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APA Historical Database: Selected Entries


On January 21:

1850 — Hermann von Helmholtz published his first brief report on the "measurable period of time" taken for a nerve impulse to travel in frogs' legs. He reported that "in the case of large frogs with nerves 50-60 mm in length . . . this period of time amounted to 0.0014 to 0.0020 of a second." The studies showed that nerves did not operate by the instantaneous action of vital forces.

1850 — Mental health activist Dorothea Dix presented a memorial to the legislature of Nova Scotia, urging the construction of a public mental hospital. While Dix submitted similar documents to the legislatures of many U.S. states, this appears to be her only initiative in British North America. Dix took an active part in selecting the site in Halifax of the resulting hospital.

1885 — The term psychopath first appeared in print in its modern meaning. An article in the Pall Mall Gazette said, in part, "beside his own person and his own interests, nothing is sacred to the psychopath."

1887 — Wolfgang Köhler was born. Köhler is best known for his studies of insightful problem solving in apes and his role in shaping the course of Gestalt psychology. He won the APA Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award in 1956, the first year it was awarded. APA President, 1959.

1902 — Georgene Hoffman Seward was born. Seward's work in clinical psychology was directed at studies of psychosomatic disorders and culture, personality, and psychotherapy. Special attention was paid to sexual behavior, gender roles, and the psychology of women.

1921 — Wendell Richard Garner was born. Garner is noted for applying experimental discipline and strict logic to the study of form and structure. Garner's contributions include work in psychophysics, discrimination, perception, and learning. APA Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award, 1964.

1966 — Wendell R. Garner's article "To Perceive is to Know" was published in the American Psychologist.

1974 — The National Institute of Mental Health released a report on psychosurgery, concluding that current techniques should be considered experimental and that psychosurgery should not be used on prisoners or individuals incapable of freely giving their informed consent.


Copyright © 1995, American Psychological Association. Web version by permission. Source: Street, W. R. (1994). A Chronology of Noteworthy Events in American Psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. The American Psychological Association and Central Washington University have supported the development of the APA Historical Database.

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