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Psychology Blog





The All About Psychology Blog will be used to alert readers to all the latest content and resources added to the website.

It will also document a significant person, event or landmark in the history of psychology every day of the year.



Neurasthenia: Today in the History of Psychology (29th April 1869)




The first published account of 'neurasthenia' appeared in the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal in an article by George Miller Beard titled 'Neurasthenia, or nervous exhaustion'. This 'new' neurotic disorder - the symptoms of which include mental fatigue, inability to concentrate, dizziness, tension headaches, sleep disturbance and irritability - soon became a highly prevalent diagnosis throughout the U.S, so much so it acquired the nickname "Americanitis."

Although neurasthenia is included as a diagnosis in the World Health Organization's International Classification of Diseases, modern day presentation of the symptoms within the disorder are typically reclassified within other more well known psychological diagnoses.

Information via: On This Day in Psychology: A Showcase of Great Pioneers and Defining Moments

Ivan Pavlov: Today in the History of Psychology (28th April 1903)




At the 14th International Medical Congress held in Madrid, Ivan Pavlov presented a paper titled 'Experimental Psychology and Psychopathology of Animals.' A true landmark in the history of psychology, this was the first time Pavlov had provided a detailed public account of his groundbreaking theory of conditional reflexes.

Information via: On This Day in Psychology: A Showcase of Great Pioneers and Defining Moments

Herbert Spencer: Today in the History of Psychology (27th April 1820)




Herbert Spencer was born. A great thinker of his time and a true polymath, Spencer wrote widely on a range of topics including psychology. In 1855 he published 'Principles of Psychology,' a seminal text in the early days of the discipline embraced by the likes of William James and John Dewey.

Principles of Psychology was profoundly influential in establishing behavior analysis as a major area of study within psychology; as it was within this book that Spencer formulates the principle that behavior changes in adaptation to the environment. This key concept based on evolutionary selectionism would go on to influence the work of such luminaries as Edward Thorndike and B.F. Skinner.

See following link to learn all about the fascinating history of psychology.

History of Psychology

Leonard Thompson Troland: Today in the History of Psychology (26th April 1889)




Leonard Thompson Troland was born. Renowned for his telling contributions to both psychology and physics, Troland was a pioneering theorist within the field of visual psychophysics. He studied and later taught psychology at Harvard University and also worked as a research engineer during which time he helped revolutionize the film industry by co-inventing the Technicolor Process.

Widely considered one of America's most promising scientists, Troland tragically fell to his death in a hiking accident at the age of just 43.

Information via: On This Day in Psychology: A Showcase of Great Pioneers and Defining Moments

Sigmund Freud: Today in the History of Psychology (25th April 1886)




Sigmund Freud opened his private medical practice in Vienna marking the beginning of his career as a specialist in nervous illnesses.

See following links for Freud information and resources.

Sigmund Freud

Robert C. Bolles: Today in the History of Psychology (24th April 1928)




Robert C. Bolles was born. A pioneering psychologist within the field of functional behaviorism, Bolles's work was instrumental in revolutionizing our biobehavioral understanding of learning, motivation and cognition.

His classic book 'Theory of Motivation' published in 1967 signified a paradigm shift away from mechanistic Hullian drive theory towards cognitive and ethological explanations of motivated behavior.

Information via: On This Day in Psychology: A Showcase of Great Pioneers and Defining Moments

Psychological Testing by Anne Anastasi: Today in the History of Psychology (23rd April 1954)




The first edition of 'Psychological Testing' by Anne Anastasi was published. This classic text now in its seventh edition remains required reading in many undergraduate and graduate psychology courses.

See following link for free psychological testing information and resources.

Psychology Tests

Otto Rank: Today in the History of Psychology (22nd April 1884)




Otto Rank was born. One of Sigmund Freud's closest colleagues in the early days of the psychoanalytic movement and later a pioneering existential psychoanalyst.

Rank produced a prolific body of published work covering a range of topics including art, music, creativity, myth and religion.

See following link for psychoanalysis information and resources.

Psychoanalysis

Oskar Pfungst: Today in the History of Psychology (21st April 1874)




Oskar Pfungst was born. A comparative psychologist renowned for his detailed study of Clever Hans, a performing horse who tapped his hoof a given number of times in order to give correct answers to complex arithmetical problems. Pfungst concluded that it was unintentional conditioning, rather than intellectual ability which explained Hans's apparent mathematical genius. He wrote:

'Hans's accomplishments are founded first upon a one-sided development of the power of perceiving the slightest movements of the questioner, secondly upon the intense and continued, but equally one-sided, power of attention, and lastly upon a rather limited memory, by means of which the animal is able to associate perceptions of movement with a small number of movements of its own which have become thoroughly habitual.'

The case of Clever Hans served to demonstrate the need for rigorous methodological controls within experimental psychology and was the catalyst for research into experimenter expectancy effects.

Information via: On This Day in Psychology: A Showcase of Great Pioneers and Defining Moments

Joseph Wolpe: Today in the History of Psychology (20th April 1915)




Joseph Wolpe was born. A hugely influential advocate of behavior therapy, Wolpe developed Systematic Desensitization, a revolutionary treatment for phobia induced anxiety based upon behaviorist principles of learning and 'unconditioning,' which he described as follows.

'The desensitization method consists of presenting to the imagination of the deeply relaxed patient the feeblest item in a list of anxiety-evoking stimuli - repeatedly, until no more anxiety is evoked. The next item of the list is then presented, and so on, until eventually even the strongest of the anxiety-evoking stimuli fails to evoke any stir of anxiety in the patient.'

In 1979 Joseph Wolpe received the American Psychological Association (APA) Distinguished Scientific Award for the Applications of Psychology.

Information via: On This Day in Psychology: A Showcase of Great Pioneers and Defining Moments

Gustav Theodor Fechner: Today in the History of Psychology (19th April 1801)




Gustav Theodor Fechner was born. A renowned philosopher and physicist, Fechner's lifelong interest in psychophysics - the quantitative study of the relationship between physical stimuli and the psychological sensations and perceptions they induce - had an integral influence on the development of experimental psychology.

Rightly considered a founder of modern psychology Fechner's papers were bequeathed to Wilhelm Wundt following his death in 1887.

See following link to learn all about the fascinating history of psychology.

History of Psychology

Broca's Area: Today in the History of Psychology (18th April 1861)




French physician, anatomist and surgeon Pierre Paul Broca performed an autopsy on Louis Victor Leborgne. Monsieur Leborgne more commonly known as 'Tan' due to the fact that this was just about the only word he could say is one of the most important patients in the history of neuropsychology.

Having autopsied Leborgne's brain, Broca reported that he had discovered an abnormality in the left frontal lobe and concluded that this must be the patient's cortical speech production center; a part of the brain that would subsequently become known as 'Broca's area.'

Information via: On This Day in Psychology: A Showcase of Great Pioneers and Defining Moments

Hippolyte Bernheim: Today in the History of Psychology (17th April 1840)




Hippolyte Bernheim was born. An eminent French neurologist and early mentor of Sigmund Freud, Bernheim was appointed professor of clinical medicine at Nancy in 1879 where he helped pioneer the study and application of hypnotism within psychotherapy.

Information via: On This Day in Psychology: A Showcase of Great Pioneers and Defining Moments

Albert Hofmann: Today in the History of Psychology (16th April 1943)




Eminent Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann experienced the first ever LSD-induced 'acid trip.' Hoffman synthesized lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) in 1938 but was unaware of its powerful hallucinogenic properties until he accidentally absorbed a small amount of the drug, the effects of which he described as follows.

'...affected by a remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness. At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors.'

Huge research interest in the clinical, psychological and psychiatric applications of LSD followed Hofmann's discovery; however, moral panic over its recreational use and concern over potential adverse psychiatric reactions led to a wide scale ban of LSD by the late 1960's.

In 2014 a study by Peter Gasser et al published in The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease entitled 'Safety and Efficacy of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide-Assisted Psychotherapy for Anxiety Associated With Life-threatening Diseases' concluded that 'when administered safely in a methodologically rigorous medically supervised psychotherapeutic setting, LSD can reduce anxiety, suggesting that larger controlled studies are warranted.' This was the first controlled trial of LSD in more than 40 years.

Today in the History of Psychology (15th April 1880)




Max Wertheimer was born. A founding figure within Gestalt psychology, Wertheimer's landmark paper 'Experimentelle Studien über das Sehen von Bewegung' (Experimental Studies of the Perception of Movement) ranks among the most important publications in the history of psychology.

This hugely influential paper is where Wertheimer first describes the phi phenomenon - the illusion of motion between stationary objects when presented rapidly in succession. Wertheimer's work in this area revolutionized the study of perception within psychology.

Information via: On This Day in Psychology: A Showcase of Great Pioneers and Defining Moments
























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