Review of Todes' Ivan Pavlov: A Russian Life in Science

Todes
Here is the review by the eminent historian of the social sciences, Prof. Roger Smith, of Daniel P. Todes' 2014 biography, Ivan Pavlov: A Russian Life in Science (Oxford University Press). It appears on the Somatosphere.Net website. Smith opens his review by saying, "It is going to be difficult for reviewers to avoid clichés about this wonderful biography – and wonderful it is, as both a work of scholarship and as a highly readable story of a truly ‘Russian life in science’. Some basic things can be clearly stated: it is the first comprehensive and thoroughly researched biography of Pavlov in any language; and it is definitive, by which I mean that anyone who remarks on Pavlov in the future without assimilating this study simply has not done her or his homework….To my mind, a biography such as this exemplifies what humanistic research has to contribute to public discussion of the place of science in the modern world. Todes has made himself fully at home in the theoretical and experimental technicalities of Pavlov’s work throughout the sixty years in which he was a formidably active and forceful scientist. Biologists and historians alike can read this volume and feel their own special interests addressed. I read it from cover to cover with unalloyed pleasure." The remainder of the review is much more detailed and helpful.

Scarred Memory: A World War II Nurse's Lobotomy

ScarredMemory
Scarred Memory: A World War II Nurse's VA Lobotomy Takes Toll on Family She Raised (Wall Street Journal)
by Michael M. Phillips

"
Dorothy is one of the last survivors among roughly 2,000 psychiatrically ill veterans the Veterans Administration lobotomized in the 1940s and 1950s. The Wall Street Journal in 2013 first detailed the VA lobotomy program and profiled the troubled life of World War II pilot Roman Tritz, 91, the only living lobotomized veteran the newspaper could locate at the time.

Lawmakers then asked the VA to find other surviving lobotomized veterans. VA headquarters, which says its files on such old cases are archived and difficult to access, hadn’t found any other survivors when Dorothy’s family contacted the Journal."

Lives in the Asylum

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Committed: Stories About Stays in Psychiatric Facilities.

A collection of four stories gathered on the Longreads blog site.

1. "Something More Wrong" (Katherine B. Olson, The Big Roundtable, July 2013)

2. "Mentally Unfit" (Zachary McDermott, Gawker, April 2014)

3. "My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward." (Mark Luckach, Pacific Standard, January 2015)

4. "Mr Bad Weekend" (Alan Hanson, Matter, January 2015)

Back to Blogging

After a three year absence from any blogging, I am resuming the use of this site in order to post items of interest from the world of psychology and neuroscience.


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Félix Vicq D'Azyr (1786) Brain Images

peacay_brain
Under the heading "Brains" (20120902) the blog, BibliOdysssey, has posted an amazing set of 15 neuroanatomical atlas illustration plates from the 1786 'Traité d'Anatomie et de Physiologie' by Félix Vicq D'Azyr (1748-1794, Wikipedia entry). The blog's author (peacay) cites the Hagströmer Medico-Historical Library Virtual Book Museum's (Stockholm, Sweden) description of the book's creator: "Vicq d-Azur, permanent secretary to the Paris Academy of Medicine and personal physician to Marie Antoinette, found that his dissections of the brain were facilitated by first hardening the brain in alcohol. He identified accurately for the first time many of the cerebral convolutions, along with various internal structures of the brain. He rediscovered the white line in calarine cortex and described the mammillothalmic tract which still bears his name, as well as the central sulcus with the pre- and postcentral convolutions and insula twenty years before Reil and Rolando."

BTW, while he died during The Terror period of the French Revolution (1794), his passing was due to pneumonia rather than the guillotine.

I was struck both by how beautiful the engravings are as well as their accuracy/informative quality. A
link is provided to the set on Flickr® with varying sizes available of each plate for download and use.

At the bottom of the entry, there is a very helpful list of online sources regarding Vicq D'Azyr and this volume.