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[Xmca-l] Re: BBC: Mind Changers

Message from Francine:

Hi David,

In regard to the BBC's crediting Harlow with making a breakthrough in the
nature-nuture debate:  XMCAr's who where not educated in American
psychology departments in the post WWII era don't realize how peculiar the
intellectual climate was back then.

 B. F. Skinner's Behaviorism dominated American psychology from the 1950's through the 1970's as a rigid Stimulus-Response Psychology. So much so, that American psychologists were proclaiming a Cognitive Revolution in psychology  in the 1980's - not realizing that Vygotsky had already pioneered the study of  cognitive processes mediating between stimulus and response. In 1924, when Vygotsky first presented his theory, he had then credited Pavlov's later writings on the second signal system. Since Mind in Society was first published in 1978, American psychologists were only beginning to understand Vygotskian theory - and just beginning to think in terms of dialectical psychology (such as nature-nurture interactions).

In my pre-Vygotsky days, as a graduate student at the University of Chicago during the 1970's 
Skinnerian behaviorism dominated the field, Piaget's theory was the hottest new theory
(imagine cognitive developmental stages !!!), and Humanistic Psychology was the third Force
in psychology as an alternative to Behaviorism and orthodox Freudian Psychoanalysis.
I knew there had to be something more - gradually I discovered books on ego psychology
(neo-Freudians) that the School for Social Work Administration  assigned as texts for their courses. Then in 1976, when I was hired full-time as a community college professor, I found two books in that library that were just awesome - Klaus Reigel's Dialectical Psychology - and Werner and Kaplan's Symbol Formation. One of my professor's at U.C. actually told me that I did think like an American psychologist (meaning that I don't fit in the department) - he said  "you think like a European psychologist." In 1984-1985 I translated the three Vygotsky papers on the development of imagination and creativity and became a Vygotskian (or neo-Vygotskian, whatever).

And now American psychologists are just waking up to the fact that the rest of the world
has never used the American Psychiatric Association's DSM system for diagnosis of psychiatric or psychological disorders. Effective this October the ICD 10 (International Classification of Diseases) has to be used to be in compliance with HIPAA - I wonder what will happen to all
those Abnormal Psychology textbooks that are based exclusively on the DSM's five axes 
categorical system.

> Date: Mon, 13 Jul 2015 12:45:08 +0900
> From: dkellogg60@gmail.com
> To: xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu
> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: BBC: Mind Changers
> I've listened to the first two (that is the last two) of them (Arden House
> and Harlow's Monkeys) and I'm always impressed by how very IDEOLOGICAL they
> are. I mean ideological with a capital I, in the sense of reinforcing
> whatever idea happens to dominate the dominant minds of the dominant class,
> and I also mean that both the experiments themselves and their
> re-presentations by the BBC are ideological.
> So for example the in the Arden House experiments two graduate schools
> devise an experiment that is designed to show how life-affirming and
> life-enhancing consumer choice is and how life-denying and life-deadening
> it is to be taken care of by people. Amusingly, the BBC then has to
> re-present this experiment by gushing that the two graduate students had
> absolutely no idea of what they would find (because of course even the BBC
> understands that if an experiment simply reinforces our prejudices, it's
> not very significant in the history of psychology).
> The programme on Harry Harlow's experiments follows more or less the same
> model. Harlow designs an experiment to prove that "love" and "attachment"
> (which are apparently sufficiently represented by a wrapping a terry-cloth
> towel around a wire cylinder) are crucial to parenting. The BBC re-presents
> this as an astonishing experiment by claiming that in the 1950s the big
> debate in psychology was over whether behavior was entirely innate or
> entirely learned, something that has not been true of psychology since
> Pavlov. Then the Beeb includes some criticism of Harlow--but much of it
> has to do with animal rights! The best critique came from Harlow himself,
> who assessing his own work, remarked that he had succeeded, through sheer
> sadism and at no inconsiderable government expense, in convincing
> psychologists of something everybody else has known for thousands of years.
> David Kellogg
> On Fri, Jul 10, 2015 at 11:20 AM, Martin John Packer <
> mpacker@uniandes.edu.co> wrote:
> > This week the BBC has a series of interesting radio documentaries on
> > classical psychological studies:
> >
> > <http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b008cy1j/episodes/player>
> >
> > Martin
> >