Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

Introduction to the Special Issue on the History of Psychology in Canada

Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

Introduction to the Special Issue on the History of Psychology in Canada

Article excerpt

This article begins by pointing out that history and theory of psychology is much stronger in Canada than it is elsewhere. However, the history of psychology in Canada itself tends to be neglected. This situation is linked to the dominance of American psychology and the movement to establish a distinctively Canadian psychology that differs from psychology in the United States. It is argued that this movement can help to encourage more interest in the history of psychology in Canada and vice versa. It is also suggested that addressing the neglect of the history of psychology in Canada will lead to more internationalization, not less.

Keywords: history of psychology, Canada, indigenous psychology, internationalization

A special issue of Canadian Psychology on the history of psychology in Canada guest edited by someone based in Dublin might raise a few eyebrows. I am not an expatriate Canadian. 1 am British and my connection with Canada began exactly 25 years ago in 1988 when I was awarded a Canadian Commonwealth Schol- arship to do a PhD in history and theory of psychology at York University under the supervision of Kurt Danziger. I lived very happily in Toronto for 5 years and was reluctant to leave, but 1 was obliged to do so under the terms of my scholarship. However, the bonds made during those 5 years have been difficult to break. I have spent a part of every summer in Canada for the last 7 years and my visit in 2013 is already planned. As a result of my former residence and my regular visits, I have come to know the position of history and theory of psychology in Canada well.

Perhaps the most striking thing about this position is that Can- ada punches above its weight on the international, and especially the North American, scene. The graduate program in history and theory of psychology at York University is the only one of its kind in North America, and it has attracted many students from Europe and the United States. The influence of its former and current students, and its emeritus and current faculty, on the field is such that the term "York Mafia" is frequently used. No less than four of the last five presidents of American Psychological Association (APA) Division 26 (History of Psychology) were or are based in Canada. One of the most important organisations in North America that include history of psychology in its mandate is Cheiron (International Society for History of the Behavioral and Social Sciences). The relative percentage of its members based in Canada and the United States is completely out of proportion to their respective populations and the influence of its Canadian members can be seen from the location of its conferences. The 2008 con- ference was in Toronto, the 2011 conference was in Calgary, and the 2012 conference was in Montreal. Journals provide another source of evidence. The journal that is associated with Cheiron is the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences. It is edited by Ian Nicholson of St. Thomas University in New Brunswick. The journal of APA Division 26, History of Psychology, is edited by Wade Pickren, who was, until recently, based at Ryerson University in Toronto. In the closely related field of theoretical psychology, the journal of APA Division 24 (Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology), the Journal of Theoretical and Philo- sophical Psychology, is edited by Thomas Teo of York University, and its international counterpart. Theory & Psychology, is edited by Henderikus Stam of the University of Calgary. The inescapable conclusion is that history and theory of psychology in North America would not have anything like the profile it has without the involvement of psychologists based in Canada.

Why this should be the case is an interesting question. In Europe, the Dutch exert an influence on the field of history and theory of psychology that is similarly out of proportion to the size of the country. What the two countries have in common is that they are smaller than their immediate neighbours and subject to a variety of influences. …

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