Personality Pedagogy Newsletter Volume 4, Number 1, Sept, 2009

Hello and welcome to the thirty-seventh Personality Pedagogy newsletter highlighting what’s new.

We have lots of news to share with you this month: A birthday, an anniversary, a lost-and-found book by a famous personality psychologist, and a dead salmon.

First, the birthday: The Personality Pedagogy Newsletter turns 3 years old this month. The site was unofficially launched in June of 2006 and our first newsletter came out that September. Since then, we’ve grown close to 200 subscribers with the number of hits — and links — on the site steadily increasing. Thanks to all of you: our loyal readers and visitors!!

Second, the anniversary: Do you know what famous personality psychologist made his first and only visit to the United States (the country he called a ”gigantic mistake”) 100 years ago this month? Check out the links below for the answer.

Third, the book: Can you imagine a 100-year old book, thick cream-colored parchment, bound in red leather, with ”Liber Novus” (New Book) etched in gold on the cover, filled with paintings of otherworldly creatures and handwritten dialogs with gods and devils? Though it looks like a medieval tome, it was actually written by none other than Carl Jung. After being locked in a Swiss bank vault for years, the book will be published in facsimile form and will be on public display.

What was so dangerous about this book that moved Jung’s family to keep it locked away? According to the New York Times article: ”In 1913, Jung, who was then 38, got lost in the soup of his own psyche. He was haunted by troubling visions and heard inner voices. Grappling with the horror of some of what he saw, he worried in moments that he was, in his own words, ”menaced by a psychosis” or ”doing a schizophrenia”.” This book describes his ”confrontation with the unconscious” in uncensored, and at times, unflattering honesty. Imagine a trip into the unconscious with Carl Jung as your personal guide. . .

Those of you in the New York area should definitely try to see the book. It will be on display until the end of January at the Rubin Museum of Art, in conjunction with an exhibit and special events on mandalas.

And if that’s not all, before you get too excited at the recent news articles that claim to have located a shopping or an empathy center in the brain, see why fMRI studies are problematic and should be interpreted with caution. A team of researchers vividly illustrate the problem of not correcting for chance properly in fMRI studies by finding that parts of the brain of a dead salmon (!) responded to human emotion.

As you can see, this month’s newsletter proves once again that truth is stranger than fiction! As ever, please pass this newsletter on to interested colleagues and invite them to sign up for future issues. We wish you a happy fall season!


Marianne Miserandino
miserandino “at” arcadia “dot” edu

1. The Holy Grail of the Unconscious

At the age of 38, Carl Jung was haunted by troubling visions and inner voices. Afraid that he was being ”menaced by a psychosis” or ”doing a schizophrenia” he describes his ”confrontation with the unconscious” in this recently discovered book. This article from the ”New York Times Magazine,” September 16, 2009, by Sara Corbett describes the book and the fascinating background story of how the book was lost and then recently found. Includes photos of some of the original hand drawings by Carl Jung.

2. Rubin Museum

The Rubin Museum, 150 West 17th Street, New York, NY, which specializes in Himalayan Art, will have Jung’s book on display until the end of January. They also feature a special exhibit on mandalas, including a film series, during this time.

3. Psychoanalysis, American Style

Psychologist and History of Psychology expert Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. explains the significance of Sigmund Freud’s first visit to America 100 years ago, in this article written for the APA Monitor on Psychology, Volume 40(8), September 2009.

4. Wiki quotes

We usually avoid the obvious sources (e.g., Wikipedia,, and the like) but we couldn’t resist this fun page of the quotes of Sigmund Freud from, a subdivision of Wikipedia. This page includes quotes and sources as well as some misattributed quotes of Freud.

5. Dead Salmon’s Brain Activity Cautions fMRI Researchers

A shopping center or an empathy center in the brain? See why fMRI studies are problematic and should be interpreted with caution. A team of researchers vividly illustrate the problem of not correcting for chance properly in fMRI studies by finding that parts of the brain of a dead salmon responds to human emotion. See also the Story Behind the Salmon here and the pdf of the study here.

6. Data Visualization Tools and Videos

The Social Psychology Network (an excellent site, if you’re not already familiar with it) features these ”links to web videos that dramatically illustrate why statistics are worth studying and how ”data animation” is being used to address problems such as climate change, global poverty, and the spread of HIV. Inspiring, informative, and highly recommended for teachers, students, and anyone who analyzes statistical data” according to founder and webmaster Scot Plous, Wesleyan University.

7. Sigmund Freud Online Activities

National Museum of Science and Industry, in the UK, sponsors this amazing website on Making the Modern World, including learning modules on all sorts of topics. One in particular, on Measuring the Unmeasurable, ”aims to take the user through various aspects of psychiatry and the study of mental illness. It looks at the treatment, diagnosis and methods used in psychiatry as well as the investigation of mental illness from a historical and socio-cultural perspective.” This module includes 4 pages on Sigmund Freud: Freud and Psychoanalysis, Freud’s concept of the Personality, Freud’s theory of psychosexual development, and Freudian Techniques of psychoanalysis. The module on Psychoanalysis includes online activities on dream analysis, the Word Association Test, and Ink Blot Generator.

8. Delay of Gratification

A modern twist on the classic Marshmallow test. See children successfully and unsuccessful delay gratification in this clip. Embedded in a presentation on Temptation, the test itself starts at about 45 seconds and lasts just over 4 minutes.

9. Cultural Influences on Personality: Taboo

The National Geographic series Taboo ”explores rituals and customs that are acceptable in some cultures but forbidden, illegal, or reviled in others.” The site features videos, photos, and an interactive game ”How taboo are you?”

10. George H. Mead

George Herbert Mead (1934) ”Mind Self and Society from the Standpoint of a Social Behaviorist” (Edited by Charles W. Morris). Chicago: University of Chicago.

11. Gender: Digit ratio

Exercise sheet for determining digit ratio. From James W. Pennebaker and Samuel D. Gosling’s Introductory Psychology class at the University of Texas. Digit ratio is affected by prenatal androgens, and may be related to various personalty traits including sexual orientation.

12. The Newcastle Personality Assessor (NPA)

David Nettle, writing for ”The Guardian”, March 7, 2009, describes the Five factor model and presents The Newcastle Personality Assessor (NPA), a 10-item measure of the traits of extroversion, neuroticism, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and openness. Scoring instructions and interpretation are provided.


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