Shaping the ‘Socialist Self‘? The Role of Psy-Sciences in Communist States of the Eastern Bloc (1948–1989)

International Workshop

Venue: Prague. Online.
Date: November 6, 2020
Organizer: Jakub Střelec (FSV UK/CEFRES)
Partner institutions: CEFRES, Institute of Contemporary History, Czech Academy of Sciences, Collegium Carolinum – Research Institute for the History of the Czech Lands and Slovakia

(823 2113 4974)
Password: 111784

This workshop aims to bring together researchers dealing with the history of psy-sciences in communist Europe. The main aim is to (1) discuss contemporary approaches, topics and themes in current research about the role of psy-sciences in the communist states of the Eastern Bloc and to (2) outline possible questions and issues relevant for future research in this field.

Read the call for contributions.


9.00     Conference Opening

Producing Psy-expertise in the Eastern Bloc

Chair: Martin Schulze Wessel (Collegium Carolinum)

9:30     Ana Antic (University of Copenhagen)
Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy Beyond the Hospital in Socialist Yugoslavia

9:50     Melinda Kovai (Eötvös Lorand University)
From a Movement to the Privatization of Psychotherapy – Group Psychotherapy in Hungary in the 1970s and 1980s

10:10     Sarah Marks (Birkbeck, University of London)
From Pavlov’s Dogs to Cybernetic Tortoises: The Psy-Professions and the New Science of Cybernetics in Communist Czechoslovakia

10.30 – 11.15     Discussion

11.15 – 11.30     Break


Defining (Ab)normality

Chair: Adéla Gjuričová (Institute of Contemporary History, Czech Academy of Sciences)

11:30     Cristiane Brenner (Collegium Carolinum)
Judging the Anti-Socialist Element: The Role of Psychiatric Experts in Trials Against “Parasitic Women” in Socialist Czechoslovakia

11:50     Kate Davison (University of Melbourne)
From Prague to Sydney: Rethinking Psychiatry, Sexology and ‘Sexpertise’ in the Cold War

12:10     Jakub Střelec (Charles University in Prague)
Psychopaths as ‘New Danger‘ to the Socialist Society. Forensic Psychiatry, Criminology and Crime in Communist Czechoslovakia in the 1960s

12:30 – 13:15     Discussion

13:15 – 14:15     Lunch break


Shaping the ‚Socialist Self’

Chair: Jérôme Heurtaux (CEFRES)

14:15     Verena Lehmbrock (Erfurt University)
Psychological Leadership Training in East Germany – A Transnational Technology of the Self?

14:35     Frank Henschel (Christian-Albrechts-University Kiel)
Bowlby vs KPČ: Knowledge Transfer, Psychology and the System of State Childcare in Socialist Czechoslovakia

14:55     Lisa Dittrich (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich)
Partnership and the Socialist Personality: Marital Coping Strategies in the GDR between Empowerment and Subjection

15:15 – 16:00     Discussion

16:00 – 16:30     Closing remarks