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Finding Cynthia

Contributed by Jodi Kearns.

Last summer, we digitized the wire recordings from Dr. David P. Boder’s collection and discovered 17 spools of 1951 interviews with a woman named Cynthia.

These records document a 3-month ongoing professional relationship of an often crying Cynthia confiding in Dr. Boder about her family and friends, her desire to be a singer and a writer, and steps she’d taken to becoming a physically and mentally healthier person. Throughout the recordings, Boder reminds Cynthia to eat breakfast and to try to be around people who support her.

Listen to a couple of excerpts from Cynthia and Boder’s nearly 20 hours of recorded conversations. [Note: It is difficult to be certain the speed and pitch of interviews are accurate when we’re reformatting obsolete analog media.]

 

The first selected excerpt, Cynthia is discussing living alone, rather than having a roommate. [Spool 10, March 23, 1951]

In this next clip from the second-last interview, Boder reinforces his early advice for physical and mental health care. [Spool 15, April 21, 1951]

 

Two years after these conversations were recorded, Boder gave a transcript of the first spool to Dr. J. F. T. Bugental with a letter praising Bugental for his “most useful contribution to interview work.” Boder may be referring to a 1953 publication in the Journal of Clinical Psychology where Bugental describes a technique whereby clinicians use recordings and transcripts of sessions with patients to analyse subject matter of both speakers. “You may use it for any scientific purpose you wish,” Boder offers his colleague. In this letter, written two years after his recorded interviews with Cynthia, Boder seems to know only a little information about Cynthia, including that she had received shock treatments and that her prognosis was “rather grave.”

 

Boderletter

excerpt from a letter to Dr. Bugental from Dr. David P. Boder (March 3, 1953) [David P. Boder papers, M24, Folder “Patient Protocols”]

Cynthia is the pseudonym Boder uses in his transcriptions of the first spool that he gave to Bugental. The transcript includes an index of names and where these names appear within the transcript: “Kim, 20th Page;” “Nancy, 42nd Page.” Cynthia names the editor of the newspaper where she worked and the names of an ex-boyfriend and his new wife. Currently, there are Wikipedia articles that verify these three people existed and were an editor, a musician, and an actor. We were able to locate newspaper articles she wrote while the named editor was her boss. It is satisfying to be able to verify events from Cynthia’s  stories.

The first recording in the series also holds enough personal information that we were able to use census records and old yearbooks available online to connect some dots. We were quick to discover Cynthia was a high school cheerleader and a prolific poet. We also found a living relative. Cynthia’s great niece told us that the diagnosis was schizophrenia, something Boder never says in the recordings and associated papers housed at the Cummings Center. Her family shared with us a childhood photograph and some of Cynthia’s original poetry. We learned that she spent most of the rest of her life after the institutionalization mentioned in Boder’s 1953 letter in specialized hospitals and treatment facilities. Cynthia died in 1995 at around 70 years old.

Sixty five years after the original interviews were recorded on those wire spools, last summer Patrick Kennedy visited the Cummings Center while we were digitizing. He listened for several minutes off the original wire spools. These records remind us, Mr. Kennedy commented, that there are real people behind the patient records and doctors’ reports.

We were so glad to have found Cynthia.

 

CCHP_MediaLab_PKennedy2_wmrk

Jon Endres, Media & Technology Specialist, plays Boder’s wire-recording interview with Cynthia for Mr. Kennedy, Dr. David Baker, and me.

 

Nifty Surprises

-contributed by Arianna Iliff.

As a Graduate Student Assistant here at the CCHP, I get to explore our collections for researchers and find resources to assist them in their research. In the process of doing so, I find some truly interesting gems, and record them in a word document called “Nifty Surprises.” I thought I would share some with you today:

Harrower_SquareDancing_OS67_MapCaseDrawer5

Molly Harrower papers, OS67, map case 5

 

I’ve had the chance to get to know Molly Harrower: not just as a psychologist, but as a person. She was a skilled writer, and throughout the Harrower papers, you can even find snippets of poetry. But did you know that we have her “Bachelor of Square Dancing” degree?

OS67, Map Case 5 (molly's cats 2)

Molly died in 1999. If Molly were alive today, I bet she’d get a huge kick out of internet cat videos–clearly a gal after my own heart. Molly Harrower papers, OS67, map case 5.

How about this lovely chalk drawing of her cat? That’s one thing that I’ve enjoyed about my time here: when you have access to data, manuscripts, and unexpected errata such as this, history becomes more tangible than anything you could read in a textbook.

Maslow_M4413_folder7 (Huxley pamphlet)

I wish my favorite author would send me an autographed pamphlet. I’m not bitter though. Abraham Maslow Papers, box M4413, folder 7.

Finding this gem made my jaw drop: “THE Aldous Huxley? Sci-fi writer extraordinaire?” Oh yes! Abe Maslow and Aldous Huxley were indeed friends, due to their mutual interest in peak experiences and the Human Potential Movement. Interestingly, one of my favorite family therapists, Virginia Satir, was also a part of the movement!

V37_folder 2 (furiosa and max)

 Henry H. Goddard papers, V37, folder 2.

Stay with me on this one: okay, have you seen Mad Max: Fury Road? You know that scene where Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa aims a shot off of Max’s shoulder? My first thought when I found this image in the Goddard Papers was of exactly that!

Unfortunately, this image is not labeled with names or any such identifiers, and we don’t know who these people were in relation to Goddard. So when I think of this image, I just think of it as “that picture of early 20th century Max and Furiosa.”

V35_folder6 (D Johannsen, M Crook, R Leeper, Bony)

Three grad students, studying at a table with a model human skeleton. Caption: Caption on reverse states “graduate student life at Clark,” listing the names Dorothea Johannsen (Crook), Mason N. Crook, Robert W. Leeper, and Bony. AHAP Still Images collection, V35, folder 6.

When I came across this photo in our photo archives, I think that as a second-semester graduate student, I related to Bony the skeleton on a spiritual level. I felt that this photo needed a hilarious caption, such as “I’m coping with the workload just fine,” or “finals week is a real killer,” or perhaps ”I choose the sweet embrace of death over one more day in this program.”

On a serious note, I’ll say this: as an undergraduate, I chose studying sociology over psychology because for some reason, the sociological perspective was easier for me to connect with. However, since I’ve been working at the CCHP, I’ve had the opportunity to physically touch history, learning while helping others learn. Most people are surprised when I tell them the only place like this in the world is in Akron, but the fact of the matter is that the famous psychologists we learn about in 100-level classes, or whose research we draw upon, are more than just vague, long-deceased monoliths, but human beings who lived, worked, and thought. It excites me tremendously that you, too could experience history like I have, once our museum re-opens to the public. I hope you’ll stop on by!

 

In 1968, Joe South sang “Oh the games people play now.  Every night and every day now.  Never meaning what they say now.  Never saying what they mean.” The Sixties was a vibrant and volatile decade, often called a decade of ‘promise and heartbreak.’  It featured a greatly expanded public interest in psychology, with popular psychology manifested in a host of new magazines, books, movies, and television shows that focused on the fascination with human behavior.  The decade also ushered in a new generation of psychological games: board games and party games.  These games promised to reveal hidden personality traits, to help players get in touch with their “true selves,” to expose prejudices, to enhance empathy, and to reward psychological strategies in solving problems.  There was the “Group Therapy” game, released in 1969 that helped players “open up, get in touch, feel free.”  And there was “Insight” which appeared in 1967, a game intended to reveal a person’s personality.

At the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology at the University of Akron, one of our jobs is to preserve the historical records of psychology for scholars and others who want to understand psychology in all of its forms.  To that end we are working to build a collection of these psychological games.  One of our blogs in January 2015 described three psychology games from the 1970s and asked for individuals who might own those games to consider donating them to the Center.  Alas we have not received any of those.  From a search of ebay listings over the past several years we know that at least 50 psychology games have been marketed in the past century, and the actual number may be much higher than that.  The oldest psychology game we have identified is a game that features palm reading that was released in 1919.  We have this game in our collection (see photo).  But this is the ONLY such game, thus it is a very small “collection” to say the least.

hand

Psychology of the Hand, 1919

Here are a few of the other games out there that we hope to acquire:

 

Person-Alysis is a game from 1957 that uses inkblots similar to those in the Rorschach Test to reveal a person’s personality.  There are perhaps a dozen games on the market that use inkblots in this way.

personalysis

Person-Alysis, 1957

There is the Woman & Man game from 1971 that explores gender differences in a board game that allows men and women to stay in their gender roles or to switch so that “men can learn what it is like to be a ‘mere female,’ to compete in a world that caters to men.  And women will get a taste of male supremacy, and compete in the sweet certainty that the world is made in a male image.”

womanman

Woman & Man (1971)

And there is Psychologizer from 1987 “for the people watcher in all of us.”

psychologizer

Psychologizer, 1987

So perhaps you are preparing to clean out your attic or just reduce some clutter.  If your cleaning leads you to discover such games, we would welcome them as additions.

Or, if you’re interested in making a charitable donation, some psychology games are available for purchase on ebay. You can have them sent directly to us at Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, The University of Akron, 73 S. College Street, Akron, Ohio, 44325-4302. You can contact us at ahap@uakron.edu.

Here is a list of psychology games we have identified.

  • 1919    Psychology of the Hand
  • 1937    50 Million Faces
  • 1942    Profiles
  • 1957    Guys and Gals
  • 1957    Person Alysis
  • 1957    React-O
  • 1967    Insight
  • 1969    Group Therapy
  • 1969    The Robot Game
  • 1970    Body Talk
  • 1970    Blacks and Whites
  • 1970    The Cities Game
  • 1971    Perception
  • 1971    Psych Out
  • 1971    Society Today
  • 1971    Woman Man
  • 1972    The Feel Wheel
  • 1972    The Ungame
  • 1976    Roll-a-Role
  • 1976    Social Security
  • 1978    Bonkers
  • 1979    Gone Bananas
  • 1981    Assert with Love
  • 1986    Stress Attack
  • 1986    Therapy – The Game
  • 1987    Ink Blotz
  • 1987    Psychologizer
  • 1987    PSI – Psychology, Slander, Intuition
  • 1990    True Colors
  • 1993    Imagine
  • 1998    Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus
  • 1998    Rorshock
  • 2000    Think Blot
  • 2004    Dr. Playwell’s Anger Control Games
  • 2004    Psychobox – A Box of Psychological Games
  • 2012    Psych-a-Doodle
  • 2012    Psychopoly
  • 2013    Therapy Flashcards
  • 2015    Better Me
  • 2015    Doodle Therapy
  • (no date) Mindfulness Matters
  • (no date) Mixed Emotions

 

Contributed by Stacy Young, University of Akron student/CCHP Student Assistant.

CCHP: What led you to us?

SY: I previously attended the Museums and Archives class that is offered by the University of Akron and the Drs. Nicholas and Dorothy Cummings Center for the History of Psychology.

CCHP: What were you looking for and why?

SY: We were assigned to go through contentDM and browse through the artifacts. We were then to choose four artifacts that we liked the best. One of the objects that I chose was titled “Unidentified”, but it was part of the Walter Miles collection. I was hoping that within searching his collection I would come across documentation pertaining to the object.

CCHP: What did you find?

SY: Searching the collection I came across a diary that Walter Miles kept. Within this diary, there was a chapter that dated to the exact date that was located on the tag of my artifact.

Diary page from the Walter R. and Catharine Cox Miles papers, M1160, Folder 2.

Diary page from the Walter R. and Catharine Cox Miles papers, M1160, Folder 2.

 

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

SY: The diary gave interesting information that not only pertained to the day, but also to the artifact. In the chapter Miles stated that he was sending a piece of the object back to Rudolph due to it being dull. With further research I was able to find out that during the 1930s O.C. Rudolph was not only an inventor, but creating and manufacturing polarimeters here in the United States. By researching the polarimeters and comparing it to the artifact I have found that my artifact was constructed similar to O.C. Rudolph’s polarimeter and the manufactures mark is located on top of the artifacts case.

CCHP: What’s next?

SY: The next step I took was bringing all of my research to my peers, Dr. Kearns, and Fran who were as excited about the find as I was. My peers and I were able to include all of the research that was obtained into our exhibit. Since then Dr. Kearns and Emily have informed me that the contentDM will be changed from reading “Unidentified” to reading “Polarimeter”.

CCHP: Any other thoughts?

SY: Although researching the object was an assignment for our project, it was extremely exiting to find and I encourage everyone that is able to include research from an archives to do so. Being able to do research at an archives not only gives you an opportunity to have primary sources of information, but it also gives you an opportunity to observe the object yourself.

-contributed by Veronica Bagley, undergraduate student in the Museums & Archives Certificate Program.

What do a polygraph kit, ouija board, and Stanford Prison experiment skateboard have in common? They’re all objects in the Drs. Nicholas & Dorothy Cummings Center for the History of Psychology artifact collection, and they’re all going to be on a temporary exhibit in Glimpses into the History of Psychology through Artifacts. These are just a few objects students in the Foundations of Museums and Archives class have been researching for their final project, putting together an exhibit.

Some of the objects that will be on exhibit.

Students in the Foundations of Museums and Archives Class have been spending this semester putting together an exhibit, from start to finish, to be displayed at the CCHP. In the first half of the class during Fall semester, each student selected a few items from the collection that they found interesting. Now during Spring semester, those objects are becoming one exhibit. Students picked objects covering multiple fields of psychology, including paranormal, perception, animal training, education, and popular psychology.

Though the objects in the exhibit are all very different, students have studied how they relate to psychology or how they may have been used by psychologists. Visitors to the exhibit will be able to learn about the history of psychology through a variety of fields. One of the objects I spent a large amount of time researching was a homemade “Spirit Writing Board,” for which we had little information on. I was able to use resources in the archives to research the practice of spirit writing, and through my research I learned about the field of “Parapsychology.” I even contacted an expert from The Parapsychological Association who sent me even more resources about this board and how it may have been used. Before I took this class, I did not even know this field of psychology existed! Visitors to the exhibit will be able to see the Spirit Writing Board on display, along with other objects from the field of Parapsychology. From visiting this exhibit, we hope visitors will be able to learn how broad the field of psychology is, and how it is applied in other fields.

Though the research process could be frustrating at times, especially with objects without much information attached to them, the class had some great finds! An object previously labeled as “Unidentified” became identified as a Polarimeter. Stacy Young, another student in the class, selected this object and had the task of researching it for the exhibit. From the tag on the object, she was able to start some research in the archives and found a journal that described the unidentified object. It was an incredible discovery and required some serious detective work! The Polarimeter will also be on display in the exhibit.

The label Stacy used to start her research on the Unidentified Object.

After spending the first eleven weeks of the semester researching objects and making decisions about exhibit design, the last several weeks will be spent installing the exhibit. The exhibit is also sponsored by the EX[L] Center: https://www.uakron.edu/exl/. We are very grateful for their donation to help us put together this exhibit!

The opening reception for Glimpses into the History of Psychology through Artifacts will be May 6, 2017 from 4-6 pm, and regular open hours will be Tuesdays May 9 through August 15, 2017, from 1-3pm. Admission is free. It will be located at:

Gallery C, First Floor Drs. Nicholas & Dorothy Cummings Center for the History of Psychology

The University of Akron Roadway Building

73 S. College Street

Akron, OH 44325-4302

The final exhibit project for this class fulfills the requirements for students in 1900:302 Foundations in Museums and Archives II at the Institute for Human Science and Culture. The class is a requirement for a Museums and Archives Certificate through the University of Akron. If you are interested in the program, contact Dr. Jodi Kearns at jkearns@uakron.edu for information.

Objects for the exhibit, laid out for research.

– contributed by Rhonda Rinehart.

April is National Poetry Month.  In recognition of all of those terrible poems you wrote in high school, and in honor of armchair poets everywhere, CCHP is posting a blog about creativity.

with painted clothes upon a bridge, she was not iodined with garnishes; those

passing there, seared and grotesque.  did she jump, or wail, or swing on other

clothes?  did she spread her teeth inventing whistles for the quaying bikes, or

stiff snouters turned in grey?  she did not, nor did she cow or pace about in

ruins, or tray her hiked up shoes more nearly like galosh or spidern heels she

cut among the grass.

[Excerpt from untitled poem written by ‘Larry’ (Laurence d’A. M. Glass), from the Silvan Tomkins papers, Cummings Center for the History of Psychology]

What makes “good” poetry, and how do you know when you see it?  Can poetry be judged on simple merits of being good or bad?

Whether the above poem elicits provocative imagery or just annoys the reader with a bunch of made-up words and awkward sentence structure (the spellcheck was practically shouting at me while typing), we can probably agree that something creative like poetry is indeed quite subjective.  And like other creative endeavors, writing poetry is an intensely personal act.  But so is reading it.  The exact elements of Glass’s poem that make us appreciate it or shrink from it, are creativity in action.  No rules.  No inhibitions.  As Dan Wieden so famously (and creatively) proclaimed for Nike, “Just do it.”

Plenty of CCHP collections possess poetry written by psychologists; still others contain poems from colleagues and family members, like this one from the L. Joseph Stone papers about adolescence, from the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology

If poetry is subjective and arcane, why would we attempt to judge it by a simple scale of good or bad?  Or by a right way or wrong way of writing it?  Maybe it’s an attempt to make the unscientific more scientific.  Perhaps the more pressing question is, should we judge it from those perspectives at all?

Two professors – one of education and one of English – developed “A Measure of Ability to Judge Poetry” in 1921, to assist students in acquiring an “increased ability to tell good [poetry] from bad, and increase preference for the good”.  To do this, original poems were sampled, accompanied by sets of varying versions of the original that represented sentimental, prosaic, and metrical forms of writing.  From there, it was simply a “which do you prefer?” choice.  Similarly, “Literature Tests to Accompany Adventures in Prose and Poetry”, a test developed by Rewey Belle Inglis, asks students to determine prevailing emotions of various poems from a given set of emotions.

Test preamble and sample poem for “A Measure of Ability to Judge Poetry (Exercises in Judging Poetry)” by Allan Abbott and M. R. Trabue, 1921; from the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology Test Collection

 

Test page from “Literature Tests to Accompany Adventures in Prose and Poetry” from the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology Test Collection

But making constrained decisions about something that is personal and subjective from pre-selected lists and writing samples feels a little restrictive.

Instead of right and wrong answers, or answers that are compared to regulated determinates, tests like “The Symbolic Equivalents Test”, allow for more fluctuation in the answers.  Rather than judging one’s ability to recognize the good and the bad from staid lists, the test-taker is asked to think of his or her own ways to answer each sample.  Answers might feel less like straight answers, and more like cleverness and ingenuity.  Indeed, creative writing (in the form of poetry or prose) should feel this way.

“The Symbolic Equivalents Test” with some imaginative notes, from the Frank X. Barron papers; Cummings Center for the History of Psychology

Throughout the 1960s and ‘70s, Elizabeth Starkweather conducted research on the subject of creativity, particularly in school children.  She describes creativity as something that cannot be coerced, and in order to take place, it must happen in an environment of free expression without inhibition.

Excerpt from a paper on creativity by Elizabeth Starkweather; from the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology Special Interest Collection

Whether taking a test on one’s own abilities or judging others’ creative abilities, we might be wise to ruminate on the ideas posed by Starkweather, Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow, and others who recognized that creativity has a lot to with the act and less to do with judging other creators’ works.  Think, too, about how the act of creating serves an important purpose in those self-actualization theories.  Your poems may get published, you may get recognized for being a great talent; but probably not.  Write them anyway.  In the mechanized grind of life, creativity helps us to feel human.

– contributed by Amy Freels.

Because genealogy and family history are popular topics, most people are aware of the need to digitize and label family photos. But did you realize that even if you do this, you could still be losing a part of your family story? In honor of National Organize Your Files Week, let’s talk about ways to organize your family photos to preserve family stories.

Family photos are a time capsule of your family’s life and illustrate what was important to them. Before you start the project, it is helpful to keep in mind four things:

  • What do you want your family to know or remember about you and your family?
  • What is important to you that it not be forgotten?
  • What doesn’t your family know that they should?
  • What about your family history would surprise them?

Start by organizing your photos. You’ll want to weed out the ones you know are extraneous, like duplicates and photos of nonfamily members. If working on all of your photos is overwhelming, pick a few favorites to focus on, keeping the above four points in mind. Group the photos by year or subject. If the photos are already in an album, don’t attempt to remove them—you could irreparably damage them.

Next, label your photos. If you are working with originals, instead of photos that have been digitized, write lightly on the back with a pencil. Don’t push too hard. Be sure to include everyone in the photo, with full names and dates of birth and death, if known. Give the name of the photographer, the date the image was taken (estimates are okay), and the location pictured.

Consider investing in a photo album that has space to record more detailed information. In the album, you’ll record the same information as above, so that you don’t inadvertently damage the photo by taking it in and out of the album. You’ll be able to include extra information in the album, like the relationship between the people pictured (cousins? siblings?), what is happening in the photo and why, as well as the original owner of the photo or where it was found.

amy

Sample album with space for recording notes

Remember, don’t assume what is going on in the photo will be as obvious to future generations. Wedding photos from a century ago, for example, don’t look anything like what our wedding photos do today. You can do photo research to further the story for photos where you don’t know any information. If the name of the photographer is on the photo, this can help narrow down city and timeframe. Learning how to identify the type of photo can tell you a date range.

Don’t forget to ask other family members for information. They may have further knowledge about the photos or may have photos to share that fill in gaps in your photo collection.

If you are working with digitized photos, consider storing a digital file with the photos that includes all of the above information for each file.

If you follow the above steps, you’ll not only have organized files, but will be well on your way to helping preserve your family stories.

 

Amy Freels recently completed her certificate in Museums and Archives from The Institute for Human Science and Culture (IHSC) at The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology at The University of Akron.