History of Spanish Psychology, 1800–2000
- Javier BandrésJavier BandrésUniversidad Complutense de Madrid, Department of Experimental Psychology
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.