had cost the taxpayer, coming up with a total of 1.3 million dollars (in late 19th century dollars) over 75 years.
Dugdale was scrupulous in his methodology and record keeping and careful in his conclusions. He summarized the Jukes essential characteristics as "great vitality, ignorance and poverty." And his final analysis was that "environment is the ultimate controlling factor in determining careers, placing heredity itself as an organized result of invariable environment."
Many of those that followed and drew from his research were neither scrupulous nor careful. The environment component received little notice, and for decades, the Jukes were portrayed as a textbook example of heredity shaping human behavior. The Jukes became fodder for some of the uglier movements of the era, fueling support of compulsory sterilization, segregation, lobotomies and even euthanasia of the "unfit."
The Jukes legacy permeated the first half of the 20th century. Arthur Estabrook drew from Dugdale's original research in testimony in the infamous Buck v. Bell Supreme Court case that upheld compulsory sterilization of the "unfit." Even the names in some of (the best) literature of the 20th century, such as Steinbach's Joad and Faulkner's Snopes families, seem suggestive. Whole families, mostly from the rural south, have been smeared with epithet like Jukes and suggesting a family stain.
PsycBOOKS allows students to review original research, to trace the progression of that research through time, adaptation, and manipulation, and to draw their own reasoned conclusions.
Older Email List Announcements
- Archive of 2011 PsycBOOKS® Sample Searches Podcasts
Provides an archive of podcasts from 2011 about PsycBOOKS® content highlights.
- Archive of 2010 PsycBOOKS® Sample Searches Podcasts
Provides an archive of podcasts from 2010 about PsycBOOKS® content highlights.