Abstract - J. Bump


Arts of Resistance, Myths of Reference

Curt Richter's Skin Resistance Testing and the U.S. Army

Jesse B. Bump

Tracing Curt Richter's graduate career at The Johns Hopkins University, this paper attempts to demonstrate how the free research philosophy of his mentors shaped the development and use of electrical skin resistance testing. By looking at the flow of visitors through the Richter lab during the '20s and '30s, links are constructed between doctor's backgrounds and experimental preferences. These predilictions altered the inquiry into and the practice of Richter's skin resistance testing. When the Second World War struck, Army neurosurgeons encouraged the further development and application of Richter's tests as quick and accurate diagnostic aids. This paper examines how during the war Richter and his device adapted again to try to suit yet another audience, and how that audience was divided along military and civilian lines. In light of the various experiences of Army and private neurosurgeons during the war, the fate of skin resistance testing is examined.

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