Wikipedia lists 36 obsolete psychological categories. These include drapetomania, a supposed mental disorder that led enslaved African Americans to run away; hysteria, the host of motor, psychic and sensory disturbances that were supposedly gender-aligned; and neurasthenia, the fatigue, headache, lassitude and irritability that were purportedly a by-product of overcivilization.
In some instances, an older psychological label was discarded and replaced by a more sophisticated, nuanced or less pejorative terminology. Think of derogatory, eugenics-aligned terms like imbecile or idiot that have thankfully been jettisoned. In other instances, an older vocabulary was replaced by a new conceptual framework. Thus, hysteria is now considered a conversion disorder. In still other cases, the diagnosis and indeed the disorder itself seemed to gradually disappear.
A recent journal article in Current Directions in Psychological Science by Mohammad Atari and Joseph Henrich raises an intriguing question: What might be gained if psychology were treated as a historical science and psychological categories were viewed through a historical lens?