If you're interested in the history of psychology, you'd better take a deep breath. A magnificent treasure trove of images, articles and interactive tests from the history of psychology has been placed online thanks to the Science Museum and the work of the British Psychological Society's curator of psychology Philip Loring.
The new online exhibition can be found on the Brought to Life section of the Science Museum website, under the new heading 'Mental Health and Illness'. One hundred and eighty-five artifacts, from arm restraints and bird cages to barbiturate bottles, have been carefully photographed and all are available open access for inspection and teaching. The artifacts are complemented by fascinating articles on mental institutions, nervous illnesses, trauma in war and peace, women and psychiatry, and psychiatric tests.
A particular highlight is three 'interactive' classic psychiatric tests: a picture completion task from the 1930s, an object sorting task from the 1940s, and the Lowenfeld Mosaics test from the 50's. In each case an animation allows you to explore the materials and you can actually watch patients with different diagnoses complete the tests and see how they would have been scored.
Most of the artifacts featured on the new site aren't on physical display in the museum because of space constraints. However, in 2010 and 2011, the BPS will be sponsoring a series of events in conjunction with the Science Museum's Dana Centre, which will allow members of the public to get up close to these and other objects from the Museum's psychology collection. Plans are also in the works to bring the 'melancholy insane woman' (see pic) to Glasgow for the BPS's Annual Conference in May 2011! Sign up to the Research Digest editor's Twitter feed for updates or email Philip.Loring@ScienceMuseum.org.uk for further info.
The image shows a life-sized wax head of a 'melancholy insane woman' dating from 1910-1950 [more information].
Post written by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest.