c 1800 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is probably the first "modern" thinker to develop a theory of organic evolution.
1805 German mental hospital system established.
1807 Frank Joseph Gall publishes the first work on phrenology, espousing a theory of a connection between personality and bodily characteristics (phrenology - shape of the skull). He stresses measurement, pointing toward the location of mental functions at certain areas in the head. The bulk of his life is spent studying the brain in an attempt to locate the various cerebral sites where character traits are located. His work advances ideas that later become clinical psychology.
1828 Madhouse Act requires that commitment of private patients must be accompanied by a certificate signed by two medical men; commitment of "pauper patients" required the signatures of two magistrates.
1839 Benedict Augustin Morel, impressed with Darwin, formulates the theory of "degeneration" of mental problems from early life to adulthood. He calls this condition "demence precoce," giving rise to the idea of adolescent "degenerates." He holds that deviations from the human norm are transmitted genetically and tend toward extinction of the organism possessing these traits. This contributes to the genetic belief of hereditary insanity. This theory appears at roughly the same time as that of Darwinism and fits in well with the concept of survival of the fittest.
1840 Charles Darwin solidifies the theory of evolution, pointing to "natural selection" as the primary factor. Keeps a diary of his infant son (published in 1877), spurring the development of child psychology in the 1890s. He believes thought is a secretion of the brain. (First proposed in 500 BC.) He attempts to offer solutions to problems of society from a biological premise that man is structurally no different than other mammals, including the mental and moral arena as well as physiological factors.
1851 Dr. Samuel Cartwright creates a mental illness peculiar to black people. Calling the effort of slaves to escape "Drapetomania," he says the condition can be cured by recapturing the patient, rubbing him down with oil and beating him. He feels that blacks can only achieve proper "vitalization" of the blood through manual labor: "It is the red, vital blood, sent to the brain that liberates their mind when under the white man's control; and it is the want of...red, vital blood, that chains their mind to ignorance and barbarism, when in freedom."
1852 Philosopher Herbert Spencer coins the word "evolution." He introduces the evolutionary theory of the brain to psychology and defines intelligence as determined by environmental influences, spurring the development of genetic psychology. He originates the phrase "survival of the fittest." He states that because women use most of their energy in the reproductive process, they have little left over and are thus naturally inferior intellectually to men.
c 1853 Arthur Count de Gobineau publishes Essay on the Inequality of Human Races. He describes a race of Aryans superior to all other races.
1859 Charles Darwin publishes The Origin of Species by Natural Selection. This entrenches the study of man into the arena of the natural sciences and dissuades thinking of any inherent spiritual force in organisms. This theory supports the view of superiority of some people over others due to inherited factors and views these factors as psychological as well as physiological, the groundwork having already been laid by earlier writings that the body, mind and spirit were all different manifestations of the same thing.
1866 Gregor Mendel publishes a theory of how traits are transmitted genetically. This is ignored and forgotten until picked up by De Vries in 1900. This supports the idea of transmission of psychological traits in a similar fashion to physical ones.
1867 Wilhelm Wundt writes Principals of Physiological Psychology in 1873, writing about the "structure of consciousness" and defining psychology as the "science of immediate experience." He teaches the first course in experimental psychology at Heidelberg and opens the first psychological laboratory at the University of Leipzig in 1879. He is considered to be the founder of experimental psychology.
1869 English psychologist Francis Galton, half-cousin of Charles Darwin, publishes Hereditary Genius. Later acclaimed as being "...the first major document of the modern eugenics movement," it stresses that the upper classes should be encouraged to have children, whereas lower class people should be induced, or compelled, to have fewer. He expands on Darwin's theories in an attempt to prove that mental attributes are hereditary and conducts the first word association test.
1873 Henry Maudsley recommends that men utilize new breakthroughs in discovering mental degeneracy as reflected in physical traits by looking for "physical signs ...which betray degeneracy of stock...any malformations of the head, face, mouth, teeth and ears. Outward defects and deformities are the visible signs of inward and invisible faults which will have their influence in breeding." He states, about children, .".could anything be more ridiculous than all this affectionate fuss about what is essentially an excretory product and comes into the world by excretory ways?"
1875 US immigration law decrees exclusion of "coolies, convicts and prostitutes" as undesirables.
1876 Emil Kraepelin studies under Wilhelm Wundt in Leipzig. They conduct psychopharmacological and psychophysiological research, stressing the actions of drugs on the brain. He collects thousands of case histories, developing a method of describing cases that is still used to classify mental illness. Broadens the definition of dementia praecox. A patient so labeled is seen to be fated for inevitable deterioration ("degeneration"). He considers the mentally ill "a heavy burden on our nation. As a prelude to Hitler, he states, "An unrestricted ruler with the power to intervene in our way of life would bring about a reduction in insanity within a few decades!"
1882 "Lunatics and idiots" are added to those excluded under US immigration law.
1888 Madame Helena Petrova Blavatsky publishes The Secret Doctrine, in which she says that deep in an underground cave in Tibet, she saw an ancient text describing the future of mankind. She addresses 7 stages of human evolution, including the Lemurian race, Atlantean race and the Aryan race. She says the Aryans founded Grecian culture and is the race that is to lead mankind into the next phase of its evolution. According to her, the sign of the Aryans is the swastika. Blavatsky founds an American occult society that publishes the first document in Germany to carry a swastika on its cover.
1894 Formation of the Immigration Restriction League, which seeks to limit immigration along eugenic lines.
1895 Dr. Alfred Ploetz publishes The Excellence of Our Race and the Protection of the Weak.
1895 Adolf Jost publishes The Right to Death wherein he states that the decision of life or death of an individual must ultimately belong to the social organism - the state.
1896 Connecticut becomes the first state to adopt legislation regulating marriages on a eugenic basis. Other states follow, some forbidding the marriage of insane people.
1897 Houston Stewart Chamberlain is summoned to the Kaiser's court in Germany. He urges the elimination of Jews and other racial aliens from Germany and the establishment of a teutonic religion founded on the sacred mystery of Aryan blood. (Richard Wagner's daughter eventually marries Chamberlain.)
1898 A eugenic sterilization bill is introduced in the Michigan Legislature, allowing castration of all inmates of the Michigan Home for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic and people who have been convicted of a felony for the third time.
1898 Twenty-four male children in Massachusetts are castrated for "persistent epilepsy and masturbation" and "masturbation with weakness of mind" among other forms of behavior.
1899 Houston Stewart Chamberlain, student of Gobineau, publishes The Foundations of the 19th Century, further describing Aryan superiority, holding the German race to be a bastion of Aryan purity and condemning Jews and Negroes as inferior.