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The Psycho-Phone

– contributed by guest blogger Dr. Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr.

The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology has a large collection of some of the most important apparatus and objects related to psychological science and practice covering the past 150 years.  There are brass chronoscopes from the 1800s that measured reaction time in one-thousandths of a second.  There are a variety of rat mazes, tachistoscopes, and Skinner boxes.  The “shock” machine used by Stanley Milgram in his famous obedience studies is in the Center’s collections as are a Bobo doll from Albert Bandura’s research, guard uniforms from Philip Zimbardo’s Stanford prison study, a surrogate monkey head from Harry Harlow’s studies of love in monkeys, and one of B. F. Skinner’s air cribs.  The Center is always looking to add to its collections, including items that were of questionable scientific value.  One such item is the Psycho-Phone pictured below.

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Similar in principle to audio devices today that play messages during a person’s sleep, for example, alleging sleep learning, the Psycho-Phone was the invention of Alois Benjamin Saliger (1880-1969) who patented his machine in 1932 as an “Automatic Time-Controlled Suggestion Machine.”  The device was essentially an Edison-style phonograph with a timer that played the contents from a wax cylinder during the period of sleep.  Saliger believed that the messages delivered during sleep would enter a person’s unconscious and have a powerful influence on the individual’s behavior.

 

The device was first advertised in the June 1927 issue of the popular psychology magazine, “Psychology: Health, Happiness, Success.”

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The machine was quite expensive, selling for $235 in 1929.  That would be the equivalent of $3,250 in 2017.  It came with several wax cylinders, each with messages relating to a different theme; one was labeled “Prosperity”, another “Life Extension,” and a third “Mating.”  Eventually Saliger expanded the record library to more than a dozen titles, even one in Spanish.  According to a story in The New Yorker in 1933, the message on the Mating recording included the following statements: “I desire a mate.  I radiate love.  I have a fascinating and attractive personality.  My conversation is interesting.  My company is delightful.  I have a strong sex appeal.”  Saliger was convinced of the effectiveness of the Psycho-Phone noting that 50 of his customers reported finding a mate.  He did not say how many of the Mating recordings had been sold.

Saliger ran monthly advertisements in the popular psychology magazines of the late 1920s touting the remarkable benefits of his Psycho-Phone.  Here is another of his ads.

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In looking for expert endorsers of his machine, Saliger might have chosen someone other than Dr. Quackenbos, whose name would not conjure up images of a charlatan.

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By 1933, Saliger claimed that he had sold more than 2,500 of the Psycho-Phones.  If such a number is even close to being accurate, a number of these devices should still exist today.  But despite our best efforts, we have not been able to find one to add to our collections at the Center.  If you have one of these or know of the location of a Psycho-Phone we would appreciate your contacting the Center at ahap@uakron.edu.  If you would like to donate one to the Center as a charitable gift, it would be most appreciated.

Contributed by Emily Gainer.

Which psychologist would have letters from Paul Newman, Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, and E.B. White?  Frank Barron, whose work included creativity research, collected these letters (and more).  The Frank X. Barron papers are now available for research at the CCHP.

Frank X. Barron, 1969. Box M5404, Folder 16

Frank X. Barron, 1969. (Box M5404, Folder 16)

Francis Xavier Barron (1922-2002) was a psychologist with a specialization in creativity research. He developed standardized tests to measure the characteristics of a creative person. These tests included the Inventory of Personal Philosophy, the Ego-Strength Scale, and the Barron-Walsh Art Scale. Barron’s major publications include Creativity and Psychological Health: Origins of Personal Vitality and Creative Freedom, Creativity and Personal Freedom, and Creative Person and Creative Process.

The Frank X. Barron papers, which contain 94 boxes of archival materials, include biographical files, correspondence, administrative files, teaching files, tests, research files, and written works. The files document Barron’s wide variety of research interests, including creativity, twins, nuclear war, and artists.

Of special note are the files relating to Barron’s creative writers study (1957-1958). In this study, Barron interviewed and tested numerous notable writers, including Truman Capote and Normal Mailer. Some files are restricted.

Author E.B. White's response to Frank X. Barron's invitation to participate in a creative writers study (1957). Box M5422, Folder 11

Author E.B. White’s response to Frank X. Barron’s invitation to participate in a creative writers study, 1957. (Box M5422, Folder 11)

Letter from Truman Capote to Frank X. Barron regarding Capote's participation in a creative writers study, 1957. Box M5422, Folder 7

Letter from Truman Capote to Frank X. Barron regarding Capote’s participation in a creative writers study, 1957. (Box M5422, Folder 7)

The Written Works series includes published and unpublished works, including unpublished notes and drafts of “The Sacred Mushroom in Harvard Yard” and “A Baby Named Death”. Both were autobiographical works; “The Sacred Mushroom in Harvard Yard” was a memoir of Barron’s relationship with Timothy Leary.

Search the finding aid for more information.  Please contact us to view the manuscript materials.

 

Lighter Than Air

*contributed by guest blogger Dr. Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr.

The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology is located at The University of Akron in Akron, Ohio.  There is a connection between Akron and Wilhelm Wundt’s most famous doctoral student.  In case you don’t know, Wundt was the founder of the science of psychology, pursuing experimental research on the subject in his laboratory at the University of Leipzig in Germany in 1879.  Wundt would supervise more that 180 doctoral dissertations in his long career at Leipzig but only one of those would grace the cover of Time Magazine.

The Cummings Center has a collection of Time Magazines that featured a psychologist or psychoanalyst on the cover.  Sigmund Freud appeared in 1924 and subsequently another four times. Psychologist and philosopher John Dewey was featured on a 1928 issue.  Psychologist James Rowland Angell was on a 1936 cover when he was president of Yale University.  Psychiatrist Carl Jung made the cover in 1955.  John Gardner was featured in 1967 when he served President Lyndon Johnson as Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare.  And B. F. Skinner appeared on a 1971 issue.  But none of these individuals was a student of Wundt.

Wundt’s famous student, perhaps his best know student historically, earned his doctorate in 1892 in experimental psychology.  His name was Hugo Eckener (1868-1954), and if you are saying to yourself, “I have never heard of this guy!”, then you are likely not alone.

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Eckener never pursued a career in psychology. After graduation he entered military service in Germany and when that obligation was completed he worked as a journalist.  His journalistic work led him to an interest in Germany’s giant airships, the Zeppelins (named for Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin) and eventually to becoming an airship captain in 1911.  Eckener’s career as a Zeppelin commander was filled with many accomplishments, but the reason for his appearance on the cover of Time Magazine in 1929 was the fact that as Commander of the Graf Zeppelin, he had circumnavigated the globe, the only time that feat was ever accomplished by an airship.

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And what was the connection between Eckener and Akron?  Well in 1929, while Eckener was flying around the world in the Graf Zeppelin, the USS Akron, was being built in Akron, Ohio by the Goodyear-Zeppelin Corporation for the United States Navy.  The helium-filled USS Akron, which was the world’s largest airship at the time — longer than two and a half football fields — made it first flight in 1931.

The USS Akron didn’t enjoy a long life.  It crashed less than two years after its maiden flight.  The Graf Zeppelin fared better, flying from 1928 to 1937, and then it was scrapped for parts in 1940 for the German war machine.  Eckener had publicly opposed Hitler and the Nazi Party.  Likely only his reputation as a German national figure kept him from being killed or imprisoned when the Nazis came to power.  He died in 1954 at the age of 86.

*Archivist note – The University of Akron Archival Services houses a collection of Goodyear Tire and Rubber records that include plenty of information on the USS Akron and other aviation materials.

The Psychology of…Advertising

contributed by Emily Gainer.

This month’s Book of the Month continues “The psychology of…” blog series.

This time of year in the United States, most everyone is very aware of advertisements.  The election has dominated our daily lives through TV commercials, flyers, radio ads, yard signs, and bumper stickers for weeks, if not months.  And just when you think you will find relief after Election Day on November 8th, a new type of advertising takes over – the holidays!

In recognition of this election and holiday season, the November/December book of the month is Walter Dill Scott’s The Psychology of Advertising (1908).

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In his introduction, Scott wrote, “advertising has as its one function the influencing of human minds” (page 2).  We may understand that advertisers are trying influence our buying choices during the holidays.  We may not realize how much our own emotions influence our decisions.  When outlining the feelings and emotions involved in advertising, Scott wrote, “In pleasure our minds expand.  We become extremely suggestible, and are likely to see everything in a favorable light” (page 24).  In this book, Scott further outlined suggestibility based on emotions, sympathy, and instincts.

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Think of your favorite holiday commercial or print advertisement.  Was it the Folger’s waking up commercials, the Coca Cola polar bears, or the Budweiser Clydesdales?  How did it make you feel?  Keep your eyes – and your emotions – ready for this year’s holiday advertising campaigns.

I Can Vote!

~ contributed by Jodi Kearns

I am so happy to be able to vote in the 2016 election! My first US federal election was 2012, after naturalizing in 2010. The 2012 and 2016 elections are historical for reasons we all know. I do not take for granted that one hundred years ago my American sisters-in-arms were still fighting for this very right.

After encountering a blog about century-old propaganda postcards against women voting, I wondered if the Cummings Center had any of its own in the David P. Campbell Postcard Collection.

Yes.

[Note: Two days after writing this, I encountered another similar story that shows many of these same postcards you’re about to see.]

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These postcards seem to be warning that henpecked and browbeaten men will be forced to look after children, clean house, and do laundry once women can vote: the victims of women’s suffrage. Women are warned about trouble with the law, being unmarriable, and becoming plain-looking [Gasp!].

Women’s Suffrage Postcards from 1900s & 1910s from David P. Campbell Postcard Collection [Click the thumbnails to view.] 

The collection does have a few pro-women’s rights gems, although -honestly- sometimes it’s difficult to tell.

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Her hero is campaigning for women’s voting rights, though Cupid seems a little sad.

And postcards celebrating Suffragettes’ victories!

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Way to go, Colorado!

It seems feminists have been saying for some time that voting rights are about equality, not domination -rhetoric I still hear.

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A message endorsed and approved by the National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1910

Be inspired! I am.

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A hundred-year walk from the Capitol to the White House

– contributed by Arianna Iliff

With the seemingly endless list of paranormal reality TV shows, you’d think we’d proven the existence of the paranormal.So in the spirit (no pun intended) of Halloween, today we’ll be looking into the Duke Parapsychology Lab, a group of enterprising psychologists at Duke University in Durham, NC who attempted to do just that. In the 1930s, their research, led up by  J.B. Rhine, caused a firestorm of media hype. Rhine believed that his experiments had proven the existence of extrasensory perception, or ESP.

The basic experiment was simple: in a comfortable and informal environment, an experimenter would pull from a deck of cards with one of five shapes: circle, square, star, cross, and wavy lines. He would then ask his subject to name the shape on the card without looking, and track how many matches the subject would make in a “run” of cards–that is, within a deck of 25. The cards–named for Rhine’s graduate student, Karl Zener–eventually became available publicly, so that you could test yourself for psychic powers at home!

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In 1937, when this pamphlet was published, ten cents was equivalent to $1.69 in today’s money. What a bargain!
Knight Dunlap papers, box M567, folder “ESP by Rhine”

According to Rhine, the frequency with which certain subjects could match the cards was higher than mere chance. Some of the original findings of the experiment were published in the Journal of Parapsychology in 1938; however, his methods were notoriously specious, and not all psychologists were on board with this purported phenomenon. In the Knight Dunlap papers, housed here at the CCHP, there is a wealth of information about this period. Dunlap and some of his colleagues fact-checked Rhine’s flawed statistical and experimental methods, and appear to have attempted to ruin his credibility. In fact, we have a draft of one of Dunlap’s papers entitled “Occult Phenomena,” in which he bores a giant hole straight through Rhine:

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“A friend of mine who has known Rhine long and intimately assures me that Rhine is honest, but not very smart.”   BURN, 1938-style! 
Knight Dunlap papers, box M569, folder “Occult Phenomenon”

Here’s a fun fact: one of the CCHP’s board members, Don Freedheim, attended Duke and had Karl Zener as a faculty advisor. Dr. Freedheim describes Zener as a “lovely person” who was “very supportive [and] generous with his time.” However, by this time, it wasn’t just Knight Dunlap that was critical of J.B. Rhine: according to Freedheim, by the mid-1950’s, the whole psychology department “had disavowed Rhine.” (Personal communication, 2016)

Rhine was not dissuaded easily. Over time, thousands of cycles of the card experiments were run, in varying forms with varying methods. And while the lab explored a variety of phenomena beyond just telepathy, eventually, decreasing interest and lack of funding caused the dissolution of the Duke Parapsychology Lab.

Nonetheless, Rhine insisted that one in forty people have the gift. Do you?

To read more about the Duke Parapsychology Lab, check out Unbelieveable: Investigations into Ghosts, Poltergeists, Telepathy, and Other Unseen Phenomena, from the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory by Stacy Horn–or visit us at the CCHP to see a set of Zener cards yourself!

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Zener cards & ESP Record Sheet
CCHP Test Collection

Contributed by Lizette Royer Barton.

Every day researchers gather materials from the archives to tell all kinds of different stories. The stories don’t all make it into academic publications and in fact many are not destined for publication anyways – some research is just for funsies!

As the reference archivist here at the Cummings Center I get to hear these stories and some are so great I share them with the rest of the staff. This got us thinking that maybe all of you would like to hear some of these great stories, so we’re starting a new series to highlight the Stories from the Stacks.

Stories from the Stacks Vol. I: Searching for Molly. 

Michael F. Vogel, M.S.Ed. – CAGS is a self-employed financial trader and former mentee of psychologist Molly Harrower.

CCHP: What led you to us?

MFV: Trying to locate Molly Harrower’s  home/office in New York city.

CCHP: What were you looking for and why?

MFV: Molly’s street address on New York’s upper east side. I like to visit the sites where great psychology happened.

CCHP: What did you find?

MFV: I found it and discovered that Woody Allen is currently living there!

[Reference Archivist note: I located a piece of Molly Harrower’s letterhead, scanned it, and sent it to Michael as proof of her address.]

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Molly Harrower papers, box M842, folder “Misc. 1”

CCHP: Were there any fun, interesting, or unexpected surprises?

MFV: Yes!  Woody Allen could have known Molly and possibly was her patient!

CCHP: Any let downs?

MFV: None.

CCHP: What’s next?

MFV: A return to Orgonon –  Wilhelm Reich’s  home/office/observatory in Rangeley Maine.  I have been there many times.

CCHP: Any other thoughts?

MFV: Pilgrimages to the locations where the master practitioners of psychology  practiced keeps them alive within oneself.  I was once the Director of Psychology Services in the Pediatric rehabilitation hospital where Dr. Jonas Salk developed the Polio Vaccine.  Three (3) Months into this position I learned from the Hospital Administrator that my office was Dr. Salk’s Office !!!  I met him several times when he would return.  He lives within me (as does his original vaccine).   This is probably why I enjoy my pilgrimages.

[Reference Archivist note: CCHP houses the  Lee Salk papers – brother to Jonas Salk!]

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Michael paying tribute to his mentor Molly Harrower and keeping her alive in his heart at 118 East 70th St.