The birth of individual psychology in England, 1870-1939
This is a study of the formation of the psychology of the individual in England in the period from 1870 to 1939. The psychology of the individual was a scientific discourse and body of practices which had as its object the mental capaci ties and attributes of individuals. It concerned itself with the assessment, causes and consequences of the variation of these capacities and attributes among individuals. It formed and was deployed with~n a range of practices concerned with the identification and administration of pathological individuals and sought to become an autonomous clinical practice in respect of them. The study uses a method based upon Michel Foucault's 'archaeological'studies of the human sciences. It identifies the the ore tical and social condi tions for the formation of individual psychology and describes its conceptual structure, social existence and strategic functioning. The psychology of the individual was founded on the belief that socially desirable qualities in the population were distributed according to the incidence of statistical variations in large populations. It formed in England around a problem of defective mental capacities. The study describes the conceptions of social regulation and individual character within which such a problem emerged. It describes the psycho-eugenic strategy in which individual psychology operated, and the reasons for its defeat by a neo-hygienist medical strategy. A new problem of maladjusted and delinquent children emerged which was conceptualised by a 'new psychology' as arising from disturbed emotional relations in the family. This operated in a new site, the Child Guidance Clinic, in alliance with social workers in a psycho-social strategy. But individual psychology remained subordinate and failed to become a clinical instance in its own right. This was, in part, because of the way in which it conceptualised normality and abnormality.