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Archive for the ‘Manuscripts’ Category

-contributed by Rhonda Rinehart.

When “Psychic Killer” was released in 1975, there wasn’t much on the surface to set it apart from other horror movies of the same ilk.  There was violence.  There was gore.  There was sex.  There were victims.  “He freed his mind and body to commit the most sensual and shocking acts imaginable!” promised the movie poster.

Such claims probably don’t mean all that much in the 40-something rearview mirror of Leatherface and Michael Myers but one thing did set “Psychic Killer” apart from other movies and that was The Kirlian Effect.  Based on a 1939 concept developed by Russian inventor Semyon Kirlian that all living things project an energy field, and these energy fields can be photographed, The Kirlian Effect received some attention; at best as a sort of pseudo-psychology and at worst as a complete myth.  The technique developed to capture these energy fields came to be known as Corona Discharge Photography, so named for the electrical discharge brought about by connecting an object to both a photographic plate and a high-voltage electrical source, and snapping a picture of the resulting electro-discharge.  And so Kirlian Photography, as it is also known, was born – and “Psychic Killer” was created in its wake.

Though the movie didn’t quite get it right – turns out the protagonist was astral projecting (a story for another blog) rather than discharging any coronal impulses – Kirlian Photography was indeed the muse for the film’s screenwriter and producer, Mardi Rustam, and, surprisingly, for a handful of psychologists in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

One of those psychologists, Willard Caldwell, was hanging out in a cute little cottage named Kipling Arms, tinkering with his own coronal discharge equipment around the same time that Rustam was conceiving his psychic killer.  While photographing electromagnetic discharges or “auras” of everything from lizards and grasshoppers to vials of his own blood, Caldwell wasn’t just playing a 1970s version of Dr. Frankenstein.

Vial of Willard Caldwell blood.

Willard Caldwell’s left and right frontal lobes.

Willard Caldwell’s hands.

Rather, Caldwell was developing techniques that would come to focus on the effects of magnetic fields upon behavior, schizophrenia, and neuropsychology.  Caldwell worked to incorporate the neuroscience of brain damage and schizophrenia through the use of Kirlian photography into a more serious application, though he did take time to further develop Kirlian photographic techniques for other living things.

Coronal discharge from a grasshopper.

Caldwell’s notes on handling the grasshopper during photography

Biting grasshoppers aside, the applications of Caldwell’s techniques were reported by him in numerous research papers on topics as diverse as cancer and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.  Though mostly unpublished, Caldwell’s prolific research did get some academic attention, but Kirlian photography remains an outlier in health and psychological research.

But perhaps Kirlian, Caldwell and Rustam were on to something.  The brain, as we know, is a powerful tool.  It stands to reason that we would want to know more about how it works and how it relates to our being.  How we get there is up to us.  We can make movies or we can do research.  Either way, the result is only part of the journey.

Sketch of Kirlian photographic techniques, by Caldwell.

 

The Willard Caldwell papers are located at the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology at the University of Akron.  View the collection finding aid here: http://rave.ohiolink.edu/archives/ead/OhAkAHA0036.

Photographic equipment Caldwell used in his experimentation is also located at the Cummings Center: http://cdm15960.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p15960coll7/id/1713/rec/1

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Contributed by Lizette R. Barton.

Yesterday was Parents’ Day and since psychology and parenting go hand in hand, I was charged with writing a blog for the occasion.

As I mother, I thought I could kill a couple of birds with one stone and gather helpful information about motherhood from the archives, use that information in my own life, and then blog about it. But then I realized I’m winging this whole parenting thing, so even if I found “helpful” information, I wouldn’t use it anyways.

Next I considered digging into the collections to see what I could unearth about “refrigerator mothers,” but then I realized I am sick and damn tired of mom guilt.

Then I thought, maybe parenting alongside the history of child development might be cool, but I remembered that I am currently embroiled in the almost-terrible-twos and the absolutely-infuriating-threes and I am learning plenty about independence milestones at home.

Then it came to me. Beyond the theories and the research and the publications, psychologists have parents. And some were even parents themselves.

So instead of an intellectual blog, I give you this fluff piece: psychologists are parents too.

Did you know that Knight Dunlap had a mother? It’s true!

Sure, he was at Johns Hopkins alongside John B. Watson and he helped established the Journal of Comparative Psychology and and he went on to chair the psychology department at UCLA, but he had a mother! Not only that, but she wrote letters to him and in 1906 offered to butcher one of her best chickens for him. If that doesn’t scream good parenting, I don’t know what does.

Dunlap_Collage_watermark

“Did you remember that your birthday was this week and Thanksgiving comes next week? I should be glad to kill one of my best chickens for yours. Turkey is 20⊄ per pound and very scarce at that.” Knight Dunlap papers, box M570, folder “Personal”

 

Lillie Lewin Bowman had a mother. And before she patented the pour spout, she was just a gal graduating from Berkeley with a mother who believed in her.

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Lillie Lewin Bowman papers, box M92.2, folder “Professional”

 

Lois B. Murphy had a mother. And a father. And when she was born in 1902, they started this adorable baby book for her.

MurphyPapers_M1258_certificates_Watermarked

Gardner and Lois B. Murphy papers, box M1258, folder “Certificates”

 

Later, Lois Barclay married fellow psychologist Gardner Murphy and guess what? They became parents! Here’s an image of Gardner with one of their children in 1953.

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Gardner and Lois B. Murphy papers, box V40, folder 2

 

Other psychologists were also parents.

Check out this 1936 (or maybe 1937) newspaper announcement of Rosemary Young’s third birthday party. Her father was psychologist Paul T. Young. Sure, he was one of Titchener’s doctoral students and he spent a year on the streets of Berlin with his pseudophone, but he was also a dad who knew how to throw a birthday party.

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Paul T. Young papers, box M100, folder “Miscellaneous” 

 

And here’s a photo of renowned social psychologists Carolyn & Muzafer Sherif with one of their children.

MurphyPapers_V40_folder2_Sherifs_Watermarked

Gardner and Lois B. Murphy papers, box V40, folder 2

 

And finally, we all know Abraham Maslow as the psychologist at the very heart of humanistic psychology who devised the well-known and oft-cited theory of the hierarchy of needs.

He was someone’s dad.

MaslowPapers_M4439_folder7_AnnKaplanLetter

Abraham Maslow papers, box M4439, folder “Biographical 3”

 

 

 

 

 

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-contributed by Arianna Iliff.

As a Graduate Student Assistant here at the CCHP, I get to explore our collections for researchers and find resources to assist them in their research. In the process of doing so, I find some truly interesting gems, and record them in a word document called “Nifty Surprises.” I thought I would share some with you today:

Harrower_SquareDancing_OS67_MapCaseDrawer5

Molly Harrower papers, OS67, map case 5

 

I’ve had the chance to get to know Molly Harrower: not just as a psychologist, but as a person. She was a skilled writer, and throughout the Harrower papers, you can even find snippets of poetry. But did you know that we have her “Bachelor of Square Dancing” degree?

OS67, Map Case 5 (molly's cats 2)

Molly died in 1999. If Molly were alive today, I bet she’d get a huge kick out of internet cat videos–clearly a gal after my own heart. Molly Harrower papers, OS67, map case 5.

How about this lovely chalk drawing of her cat? That’s one thing that I’ve enjoyed about my time here: when you have access to data, manuscripts, and unexpected errata such as this, history becomes more tangible than anything you could read in a textbook.

Maslow_M4413_folder7 (Huxley pamphlet)

I wish my favorite author would send me an autographed pamphlet. I’m not bitter though. Abraham Maslow Papers, box M4413, folder 7.

Finding this gem made my jaw drop: “THE Aldous Huxley? Sci-fi writer extraordinaire?” Oh yes! Abe Maslow and Aldous Huxley were indeed friends, due to their mutual interest in peak experiences and the Human Potential Movement. Interestingly, one of my favorite family therapists, Virginia Satir, was also a part of the movement!

V37_folder 2 (furiosa and max)

 Henry H. Goddard papers, V37, folder 2.

Stay with me on this one: okay, have you seen Mad Max: Fury Road? You know that scene where Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa aims a shot off of Max’s shoulder? My first thought when I found this image in the Goddard Papers was of exactly that!

Unfortunately, this image is not labeled with names or any such identifiers, and we don’t know who these people were in relation to Goddard. So when I think of this image, I just think of it as “that picture of early 20th century Max and Furiosa.”

V35_folder6 (D Johannsen, M Crook, R Leeper, Bony)

Three grad students, studying at a table with a model human skeleton. Caption: Caption on reverse states “graduate student life at Clark,” listing the names Dorothea Johannsen (Crook), Mason N. Crook, Robert W. Leeper, and Bony. AHAP Still Images collection, V35, folder 6.

When I came across this photo in our photo archives, I think that as a second-semester graduate student, I related to Bony the skeleton on a spiritual level. I felt that this photo needed a hilarious caption, such as “I’m coping with the workload just fine,” or “finals week is a real killer,” or perhaps ”I choose the sweet embrace of death over one more day in this program.”

On a serious note, I’ll say this: as an undergraduate, I chose studying sociology over psychology because for some reason, the sociological perspective was easier for me to connect with. However, since I’ve been working at the CCHP, I’ve had the opportunity to physically touch history, learning while helping others learn. Most people are surprised when I tell them the only place like this in the world is in Akron, but the fact of the matter is that the famous psychologists we learn about in 100-level classes, or whose research we draw upon, are more than just vague, long-deceased monoliths, but human beings who lived, worked, and thought. It excites me tremendously that you, too could experience history like I have, once our museum re-opens to the public. I hope you’ll stop on by!

 

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– contributed by Rhonda Rinehart.

April is National Poetry Month.  In recognition of all of those terrible poems you wrote in high school, and in honor of armchair poets everywhere, CCHP is posting a blog about creativity.

with painted clothes upon a bridge, she was not iodined with garnishes; those

passing there, seared and grotesque.  did she jump, or wail, or swing on other

clothes?  did she spread her teeth inventing whistles for the quaying bikes, or

stiff snouters turned in grey?  she did not, nor did she cow or pace about in

ruins, or tray her hiked up shoes more nearly like galosh or spidern heels she

cut among the grass.

[Excerpt from untitled poem written by ‘Larry’ (Laurence d’A. M. Glass), from the Silvan Tomkins papers, Cummings Center for the History of Psychology]

What makes “good” poetry, and how do you know when you see it?  Can poetry be judged on simple merits of being good or bad?

Whether the above poem elicits provocative imagery or just annoys the reader with a bunch of made-up words and awkward sentence structure (the spellcheck was practically shouting at me while typing), we can probably agree that something creative like poetry is indeed quite subjective.  And like other creative endeavors, writing poetry is an intensely personal act.  But so is reading it.  The exact elements of Glass’s poem that make us appreciate it or shrink from it, are creativity in action.  No rules.  No inhibitions.  As Dan Wieden so famously (and creatively) proclaimed for Nike, “Just do it.”

Plenty of CCHP collections possess poetry written by psychologists; still others contain poems from colleagues and family members, like this one from the L. Joseph Stone papers about adolescence, from the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology

If poetry is subjective and arcane, why would we attempt to judge it by a simple scale of good or bad?  Or by a right way or wrong way of writing it?  Maybe it’s an attempt to make the unscientific more scientific.  Perhaps the more pressing question is, should we judge it from those perspectives at all?

Two professors – one of education and one of English – developed “A Measure of Ability to Judge Poetry” in 1921, to assist students in acquiring an “increased ability to tell good [poetry] from bad, and increase preference for the good”.  To do this, original poems were sampled, accompanied by sets of varying versions of the original that represented sentimental, prosaic, and metrical forms of writing.  From there, it was simply a “which do you prefer?” choice.  Similarly, “Literature Tests to Accompany Adventures in Prose and Poetry”, a test developed by Rewey Belle Inglis, asks students to determine prevailing emotions of various poems from a given set of emotions.

Test preamble and sample poem for “A Measure of Ability to Judge Poetry (Exercises in Judging Poetry)” by Allan Abbott and M. R. Trabue, 1921; from the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology Test Collection

 

Test page from “Literature Tests to Accompany Adventures in Prose and Poetry” from the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology Test Collection

But making constrained decisions about something that is personal and subjective from pre-selected lists and writing samples feels a little restrictive.

Instead of right and wrong answers, or answers that are compared to regulated determinates, tests like “The Symbolic Equivalents Test”, allow for more fluctuation in the answers.  Rather than judging one’s ability to recognize the good and the bad from staid lists, the test-taker is asked to think of his or her own ways to answer each sample.  Answers might feel less like straight answers, and more like cleverness and ingenuity.  Indeed, creative writing (in the form of poetry or prose) should feel this way.

“The Symbolic Equivalents Test” with some imaginative notes, from the Frank X. Barron papers; Cummings Center for the History of Psychology

Throughout the 1960s and ‘70s, Elizabeth Starkweather conducted research on the subject of creativity, particularly in school children.  She describes creativity as something that cannot be coerced, and in order to take place, it must happen in an environment of free expression without inhibition.

Excerpt from a paper on creativity by Elizabeth Starkweather; from the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology Special Interest Collection

Whether taking a test on one’s own abilities or judging others’ creative abilities, we might be wise to ruminate on the ideas posed by Starkweather, Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow, and others who recognized that creativity has a lot to with the act and less to do with judging other creators’ works.  Think, too, about how the act of creating serves an important purpose in those self-actualization theories.  Your poems may get published, you may get recognized for being a great talent; but probably not.  Write them anyway.  In the mechanized grind of life, creativity helps us to feel human.

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Contributed by Rhonda Rinehart.

Chances are if you had a question, Little Blue Books had an answer.  Actually, many answers.  On any topic.  For everyone, everywhere.  Little Blue Books were your local library.  They were the 1920s version of Wikipedia.  And they kept the post office in business.  At 5-10 cents a pop, Little Blue Books weren’t free but they were cheap, and they could be shipped to any address in the world for nothing.  Always 3 ½” x 5 ½”, these tiny tomes of paper and staples were easily transportable, whether you were delivering them or reading them.

Emanuel Haldeman-Julius hoped to find a place, even if a small one, in the annals of literary history.  More specifically (and more colorfully), he said this:

At the close of the 20th Century some flea-bitten,

sun-bleached, fly-specked, rat-gnawed,

dandruff- sprinkled professor of literature

is going to write a five-volume history of the books

of our century. In it a chapter will be devoted to

publishers and editors of books, and in that chapter

perhaps a footnote will be given to me.

With apologies to professors of literature, Haldeman-Julius did indeed carve out a place of his own among the publishing world.  What was once an earnest (and successful) endeavor to provide affordable and accessible reading to the entire world population (for real!) has now become a collector’s delight.

Early advertisement for Little Blue Books

 

In the areas of psychology, psychiatry and self-help, Little Blue Books offered a surprisingly large selection of titles that ranged from topics like autosuggestion to testing to animal behavior.  Fairly cutting-edge stuff for the general public of the early 20th century.

Some of the Little Blue Books on psychoanalysis, a gift of Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr.

 

The small collection of 34 Little Blue Books donated to the Center by Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr., contains several titles on psychoanalysis in the ever-popular “know thyself” format.  Courtesy of the Haldeman-Julius publishing company, you can learn how to psychoanalyze yourself, and you can read along as a popular author psychoanalyzes himself and the entire United States.

Psychoanalyzing yourself

Psychoanalyzing yourself

 

But what’s even more fun than psychoanalyzing yourself (at least for this archivist) is making a connection from something as broad and far-reaching as the nearly two thousand Little Blue Books titles to something very specific located right here in the archives at the Cummings Center.

New Experiments in Animal Psychology (Little Blue Book No. 693) features work from all the well-worn and heavy-hitting names of those early pioneers of animal psychology – Thorndike, Yerkes, Watson, Witmer – and then suddenly hits the reader with an illustration on page 19 (something quite rare in Little Blue Books) – a depiction of Ivan Pavlov’s famed drooling dog experiment, demonstrating classical conditioning.

Illustration in Little Blue Book No. 693 of  Pavlov’s Conditioned Reflex Apparatus monitoring animal responses to stimuli

 

Now comes the good part.  The Center’s collection of objects and artifacts has a very small replica of the set-up that Pavlov used in his experiments to measure a dog’s salivary response to certain stimuli like food or later, the sound of a metronome or a buzzer.  Like a miniature laboratory, this cute and portable likeness of the real thing was used for teaching about those conditioned responses without the mess of a drooling dog in the classroom.

Simulated chamber with dog model used to simulate conditioning experiments

 

And that’s what is so fun about working, studying, and researching here at the Center.  There are those moments that happen when a connection is made and you light up and say, “Yes!  I’ve seen that before” or “This was on TV last night!”  Even if you don’t have a background in psychology (I’m raising my hand here), there are so many objects, so much media, and mountains of written and published works that relate to everyday life to be found at the Center – you will not only be able to psychoanalyze yourself, you’ll be able to recognize the science behind a drooling dog.

Search the finding aid for more information.  Please contact us to view these Little Blue Books.

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Contributed by Emily Gainer.

Which psychologist would have letters from Paul Newman, Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, and E.B. White?  Frank Barron, whose work included creativity research, collected these letters (and more).  The Frank X. Barron papers are now available for research at the CCHP.

Frank X. Barron, 1969. Box M5404, Folder 16

Frank X. Barron, 1969. (Box M5404, Folder 16)

Francis Xavier Barron (1922-2002) was a psychologist with a specialization in creativity research. He developed standardized tests to measure the characteristics of a creative person. These tests included the Inventory of Personal Philosophy, the Ego-Strength Scale, and the Barron-Walsh Art Scale. Barron’s major publications include Creativity and Psychological Health: Origins of Personal Vitality and Creative Freedom, Creativity and Personal Freedom, and Creative Person and Creative Process.

The Frank X. Barron papers, which contain 94 boxes of archival materials, include biographical files, correspondence, administrative files, teaching files, tests, research files, and written works. The files document Barron’s wide variety of research interests, including creativity, twins, nuclear war, and artists.

Of special note are the files relating to Barron’s creative writers study (1957-1958). In this study, Barron interviewed and tested numerous notable writers, including Truman Capote and Normal Mailer. Some files are restricted.

Author E.B. White's response to Frank X. Barron's invitation to participate in a creative writers study (1957). Box M5422, Folder 11

Author E.B. White’s response to Frank X. Barron’s invitation to participate in a creative writers study, 1957. (Box M5422, Folder 11)

Letter from Truman Capote to Frank X. Barron regarding Capote's participation in a creative writers study, 1957. Box M5422, Folder 7

Letter from Truman Capote to Frank X. Barron regarding Capote’s participation in a creative writers study, 1957. (Box M5422, Folder 7)

The Written Works series includes published and unpublished works, including unpublished notes and drafts of “The Sacred Mushroom in Harvard Yard” and “A Baby Named Death”. Both were autobiographical works; “The Sacred Mushroom in Harvard Yard” was a memoir of Barron’s relationship with Timothy Leary.

Search the finding aid for more information.  Please contact us to view the manuscript materials.

 

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– contributed by Arianna Iliff

With the seemingly endless list of paranormal reality TV shows, you’d think we’d proven the existence of the paranormal.So in the spirit (no pun intended) of Halloween, today we’ll be looking into the Duke Parapsychology Lab, a group of enterprising psychologists at Duke University in Durham, NC who attempted to do just that. In the 1930s, their research, led up by  J.B. Rhine, caused a firestorm of media hype. Rhine believed that his experiments had proven the existence of extrasensory perception, or ESP.

The basic experiment was simple: in a comfortable and informal environment, an experimenter would pull from a deck of cards with one of five shapes: circle, square, star, cross, and wavy lines. He would then ask his subject to name the shape on the card without looking, and track how many matches the subject would make in a “run” of cards–that is, within a deck of 25. The cards–named for Rhine’s graduate student, Karl Zener–eventually became available publicly, so that you could test yourself for psychic powers at home!

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In 1937, when this pamphlet was published, ten cents was equivalent to $1.69 in today’s money. What a bargain!
Knight Dunlap papers, box M567, folder “ESP by Rhine”

According to Rhine, the frequency with which certain subjects could match the cards was higher than mere chance. Some of the original findings of the experiment were published in the Journal of Parapsychology in 1938; however, his methods were notoriously specious, and not all psychologists were on board with this purported phenomenon. In the Knight Dunlap papers, housed here at the CCHP, there is a wealth of information about this period. Dunlap and some of his colleagues fact-checked Rhine’s flawed statistical and experimental methods, and appear to have attempted to ruin his credibility. In fact, we have a draft of one of Dunlap’s papers entitled “Occult Phenomena,” in which he bores a giant hole straight through Rhine:

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“A friend of mine who has known Rhine long and intimately assures me that Rhine is honest, but not very smart.”   BURN, 1938-style! 
Knight Dunlap papers, box M569, folder “Occult Phenomenon”

Here’s a fun fact: one of the CCHP’s board members, Don Freedheim, attended Duke and had Karl Zener as a faculty advisor. Dr. Freedheim describes Zener as a “lovely person” who was “very supportive [and] generous with his time.” However, by this time, it wasn’t just Knight Dunlap that was critical of J.B. Rhine: according to Freedheim, by the mid-1950’s, the whole psychology department “had disavowed Rhine.” (Personal communication, 2016)

Rhine was not dissuaded easily. Over time, thousands of cycles of the card experiments were run, in varying forms with varying methods. And while the lab explored a variety of phenomena beyond just telepathy, eventually, decreasing interest and lack of funding caused the dissolution of the Duke Parapsychology Lab.

Nonetheless, Rhine insisted that one in forty people have the gift. Do you?

To read more about the Duke Parapsychology Lab, check out Unbelieveable: Investigations into Ghosts, Poltergeists, Telepathy, and Other Unseen Phenomena, from the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory by Stacy Horn–or visit us at the CCHP to see a set of Zener cards yourself!

rhinecards_collage

Zener cards & ESP Record Sheet
CCHP Test Collection

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