The International Congress of Physiological Psychology took place on August 6–10, 1889, during the Universal Exposition in Paris. It was [Theodule A.] Ribot who took the initiative to organize the congress on behalf of the French Society of Physiological Psychology. Other officers and members of the organizing committee included not only psychologists and philosophers but also psychiatrists and other physicians; psychology was interpreted more broadly then ... and there were only a few psychologists at the time. The prominent neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot was named President of the congress, but it appears that he did not attend any of its sessions (Claparède, 1930 , p.36; James, 1889 ), and Ribot was effectively the President; Ribot is listed as Acting President in publications of the IUPsyS, and Charcot is named as Honorary President. Ribot had just left the chair of Experimental and Comparative Psychology at the Collège de France, moving to a professorship at the Sorbonne. Technically, Ribot was one of three Vice-Presidents of the congress, the other two being the eminent psychiatrist Valentin Magnan and the philosopher and member of the Académie Française, Hippolyte Taine. The Secretary-General of the congress was Charles Richet, professor of medicine in Paris; he was a physiologist concerned with psychological and parapsychological questions, and he had helped to give scientific status to studies of hypnotism. Other members of the Organizing Committee included Edouard Brissaud, professor of medicine; Julian Ochorowicz, listed as a member of the French Society of Physiological Psychology, and René Sully-Prudhomme of the Académie Française.
The committee of sponsors of the congress included prominent psychologists and members of related disciplines from 13 different countries. Among the sponsors were several whose names many readers will still recognize: Alexander Bain of the University of Aberdeen, well known for his textbooks of psychology (Great Britain); Henri Beaunis, professor of physiology, who had just founded at the Sorbonne the first French laboratory of psychology, the Laboratory of Physiological Psychology; Francis Galton, a scientist-at-large and member of the Royal Society of London, well known for his work in heredity and in statistics (Great Britain); Hermann von Helmholtz, a physicist, neuro-physiologist, and investigator of the senses (Germany); Ewald Hering, a neurophysiologist and investigator of vision (Czechoslovakia); John Hughlings Jackson, a neurologist and student of brain organization (Great Britain); William James, the leading American psychologist (USA); Pierre Janet, a systematic psychopathologist and psychotherapist, who was to be an officer of later international congresses of psychology (France); M. Lange (Denmark); Cesare Lomboroso, a psychiatrist and anthropologist who studied hereditary factors in criminality (Italy); Ivan Mikhailovich Sechenov, a prominent physiologist who maintained that psychological questions should be studied by physiologists through investigation of reflexes (Russia); Wilhelm Wundt, the founder of experimental psychology (Germany).
The Organizing Committee mailed out invitations to the congress on July 1, 1889, accompanied by a preliminary program. Two hundred and four registrants came from 21 countries, paying a registration fee of 10 francs. The majority, 128, came from France; Russia had the next highest delegation, 19, and both Germany and Great Britain had 10 registrants each; only 3 came from the United States. Of the 204 registrants, only about 50 participated by giving a presentation or taking part in a symposium ...[and] .. many of those registered did not actually attend the congress. James (1889) reported that the number at sessions varied from 60 to 120. Claparède wrote that it was a really small congress with no more than half the number of registrants present at sessions (1930 , p. 36).
Program of the congress
Four main themes were discussed at the congress: hallucinations, which was understood to include also mental telepathy; hypnotism; heredity; and muscular sensations. Limitations of time and disagreements about appropriate subject matter led to elimination of some of the topics listed in the preliminary program. Unlike most of the following congresses, there were no parallel sessions.
The content of the program revealed ongoing controversies about the proper nature of psychology. One controversy concerned the role of hypnotism. A large group of physicians who practised hypnotism submitted papers on this topic. When the program committee did not accept many of these, the physicians organized their own congress, Le Premier Congrès International d’Hypnotisme, which overlapped with the Congrès International de Psychologie Physiologique. The published proceedings of the Congress of Hypnotism (Premier Congrès International d’Hypnotisme, 1890 ) were more than twice as long as the proceedings of the Congress of Psychology.
Another controversy concerned the role of experimental research versus investigations of metapsychology, that is, psychological events that could not be understood by conventional science. Ribot, in his address opening the congress, related the congress to the introduction of psychology among the sciences. He stressed that the congress showed how research and cooperative relations among psychologists could develop and benefit when objective methods replaced introspection (Ribot, 1890 , p. 30; Piéron, 1954 , p. 398). In concluding his address, Ribot called for further international congresses of psychology to succeed the opening one in Paris.
Charles Richet, the Secretary-General, had placed on the congress program the question of hallucinations in the sense of mental telepathy, and in his opening address, he called for study of metapsychology. According to Henri Piéron, Richet welcomed to the congress colleagues who shared his interest in metapsychology—not only Ochorowicz, who had stimulated the organization of the 1st International Congress of Psychology, but also Henry Sidgwick, the English philosopher who was to be president of the 2nd congress, and Baron Albert von Schrenck-Notzing, who was to be Secretary-General of the 3rd congress (Piéron, 1954 , p. 399); this welcome does not, however, appear in the opening address of Richet as Secretary-General of the congress, as reported in the proceedings (Richet, 1890 , pp. 32-38). In his brief history of the international congresses of psychology, Piéron (1954) characterized Richet as an eminent disciple of Claude Bernard, a poet, a dramatist, a fabulist, an inventor, a future aviator, and first among the metapsychologists. Curiously, Piéron did not mention that Richet was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology in 1913 for his discovery of and research on anaphylaxis; this is a term Richet coined for the sensitivity that develops to various substances after they are placed within the body. Although in the long run Richet was not able to interest many psychologists in metapsychology, he participated in several international congresses of psychology, and served on successive International Congress Committees until his death in 1935.
The first session of the congress, on hallucinations, was chaired by Henry Sidgwick, professor of philosophy at Cambridge and president (1882-85, 1888-93) of the Society for Psychical Research of London. A committee was established to collect examples of occurrence of hallucinations, especially the perception of a distant person at the moment of his death, and to perform a statistical analysis of them.
The second session of the congress was devoted to hypnotism; it was chaired by Joseph Rémi Léopold Delboeuf, professor of psychology at the University of Liège (Belgium) and the founder of its psychological laboratory. The presentations and debate opposed the positions of the Nancy school and of the Salpêtrière hospital in Paris. According to the Nancy school, headed by physician Hippolyte Bernheim, hypnotism was a phenomenon of normal behavior related to suggestion and sleep. The Salpêtrière group, headed by the neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, maintained that hypnotism is a pathological condition, related to hysteria. Sigmund Freud had visited both the Nancy and the Salpêtrière groups in France and attended the congresses of hypnotism and psychology to witness more of their presentations. (Freud was listed among the registrants of the congress of psychology as “Freund, Sigm., Université de Vienne.”) According to the report of William James, “The partisans of the Nancy school were decidedly in the majority at the meetings; and everyone seemed to think that the original Salpêtrière doctrine of hypnotism, as a definite pathological condition with its three stages and somatic causes, was a thing of the past” (James, 1889 , pp. 614–615). Bernheim took an active part in the discussion, but as noted earlier, Charcot, although Honorary President of the congress, did not attend its sessions. James commented that the great diversity of views on hypnotism showed how much more work still had to be done in this field. He also noted that an overlapping medical congress devoted mainly to hypnotism drew off attendance from the last few days of the psychology congress.
Francis Galton presided over the third session, on heredity. He advocated performing animal research to determine whether acquired habits may be inherited, and for research on human heredity he advocated studying relatives of different degrees of relationship. Charles Richet (1890 , p. 35) remarked that the subject of heredity evoked little interest among the public, and he remarked that livestock breeders pay more attention to the heredity of their animals than scholars do to that of humans. It should be recognized that the 1st International Congress of Psychology took place before the laws of heredity, published in an obscure journal by Gregor Mendel in 1866, were rediscovered and made widely known in 1900.
William James presided over the fourth session, devoted to muscular and other sensations. This session was introduced to give more weight to conventional experimental psychology and physiology in the congress. Several investigators discussed whether muscular sensations are purely afferent, like touch and other sensations, or whether they reflect in part motor innervation. Charles Richet reported that after removal of occipital cortex of a dog, the animal still detected objects as obstacles but no longer as prey.
In addition to the 4 main themes, there were 21 individual reports. These could be divided into two major areas, one revolving around hypnotism and the other around aspects of physiology related to behavior (Montoro González, 1982 , p. 86). Physiology was to remain a major theme in the succeeding congresses. No reports dealt with applications of psychology. Apparently all of the reports were presented in French.
James emphasized that the formal discussions at the congress were secondary in importance to the social consequences: “the friendships made, the intimacies deepened, and the encouragement and inspiration which came to everyone from seeing before them in flesh and blood so large a part of that little army of fellow-students, from whom and for whom all contemporary psychology exists. The individual worker feels much less isolated in the world after such an experience” (James, 1889 , p. 615).
The closing banquet of the congress took place in a restaurant on the first platform of the Eiffel Tower, which had been completed and inaugurated earlier that year. As Claparède wrote, the Tower, like the International Congress of Psychology, had seemed a fantastic project when it was first proposed a few years earlier (1930 , p. 36). William James (1889 , p. 615) wrote enthusiastically about the final banquet and the nighttime view from the Eiffel Tower with “the wonderfully illuminated landscape of exhibition grounds, palaces and fountains spread out below, with all the lights and shadows of nocturnal Paris framing it in.”
Assuring the continuity of international congresses of psychology
The participants in the International Congress of Physiological Psychology in 1889 agreed that an International Committee should be established to assure the continuity of international congresses of psychology (Claparède, 1930 ; James, 1889 , p. 615; Nuttin, 1992 , pp. 30-31). Ochorowicz (1881) had seen the necessity for such a committee. As well as setting up a permanent committee under the name of the International Congress of Psychology, the participants of the 1889 congress also decided the dates, host country, and name of the next congress, and they named the officers of the 2nd congress. The International Committee was also charged with the responsibility of organizing the 2nd congress. In the future, there would be two separate committees, the permanent International Committee and a local Organizing Committee. The permanent International Committee was to be known by several different names over the course of time: Comité Permanent des Congrès, Comité International Permanent des Congrès de Psychologie, Comité International de Propagande, International Congress of Psychology. Over the years, 12 successive International Committees were to be appointed, the last of them in 1948 (Appendix A ). This last committee was also to serve as the Assembly of the first of the International Congress of Psychology to be held under the auspices of the new International Union of Scientific Psychology in 1951.