Members in the Media
From: Inside Higher Ed

Not Psychohistory. Not the History of Psychology, but Historical Psychology

Wikipedia lists 36 obsolete psychological categories. These include drapetomania, a supposed mental disorder that led enslaved African Americans to run away; hysteria, the host of motor, psychic and sensory disturbances that were supposedly gender-aligned; and neurasthenia, the fatigue, headache, lassitude and irritability that were purportedly a by-product of overcivilization.

In some instances, an older psychological label was discarded and replaced by a more sophisticated, nuanced or less pejorative terminology. Think of derogatory, eugenics-aligned terms like imbecile or idiot that have thankfully been jettisoned. In other instances, an older vocabulary was replaced by a new conceptual framework. Thus, hysteria is now considered a conversion disorder. In still other cases, the diagnosis and indeed the disorder itself seemed to gradually disappear.

A recent journal article in Current Directions in Psychological Science by Mohammad Atari and Joseph Henrich raises an intriguing question: What might be gained if psychology were treated as a historical science and psychological categories were viewed through a historical lens?

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