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History and Philosophy of Psychology Section 2011

Annual Conference

The Annual Conference was held at Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford, 19-21 April. The Section was delighted to welcome Professor Daniel Robinson whose Keynote Address was titled ‘From the Porch of Solomon: B. F. Skinner and the Irrelevancy of Psychology's History’; and Section Founder Member Professor Graham Richards whose Keynote was titled ‘The Mind in Time: First Draft of a Position Statement’. Papers presented at the conference included: ‘William James and the Politics of Psychopathology (Emma Sutton); ‘The Disruption of the Habitual’: Obedience and the Cold-War Culture of the ‘Hidden Camera’ (Ian Nicholson); ‘Eugenics and the History of Psychology in Iceland’ (Hannes Björnsson); and ‘Dealing with the Nazi past and Psychology’s Present: The Example of R.P. Hofstätter’ (Elena Demke). 

As usual the conference featured papers submitted by internationally-recognised scholars, independent researchers and graduate students including: ‘The Past, Present and Future of the Idiographic/Nomothetic Dichotomy: Unpicking a Philosophical Knot in Psychology’ (Oliver Robinson): ‘Sport Psychology: Another Cuckoo in the Coaching Nest’ (Dave Day); ‘Evolution of Romanian Psychological Bibliography in Relation to Changes in Society, 1938-2008’ (Julien-Ferencz Kiss); and ‘Consciousness as a Paradigm for Cognitive Neuroscience’ (John Campion).

Of particular note were the posters presented by graduate students: ‘The Failure of Aversion Therapies and the Declassification of Homosexuality as a Psychological Disorder’ (Emily Kenefick); ‘Psychology and Emotion: Classification and Construction in the Late 19th Century’ (Anna Kennedy); ‘Belief in Tarot: A Discourse Analysis’ (Taryn Lyon). 

On behalf of all delegates I would like to thank all our presenters, the Section Committee, and John Hall in particular for organizing such a successful event.

Stories of Psychology

Another notable highlight of the year was the half-day event Stories of Psychology: Archives, Histories and What They Tell Us. Held at the Wellcome Collection Conference Centre, London on 11 October, the oversubscribed event was the inspiration of Peter Dillon-Hooper of the BPS History of Psychology Centre. The speakers were Professor Richard Bentall (‘How we have changed the way we think about madness’); Professor Mick Billig (‘Archival knowledge versus personal reminiscence: The case of the social psychologist Henri Tajfel’); Dr Rhodri Hayward (‘Psychological knowledge and the making of the modern British state’);and Professor Sally Shuttleworth (‘Studying the child in the nineteenth century’). Thanks are due to Dr Alan Collins and Peter Dillon Hooper for organising the extremely well-received event.

History and Philosophy of Psychology

Under Professor Liz Valentine’s dedicated editorship, the Section’s journal History and Philosophy of Psychology publishes a combination of refereed papers, conference papers, comments and book reviews. The journal continues to attract high quality contributions from scholars across the globe. Contributions from historically and philosophically-minded scholars are always welcome.

The Psychologist

2011 was another successful year for the ‘Looking Back’ pages of The Psychologist. The Section remains indebted to Associate Editor Julie Perks whose inspired work on its behalf continues to enlighten and provoke.

I would like to take this opportunity to offer my thanks to all of the Section’s committee members for their contributions to the Section during the past year. Finally, on behalf of the Section I would like to thank Section Founder Member Dr. Sandy Lovie for funding an annual prize for the best student essay in the history and philosophy of psychology. It will henceforth be known as ‘The Lovie Prize’ in recognition of his generous donation.

Dr Geoff Bunn, Chair

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