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MInd Control in french-speaking Europe (MICE): The Scientific and Cultural Reception of Behaviour Therapy in France, Switzerland and Belgium (1960-1990)

English title MInd Control in french-speaking Europe (MICE): The Scientific and Cultural Reception of Behaviour Therapy in France, Switzerland and Belgium (1960-1990)
Applicant Amouroux Rémy
Number 179201
Funding scheme Project funding
Research institution Institut de psychologie Faculté des Sciences Sociales et Politiques Université de Lausanne
Institution of higher education University of Lausanne - LA
Main discipline Psychology
Start/End 01.10.2018 - 31.03.2023
Approved amount 618'098.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Psychology
General history (without pre-and early history)

Keywords (8)

Transnational History; Behaviourism; Psychoanalysis; Digital Analysis; Mind Control; French Cultural Exception; Behavioural Therapy; History of Psychotherapies

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Consciences sous contrôle dans l’Europe francophone : La réception scientifique et culturelle des thérapies comportementales en France, Suisse et Belgique (1960-1990).
Lay summary

L’objectif de ce projet est de réaliser une histoire transnationale de la réception et de l’indigénisation des thérapies comportementales dans le contexte francophone entre les années 1960 et 1990. Cette approche a en effet connu un développement fulgurant en Amérique du Nord et au Royaume Uni mais s’est plus difficilement implantée en France, en Suisse et en Belgique. Selon ses opposants, ces thérapies sont la manifestation d’une « idéologie béhavioriste » qui doit être rejetée car elle vise l’adaptation des individus aux besoins de la société par le biais de techniques de mind control voire de Brainwashing. C’est particulièrement vrai en France où, dans le contexte de la guerre froide, le behaviorisme et les théories psychologiques venues des Etats-Unis ont été l’objet d’une méfiance caractéristique.
Ce travail s’appuiera sur une série d’entretiens avec des acteurs, des observateurs et des critiques du mouvement, la consultation d’archives personnelles et d’institutions pionnières, une analyse s’appuyant sur les méthodes de la digital history qui explorera les variations des significations associées au béhaviorisme dans les revues francophones comparées aux revues anglophones, ainsi que l’analyse de la réception dans la presse grand public des productions culturelles et intellectuelles liées au béhaviorisme.

L’objectif général consistera à retracer l’histoire du mouvement béhavioriste et à mettre au jour les spécificités francophones du débat critique autour des thérapies comportementales. Ce projet s’inscrit donc dans la perspective d’une histoire transnationale des savoirs psychologiques. A partir de l’exemple de la diffusion du béhaviorisme, considéré comme un produit de la culture anglo-saxonne, nous tenterons de comprendre pourquoi il a d’abord rejeté et comment il s’est ensuite « acclimaté » à la culture francophone. Enfin, ce projet contribuera à l’internationalisation de l’histoire des psychothérapies et participera à la clarification des débats contemporains sur le sujet.  

 

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 27.04.2018

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Abstract

The aim of this project is to undertake the first transnational historical study of the reception and indigenisation of behaviour therapy in the Francophone context between the early 1960s and the 1990s. The behaviourist approach, that saw rapid development in North America and the United Kingdom, struggled to be established especially in France. Those in opposition to these therapies dismissed them as an example of "behaviourist ideology" that should be rejected on the grounds that they aimed to enslave individuals to the needs of liberal society through the implantation of mind control techniques such as brainwashing. This is particularly true in France where, in the context of the Cold War, behaviourism and psychological theories coming from the United States were the object of invariable suspicion. Our work will be based on a series of interviews with practitioners, observers and critics of the movement, as well as consultation of personal and institutional archives. It will also involve a digital analysis of the meaning of behaviour therapy in French compared to American psychology, and an analysis of the political, cultural and intellectual output linked to behaviourism from the Francophone popular press. The general aim of the project will be to retrace the development of the Francophone behaviourist movement as well as to bring to light national particularities in the critical debate concerning behaviour therapy. This project will comprise four different angles of approach. The first will involve a prosopography of the Swiss, French, and Belgian movements of behaviour therapy which will retrace the role of practitioners, scholarly societies and scientific reviews. It will also require clarification of the different ways in which behaviourism was spread and appropriated in these three cultural zones that, while similar, remain independent from one another. A second approach will use digital analysis to quantitatively determine the meaning of psychological terms in both American and French psychological journals. It will allow us to quantitatively compare the discourses and then to document the indigenisation of behaviour therapy in French-speaking Europe. A third approach will consider the anthropological and epistemological issues affecting how behaviourist theories were received from a cultural and political perspective in the Francophone context. It will involve both a study of the representations of behaviourism in the popular press and analysis of intellectual and epistemological debates that were sparked by ideas involving behaviourism, notably in its conflict with psychoanalysis. The fourth approach will concern itself with the paradigmatic example of the treatment of autism using behavioural therapies. It will involve a case study based on the analysis of a series of violent Francophone controversies in the 1970s and 1980s, whose impact marked a turning point in debates on the subject. This project will result in a referential body of work on the reception of behaviour therapy in Francophone Europe. It will also form part of the ongoing transnational history of psychological knowledge with a focus on the diffusion, rejection and hybridization of behaviourism outside its Anglo-Saxon context of production. Furthermore, it will permit us to contribute to the internationalisation of the history of psychotherapy, and to clarify contemporary debates on the subject.
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