In the history of Spanish psychology in the 19th century, three stages can be distinguished. An eclectic first stage was defined by the coexistence of currents such as spiritualism, sensism, ideology, and common-sense realism. Jaime Balmes was the most prominent and original author, integrating empiricism and associationism in the Spanish tradition of common-sense philosophy. The second stage was characterized by the influence of Krausism, a version of German rationalist pantheism imported by Julián Sanz del Río, that reached great acceptance during the 1860s and 1870s among intellectuals opposed to traditional Catholicism. The third stage began in the late 1870s: the reception, adaptation, development, and debate of the “new psychology” flowing from Germany, Great Britain, and France. A group of neo-Kantian intellectuals led by Cuban José del Perojo, a disciple of Kuno Fischer, introduced and popularized experimental psychology and comparative psychology in Spain. His project was vigorously seconded in Cuba by Enrique José Varona, author of the first Spanish manual of experimental psychology. In this path, the Marxist psychiatrist and intellectual Jaime Vera promoted in Madrid a materialistic view of psychology, and his colleague and friend Luis Simarro won the first university chair of Experimental Psychology, fostering a school of psychologists oriented toward experimental science. In turn, the publication in 1879 of the papal encyclical Aeterni Patris stimulated the development of a Spanish neoscholastic scientific psychology, developed under the influence of Cardinal Mercier of the Catholic University of Louvain. Authors such as Zeferino González, Marcelino Arnáiz, and Alberto Gómez Izquierdo broke with the anti-modern tradition of the Spanish Church and developed an experimental psychology within the Aristotelian-Thomistic framework. In the first three decades of the 20th century, applied psychology expanded radically, linked to a period of strong socioeconomic growth. Abnormal and educational psychology developed vigorously, and Spanish psychotechnics, led by José Germain in Madrid and Emilio Mira in Barcelona, was at the forefront of European science. In 1936 the Spanish Civil War imposed a bloody parenthesis to the economic and scientific development of the country. In the postwar period, the psychiatrist Antonio Vallejo-Nágera and his group tried to manipulate psychological research to legitimize some of general Franco's policies. Simultaneously, two neoscholastic scholars, Manuel Barbado and Juan Zaragüeta, supervised the recovery and scientific development of Spanish psychology through institutions such as the Department of Experimental Psychology of the Higher Council for Scientific Research, the National Institute of Psychotechnics, and the School of Applied Psychology and Psychotechnics of the University of Madrid. José Germain was chosen to direct and guide these projects, and a new generation of academic psychologists was formed: Mariano Yela, José Luis Pinillos, and Miguel Siguán, among others. The economic expansion of the 1960s and 1970s and the end of Franco’s dictatorship produced a huge development of academic and professional psychology, with Spanish psychology becoming positively integrated into Western science. On the other side of the Atlantic, the psychology of liberation developed by Ignacio Martín-Baró in El Salvador promoted the theoretical and methodological renewal of Latin American psychology.
Gabriel Ruiz and Natividad Sánchez
Transnational historiography, which emerged in the 1990s, covers historical phenomena that transcend the boundaries of the nation-state, analyzing the processes of circulation, transformation and hybridization of scientific ideas and practices across national frontiers. When scientific knowledge flows between different countries, the ideas that emerge in one particular national context adapt to the new local contexts of their hosts, with their particular cultural, social, political and scientific traditions. In psychology, the transnational approach provides a productive theoretical framework capable of going beyond the traditional US-centered perspective that has dominated the historiography of psychology since the mid-20th century. This US-based historiography has, for example, interpreted the historical influence of I. P. Pavlov in terms of two main factors: his methodological contribution—the conditioned reflex—and the existence of a behaviorist tradition in the receptor psychology community. However, a more global analysis questions the need for these two elements and, at the same time, offers insights into the conditions that facilitated or hindered the flow of Pavlovian science beyond the United States. Thus, for example, between 1903 and 1970 the dissemination and appropriation of the Pavlovian science of conditioned reflexes took two different routes: in America, scientific aspects and factors dominated; whereas elsewhere, politics prevailed over science. This happened in countries such as China, Cuba, and Spain, with dictatorial regimes at different ends of the political spectrum, where Pavlov’s work arrived under the auspices of government programs to modernize scientific and clinical institutions. Once Pavlov’s ideas had been introduced through reform programs in each country, they were accepted or rejected depending on whether the sign of the regime in question converged with the ideology prevailing in the Soviet Union, which it did in China and Cuba, but not in Spain. In these countries, where psychology did not have strong institutional roots and behaviorism was not a dominant approach, Pavlovian ideas found a receptive audience among health professionals-doctors, psychiatrists, and clinical psychologists - keen to embrace new ideas and treatments for mental disorders. Thus, from a transnational perspective, the global repercussion of Pavlov’s ideas went far beyond the strictly methodological sphere.