31 March 2019

31st March 1906 - Marianne Frostig was born


On 31st March 1906 Marianne Frostig was born. As a psychologist she did a lot to help children with learning disorders by introducing screening tests and therapies that helped make up for tested deficits. Without screening children may fail to learn and as a result become withdraw or misbehave and slip further adrift. Her Developmental Test of Visual Perception measured five different perceptual functions that could hold children back at school. This could be children who are otherwise of normal intelligence, or it could be more impaired children. The intention was to use the test results to help them reach their full potential. She set up the Marianne Frostig Center in 1951 and it continues her work. These disorders nowadays have been given names like dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia, dysgraphia, ADHD, and Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Thankyou to the today in psychology historyfor the date.

30 March 2019

30th March 1882 - Melanie Klein was born


On 30th March 1882 Melanie Klein was born. Klein was an important psychoanalyst who is best remembered for developing the technique of play therapy to allow psychoanalysis with young children. Given a box of toys children could act out all their fantasies, and conflicts using horses, locomotives and figurines.

Born in Austria, Melanie first worked in Berlin, then moved to London where her ideas were more accepted. She gave to psychoanalysis the concept of experiencing the world through the Paranoid-Schizoid Position. A mother can bring great pleasure and great sadness and the child has a divided view on this important person, loving them sometimes and hating them at others. A more mature view can come about and this is what Klein called the Depressive Position, recognising that reality is more complicated and not neatly packaged. People and things are a perplexing mixture of good and bad. Some people don't reach this stage and get stuck in the paranoid schizoid position.

The Melanie Klein Trust continues to develop her theory and techniques and www.melanie-klein-trust.org.uk has more.

29 March 2019

29th March 1932 - Mental Hospital Pioneer remembered


On 29th March 1932 it was announced that Professor George M Robertson had died. He was the physician superintendent at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital for mental and nervous disorders and professor of psychiatry in the University of Edinburgh.

He said that the laws of lunacy, passed seventy years before, were repellent... 'they deal with the treatment of sick persons, yet they were drawn up by lawyers.' He was one of the pioneers of the movement for the 'hospitalisation' of the asylums and renamed The Royal Edinburgh Asylum for the Insane into The Royal Edinburgh Hospital for Mental and Nervous Diseases. In his time in charge, from 1908, a place of detention was turned into a hospital where treatment was voluntary (in over half of cases).

On his initiative female nurses were introduced, and a matron placed in charge of them. This was so successful other large institutions copied the practice.

Thanks to the Edinburgh Evening News - Tuesday 29 March 1932 - and British Newspaper Archive for the date.

28 March 2019

28th March 1941 - Virginia Woolf Dies


On 28th March 1941, Virginia Woolf, the novelist, critic, and diarist, drowned herself near her home in Sussex. She left a note for her husband and a similar note for her sister saying she could not fight any longer. The River Ouse carried her away and she was not discovered for another three weeks. During that time their was mystery about what had happened.

Throughout her life she suffered a number of 'nervous breakdowns', but between she wrote some extraordinary novels, bringing to life the inner thoughts of her characters in a new way.

Browsing the first page of her novel To the Lighthouse ... Mrs Ramsey tells six year old James that if its fine tomorrow they will go to the lighthouse, and he is filled with joy ... 'sitting on the floor cutting out pictures from an illustrated catalogue of the Army and Navy Stores, endowed the picture of a refrigerator as his mother spoke with heavenly bliss..' Then after cutting out objects in the light of radiance, the mood changes when his father says 'But ... it wont be fine.'

Much has been written about her Mental Health and the bad advice she got from doctors. There could well have been a relationship between her creativity and her breakdowns. But she left behind extraordinary novels nobody else could have written.

Thankyou to wikipedia 28th March for the date.

27 March 2019

27th March 1922 - UK National Council for Mental Hygiene created


On 27th March 1922 there was a letter by Courthauld Thomson announcing the set up of A National Council for Mental Hygiene. The USA had already had such a National Council for some years.

Mental Hygiene was a movement in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Keeping good mental health was seen as in important national issue and the council hoped to co-ordinate efforts, ensure medical students and teachers and parents learn about mental hygiene, in order to educate ordinary people to have good mental health. I am still not sure what they meant by mental hygiene  (the image above springs to my mind). I did find a poem from the Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail which could explain...

Oh, if you'd be healthy minded.
You must feed your mind with care;
You must exercise it daily;
You must let it breathe pure air.

There are mental poisons round you,
Just as truly as there are
Germs endangering your body,
And more serious by far.

Quite your only chance against them
Lies in your resisting power;
If your mind and soul be healthy,
You are safe in danger's hour.

Start a course of mental hygiene,
If you've never done so yet:
Courage, patience, it will cost you;
But the price you'll ne'er regret.

Emphasize was put on giving the child a good start in life as psychologists traced back a lot of nervous problems in later life to problems in the upbringing and management of the child.

Thanks to The Mental Health History Timeline for the date and British Newspaper Archive for the poem.

26 March 2019

26th March 1954 - Largactil use approved


On 26th March 1954 the antipsychotic drug Thorazine (chlorpromazine) was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The drug was first produced in France in 1951. It had 'produced indifference to aversive stimuli in rats' and was tried out as an anthistimine and for calming patients before an operation, then used as an anti psychotic in 1952 with dramatic effect. It became available under the proprietary name of Largactil, or large in action. This name reflected the wide number of uses of the drug.

It works primarily by blocking the neural transmitter dopamine, although that took some years to work out, and proved more targeted than barbiturates and older sedatives.

Between 1953 and 1955 chlorpromazine treatment spread round the world.

For example in 1954 Dr Sinclair at Herrison Mental Hospital in Dorchester said it had brought about '... miraculous results. Many patients have responded to the treatment and now were back at their homes and jobs.' (thanks to British Newspaper Archive).

The popularity of the drug fell from the late 1960s as newer drugs became available.

 Thankyou to today in psychology history for the date.

25 March 2019

25th March 1936 - More Mental Nurses Needed


 On Wednesday 25th March 1936 the Oxford County City Mental Hospital at Littlemore, near Oxford, announced that following reduced hours of duty they had created 25 vacancies for Female Probationer Nurses. Good prospects. Thirdclass Railway Fare refunded after three months' satisfactory service. Form of application obtainable from the Matron.

Thankyou to the british newspaper archive for the date.

24 March 2019

24th March, 1920 - Right to Appeal


The following extract [Reprinted from Truth] appeared on 24th March, 1920 ...

The Lord Chancellor, the highest judicial officer in the State, possesses in theory a general jurisdiction over the insane section of the community... notices are - or were before the war - exhibited in all lunatic asylums informing the inmates of the legal right to communicate with the Lord Chancellor on any matter requiring his attention. ... In practice it is utterly worthless, as anybody could easily guess in advance ; for what is likely to be the result of giving every patient in the kingdom the right to appeal for help to the Lord Chancellor? It can only be to fill official waste-paper baskets with vast accumulations of preposterous rubbish, and to ensure that all complaints from lunatic asylums will be referred back to the officials complained against, and adjudicated upon by them and nobody else. 

From 1914 through the 1920s the crusading periodical, Truth, published cases where the Lunacy Law was at fault. They had for example published the case of Mrs G who went to an asylum under her own volition for a 'nerve rest cure', but then was certified by her sister and not allowed out for twelve years. She wrote to the Lord Chancellor and others in authority about her own case and reported other things she saw in the Asylum. Her letters were not always get delivered. There was no effective investigation of her accusations. In fact she was punished for whistle blowing. One attendant allegedly said "she told lies, and would never get out until she altered." 

All Rights reserved to The Truth which ceased publication in 1957. Thankyou to The Mental Health Timeline for the date.

23 March 2019

23rd March 1900 - Erich Fromm was born



Erich Fromm was born on 23rd March 1900. He was a well known psychoanalyst who, as well as setting up psychoanalysis clinics, and writing a lot of learned books, wrote a couple of best sellers for which he is probably best known: Escape from Freedom and The Art of Loving. In these he developed psychoanalytic theory that explored the relationship between society and the individual. He was influenced by Freud and Marx.

In Escape from Freedom he looked at how society had developed. Until recent centuries peoples lives were ordered by the tribe, feudal system, or church. During the 19th century people began to have some freedom but their lives became increasingly alone, insecure, and meaningless without God. Some people find ways to escape from freedom into totalitarian regimes, or to alcohol, and many other ways. He spoke about accepting or welcoming freedom or choosing to escape from it.

In The Art of Loving, Fromm argues that Love 'is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.' Most people have not come to love on the level that counts - love born of maturity, self-knowledge and courage. He describes different types of love, and then puts together a theory of love and in the final chapter gives some pointers how this love is to be practised. It needs practise and concentration to develop like any Art. He talks about escaping our narcissistic way of seeing everything as affecting us, and seeing others more objectively.

Thankyou to Wikipedia 23rd March for the date.

22 March 2019

22nd March 1916 - Nathan Kline Born


Nathan Kline MD was born on 22nd March 1916. His work in discovering some of the original antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs pioneered a new era of psychiatry in the 1950s and 1960s. This allowed the treatment of conditions that had previously been thought of as untreatable.

Kline said "The fact that a condition can be treated with medication somehow guarantees in the public mind that it is a genuine illness"

This revolution did mean that the medicinal approach took precedence over psychotherapy.

He won the Lasker Award on two occasions. One citation read 'Dr. Kline more than any other single psychiatrist has been responsible for one of the greatest revolutions ever to occur in the care and treatment of the mentally ill.'

The full award can be read at Iproniazid for the treatment of severe depression | The Lasker Foundation.

Thankyou to today in psychology history

21 March 2019

21st March 1973 - Mental Patient Union started


The Mental Patients Union, 1973 has information about the formation of a Mental Patients Union

It says "A big meeting to discuss forming a Mental Patients Union was held in the evening of 21st March 1973. About 100 people attended this meeting at Paddington Day Hospital. The majority were patients or ex- patients. Most lived in London."

The Mental Patients' Union was an early radical service users group, and grew out of a strike at the Paddington Day Hospital to fight the proposed closure of the hospital. The union grew to have about 500 members across the UK and was active throughout the 1970s. They put together a bill of patients rights called the fish manifesto.

Another article about the union is in the Guardian ... The history of the radical mental health service user groups of the 1970s

20 March 2019

20th March 1904 - B. F. Skinner born.

On 20th March 1904 — B. F. Skinner was born.

Skinner was a dominant influence in psychology in the 20th century. Skinner's radical behaviorism provided a systematic analysis of the effects of consequences on behaviour. His principles of operant conditioning could train pigeons to play tunes on the piano or play table tennis. It was also the basis of more systematic research on pigeons and rats in the skinner box where they pecked a disc or pulling a lever for a reward, and that behaviour increases when it’s reinforced or rewarded.

The principles of rewards to shape behaviour were also applied to human being in the mental health field. Behaviour modification techniques were practised by many psychiatrists, psychologists and nurses during the 1970s and early 1980 to shape behaviour. An example of this might be when a carer only pays attention (the reinforcement or reward) to a patient who is throwing a tantrum (the behavior). So the carer would be asked to pay attention when the patient is behaving well, and not when they are behaving badly.

Similar principles of operand conditioning are behind systemic desensitisation for phobias and aversion therapy for something like smoking.

Thanks to the Today in Psychology History for this date.

19 March 2019

19th March 1957 - Orgone Accumulator banned


On 19th March 1957 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration brought an injunction against Dr Wilhelm Reich to stop the distribution and sales of his invention, the Orgone Accumulator.

The Orgone Accumulator was a multilayered metallic box intended to trap health giving radiation (called Orgone) and treat a person suffering from physical or mental illness who sat inside the box. A reporter from the Kent & Sussex Courier tried out the box and said that after twenty minutes he felt a warm glow inside him and a prickling sensation on the skin.

Dr Reich was a passionate man who believed that flying saucers were powered by Orgone, and that Orgone was the source of faith healing and much else that was not understood. He was a one time pupil of Freud who took psychoanalysis to new places.

Dr Reich believed that dark forces were opposing him, and that he was suffering for the good of humanity and so disobeyed the court injunction and continued with his invention. There followed a trial after which Dr Reich was sentenced to two years in prison for contempt of court. He died in prison on 3rd November 1957.

Thanks to today in psychology history. for the date.

18 March 2019

18th March 1959 - Cognitive Dissonance Experiment


On 18th March 1959 — Leon Festinger and J. Merrill Carlsmith's article Cognitive Consequences of Forced Compliance was published in the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology. This was the first of many experiments to test Festinger's theory.

Leon Festinger proposed that if a person is induced to to something against their private opinion that person will feel cognitive dissonance and the person will try to get rid of the dissonance or conflict to bring back mental harmony. One way is to change their opinion.

In the experiment participants took part in a repetitive, monotonous task. At the end they were asked to lie to the next person taking part and say the experiment was enjoyable. They were paid either $1 or $20 for lieing. A control group were not asked to lie. Lieing supposedly created dissonance as most people think lieing is wrong.

The experiment showed that those who were paid less subsequently said that they had found the task more enjoyable. Festinger said this was to reduce dissonance. So apparently those who were paid a larger sum did not have dissonance.

Thanks to today in psychology history for this date

17 March 2019

17th March - St Patrick's Day


17th March is St Patrick's Day, a day where the Irish celebrate with pride their nationality.

The Irish poet Austin Clarke uses St Patrick's Day to recreate his own experience of going to St Patrick Asylum, Dublin, in 1919. He suffered a breakdown shortly after getting married. He writes in the poem 'Mnemosyne Lay in Dust', published in 1966, the account of being taken away, his freedom taken from him, his experience of loosing his memories and identity in that place, and only a few months later finding himself again. The poem is written in the character Maurice Devane ...

Past the house where he was got
In darkness, terrace, provision shop,
Wing-hidden convent opposite,
Past public-houses at lighting-up
Time, crowds outside them – Maurice Devane
Watched from the taxi window in vain
National stir and gaiety
Beyond himself ...

Then his worst fears became real as the iron gates are shut, his clothes stripped from him; he is then plunged in a bath with people watching. The experiences make his condition worse for a long time, during which he becomes paranoid; is thrown in a padded cell; and force fed.

Only near the end does being presented with strawberries bring back something of his old self, the red strawberries contrast with everything grey and white in the asylum.

Austin Clarke lived from 1896 - 1974. More about him in Austin Clarke (poet) - Wikipedia.

16 March 2019

16th March 1853 - New Moon


On Wednesday 16th March 1853 the Dumfries and Galloway Standard had a review of a periodical called The New Moon produced by the inmates of Crichton Asylum. The reviewer is impressed by many of the works in the magazine and says "It proves that man, even amid the aberrations of intellect, is a being of noble and immortal mould, and reveals the gleams of glory and grandeur that flit athwart the gloom of his beclouded and tempest-driven soul'.

Dr William Browne, the medical superintendent of the private asylum, was a pioneer of art and writing therapy.

One inmate wrote in the March 1953 New Moon, about the asylum, "I have found health in the beautiful grounds, amusement in the theatre, and wisdom in the lecture room; and in each and all, kindness and attention"

You could pay £200-£300 a year for a room at this asylum and have your own servants and so it was not for everybody.

The Welcome Institute has digitised The New Moon and it can be read online.

Thanks to the British Newspaper Archive for the date.

15 March 2019

15th March 1949 - Kenneth Robinson becomes an MP


On 15th March 1949 Kenneth Robinson was sworn in as the MP for St. Pancras after winning a bye election. Before becoming an MP he had served as a member of the North West London Hospital Board, and knew the problems of the health service from the sharp end.

Thankyou to Andrew Roberts' Mental Health Timeline for this date. Kenneth Robinson frequently asked mental health questions in parliament. He was a great advocate of improved mental health services, and chaired the mental health committee, and became the Minister for Health. Robinson also served as the first chairman of the National Association of Mental Health (now known as Mind)

Here are a few contributions he made to debates in parliament (from Hansard) ...

19 March 1953
Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that the mental hospitals of this country are grossly overcrowded, that most of the buildings are hopelessly out of date and unsuitable, that these conditions are placing an intolerable strain upon the staffs and are hindering recruiting, and that 20 per cent. of the present very small capital allocation is quite insufficient? Will the right hon. Gentleman look at the matter again?

23 July 1953
Is the hon. Lady aware that the nursing situation in mental hospitals is deteriorating and may soon be quite critical, and that the General Nursing Council, who could do so much to help in this matter, seem to be unaware of the urgency of the problem?

19 Feb 1954
I beg to move, That this House, whilst recognising the advances made in recent years in the treatment and care of mental patients, expresses its concern at the serious overcrowding of mental hospitals and mental deficiency hospitals, at the high proportion of obsolete and unsuitable buildings still in use, and at the acute shortage of nursing and junior medical staff in the mental health service ...

Today, people are slowly but inevitably coming to appreciate that mental sickness is not fundamentally different from physical illness or accident and that it is something which can be treated in a mental hospital, in the same way as pneumonia or some other complaint is treated in a general hospital. That is a very important development, and I only wish it were progressing farther and faster...

21 March 1960
Is the Minister not aware that this country led the world in the open-door system in mental hospitals? Does he not think it is perfectly reasonable for any hospital to be able safely and profitably to open the doors of at least 80 per cent. of its wards? Therefore, would he use his influence to try to persuade the minority of backward hospitals to progress faster with this system?'

14 March 2019

14th March 1918 - Strongman's Neurasthenia Cure


On March 14th 1918 there is a large and very detailed advertising article in the Brimingham Daily Mail with the title MR. SANDOW . WHAT IS NEURASTHENIA?

Mr Eugene Sandow ran Sandow's Curative Institute at 32a St James Street, London. At the end of the Victorian era Sandow was a showman who broke cables and chains, lifted people, and showed off his strong physique by flexing his muscles.

Sandow then opened his curative institute to teach others his techniques so that men who had been rejected by the armed forces or the civil service could build up their physique and gain entry. Then as WWI progressed he turned his powers to countering the condition of Neurasthenia. The article explains that neurasthenia attacks the great nerve centre, the cerebellum, where the spinal column goes into the brain, and by disrupting traffic causes nervous problems in the brain and body. Neurasthenia leads to all manner of symptoms from indecision and loss of will power to trembling of the limbs.

The article invites people to write off for a free booklet and then receive postal tutoring from his institute for moderate fees, and by following his advice for a few minutes daily nuerasthenia could be overcome.

Thanks to British Newspaper Archive for the date.

13 March 2019

13th March 1964 - Bystander Non Intervention


On 13th March 1964, New York tavern manager Kitty Genovese was murdered as she returned home early in the morning. The story that appeared two weeks later in the New York Times said that none of the 38 witnesses did anything to help her over a period of 30 minutes. This shocked a world that knew we were getting less involved with our neighbours. The news story made its way into many introductory Psychology textbooks under the topic of 'bystander intervention' - a social psychological phenomena in which people are less likely to help if there are a lot of witnesses. This led to many psychology experiments into bystander intervention and diffusion of responsibility in crowds.

However it has become apparent in recent years that the original newspaper article did not tell the full story. One person did shout at the attacker. Others did call the police. There were some who didn't and the story was more about them. The New Yorker has the story behind this story .

Thanks to On This Day in Psychology by David Webb for the date.

12 March 2019

12th March 1890 - Vaslav Nijinsky is Born


Vaslav Nijinsky, was born on 12th March 1890 in Ukraine to Polish parents, both of them dancers. He joined the Imperial Russian Ballet School at aged nine. Then joined The Russian Ballet, a new group led by the impressario Diaghilev. They were a sensation as they toured western Europe, and Nijinsky was seen as a super-human who embodied and transformed whatever role he was playing. His leaps were gravity defying.

He went on to choreograph dances but things between Diaghilev and Nijinsky turned sour after Nijinsky married, and Nijinsky set out on his own. He was both exacting and found it difficult to communicate his ideas, being very introverted, and the venture was not a great success. The endless trivialities of running a business did not go well with the instinctive artist. During WWI he was interned, and after being released the legendary dancer became troubled mentally; he was haunted by images of the war and dead soldiers which he tried to re-create in dance, telling people this is the war you did nothing to prevent, so for which you are responsible. After that, he retreated into a world of his own, and then spent most of the rest of his life in a psychiatric institution - diagnosed as Schizophrenic.

Around the time of the breakdown he wrote a diary. He also produced paintings that seem to have balletic curves, often with watching eyes. In the institutions he was locked in his own world, and showed little of the spark that in earlier days had transformed that same body into the greatest dancer of the early twentieth century. He died in 1950.

For further biographical information see Wikipedia. Thankyou to Wikipedia 12th March for the date

11 March 2019

11th March 1904 - Hilde Bruch born

On 11th March 1904 Hilde Bruch was born.

Bruch was a psychiatrist whose specialty was eating disorders, especially obesity and anorexia.

She began life in Germany and left for England and the the US after Hitler came to power and restricted Jewish activity. She had trained as a Doctor.

In the US she became a leader in the emotional aspects of eating disorders, and many years of research appeared in her 1973 book Eating Disorders: Obesity, Anorexia Nervosa, and the Person.

In the book, through case histories, she shows how people misuse eating either by over-eating or self-starvation to solve or hide problems that appear to them otherwise insoluble.

She proposes that in our affluent society the psychological experience of hunger has become distanced from the real physical need for food. Food is used in many ways culturally that are different from satisfying hunger. In childhood food could have been used to pacify a child that was upset, or withdrawn as a punishment.

Thankyou to today in psychology history for the date.

10 March 2019

10th March 1926 - First Letter From Jenny for your analysis


On 10th March 1926 Jenny Masterson wrote the first letter in an eleven year correspondence between Jenny and Glenn ( a college friend of her son) and Isabel (Glenn's fiance and then wife). The letters are very readable and through them the reader learns about Jenny's life which is passionate, and often vitriolic and self-defeating. She turned against her family on more than one occasion, was married and widowed, and then devoted her life to her son Ross, making great sacrifices for him, but she cannot accept other women in his life. As a result he hides his marriage from his mother which leads to a big falling out between them. It is at this time the letters start.

Glenn and Jenny write back sympathetically but don't get too involved, apart from helping where really needed.

Some years after her death the psychologist Gordon Allport asked for permission to publish the letters. They give a portrait of a fascinating and tempestuous person. The book was intended to be a psychology case study for students to analyse. Allport himself provides his own analysis using different schools popular at the time. He begins with the existential viewpoint, then psychoanalysis, and then psycho-dynamic.

The book is called Letters From Jenny. Thanks to today in psychology history for the date.

09 March 2019

9th March 1961 - Water Tower Speech


Enoch Powell made his famous Water Tower Speech on Thursday 9th March 1961.

He had become Minister of Health and was planning the end of large mental hospitals, something he wanted to happen by the 1970s and started to set out his plans in the speech. It was called 'Water Tower' because of his eloquent description of the old asylums he wanted to see closed and replaced by smaller functional places ...

'... There they stand, isolated, majestic, imperious, brooded over by the gigantic water-tower and chimney combined, rising unmistakable and daunting out of the countryside - the asylums which our forefathers built with such immense solidity to express the notions of their day. Do not for a moment underestimate their powers of resistance to our assault ...'

The full speech is Enoch Powell's Water Tower Speech 1961.

The picture is based on the Water Tower at Netherne Hospital. The asylum and tower was built in 1909. The tower was 120 feet high to ensure constant water pressure for all the buildings, and to provide a force of water from hydrants in case of any outbreak of fire. The tower is still there in the residential village of Netherne on The Hill. It has been turned into flats.

Thankyou to the Mental Health History Timeline, by Andrew Roberts, for the date.

08 March 2019

8th March 1918 - Phosferine - A Proven Remedy for Brain-Fag


An advert for Phosferine in the Liverpool Echo on 8th March 1918 included a recommendation from a war hero...

Ex-Sergeant Sims from the British Expeditionary Force says that after the first three months in the Trenches he began to get bad nerves, so he sent home for Phosferine, after seeing an advertisement, and since then had a bottle sent out practically every parcel, and began to get back to his old self. He went through the Battles of Neuve Chapeile, March, 1915, Festubert, May 9, 1915, and the Somme 1916, and says 'this speaks well for the wonderful medicine. You can guess what one's nerves get like after going through such terrible Bombardment as we had the above Battles. I was awarded the Military Medal for carrying messages through a heavy Barrage and Machine-Gun Fire, and only attribute the good luck through my nerves being a good state thanks to Phosferine.'

Phosferine was a tonic, a cure-all, aimed at disorders of the nervous system including: Nervous Debility, Sleeplessnes, Exhaustion, Neuralgia, Maternity Weakness, Premature Decay, Lassitute, Faintness, Brain-Fag, and Hysteria.

The British Medical Journal had already analysed Phosferine in 1911 and found it to be mainly water, alcohol, quinine and phosphoric acid, with a bit of sulphuric acid. The ingredients for a 2s 9d bottle cost 1/2d.

Thankyou to British Newspaper Archive for the advert.

07 March 2019

7th March 1857 - Julius Wagner von Jauregg was born


On March 1857 Julius Wagner von Jauregg was born.

Wagner von Jauregg won the Nobel prize in 1927 for his discovery of the therapeutic value of inoculating malaria to treat paralysis of the insane (a severe neuropsychiatric disorder found in late syphilis.)

He studied medicine at the University of Vienna between 1874 and 1880. In 1917, after observing over three decades how patients with paralysis of the insane improved when they suffered from fever, he used the malaria parasite to create the fever and improve the condition.

Thankyou to Today in Psychology History for the date.

06 March 2019

6th March 1864 - Violent Death in Asylum


On 6th March 1864 there was inquest at Prestwick Asylum (near Manchester) on John Boardman, aged 56, who died after being kicked a number of times by another patient. There were conflicting reports about what happened. It was reported that the deceased had become violent and broken a window and needed to be constrained, stripped of his clothes, and locked in his room. Afterwards he complained of pains in his side and it was found he had broken ribs. He reported that he had been attacked by a light haired patient and an attendant named Joel. He was moved to the hospital wing and died. The light haired patient was identified and it was said that he was subject to fits of violence at times, and was not accountable for his actions. The inquest decided that the other patient had killed the deceased but not with malice aforethought. No staff member were implicated in any way. The attendant Joel who had allegedly been there was absent at the time.

Thankyou to the British Newspaper Archive for the date.

05 March 2019

5th March 1934 - Daniel Kahneman born


The Israeli-American psychologist Daniel Kahneman was born on 5th March 1934 and is notable for gaining a Nobel Prize in 2002 in Economics. He won it for his work on the psychology of judgement and decision-making, and its effect on economics. There is no Nobel Prize in Psychology so he is very rare in being a psychologist who got a Nobel Prize.

He is best known recently for his book Thinking Fast and Slow. He finds it helpful to divide how we think and make decisions into System 1 and System 2. System 1 is fast and intuitive. System 2 is more hard work and takes time to work things out. So you may see a picture of an angry face and immediately know the face is angry: that is System 1. You may see the sum 19 x 23: that takes time to work out and is system 2. Skills are learned and what was system 2 becomes system 1, like learning to drive,.

Most of the time System 1 is fine and works well but there are times when it can get things wrong. Kahneman uses the question. 'A bat and a ball cost £1.10 in total. The bat costs £1 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?'

Many people have the tendency to think 10p. That is a system 1 immediate response. Some people will give that answer. Others will check their answer first, and use system 2. No! that cant be right. That would make £1.20 ... Then they work it out 5p.

System 1 thinking works well most of the time but sometimes leads us astray in ways that Daniel Kahneman shows are predictable. This led him to demonstrate in economics that decisions are not always rational but are biased by factors such as associations with what happened before. Ask the following questions in one order 'How Happy are you as a person?" and "How many dates have you had in the last month?" and there will be little correlation between the answers. But ask "How many dates have you had in the last month? and 'How Happy are you as a person?" and the answers become correlated. There is a cause and effect.

Thankyou to Wikipedia March 5 for the date.

04 March 2019

4th March 1976 - Minister of Health visits aftercare Hostels


On 4th March 1976, Dr David Owen, a Minister of Health, made a visit to Birmingham to visit hostels and other accommodation used as after care for patients discharged from Mental Hospitals. The National Society for Mentally Handicapped Children had complained that 'the city had become a dumping ground for discharged hospital patients from all over the country.' As there was not enough hostel accommodation a number of small hotels had sprung up to cater for people being moved from large hospitals to community care.

Dr Owen went to visit and was followed by the press. An article appeared in the Birmingham Daily Post suggesting some people were worried that Dr Owen had been taken to local council run facilities and not the private sector and so it would be a whitewash. Mr Owen did however visit one of five lodging houses run by a Mrs Peggy Dowling. But at that point the press were mistakenly not allowed to follow which raised other doubts.

Afterwards the minister said he would not comment on particular cases but that the government would look at greater powers of inspection for private places, and that any place holding three or more discharged people should be registered anyway.

From Birmingham Daily Post - Thursday 04 March 1976. Thankyou to the British Newspaper Archive for the date.

03 March 2019

3rd March 1907 - Jung Met Freud


On 3rd March 1907 Carl Jung first met Sigmund Freud.

Jung had long ago encountered the works of Freud and read The Interpretation of Dreams, published by Freud in 1899.

According to a BBC interview, in 1959 with John Freeman, Jung sent Freud his book about dementia praecox, what Schizophrenia was called back then, and as a result they became acquainted.

Jung then went with his wife, Emma, to Vienna for a fortnight and during that time they met Freud and had a long and penetrating conversation.

In the autobiography Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Jung says "He invited me to visit him, and our first meeting took place in Vienna in March 1907. We met at one o'clock in the afternoon and talked virtually without a pause for thirteen hours."

In the BBC interview Jung said they became friends, and among other things had told each other their dreams, the source material of much of psychoanalysis. Asked about Freud's dreams, Jung said "that would be rather indiscreet to tell. It is a professional secret."

John Freeman says "He has been dead for twenty years". 

Jung replies "Ah yes. But his regards last longer than life" 

Thankyou to today in psychology history for the date.

02 March 2019

2nd March 1988 - Self Deception can help your Mental Health


On 2nd March 1988 — Shelley E. Taylor and Jonathon D. Brown's article Illusion and Well-Being: A Social Pschological Perspective on Mental Illness was published in Psychological Bulletin.

The study begins by saying that up to that point there had been a view that mental health depends on an accurate perception of reality. However in Taylor and Brown's summary of psychological studies they come to the conclusion that unrealistically positive self-perceptions are related to good mental health.

They first see evidence that most people see themselves as better than an objective external observer would view them. People accentuate their strengths and minimise their weaknesses. People also have the ability to distort reality to maintain their self-esteem, and keep a belief in their own abilities, including a hopeful view of the future and that motivates them.

Other who are low in self-esteem, or moderately depressed, are more accurate in their self perception.

In summary Taylor and Brown say These illusions appear to foster traditional criteria of mental health, including the ability to care about the self and others, the ability to be happy or contented, and the ability to engage in productive and creative work.

There is more on this topic in wikipedia in the article Positive illusions .

Thankyou to today in psychology history for the date.

01 March 2019

1st March 1692 - Mass Hysteria in Salem


On 1st March 1692, three women were arrested in Salem, for witchcraft: Sarah Goode, Sarah Osborne, and Tituba.

Events started in January 1692, when the niece of the Puritan Minister, Reverend Samuel Parris, began to suffer violent fits for which no physical cause could be found. Others girls got similar symptoms. The supernatural was blamed. The isolated puritan community were on their guard against attacks by the devil. Suspicion first fell upon these three women; all were social outsiders in some way: Tituba was a slave; Sarah Goode was a beggar; and Sarah Osborne was a poor elderly woman who rarely went to church. There was little real evidence against them but they were brought to trial and found guilty.

Goode and Osborne denied the charges, but in desperation Tituba confessed. Others were implicated and the web of suspicion grew. Of the first three woman, only Sarah Goode was executed, but at Salem in total about twenty people were executed for witchcraft during the hysteria that followed, most of them women.

The Salem Witch Trials have become synonymous with mass hysteria and scapegoating, and were brought to the stage in the play The Crucible, by Arthur Millar. You can visit the Salem Witch museum in Salem, Massachusetts. Nearby is the witch house, the witch dungeon, and wax museum.

Thankyou to the book On This Day in History by Dan Snow for the date. For a far more detailed account try https://historyofmassachusetts.org/the-salem-witch-trials/