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College of Liberal and Fine Arts

Today in Psychology

A Daily Calendar of Events in the History of Psychology



Today's Date: January 19-21



On January 19:

1796 — David Kinnebrook made his last observation at Greenwich Observatory. Kinnebrook was later fired for observations disagreeing with those of the Astronomer Royal, Nevil Maskelyne. Repercussions of this incident led to Bessel's study of individual reaction times and the founding of the psychological field of individual differences.

1798 — Auguste Comte was born. Comte was a French social philosopher who contended that individual behavior is largely a product of social forces. Comte coined the term sociology to describe the objective study of this process.

1842 — George Trumball Ladd was born. Ladd was an early functionalist. His Elements of Physiological Psychology was the first book in English on the subject. Ladd was a founder of the APA and served as its president in 1893.

1870 — Eduard Hitzig presented the first account of electrical stimulation of the human brain in a report to the Medical Society of Berlin. Hitzig induced eye movements through brain stimulation. Nonhuman subjects were further studied by Hitzig, Gustav Fritsch, and David Ferrier. American physician Roberts Bartholow conducted further studies of human participants, first reported in 1874.

1929 — Congress founded the first federal drug treatment hospitals (then called "narcotics farms"), the U.S. Public Health Service Hospitals in Lexington, Kentucky, and Fort Worth, Texas. The Lexington hospital, opened in May 1935, was probably the world's first facility of its kind, and it created the influential Addiction Research Center in 1948. The Fort Worth hospital opened in November 1938.

1938 — The Journal of Parapsychology was first published by Duke University.

1952 — The first human test of the antipsychotic drug chlorpromazine, now marketed as Thorazine, was conducted on a manic patient at the Val de Grace military hospital in Paris by Joseph Hamon, with Jean Paraire and Jean Velluz. Chlorpromazine was first developed as an antihistamine, was later used to prevent surgical shock, and was finally widely adopted as an antipsychotic drug.

1965 — The APA's Journal of Personality and Social Psychology was first published, with Daniel Katz as its editor. This journal assumed publication of the social psychology portion of the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, which began publication in 1921, itself a successor to the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, first published by Morton Prince in 1906.

1973 — David Rosenhan's article "On Being Sane in Insane Places" was published in Science. Rosenhan and seven others gained admission to mental hospitals by imitating schizophrenic behavior. Once admitted, they resumed normal behavior but found that the staff members could not detect their normalcy. The article is often cited in introductory psychology texts.

1974 — The APA Council of Representatives established a legal advocacy organization, the Association of American Psychologists, later named the Association for the Advancement of Psychology (AAP). The council had earlier declined endorsement of an existing advocacy group, the Council for the Advancement of the Psychological Professions and Sciences.

1983 — The APA Division 16 journal, Professional School Psychology, was authorized by the division's executive council. The journal began publication in 1986 and changed its title to the School Psychology Quarterly in 1990.


On January 20:

1797 — The Maryland legislature passed the first state act in the United States providing for a state mental hospital. Maryland Hospital opened in 1808 on land now occupied by Johns Hopkins University. It had mixed state, city, and private administration until the state assumed control in 1834. If the 1808 date is used, it is the second oldest state mental hospital in the United States. In 1872, its functions moved to Spring Grove Hospital in Catonsville.

1812 — Edouard O. Séguin was born. Séguin founded the world's first "school for the feeble-minded" in Paris in 1839. He used environmental stimulation and structured exercises to develop the potential of his students and introduced a standard method, the form board, for evaluating progress. He was one of the organizers of the School for Mental Defectives at Randall's Island, New York (1849).

1843 — A British mechanic named Daniel M'Naghton shot Edmund Drummond, private secretary of Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel, thinking Drummond was Peel. M'Naghton was later acquitted of murder because it was judged that his paranoid mental condition rendered him incapable of judging right from wrong. The M'Naghton rule is a landmark precedent of the modern insanity defense.

1857 — Vladimir M. Bekhterev was born. Bekhterev brought extensive study of the nervous system to bear on an understanding of conditioned responses, with special emphasis on psychiatric problems. He named his science reflexology. Bekhterev founded the first psychological laboratory in Russia, at the University of Kazan in 1886.

1869 — William Healy was born. Healy was a child psychiatrist whose work with delinquent children led to founding the first American child guidance clinic, the Juvenile Psychopathic Institute (1909) in Chicago. With Grace M. Fernald, Healy devised the Healy-Fernald series of performance tests for intelligence. He was one of the founders of the American Association of Clinical Psychologists in 1917.

1873 — Clara Ellen Fowler, the "Sally Beauchamp" of Morton Prince's study of multiple personalities, was born.

1962 — Eric Berne's Transactional Analysis Journal was first published.

1969 — The APA journal Developmental Psychology was first published. Boyd R. McCandless was the journal's editor.

1975 — The Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance was first published by the APA. Michael I. Posner was the journal's editor. The journal was one of four created by dividing the content of the Journal of Experimental Psychology.

1975 — The Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning and Memory was first published by the APA, with Lyle E. Bourne as editor. Its content had previously been part of the Journal of Experimental Psychology. The title of the journal was changed to Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition in 1982.

1986 — Angela Browne and David Finkelhor's article "Impact of Child Sexual Abuse: A Review of the Research" was published in Psychological Bulletin. The article was cited often in the late 1980s.

1988 — The U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in Honig v. Doe, that schools may not expel children with emotional disorders for more than 10 days without parental consent or court order. The judgment affected the practices of school psychologists and school counselors.

On January 21:

1850 — Hermann von Helmholtz published his first brief report on the "measurable period of time" taken for a nerve impulse to travel in frogs' legs. He reported that "in the case of large frogs with nerves 50-60 mm in length . . . this period of time amounted to 0.0014 to 0.0020 of a second." The studies showed that nerves did not operate by the instantaneous action of vital forces.

1850 — Mental health activist Dorothea Dix presented a memorial to the legislature of Nova Scotia, urging the construction of a public mental hospital. While Dix submitted similar documents to the legislatures of many U.S. states, this appears to be her only initiative in British North America. Dix took an active part in selecting the site in Halifax of the resulting hospital.

1885 — The term psychopath first appeared in print in its modern meaning. An article in the Pall Mall Gazette said, in part, "beside his own person and his own interests, nothing is sacred to the psychopath."

1887 — Wolfgang Köhler was born. Köhler is best known for his studies of insightful problem solving in apes and his role in shaping the course of Gestalt psychology. He won the APA Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award in 1956, the first year it was awarded. APA President, 1959.

1902 — Georgene Hoffman Seward was born. Seward's work in clinical psychology was directed at studies of psychosomatic disorders and culture, personality, and psychotherapy. Special attention was paid to sexual behavior, gender roles, and the psychology of women.

1921 — Wendell Richard Garner was born. Garner is noted for applying experimental discipline and strict logic to the study of form and structure. Garner's contributions include work in psychophysics, discrimination, perception, and learning. APA Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award, 1964.

1966 — Wendell R. Garner's article "To Perceive is to Know" was published in the American Psychologist.

1974 — The National Institute of Mental Health released a report on psychosurgery, concluding that current techniques should be considered experimental and that psychosurgery should not be used on prisoners or individuals incapable of freely giving their informed consent.



Searchable APA Historical Database by Date or Keyword

Street, W. R. (2007, October 4). January 19-21 in Psychology. Retrieved January 19, 2018, from the American Psychological Association Historical Database Web site at Central Washington University: