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Psychology and Selfhood in the Segregated South
     

Psychology and Selfhood in the Segregated South

by Anne C. Rose
 

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In the American South at the turn of the twentieth century, the legal segregation of the races and psychological sciences focused on selfhood emerged simultaneously. The two developments presented conflicting views of human nature. American psychiatry and psychology were optimistic about personality growth guided by the new mental sciences. Segregation, in contrast,

Overview

In the American South at the turn of the twentieth century, the legal segregation of the races and psychological sciences focused on selfhood emerged simultaneously. The two developments presented conflicting views of human nature. American psychiatry and psychology were optimistic about personality growth guided by the new mental sciences. Segregation, in contrast, placed racial traits said to be natural and fixed at the forefront of identity. In a society built on racial differences, raising questions about human potential, as psychology did, was unsettling.

As Anne Rose lays out with sophistication and nuance, the introduction of psychological thinking into the Jim Crow South produced neither a clear victory for racial equality nor a single-minded defense of traditional ways. Instead, professionals of both races treated the mind-set of segregation as a hazardous subject. Psychology and Selfhood in the Segregated South examines the tensions stirred by mental science and restrained by southern custom.

Rose highlights the role of southern black intellectuals who embraced psychological theories as an instrument of reform; their white counterparts, who proved wary of examining the mind; and northerners eager to change the South by means of science. She argues that although psychology and psychiatry took root as academic disciplines, all these practitioners were reluctant to turn the sciences of the mind to the subject of race relations.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Rose's lens is wide, and her research is deep. . . . A compelling contribution to the intellectual history of the South and the social sciences.--The Journal of American History

A comprehensive historical narrative of the field's development in one unjust society." --Arkansas Review

This well-researched study of the psychological sciences in the first six decades of the twentieth-century South is a subtle and original contribution to southern studies. . . . [It] deserves the attention of all scholars interested in the intellectual and cultural history of the modern South or in the history of the human sciences in the twentieth century.--American Historical Review

Creative and thought-provoking….[Rose's] work makes an original contribution to the study of southern distinctiveness….A work that also contributes to intellectual history, the history of education, and scholarship on social science in the South." --Southern Historian

[A] rich and thoughtful book. . . . The argument presented here is exquisite and original.--Church History

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807894095
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
06/15/2009
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
File size:
3 MB

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
This book is the best, most thorough exploration of southern identity and the complications of race through the prism of psychology--without a hint of pseudo-scientific jargon. Anne Rose is a masterful writer and deep thinker, as this study shows so well. Psychology and Selfhood in the Segregated South must be acclaimed as a major landmark in the probing of what W. J. Cash called 'the mind of the South.'--Bertram Wyatt-Brown, author of The Shaping of Southern Culture: Honor, Grace, and War, 1760s-1890s

In a fascinating analysis, Rose explores the relationship between an emerging scientific enterprise and the regional culture within which it developed. In addition to its substantive contribution, Psychology and Selfhood in the Segregated South is well written and extensively researched, weaving together information from an impressive range of sources, and leavening the analysis with illustrative histories of individuals. This interdisciplinary work should be of interest to scholars in history and in the social sciences.--William Tucker, author of The Funding of Scientific Racism: Wickliffe Draper and the Pioneer Fund

Meet the Author

Anne C. Rose is Distinguished Professor of History and Religious Studies at The Pennsylvania State University.

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