Classics in the History of Psychology

An internet resource developed by
Christopher D. Green

York University, Toronto, Ontario

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Glossary for:

New Methods for the Diangnosis of the Intellectual Level of Subnormals
Alfred Binet (1905)

First published in L'Année Psychologique, 12, 191-244.
This translation by Elizabeth S. Kite first appeared in 1916 in The development of intelligence in children. Vineland, NJ: Publications of the Training School at Vineland.

alienist: an archaic term for one who treats mental illness, particularly a physician specializing in legal aspects of psychiatry. From the French aliené, meaning insane.

Laura Bridgman (1829-1889): American woman blinded and deafened by scarlet fever at the age of two. She was taken to Boston's Perkins School for the Blind at the age of eight, and taught to read raised letters by the schools head, Samuel Gridley Howe (1801-1876). Her case received international attention when the English novelist Charles Dickens (1812-1870) visited the Perkins School in 1842, and wrote about it in his Notes for General Circulation.

Helen Keller (1880-1968): American woman who lost her sight and hearing as a result of high fever at the age of 19 months. Keller's parent hired Anne Sullivan (1866-1936) to attempt to educate her. Sullivan had once been blind, and had attended the Perkins School for the Blind in Boston (see entry for Laura Bridgman), but had been cured by the time she was engaged to school Keller. Keller learned to read and write in Braille, and graduate cum laude from Radcliffe College in 1904. She went on to write several books about her life. He childhood relationship with Sullivan was portrayed in William Gibson's Pulitzer Prize-winning play The miracle worker (1959), which was made into a movie in 1962.

suggestability: The issue of suggestion was one of Binet earliest studies, when he became involved studies of hypnosis, and was among the first to endorse the idea that consciousness could be "split" by such means. See On double consciousness (1890).

Hermann Ebbinghaus (1850-1909). German psychologist. Received his doctorate at Bonn in 1873, after having served in the Franco-Prussian war. Aimed to adapt Gustav T. Fechner's (1803-1887) psychophysical methods to the study of higher mental processes. He was a volunteer at Berlin, where he made his Habillitation in 1880. He received a chair in Breslau in 1894, where he stayed until 1905. His most important experiments were on memory, in which he was the first to use lists nonsense syllables to control for the effects of meaning on remembering. He also did work on color vision and on intelligence testing. He died of pneumonia at the age of 59.